Outline KWasosky



This is written for a hybrid class. Students will meet in the classroom for notes and discussion for the unit Westward Expansion.  They will simultaneously be reading assigned material on their own as well as engaging with the lessons online and completing them as assigned.

Objective (Goals):

  • Students will establish a  personal philosophy about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.
  • Each student will coherently express both the positive and negative forces of its affects on the different groups of people involved either directly or indirectly with its construction.
  • Once they have completed their research, students will describe the effects that each group  experienced.
  • Students will then support their original philosophy or that of a newly acquired  perspective due to research in the form of an essay, power point presentation, or a poster.
  • They will clearly express whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative project in the long run.
  • They will use gathered information from three different groups researched to support their opinion.

Lesson 1: Introduction

  • Was the Transcontinental Railroad a Positive or Negative Force in the U.S. in the late 19th century?
  • Look at a map of the U.S. in 1863 with the route of the railroad from California to Nebraska. Answer given questions based on observation of the map.
  • Students will answer based on prior knowledge, if any. They will revisit their answer at the end of the lesson.

Lesson 2: What Groups of People Were Affected by the building of the railroad?

  • Identify the different groups on the given chart.
  • Visit pre-set websites to gather information on each group.
  • Take the quiz at the end of the first website
  • Use one other source of the students choosing to gather information.
  • Fill in the chart as you gather information about each group.

Lesson 3: Listing the Pros and Cons of the Railroad with Respect for Each Group

  • Using the information you have read about and recorded, make a pros and cons chart of how the Transcontinental Railroad affected the lives of the people involved.
  • Who benefited? How did they benefit?
  • Who didn’t benefit? Why not?

Lesson 4: Choose a final Assessment

Choose one option to demonstrate the answer to the initial question, “Was the Transcontinental Railroad a Positive or Negative Force in the U.S. in the late 19th century?”

  1. An essay stating what your original thoughts were and whether or not you have changed your mind or continue to agree with your first thoughts. Give details on why by mentioning the groups of people who support your perspective.
  2. A Poster create illustrations which clearly demonstrate whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force. Include references through words or illustrations to the groups which support your belief. Use color.
  3. A Power Point Presentation develop a power point presentation that describes how the Transcontinental Railroad affected the different groups of people who would support your belief of whether it was a positive or negative force in the U.S.

How this Module will be completed:

  • Students will access schoology to gain access to the websites, observe the U.S. Map and the chart to fill in throughout the lesson.
  • Students will also utilize google.docs to complete written assignments and share with instructor to show progress of research.
  • Due dates will be provided for each lesson and the final assessment.
  • A rubric will be provided for each assessment option which will include the completion of the chart consisting of gathered notes from research.

Differentiation in an Online Environment– KWasosky


Differentiation is a term I am definitely used to. I have been teaching in a collaborative setting for twenty years. I do want to make it clear though, that although I differentiate for Special Education students with disabilities, I also differentiate assignments for regular education students and more advanced students as well. All students are individuals and some may learn easily in one format such as reading and taking notes, others in listening, and some in needing visualizations to comprehend material.

When I went to the UDLW site, I was quite overwhelmed at the way it was set up. I had to get my reading glasses on to start moving through the different offerings. I found Wordgen, which I moved through and found for my content, social studies, it is titled SoGen. (SoGen)WordGen word generation sounds like a good thing for me to use in my classes since history has been tasked with helping to improve the writing skills of the students. I have messaged the company and asked for the link so I can investigate it further. With all of the different levels of students in our classes ranging from non-readers, low readers, on-level and above-level readers, this site may help us a great deal. It incorporates writing in short lessons that can be based on the curriculum we are working on at the time. I think it would make a great addition to our classes and help them improve reading and writing. I am interested in learning more about the resources available and how to use them with students with disabilities. One of my big ones is ADHD and low readers which is also leads to poor writers. I have read through some of the check points and sites, and I like that many are free. After investigating the WordGen site, I noticed that the history section doesn’t seem to match up with my studies. I like the layout and all it offers for struggling readers, so I am going to continue to follow up and see if there is more. Perhaps I can use the layout of other lessons and idea to create my own for my curriculum.


As for my own resources, I have located a site that I found quite interesting. The title of the website is:

Differentiated Instruction In eLearning:  What eLearning Professionals Should Know

Differentiated Instruction In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

I found this link by typing into Google, “differentiation in online learning”. This link was on page three of my search. I believe this was a helpful resource in giving tips to educators on how to differentiate in an online learning environment. Some of these tips I will definitely explore more thoroughly. One of the very first tips was to allow students to progress at their own speed. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was pretty strict on keeping everyone together for discussion purposes, but I can clearly see the need to allow this practice in some situations.

In all five tips of differentiation online, I feel that all of them are a possibility in the face-to-face classroom as well. Supplemental materials can be produced and handed out in a traditional class. Online, other web address can lead students to other materials to help with understanding. Students who need the supplemental materials will have them available and those that may not need them, but would like to see them would have access, too.

The other tips, individualized a plan for each student still seems a bit hard online, but it is no picnic in class all of the time either. It requires a lot of planning and work. Letting the students understand what the expectations are in the beginning and continually reinforcing those is key in getting the lessons completed successfully. I agree with the writer of the article, it is impossible to create a unique learning experience for every single student, but differentiating can level the playing field so that all students have a successful one.

While reading chapter 8, I read about things I had never considered before with online learning. I do comprehend that there are different types of learners, or ones that favor one type of learning style over others. However, I didn’t think about a student with physical limitations such as cerebral palsy being an online learner. In my face-to-face classes, my co-teacher and I have carried out differentiation solutions such as colored paper because a student has trouble seeing words on the paper. We have magnified assignments on “big” paper and had the student use the magnifier on the computer to read assignments on the computer. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that students with physical, cognitive, or sensory limitations wouldn’t flourish under an online learning course umbrella. After exploring the crazy UDLW, I did click and read about a lot of different sites and products available to help the students in many different disabilities that could be helped.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes several types of disabilities. I have had a variance of every type that is listed in my classroom at some time during my career. I believe online learning can benefit these exceptional students. Utilizing the array of checkpoints and programs available on the UDLW, and there are many to investigate, would definitely offer a teacher an array of ideas to plan for differentiation for the students who need it.

I’m not quite sure how I will incorporate differentiation into the module yet. I am still developing activities to get the notes. I will most likely look for some visuals and audios to put in there to help with the understanding. “I was working on the Railroad” comes to mind.

Best Practices in Online Teaching- Kim Wasosky

girl-on-computerI loved the article in NEA’s Guide to Online Teaching because it said many of the things I believe are necessary to become a successful online teacher. I agree that the best way to learn is hands-on, as we are doing now with this course. I also think it’s important to have an experienced teacher show novices the ropes of the best practices of online teaching. They have the ability to know what generally works and what doesn’t.  I definitely need a person who will help me learn to facilitate a discussion forum. I have never done that before and I am not so sure it will be an easy task. I do agree that online classes should have online training. It just makes sense. I like the way this class is moving along. I have learned some new avenues of technology such as feedly, and even though I have had a twitter account for a few years, I have begun to pay more attention to it and realize that it can used for more than just a social space.

I believe that the best way to learn something is to do it the way you will be doing it. Does that make sense? If I am going to teach online, then I should be a student online to best be able to utilize the resources. For face-to-face teaching, it is important to have a classroom presence and be able to conduct class in a group setting with the mingling of different personalities. Time management online can be different from that of a traditional classroom because most assignments can be done anywhere at any time as long as they are turned in on time. A traditional room depends on the class meeting times for work to be completed and turned in at those specified times. With the blended/hybrid classes, this could be challenging also, but still leave room for flexibility.

I don’t think that behavior issues would be a problem in online teaching simply because the environment is completely different. If inappropriate discussions were taking place online, an instructor could just turn it off. Not let the students see each other’s discussion that was not relevant to the class. In a traditional classroom, that is not always an option. A conference can take place between the teacher and the student without the embarrassment of being pulled out into the hall while everyone watches. By the way, I am not a fan of singling students out like that, but sometimes something has to be done immediately. In an online learning class, this is more discreet.

When reading over best practices by k-12 teachers, I found some things I liked and others I was not so fond of. First of all, I like to know where we are headed in the class. I would want to organize an online class following a syllabus of the content that must be acquired through the different learning techniques. I like the idea of discussion boards for students and teachers. I am definitely for the close monitoring of student conversations. I do however think I would have a problem just having the kids go at a pace of their own without some guidance by me. I want them to stay basically together. As it stated in the article, there may be no one to talk to if everyone is at a different part of a lesson.

I know that many of the students are really “connected” and unafraid of technology, but there are going to be some that need the training in how to create some assignments through specific platforms. Just like our online class, they may need guidance. I didn’t see much of that mentioned in the article. It assumes that students have the ability to navigate technology, even those items that the instructors don’t know about yet. Many of the students currently in my face-to-face classroom exhibit advanced technological skills, and many are equipped with that kind of background knowledge because the technology is available to them outside of class and they are learning many things in their computer classes at school. I have to believe that not all of them have the same advantages and need help learning what comes easy for some. I will be the first to admit, I learn new technology from my students all of the time.

One of the results of the best teacher practices was that students and teachers lose the bond that face-to-face teachers and students have. I feel that a bond can be created online just as easily without the student thinking that all that has to be done is meet the criteria, turn in work and get a grade. I actually have face-to-face students that operate that way. They want to know if everything I assign them will be graded. They seem to put more effort into those things. I always say, “It could be. Work as if it will be.” I believe that attitude can work in either setting. It is the way you approach and challenge the students to continue with dialogue. Requiring discussion keeps them engaged in the conversations of the class. As they address each other and are addressed by the instructor, a relationship can be formed and a clear path is made for students who may not have asked questions to ask them, too.

Current Status of Digital Learning Kim Wasosky


There was a lot to take in with this assignment. I had to read it several times to digest it because to me, it was more analytical in nature. I am going to try and express what I have learned from visiting the Keeping Pace with the K-12Digitial Learning article. Understanding the digital landscape can be a bit confusing for the parent, student and the teacher. It is all a matter of who has control of the content and digital curriculum. As stated, suppliers cannot issue diplomas, but they do issue a lot of the educational substance for the students and schools who utilize it. With that said there were four things that I gleaned from reading thoughtfully through the Keeping Pace with Digital Learning.

  • Digital learning has definitely been around the block for a while and has continued to grow outside of the private arena. Starting as a tool for students who need to recover credits, take AP courses while attending a physical school setting, offering dual enrollment to students who want to get a jump on college courses before high school graduation, seems to be the most prevalent reason for the online courses offered. The online platform has also been designed to aid students who need to recover credits, students who are likely to drop out of school and need an alternative type of education different than the traditional format, and homebound students who cannot attend a physical school.
  • There are such various forms of digital learning available that it is almost like a restaurant menu that is too large to make a decision. One size does not fit all. However, with careful examination, a combination of the right amount of online classes and traditional classes which fit the aptitude of each individual student can be found. To me, there are too many different variables of what is needed that they outnumber the qualified teachers to teach them.
  • States have been spending a lot of time examining Common Core State Standards and that has left little time to devote to online teaching training or even to begin the online instruction process at all. It’s a small wonder that there are only five states that offer online schools. Not to mention that they are grouped in the Southeast region of the U.S. I was surprised that those were the only offerings in the entire country, since my perception was that the Southern states often seem to be trailing other Northeastern states and even those in the Midwest.
  • Online teaching requires a lot of time-consuming training as well as being able to handle the expense of paying for the certification to teach online courses. That is just for the state where they are certified to teach. When considering offering online courses across state lines, teachers are finding reciprocity an issue. Becoming certified in additional states is also expensive and confusing.

After reading, it seems that supplemental online courses are the centerpiece of the virtual state schools. The blended plan, to me, works well for many students who want to maintain a traditional school experience, but take courses online that may not be available to them in a physical classroom. When I taught 8th grade economics, we set our students up in an online learning environment that taught them “real life” economics. It involved finances, supply and demand, opportunity cost, savings, college, jobs, and more. It was a module where I monitored each student’s progress through the program. They had to reach specified goals by certain deadlines and could log in from home to work on their modules. It was a great experience and is something that would definitely help them in real life. The students were engaged and could ask questions of me or share information with other students while working. This program was created and run by a local Richmond business called Genworth. It was free for the school to use and was the essence of an online learning experience for our students.

I am getting my feet wet in the digital teaching arena with help from our CTRT trainer. I developed a web quest for my seventh graders to complete with a partner. They each have a computer, but one pulls up the website and the other types the answers to gain a set of notes for the unit. One cannot work without the other. Then, when the assignment is complete, the students follow instructions on how to send me the link electronically, which I can grade on schoology and send back. It is so cool. I think once I become more comfortable with the technology, I will do it more. This is a huge step for me and I would like to think that it will help me in the journey of teaching online learning courses for students in the future.

I feel that online learning will grow more in the future, but with many more transitions to make it more feasible for instructors to gain access through the “red tape” of state governments to teach students across the lines in different regions. I also believe that it will be adaptable to any type of student. For example, a student who needs to have complete online learning to complete state required courses will have access to the precise educational platform to be successful. A student that needs or desires some online courses, but doesn’t want to lose the physical connection with people or a school environment will also find a perfectly accessible solution. I can hardly wrap my head around the possibilities of even moving from students in our nation learning online to the world’s student population learning from all corners of the earth one day; problem solving and teaching each other digitally.

The blog I chose to read at the iNACOL site was about Student-centered learning. The first thoughts through my mind as I scanned it and then headed to the Executive Summary was that students could be graduating at the age of 12 or 13 if they are following their own paces and moving along to get the curriculum mastered. Doogie Howser, M.D. flashed through my mind for a moment. Every single student in a program such as this would work and master and move on at their own pace. Those that are slower to learn would move slower, obviously, but I wouldn’t think it would be as frustrating to them because they don’t have to “hurry up”. It is a very interesting idea and if the states had money to pay for it, which I am not sure they will ever get that much money, but hey, who knows? Students could actually get that deeper learning that we are working so hard to instill today.

The more I investigate digital learning, the more I get excited that it would be really great as long as we humans don’t lose sight of our personal socialization.

My project Topic Kim Wasosky


My topic is the Determining the Impact of the Transcontinental Railroad on different groups of people who were directly affected by its construction. The students are to analyze and identify each group they are given by me by researching websites located on schoology and explaining whether or not the perspective of each would be positive or negative about the TCRR. They will also explain why. I believe this is a lot for a 7th grade student, but I would like to try it out and see what comes of it.

After lessons on the Homestead Act of of 1962 and the interaction among railroad builders, soldiers and homesteaders, the question for this online learning topic is whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force.

Students will have several links to leading to museum websites  (still looking into those) to use in conjunction with classroom notes and readings to help them identify the perspectives involved with a decision on the advantages and disadvantages of the railroad. They will write their findings based on the guided information which I ask of them. That information will involve the following:

  • From the perspective of the Native Americans, this was in part an ending to the life of which they had on the Great Plains.
  • From the perspective of the settlers, the railroad was a lifeline to the Eastern and Western cities to send and receive goods.
  • From the perspective of the Chinese railroad workers and their sacrifices and poor treatment during the building of and the aftermath of the railroad.
  • From the perspective of the U.S. Government should identify the railroad as a way to join all of the United States and territories together showing a growing and strengthening empire.

The student will gather their information and write a paragraph for each perspective and ultimately make a decision as to whether or not the Transcontinental Railroad was a positive or negative force in the U.S. based on which perspective they are using to determine their answer.

The format for this project will be hybrid. Since we have already started taking in the information in my classes and discussing it, the one assignment they will perform will be through schoology and presenting their findings and completed work to me through google docs. I am conducting this project with one class only to see how it works. I predict that this will take one to two class periods to get a final product. (We are working on writing skills in class also, and I would like to have them use their four-square writing organization to be able to clearly present their opinions on the question given.

This module will be created for my 7th grade U.S. History students.

Common misconceptions about my topic depends on the perspective that is taken. Most people when presented with the information about the Transcontinental Railroad construction see it as a positive endeavor that helped the U.S. grow economically and physically. It is expressed to have been a technological advance that helped the U.S. settle in areas that were ultimately “cut-off” from the civilized eastern states. The railroad made a connection that brought prosperity to the U.S.  Often when the topic is explained, there is a downplaying of the effect that the railroad and “progress” had on the Native Americans living in the Great Plains region. I am hoping that some of the students pick up on this and share the information in their opinions.

A seventh grade learner typically struggles with expressing pros and cons of the railroad showing a clear understanding from both perspectives. Developmentally, not all 12 and 13 year olds have the ability to look at something that seems positive and find a negative as well. This is partly because, unless they are looking for the information specifically, Native American perspectives are not exposed as part of the railroad completion. However, if directed to specifically look for that information, the students will be able to gain a better understanding of the perspectives and how something positive to one can be negative to another.

Kim Wasosky COI Blog

Through my reading and trying to understand the language in the COI program. I have learned that there are three levels of presence that will make the online learning experience worthwhile. There is a balance among the teacher, the student and the content itself. The perfect level of autonomy to learn content of a subject is not always present with students by itself. However, combined with the social presence, it seems to be more attractive. Middle school students love working in pairs or groups to carry out goals set out by the teacher. Here is where it gets interesting. Teachers who supply the cognitive concrete lesson with structure to the students and allow them, or better yet, encourage them to work together to dissect the information that is presented and share their own knowledge with other students will be more engaged and more likely to successfully complete the tasks they are assigned, as well as put forth effort into understanding the content which is presented by the teacher. This makes the online challenge seem less daunting and gives the students the support and sense of belonging to a group instead of being completely on their own.

The teacher is happy because the content is being accepted and analyzed by the students through their interaction with each other in discussion and creation of a product that shows the level of their understanding. Within the COI framework, students are learning in a safe and trusting environment in which they can express their views and are more likely to offer information and suggestion to their peers.

The transactional distance in cases such as the one listed above is closer and the security level of the students remains strong so the idea of “putting yourself out there” is not so scary, as it could be in a face-to-face situation such as a classroom setting.

As far as moving throughout the lessons to achieve the learning goals which are set for the students. The teaching presence is the stronghold which anchors the transitioning of the students through the lessons to acquire the desired outcome.

It is clear that the three presences, cognitive, teaching and social balance each other and a shift in any one of them will directly affect the others. For example, if the teaching presence is not precise in the expectations of what the students should accomplish, then I believe the students will do one of three things:

  • Not complete anything because they will not have a structure to follow and will be afraid to move forward without guidance from the teacher;
  • Move forward on what they “think” is expected and possibly follow through on something that doesn’t meet the planned goal of the lesson; or
  • Constantly complete step by step and continually question the teacher or other students as to whether or not he or she is on the right track.

If the cognitive presence is lacking, then the students will have a difficult time, even with teacher presence, to understand what it is that is being asked of them.

Without the social presence, the students will feel isolated and perhaps unable to complete the lessons to meet the goals set by the teacher because there is no feed-back or discussion to help understanding of the information they are to disseminate.

With inclusion of all three presences, the student has an opportunity to be successful, close the transactional distance, and  autonomy will become more apparent because of the confidence that is instilled by the presence of all three items.


My online learning experiences are limited. As I stated before, I had to send cassette tapes back and forth and communicate through snail mail. This is all a fairly new concept to me. I am no technology guru and I am excited learn more about the online communication environment which consists of the twitter, feedly, wordpress, and regular blogging experiences because I believe that these platforms offer a conceivable way to learn. It will take some serious time-management on my end to keep up.

I can completely see how a student can feel separated by transactional distance when it comes to being consistent with interacting with other students in the class on a regular basis. It takes a great deal of determination and commitment to stay abreast of new ideas and try to grasp what is being taught. Using the social presence in this online teaching class has made me feel at ease. Reading the blogs of my colleagues has allowed me the “whew, I am not the only one” feeling when I have read and re-read the blogs and articles about the different learning preferences and how they are supposed to work together. The language has been difficult for me, as I have looked up a lot of words just to understand what I am reading in some instances. It is frustrating, but I believe I have a general understanding of what makes the transactional distance become closer between students/ teachers/peers throughout the learning process. All are needed for online learning to be successful.

I hope to incorporate all three of the presences in my project to make learning for my students not only engaging and fun, but rewarding and in the end I hope they reach their learning goals.