magnolia is a-bloomin in my backyard = Happy Spring!
Although I was a fabulous note taker in high school and college, I never was a wonderful student. I often copied down everything the teacher wrote and said, having no idea what I was supposed to be learning. I spent lots of late nights cramming in last minute information so I could get just get by. I just couldn’t learn during class. It was too much for me to listen, write, and comprehend all at once. However, once I “got it”, I had a natural tlalent to organize and explain. Maybe I should become a teacher?
After teaching math and computer classes for 5 years, I was asked to teach one hour of biology for the 2006-07 school year. Little did I know how little I really knew about biology. The first year was torture. I spent way too much time with an antiquated textbook and Wikipedia. I dreaded teaching that hour. Due to my lack of plans and confidence, I had to deal with lots of behavior problems. Somehow I survived and the following year I taught 5 hours of biology. This gave me a chance to really dig in and relearn biology. I relied on youtube, Discovery Education, NPR, NCSTA, and countless other sites to provide me information and teaching strategies. Once I started to understand the expectations and concepts I absolutely loved the class! This experience has not only taught me more about all living things than most would like to know, but also how to be a true internet learner.
Last school year left me feeling kind of down about the current biology teaching practices in my school. I really want students to understand the concepts, not memorize or “kind of get it”. I want them to apply the concepts to real situations. I want them to think critically and be amazed by the diversity of life on this earth. I want them to think outside of the box and realize the important role humans have with all other life. Somehow, all of this has led me to creating an online Moodle site for my class. This is my first school year using Moodle and I have had very little training on it. The original plan in September was to upload all handouts, presentations, assignments, and video clips used in class. I figured this would be beneficial for students to refer back to review and use to study at home. Absent students would be able to access what they missed. Parents would be able to login and check out what their student is doing in school. Other staff members could login and use my materials. After a few months I noticed most students were not visiting the site very often. Considering the many hours spent uploading a ridiculous amount of files and links, I was quite disappointed. This has required me to rethink the content and use of my Moodle courses.
Concern: Course Structure and Organization
My original Moodle site had way too much information and not enough student involvement.
After giving a few quizzes on Moodle I noticed how much students liked the instant feedback.
Because of this I added practice quizzes for them to study with. I also had my students post to their first forum last week and it was a huge. I am going to the them post once a week for the rest of the school year.
Concern: Checking all of that work!
The tests and quizzes are easy to check. I love the re-grade option in Moodle and use it often! I don’t think I would be as concerned about all of the grading if I were “just teaching an all online course”. I would think those instructors have to allot grading time into their daily routines. However, from 7 – 3 each day, I am completely occupied teaching. Not necessarily lecturing, but talking with and forming relationships with students. This does not leave much time to plan, update Moodle, or grade assignments. I assume and hope this concern will lessen once the online portion of the course exists and just needs tweaking.
Here are my Top Ten Moodle Tips for Rookies.
Theye based upon my Moodle experiences from my classroom and what I am learning from the Michigan Learns Online Course.
Top Ten Moodle Tips for Rookies
1. lay out a specific outline of the major units, modules, topics ahead of time
1. use color themes (different titles, documents, links get their own color)
2. put all due dates in a consistent location
3. send our email/text email reminders of important deadlines and due dates
4. limit the amount of links/attachments per lesson and per unit
5. have students post and comment to a forum about once a week
6. have students submit all online work through moodle
7. weekly practice/quizzes
8. post example work
9. post student successes
10. number or date posts/assignments
Instructor: guide, consultant, resource provider
The internet brings us a massive amount of information. The instructor better be ready to put on some hiking boots and get down and dirty to pull together appropriate, efficient, and engaging resources for students.
Social Director: creating collaboration
Take off your shoes and relax. Online students will need the instructor to create a honest and supportive environment. The instructor should include interesting and engaging ways for students to develop relationships with each other and the teacher.
Program Manager: director of the agenda
Online instructors will need to create extensive and flexible agendas just like a marathon runner plans for a race. Agendas should be detailed and easy to find. The learning goals and objectives should guide students to the finish line.
Size 13 Crocs
Get out your extra large waders (or crocs) because this component is huge! The "Never Stop Learning" attitude is essential to ford through the various technical glitches and obstacles which will occur. Instructors will continue to be students as they help the class with their personal technical issues. Instructors and students alike = Don't be afraid to ask for help!
How can I implement or change these roles in my classroom?
Instructor: guide, consultant, resource provider
Current practices= class notes, assignments, handouts, practice quizzes, tests, video clips, podcasts, expectations, and resources are posted on our class moodle site, students may access this 24/7, students are forced to access these tools during class about once a month
Changes to be made = layout and organization needs to be user friendlier, too much information on my moodle site, need to establish a consistent avenue for students to contact me with questions: email, blog, or forum
Social Director: creating collaboration
Current practices = all collaboration is being done face-to-face, students have completed 1 online project in pairs
Changes to be made = students need to start and comment on each other's posts and ideas on our moodle site as a blog or feed, students need to add basic introductory info about themselves, students will create a web portfolio for 4th quarter (some may choose to work in pairs), students will review and comment on each other's work
Program Manager: director of the agenda
Current practice = the daily agenda is posted in my classroom; important dates and announcements are posted in the classroom, on our moodle course calendar, and sent out via email
Changes to be made = post the daily agenda on moodle, post important announcments on moodle in other places besides the calendar
Current practices = I regularly consult other teachers, the RHS technology facilitator, various blogs, and the internet for help and ideas, I am usually able to help students on the spot or provide adequate advice on their at-home issues
Changes to be made = I need to receive additional moodle training to be able to make some of the changes listed above
Welcome Back from Spring Break :)
Welcome back from Spring Break! It was a long Monday back at school... almost forgot I was starting a new class after school. Believe it or not I am super excited about this class: Michigan Learns Online: Teaching & Learning Online Training (4 Weeks Online).
In this course educators will learn the skills necessary to teach and manage a 100% online or blended course. Educators will develop skills and explore the resources purchased by the grant that will allow aiding students in meeting the new MMC Online Experience requirement. Netiquette, issues of copyright and plagiarism, building online community, communicating effectively and management of student dynamics will be explored. Educators may request online courses available through the grant free of charge for their own use. Training fees paid through the MLO grant. This course meets the requirements for a teacher to use the Florida Virtual HS online courses in their own classroom. Please check with your REMC Center for additional training opportunities.
I am so interested to see how the online world of teaching and learning has changed since I finished my Master of Arts in Educational Technology back in 2005. This program through Michigan State University is absolutely fantastic! The professors are very talented and make the classes personal even though they are online. This program provided great preparation and insight to a variety of technologies to us in a classroom. The MAET program taught me how to listen to podcasts, create my first personal webpage, and use blogs.
At my current school I have been disppointed for years as I wait and wait for others around me to get on board with this technology stuff. I am unsure that many teachers realize how helpful technology can be for students, parents, and teachers. I do realize I am hoping for huge changes, however I firmly believe that great teaching and great learning needs great collaboration. This blog is only a few weeks old and I have already began to see the capabilities it gives me to connect and network with people all over. I am hoping the Michigan Learns Online class will provide me some ideas to "force" my students to learn a few new tech skills before June. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and plan to post them on here in future blogs... stay tuned :) .
Here is my response to Goal 27 from Teacher Reboot Camp 30 Goals.
I have investigated my online profile and it exists, but isn't too exciting.
However, I just realized that I have been working towards this goal the ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR :) . I have posted notes, assignments, video clips, practice quizzes, tests, and podcasts for my algebra and biology students on my Moodle site all year. This has been extremely time consuming and has had its ups and downs. I love lists so here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of my moodle site.
- quick and easy to upload files, links, videos
- students use moodle in other classes so are somewhat familiar already
- I can "see" who has been on my Moodle, what they looked at, how long they spent
- quizzes and tests are graded immediatley = students and teacher get feedback
- the calendar allows us to see important dates
- students can submit work to me
- other teachers can use/share my stuff
- Academic Center (help room) can use my stuff for all students (even if they have a different teacher)
- once I post it up there, it is there for good
- parents can access it
- most students do not go on Moodle unless they HAVE TO (aka: I force them on in a computer lab)
- most parents have never even looked at the site, even though the link/password are on every email I send out
- I am THE ONLY MATH TEACHER AND THE ONLY SCIENCE TEACHER IN MY SCHOOL using Moodle
- I may be THE ONLY MATH TEACHER AND THE ONLY SCIENCE TEACHER IN MY district using Moodle :(
- I am pretty sure my administrators have never even looked at my site :(
- it takes forever to create a quiz/test from scratch
- very dull/boring appearance
- I tried to import a math practice test from ExamView and the images wouldn't work
- couldn't figure out how to type exponents for the multiple choice problems, kind of important in algebra
Overall using Moodle has been a great experience.
I love having everything online for students to access whenever they would like. It has been great for absent students and a few parents have used it... Plus, I truly believe my students NEED to learn HOW TO LEARN with technology. There are so many great tech tools for them to use to learn with now, but most don't take advantage of it. Or they are just unaware of what they are missing.
Did I forget to mention I was never "formally trained"? I just figured most of it out myself. Becasue of this, I am sure there are oodles of things I don't know how to do. I have tried to "sell" Moodle to many of my colleagues, but most won't invest the time to learn how to use it. I did get 5 others to actually login and create their Moodle account... we have to start somewhere :)
So now what.... well, I just created mrsreckling.com
I started out with 1 blog last week and now have 3.
I will "force" my students to blog next week (we are on spring break right now).
My husband created mrreckling.com for his 8th grade English class and his student are already blogging :)
I am planning an after school session for students on "How to Use Technology to Learn and Study". Hopefully this will expand to a session for other teachers and even parents.
I may even take a break from the classroom for a year and really dive into the ed-tech world.
I have 10 years of classroom math, science, and computer teaching experience. I am a great speaker, positive person, HARD WORKER, love to learn, and am semi-addicted to technology. In addition I have earned a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University back in December of 2005. Check out my Capstone Portfolio... my how things have changed.
You may access my Moodle Site by logging in as a guest. password = falcons
Michelle Reckling is a dedicated teacher, learner,
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