Ford- Outline for Learning module

My module will be a hybrid site that my students will explore the SOL of Goods and Services, 1.7.  They will use this as another mode for learning the differences between goods, services, consumers, and producers.  The learning outcome is that students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the differences between goods, services, consumers, and producers. I will assess this primarily by observation and maybe a simple assessment either in a  folder or a paper sort.   The directions may have to be given verbally rather than on the module due to the limited reading abilities of my students.  I have at least one student that will require adult assistance to locate the module and then utilize the tools in exploring.

Directions and Definitions

Folder 1- Goods and Services


Drag and Drop Activity and/or

Other interactive games or activities


Folder 2- Consumers and Producers


Drag and Drop Activity and/or

Other interactive games or activities

Differentiation in online learning

I have spent a good deal of time this week reading about differentiation and seeking tools to assist in designing a module with this knowledge in place.  I have to be honest and say that I am struggling to come up with tools.  I think the major reason is because my students are special needs (all students are) but mine are identified and they are six years old struggling to become readers!!  Therefore I am looking for very simple visual strategies to implement.  I did find one resource that involves clicking in certain areas of a picture or on the screen and information is shared through different modes such as videos, captions, pictures, and audio.   The link is:  This tool is known as “Thinglink” and is found under the heading; Learning Profiles.   This website has 100 + tools and is called Edutopia.  I actually found it by reading a classmate’s blog.  Prior to that I searched under “Differentiation strategies in online environments”, “How online teachers differentiate” and spent a lot of time on the Universal Design for Learning website.

I see several similarities between online teaching and face-to-face teaching when it comes to differentiation.  The legislation and guidelines for UDL are almost the same language as the laws governing exceptional education.   Each environment requires the following in order to make learning happen: multiple ways in which content is presented, multiple modes for student expression, and multiple means for engaging student interest. No matter if students are in an on-line class or physical class, they bring a variety of skills, needs, and interest to their learning. However, I’m not sure how on-line teachers can reach those students who crave social contact and are very motivated to perform for others.  Again, I see this with first grade students.  Wouldn’t it be nice if students kept that feeling of love and admiration for their teachers through graduation!

Best Practices in Teaching

This week in reading about best practices, I come to the conclusion that there are more similarities than differences between online teaching and face-to-face teaching.  The very first practice mentioned is ‘going the extra mile’ to support student learning.  I pray that most people in this profession live by this motto for the betterment of each student whether in a virtual classroom or physical classroom!  It definitely isn’t the money that keeps us here!  The practice of understanding the varied learning styles of the students is found in both arenas.     It’s known as differentiation.  Taking into consideration each student and then curtailing instruction, knowledge, and materials to fit the needs of each ensures learning takes place in either environment.  Additional similarities are the practices of good organizational skills and having extensive knowledge of and appreciation for the content area being taught.  I think that the practice of using student and course data, as well as other sources of information available to self-evaluate the pedagogical strategies used is currently the focus of public schools as well.  It can be argued that we spend all of our time assessing to gain data rather than teaching to instill knowledge!

There are a few differences I note between virtual and face-to-face teaching (ftf).  The first is that virtual teachers MUST be good at exploring new technologies that have potential value for the student.  They Must frequently visit the sites due to constant changes and to ensure accessibility; whereas, FtF teachers have the option to explore if they choose.  In my experiences, I have been available for my students (remember K and 1st graders) during the school day and on few occasions after school hours but a virtual teacher is basically on-call for the duration of the course.  If my student has a problem with the assignment or doesn’t understand what is being communicated, we can address it immediately and learning can continue.  I am a bit confused on how one can manage classroom behavior in a virtual class.  The question of cheating or having someone other than the student completing the assignments makes me wonder how would it be known or identified by the teacher?  I’m also questioning what it looks like to see a student in crisis in a virtual world?  Is it primarily by what and how he/she is communicating with words?  This is one area I would like to know more about.

As far as there being any practices that I question as valid or relevant, there are none.   At this point, with my limited knowledge of the virtual classroom, I am not going to judge.  I feel that the practices made sense as I read them and I see the value/need for them in order for learning environments to be successful.

Reflections on Readings from Week 4

After reading this week, I have a greater understanding of several elements of virtual learning and computer-assisted instruction!  It now makes sense to me that the suppliers are contracted outsource providers of instructional services to schools.  They simply supply the materials but have no responsibilities for student activity, assessments, or performance.  Schools, on the other hand, are entities that carry the primary responsibilities for the students’ education.  I appreciated the first diagram displaying “Students” as the focal point when looking at it and everything else generating out from there.  Also interesting, student success in online courses correlates directly with local school support.  It was interesting to see the number of students enrolled in public schools verses charter/virtual schools; 50.1 million (public) to 2.9 million (charter).  84% of students in the United States are enrolled public schools.  It sparked the question of how fast the number is increasing and will it maintain this rate?  This question was answered after viewing other charts in this reading.  My conclusion is that there is no definite answer.  Some states have had more virtual students in the past and not as many currently, some states have continued to increase numbers each year and then some states fluctuate from year to year.  What are some virtual schools doing to gain over 14,000 students while others have a few hundred?  I’m wondering if Virginia is the next state to have larger enrollments.  The top five virtual schools are all in the South East and directly under Va. (Figure 17) I’m guessing that Florida has almost half of the total number of all virtual school students because of the culture of families, athletics, weather, and work opportunities there.  Virginia’s average courses per student number is the 2nd highest at 2.04 compared to North Dakota with the highest at 3.03, which was interesting to me.  Summer School enrollments are growing at a faster rate.  School systems are utilizing this as a way to reduce budgets and it’s great for flexibility in traveling or medical concerns for students and families.    When reading about policy, I read what I know…. While Common Core has given many districts reason to increase number of computers and broaden online activities, attention to professional development and other curriculum and instruction activities that is needed doesn’t allow sufficient time to devote to shifting instruction to more of a digital model.  Thus we have technology that we’re not aware of, don’t have enough of, or not working/assessable.   I wasn’t aware that Virginia is one of only five states to require students to complete an online course or learning “experience” prior to graduation.

I chose to read the blog “Bridging the Gaps, Tightening the Curriculum” on the iNacol website.  It reminds me to slow down and reflect on each student’s skill set as much if not more than what I’m required to teach or reach!  All students have gaps and unless we help to fill them in, we won’t meet the instructional goals.  Differentiation comes to mind and is what we should all be doing for each student.  It’s not a choice, it’s a requirement!  I respect not thinking about time as a variable, but about how to be more effective within the time the students have through intentional, instructional, and curricular strategies.  We too, as a system, are doing more of cross grade levels communicating as to what is expected at each level, ensuring we’re using the same language so the students are better prepared to learn at the next level.

I definitely plan on reading more of these articles, “maybe on a snow day”, because I wasn’t able to get to all of the information.  I look forward to viewing a few more webinars!

New Project Idea

I have decided to change the topic of my project to the first grade standard of learning 1.7 which is; Students will explain difference between goods and services and describe how people are consumers and producers of goods and services.  In searching videos and activities that are available online, it seems possible to create a module that is interactive and engaging for most six year old students.  They will be more motivated to learn by the computer materials than by paper/pencil activities that are presented to them.  They will gain visuals by utilizing the computer that may help to remember the concepts and perform better on the assessments.  I am planning on using schoology as the host to this module.  It will probably be a hybrid of online and ftf.  I’m thinking that I will create an assessment once I see what information is taught through the module but I also will be observing  the students using it and gauge their understanding through the interactive activities.  I have no idea at this point, what the timeframe will be.  At this age, and with the population of students I work with; I’m thinking that it will be a module consisting of several interactive activities that the students can visit repeatedly.  First grade students often are confused about the differences between good/service and consumer/producer because the concepts are a bit  abstract.  So, my goal is to present the material in a colorful, interactive way to make the student reach an understanding.

Community of Inquiry Comments

I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning…….is what I come up with after attempting to read the COI article!!  I definitely struggled to follow the jargon and then compile thoughts on what I was reading.  After reading a few blogs, I’ve gathered that I need to dive deeper to gain fuller understanding and appreciation.  At this point, this is what I came away with:  The visual of the framework is very helpful to those of us who by far are visual learners.  It makes it easier to see how the three elements (Social, Cognitive, and Teaching) flow together and how they create the educational experience.  If the three elements are evident in the learning process, both transactional distance and in a classroom, students will be more successful and feel more a part of the learning process.  I sense that the Teaching Presence may be the only one that can truly be manipulated by this model to both shorten distance learning and to design learning opportunities.  Designing lessons that require solutions and that provide facilitation and direction are indeed key to student’s success in this and any model of learning.  At this point, I have little idea as to how my project will incorporate these three elements!  I must explore what we’ve been introduced to thus far in different ways and then hopefully it will become a bit clearer!  I have learned that it will be up to me to set the stage for student success by designing/creating a module that will encourage learning through these elements.  It is probably pretty obvious that I have zero personal experience in virtual learning environments that I can relate to what I’ve been reading for this course.  Hopefully my comments are not completely off-based and I gain a better/deeper understanding of virtual learning by this whole experience!  Peace