The end is near… Course Prototype Submission

Hello all,

I have finally finished my Course Prototype and I am really excited.

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This is not only a course I can use within my classroom, but my entire school (and division) can use. As I mentioned in my Course Profile, my intention was to create a place where students can gain access to education about trades, their options and become prepared to enter the field of their choice. I have so many modules I would like to complete for this course, but for the sake of this assignment I took on Sask. Youth Apprenticeship. 

In my Course Walk Through you can see that I have tackled four main areas:

  1. What is Apprenticeship and Sask Youth Apprenticeship
  2. Level One
  3. Level Two
  4. Level Three

I have basically created a place where students can log on and complete SYA with, or without the help of a teacher. I am helping those students who want to enter the trades access knowledge, training, experience, funding, and skills such as interviewing.

I have assigned SYA to my students for years. Usually through different methods (paper copies, matching quizzes) but the students sometimes did not finish. They found it boring and it did not relate to their learning style. By looking at the Passport from SYA, and using tools and knowledge I gained in my Alec classes, I was able to use platforms and create assignments that were interactive, engaging and easier to use. I really think my students are going to see how it all comes together on Google Classroom, what is expected of them and how they can easily gain the benefits of SYA.

I also want to thank my reviewers! I took their suggestions seriously by adding a Work Experience Reflection Via Flipgrid, a 4 point rubric for my Research a Trade report so students are clear on their expectations and how to achieve a better grade, and I added a task where students will spend time editing each other’s trade reports in order to connect the students and make my online classroom more personal.

Campus Regina Public has always focused on SYA, but we have struggled with two issues: not all teachers are aware of what it is, or how to do it, and a platform that is engaging enough to help students want to complete SYA. I think I have found a solution for both of these concerns and I am excited to share it with my peers!

I hope you find this useful, and I am sorry if you are not a part of Regina Public Schools and cannot access the material, but IF YOU ARE, and you think a student would benefit from this course, shoot me an email! The more students who gain the knowledge about their futures, and finish this awesome opportunity the better.

 

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Cutting the strings on censoring student communication

Student interactions online have always worried me. I grew up in a time where MSN and chat rooms were developing. Girls my age used those tools to bully other girls. Negative comments are one of the worst parts of the internet, so allowing my students to communicate freely freaks me out. I do not want them to speak  negatively to each other, or about their work. I just always assumed it was better to leave that part out of my Google Classroom. One time one of my students started a comment feed and I abruptly disabled the option.

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This class has made me think twice about having my students communicate online. In chapter 4.4.1 What is online collaborative learning? They state that “students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer.” I know that there are many benefits to it, so maybe I just need to trust my students.

I think open communication could be good. For example, my students could ask each other questions about the assignments. They could discuss the material, help each other find resources, and have conversations online through my course. In the chapter “Harasim emphasises the importance of three key phases of knowledge construction through discourse:

  • idea generating: this is literally brainstorming, to collect the divergent thinking within a group;
  • idea organising: this is where learners compare, analyse and categorise the different ideas previously generated, again through discussion and argument;
  • intellectual convergence: the aim here is to reach a level of intellectual synthesis, understanding and consensus (including agreeing to disagree), usually through the joint construction of some artefact or piece of work, such as an essay or assignment.”

In my Google Classroom I could try allowing students to read each other’s work, and comment. I have always learnt something from my classmates blogs, so I know it would be the same for my students. It also allows them to improve their typing skills and their communication skills.

Photo Credit: Lee Bennett Flickr via Compfight cc

In my course prototype I have implemented a few ways students would communicate with professionals via Zoom. They will essentially video chat with a Journeyperson in their field and interview them. I will ask the Journeyperson to provide feedback on how the student represented themselves. I think this will be beneficial for when the students have a job interview. I know the roles will be reversed, but they will practice interacting with a stranger. Other than that I do not have interactions online.

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As the chapter points out, the benefits of inquiry and communication online are:

  • social presence ” is the ability of participants to identify with the community (e.g., course of study), communicate purposefully in a trusting environment, and develop inter-personal relationships by way of projecting their individual personalities.”
  • teaching presence  is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes
  • cognitive presence “is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse“.

So why wouldn’t I try to incorporate more online interactions into my course? One thing I can add is implementing a Flipgrid activity for their work experience reflection. Students can express what they learnt and how it went, maybe even if it helped them decide whether or not to get into that career. And maybe I can even have an assignment where the students edit each other’s Research A Trade Report from module one. This way they can spend time learning about other trades, and improve their essential skills like  reading, writing and communication!

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As the chapter points out, successful online collaboration happens when the course is organized. So it will be my job to ensure that meaningful communication is taking place so that all students can learn in a safe environment.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”- Bill Gates

Getting feedback from my peers always make me nervous, but overall everything went well but I have a couple of things to consider!

First of all, I was one of the people affected by the Regina Public School’s privacy policy. On every feedback form I received, they mentioned how they could not access the course. At first I was really frustrated with the lack of responses and help from my tech department, but I know that Google Classroom is the best option for my class. My students know how to use it and it is easy for me to use.

I was forced to send links via email to everyone so they could open and view my materials. For most of my resources this worked fine, but because my EdPuzzle was connected to my classroom they could not view the assignment. I will need to go back and see if there is a way to get a code, or make it public so everyone can access it. Because they could not get into my Google Classroom, they also could not view my course shell. This is something I didn’t even think about. If I could go back, I would attach pictures of my course shell. Due to the privacy policy of my division, I thought about switching platforms, but as I stated above, it is an easy tool for me to use.

I appreciated that everyone said my module was easy to use, and was organized. I try my best to make things easy for students, so they can feel at ease going into my assignments. One of my feedbackers mentioned that it was easier to use than some of the paper copies that they have seen on the desks of their colleagues. I really appreciate this because I think Sask. Youth Apprenticeship is so important and I want students to finish it in order to gain the benefits of the program.

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For one of my assignments, Research a Trade, a feebacker mentioned that I should use a 4 point rubric instead of marks out of ten. They explain that “students seem to appreciate that they understand more of the criteria it takes to get a higher grade in a certain category, instead of something just being worth 10 marks, and not knowing how to get there.”  I think this is a great point and I will be incorporating one in order to make my assessment stronger and more beneficial for my students.

For my next part, I attempt to finish Level two and three of SYA. One of my feebackers even provided me with a quiz for the terminology challenge. They provided study notes and a quiz.  which I really appreciate (thank you!)

Overall I received some constructive criticism and some helpful resources. I plan to take this feedback and implement it into my module. I need to ensure that it is the best for students and adding in ideas from my PLC is only beneficial!

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My rant on blended learning and teachers who refuse to embrace it

This week’s topic was to explore something of interest that relates to blended learning. To be honest, I was not sure where I wanted to go with this blog post, but then an article caught my attention….

To be honest, it sparked some anger. For years now, colleagues have ignored blended learning, dismissing it’s potential, and many are unwilling to learn about, or implement any online tools or aids. Frankly, this annoys me. I can’t stand when a teacher is at the front lecturing. From my experience, many students tune out (including myself). They miss half the lesson, feel tired and bored and do not see the importance of the given lesson.

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I often wondered why teachers were so negative about blended learning when there were so many benefits. In my research I came across the article 6 Common Misconceptions About Blended Learning and I found these misconceptions to be the most prevalent:

  1. Students work in isolation.

Blended learning “can serve as a means to increase interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers.” The idea that teachers take a break from lecturing to make connections with their students, discuss their work and improve together is very valuable. Maybe it is important to discuss this with teachers and tell our success stories to back up our thoughts and facts.

  1. Blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction. This made me laugh. Blended learning is so much work. I often find that I will finish a lesson and within a couple of weeks, or the next semester I will need to update the information. I find myself constantly making sure my links work and are engaging. I also have the responsibility of teaching the content to my students, but also ensuring my Google Classroom is up to date and everything is ready ahead of time. I wish it was less work, but it is not. I am not complaining, I know my students are more interested, but blended learning is much more then uploading.

The article also had some informative infographics:

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I feel like it is a teacher’s obligation to learn things that are beneficial for student learning, and blended learning is a great way to engage students. Blended learning ensures students are investigating themselves. It provides them with the chance to learn about anything they want, and allows them to be interactive and responsible. It also allows them to use the internet, where they spend most of their time anyway!

I also think it is a great way for teachers to learn new topics, step out of their comfort zone, and heck, get some help with content delivery (I know a lot of us teachers think we know everything, but we don’t!) I am not saying that we need to ditch teaching face to face all together, but we need to be able to combine the two types of teaching and learning in order to do what is best for our students, what will make them take in the most content, and take the time to interact, investigate and participate in the world around them.

In the article BLENDED LEARNING IS NOT AN OPTION ANYMORE BY MATTHEW LYNCH He explains that it makes sense that factory-style education should disappear from schools. Modern technology has changed the way we think about work and how we perform our jobs. This same technology has changed education for the better.

He lists a few reasons why blended learning is for the better, such as it is less restrictive. No one likes being told how to think and do. Blended Learning allows students to research their thoughts and opinions. The students feel like they have a say and in that we create empowered students.

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Blended learning is more authentic- we don’t know everything enlist the help of experts! Lynch describes how blended learning is a “versatile tool that helps students learn new material or reinforce what they have just learned.”

It also creates flexibility. Students are able to work at their own pace, investigate areas of interest and connect with people they might not have otherwise.

I cannot stand when other teachers are against blended learning. I am happy that I was able to investigate my feelings (okay, maybe rant to you guys) but also I was able to educate myself. Read about why people do not like blended learning, but also reaffirm why I incorporate blended learning into my classroom. Hey, maybe I can even change some teacher’s minds with my new found facts!

Photo Credit: Harris County Public Library Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Testing testing… Screencastify

This week, I decided to take on a concept that I have often wondered about… but have been too afraid to try: Screencastify!

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In my past classes with Alec, many people have used it,  but I never took the leap. Last week in class Dani kept saying how easy it was to use, and I trust her, so I decided to give it a try.

The first step to using Screencastify is to download it to your Chrome Suite. I Googled “Screencastify,” clicked on the first link and clicked the download button on the top right. It was super easy.

Right away I was taken to a YouTube video explaining how to use Screencastify:

I am not going to lie to you, this was not my favourite video. It’s not a bad video, and now that I have used Screencastify I can see how it is useful, but as a first time user, I was concerned that this would be harder than I thought. I actually went to a couple more like this one below:

Already it had better music, better details, and made me feel at ease.

So after you decide what to present there are three options: Browser Tab which shows what you are searching though on the web, Desktop which shows what you are presenting, and Webcam Only which is you speaking on the screen. I thought that using all three were fairly simple. I could not figure out how to see the preview of me talking while presenting on Desktop which made me uneasy. I wanted to be able to see how I looked at all times.

I decided to start my project and record my Apprenticeship and Sask. Youth Apprenticeship presentation. Right away I was frustrated with filming. I kept messing up my words and starting over because I didn’t like how it looked. It didn’t help that it counts down how many videos you have left before you need to pay…

After a while, I realized that I needed to practice more to feel at ease. At one point, my webcam went off and it stopped filming. I received a notification saying that it stopped, and that it changed my settings, and to be honest, I am unsure which setting was changed, but it worked after, so I kept going.

At this point,I was worried that I would need to start all over, so I started to Google “How to Edit Screencastify.” After discovering that I could put videos together, I felt better about messing up.  I talked until I flubbed, and then stopped the recording only to pick up where I left off. I ended up filming my presentation in 3 sittings.

At some point, I also lost the option of showing me speaking, but I felt more comfortable and finished talking about the content.

After I was done, I was over the ten minute free trial, so I needed to cut some slides. When I tried to edit, I was quickly reminded that I only had three days to edit…

     

Editing was pretty easy. The only option I was really given was to cut.

From here I had to click the + button to add my three videos. I looked at the presentation, decided where I wanted to cut, took out some parts where I sounded bad, and put it together. It was also longer than the free ten minutes so I deleted some other parts.

When the video was done, I was worried it would delete without the upgrade so I decided to download it to my computer. I took about 10 minutes to fully download, but then was available on my computer!

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What didn’t I like about Screencastify? The tutorials. The lack of free options. The fact that I was pressured into upgrading. It timed out on me. It stopped showing me halfway through, and it took too long to download.

So what did I like about Screencastify? It was pretty easy to use once I practiced. I liked how easy it was to put my three videos into one, and now I have a presentation I can use when my students miss the class!

I think this is a great tool to make presentations, and once I get used to it, I feel like I could make way cooler videos. I actually might pay for the upgrade to make it more interesting for my students. I think Screencastify got the job done, and I am happy I learnt how to make a presentation!

 

 

Course Profile: A high school prep course for youth entering the trades

I think the reason why I keep coming back to Alec’s courses is because his lessons are relevant to what I do in my classroom. When he gives a project I can see where it fits in my class, and how it will be beneficial for my students. This is important because I want classes that will push me as a teacher and make my classes better.

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I was excited when we received the Online/Blended Course Prototype Development because I had just been asked to present Sask. Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) to the Welding and Advanced Construction class. I find that Sask. Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) is important for all students to know about. We often push university on students without really preparing them for other routes.  As most teachers, I was apprehensive about having another interruption and being away from my class, but I know that I can do a good job of the SYA presentation because I am passionate about it, and I think I explain SYA in a way that allows students to understand.

When Alec explain the assignment, SYA came to mind, but then I started to think about how there is not enough time in my ELA class to prepare my students for graduation in general. They still have so many questions. My class was created to prepare students for the workforce, but students still did not understand things like what apprenticeship was, how to apply for school, they were not demonstrating employable behaviour. They didn’t know where to go to apply for jobs, they didn’t have a proper resume, and didn’t know how to write a proper email. I don’t fault my students. Some of the knowledge (like what Sask. Poly is), and basic skills fall by the wayside in high school. We have so many other outcomes to reach that it is hard to fit in these real life lessons.

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I started to think about having a place for students to go where they could work on this on their own… when they were caught up in my class, or wanted to do homework… I know farfetched. More importantly, I thought about how cool it would for all teachers and students in my school to be able to access this. The information is beneficial for more than just my students… so that is what I am going to do!

Course profile:

Overview and description of the course:

My course will essentially be a prep course for high school students entering the trades. In my course students will investigate and learn about Skills, Apprenticeship, Graduation Prep, Career Pathing, Certifications, Skills Saskatchewan/ Canada, Workplace Health, Sask. Youth Apprenticeship, and Portfolios.

Many high schools focus on university. My objective will be to prepare students to go into the trades. Make them aware of their rights and responsibilities, and ensure they do the correct steps to prepare them for their lives after high school. Students will also gain many certificates that will help them in the future and obtain Sask. Youth Apprenticeship.

Target student population and demographics (age, grade, etc.):

My students are in grade 11 and 12 and attend Campus Regina Public. They range from 15-18 years old. CRP is a school focused on careers. We have over 15 programs that prepare students for the workforce. Students range in demographics, but usually have access to technology, if not, students can use the technology within the school. This course would be useful for anyone entering the trades.

 Course format (blended/online, synchronous/asynchronous, etc.):

The goal for this course is to create an asynchronous class so if the students do not have access to CRP, they can still learn and earn the benefits of the course.  My true intention, and my implementation will be blended learning. I will primarily use online tools so it could reach all students all over the school. Ideally, teachers would take the information and apply it to their course; using blended learning to instruct, and use my course to support them.

Course toolset (e.g. platform as well as instructional, communication, and assessment tools):

My platform will be Google Classroom. I have some experience using it, but have recently (the start of this class) researched how to use it to it’s full potential. I like that Google Classroom allows you to assess online (formative and summative), hand back work and how it stores everything in one place. This way students have one place to go to find information and assignments.

There will be instructional videos where students will watch combined with assignments and activities to ensure learning and understanding.

I will also use Edpuzzle for students to watch videos and activities to check for understanding.

I will investigate how to use Zoom and screen casting tools. I will communicate with students through classroom, on specific assignments or have the students come to me in person if they attend Campus Regina Public.

Course content and learning objectives:

My course will be divided into 9 Modules: Skills, Apprenticeship, Graduation Prep, Career Pathing, Certifications, Skills Saskatchewan/ Canada, Workplace Health, Sask. Youth Apprenticeship, and Portfolio. Each will Module will have lessons designed for online and blended learning.

Many of the lessons and assessment objectives can be found in the ELA 20/ A30/ B30 curriculum. It is a relevant and creative way to meet outcomes and indicators.

Students will also gain knowledge about employable skills, apprenticeship, graduation prep, workplace health.

Students will earn the benefits of Sask. Youth Apprenticeship.

Students can complete over 10 certifications to help them get into the trades.

Assessment strategies:

Formative and Summative Assessment can be completed on Google Classroom. Rubrics and expectations will be provided to each student.

Some activities within Sask. Youth apprenticeship will involve online quizzes.

Considerations for common concerns (e.g. low bandwidth, student access to devices, EAL learners, attendance concerns, cultural considerations, socioeconomic status):

My concerns are that students will not understand the importance of this course without some teacher instruction. It is important they understand the terms and their rights once they enter the workforce. I think by applying the information to their chosen career will make it more relatable and understandable. Students must also have access to the internet and some sort of technological device (computer or phone) in order to complete the course.

Some learners will need subtitles, and a combination of instruction and visuals in order to make the information useful.

Rationale for choices made in the design of the course prototype:

Most of my students have access to technology. Once they know about the benefits of SYA, and the course, students will see the benefits of completing the course.

Google Classroom was a good choice for my school as all RPS students have access to it and are somewhat familiar with the platform.

I want my students to understand the importance of the content and complete it in order to be prepared for their futures.

Many of my students work at a different pace. By having lessons asynchronous, I can allow students to work on the course when they have time.

Many of the teachers in my school do not find time to teach their students about their options regarding the trades.  By providing them with a course I am making their lives easier, and allowing their students to benefit.

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Obviously I have some tweaking to do. I need to investigate good tools to make quality videos. I want to make this course as interactive as possible in order to keep students engaged. I will need to fine tune these ideas in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any good websites/ tools/ apps that you use, please let me know! Any advice is welcome and appreciated!

Technology brings success to my classroom! … And maybe some challenges.

As a young (okay, kind of young) teacher I think I have always incorporated technology into my classroom. We were taught in university that technology was the way to engage students.  In the online text Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning They explain blended learning as

  • technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
  • the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
  • the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms;

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In my class, I think I hit those bullet points and I try to incorperate as many relevant videos and ways to puttechnology into assignments as much as I can. I often find it useful to have a few shorter videos, combined with questions in between to get my point across. This way it is a mixture of instruction and discussion from me, an expert from a medium they love (YouTube) and their own thoughts and feelings. In the text book, they explain that “Means et al. attributed the slightly better performance of blended learning to students spending more time on task” but my immediate thought was does that mean they are interested?

When I do this type of lesson it is usually one of the better days in a grade 11 and 12 ELA classroom. I find that I can evoke emotion through discussion, I engage them with the videos, and then usually force them to do the questions. But even thinking back to my last lesson on Waymo (Google’s Driverless Car) I had the most success with that assignment in that most of my students handed the assignment in, we had lengthy discussions, and my favourite part… opinions!


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I have taken two other classes from Alec and each time have tried to implement his teachings into my class. The first semester, I fully embraced Google Classroom. I was very hesitant and honestly struggled a bit. At first, it was annoying for me to figure out how to post things. I had so many sections of ELA, and it seemed redundant to have to post in so many places… Then I saw the feature to copy it to multiple classes. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a paper copy of assignments to make edits on, so I found editing harder….But then I learnt how to comment and highlight. Lastly, I didn’t like that their parents didn’t have physical evidence of their work so they could help them… Then I realized I could add them as guardians and they could get a weekly memo about my class, automatically, without me doing anything.

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I feel like Google Classroom has changed my classroom for the better. I purely use it as a management tool. I can post with attachments, whether they are an assignment, a video, or a resource. Students can make a copy of the assignment and add their answers right on document, they can hand the assignment into me on Google Classroom, and from there I can edit their work and send it back for edits and improvements. This has been a great tool for me to use for Formative Assessment. I am able to work w

ith students on their writing and show them how to fix it instead of rewriting their whole answer on paper, or having them take a glance at all my hard work, only to be put in the back of their binder without the improvements. It has also allowed me to keep in touch with parents. There is some accountability on them, but mostly the students. They don’t have anymore excuses about not handing things in, or not getting an assignment. It can be accessed anywhere which is perfect.

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At the same time, I was learning about Blogging and I was very excited. I was having fun with learning the new tools, but having a hard time motivating my students. I thought if I could teach them how to do their assignments online, they could add pictures of vehicles and write about the fun things they were reading about and watching. Instead it was an uphill battle. My students hated all of it. I think I had one student actually enjoy it, but gave up after a bit. I had so many comments about wanting to read and write about cars, but not wanting to find pictures and learn about attributions. My students honestly slowed down and seemed less engaged in my class. I think with blogging it was a case of reading my audience. My students are hands on learners. They love to work on vehicles and solve problems physically. Most of them hate reading and writing, so adding another element did not bode well for me.

MyBlueprint is another way I have implemented technology with my class. There we complete goals, learn about the trades, but most importantly, we create a portfolio of their learning in Auto. Students are able to post pictures of work they have done, make goals related to employable skills and essentially set up a portfolio to show future employers. I like the idea of MyBlueprint because it is accessed by my students homeroom teachers who can see what their students are up to. Eventually I would like to put Sask. Youth Apprenticeship on MyBlueprint to make it easier for students to access and learn about.

In Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they say that “blended learning, should be deliberately introduced and gradually increased as students work through a program, so by the time they graduate, they have the skills to continue to learn independently – a critical skill for the digital age.” I feel like I would be doing my students a disservice by not making them do these types of activities. Plus, you can’t ignore the evidence. In the article The Myth about No Significant Difference They describe “Learning is an active process. In fact, the more active the learning is, the more likely the student is to learn. Simulations allow students to learn by doing. Visualizations enable students to see information that may have been hidden in tables of numbers. Students use technology as a key enabler in problem-based learning, searching for background information, conferring with team members, and using the tools of the profession to develop solutions.” I preach all the time that my class prepares students for the future. I want them to be ready to work when the time comes. I need to implement this type of learning so I can make productive members of society.

I think this semester in Alec’s class will be great because I will be exploring sites that allow me to create whole units online. Make interactive lessons that can be accessed anywhere. Also, my lessons possibly recorded so students can access information (flipped learning… I just learnt this term). I feel like it will be Google Classroom on steroids. I am really excited to see how I can take my class and make it more interactive and interesting for my students.