Yet another on the Canvas….

I am jumping on board the Canvas-wagon along with many others in ECI834 such as Carla, Sarah, Nicole, and Andy. (I would love to say that was an intentional pun, but I didn’t realize what I had done until after I had typed it….).

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All enthusiasm for making this decision aside, I am not feeling 100% confident with the choice as I am not sure it will be as interactive as I would like it to be. When we were first given the assignment to create a blended/online course prototype, and seeing how our course was set up in Google+, I was excited to try and set up my course in a similar fashion. Then, after being inspired by Carla’s post Inspired by Something New, I decided to look at Canvas…and now I am torn.

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What to do…. via GIFY

I have had some time to “play” in Canvas and have set up a REALLY rough course (I’m talking, the text/content is along the lines of “asl;dkgal;skdfha;” and not even a nice lorem ipsum) and I have come to the following conclusions:

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Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian Flickr via Compfight cc

1) I like the Calendar. I am a big fan of planning using a calendar and, if you were to see my long-term planning for this semester’s Calculus 30 course, you would see I have every class planned as to what I will be covering. This does not mean that there is no flexibility but it is my way of ensuring that I cover the entire course, and I like to give students an outline of when all of their exams will (likely) be the first day of class, especially because it is essentially a distance course.

2) The Modules allow for easier navigation than what I was thinking Google+ would provide. This is probably one of the more important aspects that is driving me towards using Canvas as I feel my students will use it ONLY if it is easy to use, I plan to set up my units/outcomes as my modules so that students can easily find what they are looking for.

3) The Quizzes feature allows for more detailed feedback than a right/wrong. Kyle discusses this further in his post this week. Because of the content and delivery method this course has typically had for me, I only grade the unit and final exams to determine the students’ grade. (I know, not the “best” but this was actually a request from the students as assignments were “too much course load”). I would like to use the quizzes as a way to bridge the gap between the students that REALLY want the assignments and feedback and the ones that have enough on their plate with their daily practice.

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Screenshot

4) I can post the Outcomes right within the course….although I am not sure about the rubric/grading yet. Until I have a little more time to figure that aspect out, I probably will not use it extensively but I look forward to be better at it. I also like that you can connect/link these outcomes to specific assignments. Although I did not find the Saskatchewan Curriculum outcomes, this is something that can be added.

Overall, I find the platform to be easy to navigate and use. I am not done experimenting with some of the aspects and look forward to having it “in-action” with my students like Sarah, and Carla are intending to do and, much like Carla, I have a group of students that will not be shy in letting me know if something isn’t quite right.

“The Learning Management System. The LMS. Or in the UK, the VLE. The Virtual Learning Environment. Even though the latter sounds much less foreboding and controlling than the former, I confess: it makes no difference. I am not a fan.” – Audrey Watters on her blog

After all of my experimentation, I then read Audrey Watters’ post Beyond the LMS. As stated in her post, the LMS is about management and not about the students. Students (and teachers) often lose their work after the course is complete and are no longer able to access what they have created. This takes me back to Google+ and creating a space where the students can continue to be connected AFTER the course is done (if they choose), and maybe even help each other as they move forward into various post-secondary pathways.

So, back to square one. In all reality, I think that I am going to use both. Canvas to house the “meat” of the course, and Google+ to encourage the interactivity between my students and as a quick place they can go for answers. Or maybe, with the right convincing, I will be bold enough to leave the Canvas behind and go Google all the way…..

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Leaving… via GIFY
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Choosing the content is INTEGRAL to creating an online/blended course

When given the course prototype assignment for EC&I 834, my mind initially started racing….which course should I do, should I try more than one, are certain courses too hard and to be avoided…and, most prominently…. OMG where do I start??

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Too many ideas?

Photo Credit: danielfoster437 Flickr via Compfight cc

As I teach in rural Saskatchewan, we are unfortunately not always able to offer students the courses they would like to take in a face-to-face manner. We have come up with unique ways to get around this, primarily with our magnet system. Our magnet system involves schools that are relatively close geographically to each other offering a selection of courses that may not have enough interest in only one school. These are primarily PAA courses, however we offer French, Calculus and Forensic Science in this manner as well. Every second afternoon, students are transported via buses to the appropriate school to take their magnet course, which are blocked in 2-hour time slots, and then are returned to their home school before the end of the school day. Students are required to travel over their lunch hour but, through this programming, we are able to increase their options from 4 courses to 10 courses in my particular magnet grouping.

I teach the Calculus 30 course for my magnet grouping and have had to adapt an academic course into a 2-hour block where (not all) students are not able to stay for extra help if needed. I have had to come up with alternative ways of aiding students, typically this means they email me questions, I work them out, and email an image of the fully worked solution back. This is not the ideal way to receive additional support in mathematics and therefore, I would like to create a space where students are able to interact with each other and with myself to work through their challenges in the course. Calculus is often thought of as the study of change, and so I feel will be a great place for me to start my journey into online and blended learning.

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Photo Credit: CMLorenz16 Flickr via Compfight cc

So, I have selected the course, Calculus 30, and am thinking that a blended learning model, with both face-to-face and online aspects, will be the best for the course content and student needs. Now, I just need to find an appropriate learning management system (LMS). I have read that other classmates (Liz and Kelsie) are looking at using Google Classroom and other GAFE tools which I do not have access to as my division has not yet been ready to jump on board with them. So I am looking for another LMS. I have created a course using Moodle in the past, but am looking to expand my horizons into something new! Amy tweeted asking for suggestions for elementary LMS and I am going to start looking at the suggested Edmodo and Fresh Grade and move from there. Any and all suggestions, with a major bonus if they support math text, are welcomed!

I would like to try a flipped classroom model but am not sure that I would like the entire course/module that I will create to be flipped. Including videos of myself working problems that will be accessible for students working at home who, in the past, may not have had access to someone that could help them when they get stuck may be how I attempt this. If you have done a flipped classroom, what have you found to be the benefits/challenges of the set up?

If there is anyone that is still trying to decide what course they would like to create and would like to share in my passion for Calculus, let me know, I would love to collaborate if someone else is interested in the same topic! I look forward to creating this prototype course and hopefully adapting aspects of it into more of my teaching!

Now to try something new….embedding a GIF…..

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Aaaand I’m out… via Giphy

 

 

WARNING: The following may describe a passionate math-geek. Reader discretion advised.

Hello! Welcome to the blog of an absolutely passionate math-geek of a teacher! This is my journey through EC&I 834 and the world of creating online and blended learning courses.

My name is Kara Taylor and I am a teacher at Kipling School in Kipling, Saskatchewan. I grew up primarily in rural Saskatchewan and am happy to be able to work in a small town although, working in a Pre-K to Grade 12 school, that often means that my course load changes drastically year to year. I primarily teach senior math and history courses but I have taught a variety of other courses including science, accounting, and physical education (to name a few) ranging from grades 5-12. I am also the Career Counsellor for my school so I get to work with students who are choosing their future career pathways and help them to achieve their goals! Within the school I also coach Sr. Boys Volleyball and Track and Field.

I live with my wonderful husband, our fur-baby Isabella (Bella for short) and our slightly spikier-baby Felix. Some of my hobbies include volleyball, reading, hunting, fishing, outdoor adventures, playing cards and board games, and travelling. Travelling is especially important to me as my niece and nephew live in Mildenhall, UK and we do not get to see them very often during the school year so we try to visit during the summer!

My three goals for learning in this class:

  1. Become a better blogger. I have tried blogging in the past and took a course with Alec in my undergrad where I was in the habit of blogging regularly but have been unable to continue this while working as a teacher. I would love to get back into the swing of things and use blogging as a platform for my personal reflections and growth through my teaching career.
  2. Learn about various tools that can be used to create, deliver, and generally house online and/or blended learning courses. In one of my roles in my division, I have helped to develop an online Workplace and Apprenticeship 10 course and our group is now working on the 20-level course. This is being done using Moodle however I feel there are other platforms that may be more conducive to a mathematics course and I am excited to explore and evaluate these tools so that I may be able to bring my knowledge back to our “Moodle team” and make our courses better.
  3. Create a module/course that is appealing to students and that I can build on in the future. Teaching in a rural setting, my school is limited in the options that our students are given in terms of courses offered and I feel that this is where online courses can really benefit our students. I want to become comfortable in creating courses in a variety of disciplines and knowing which tools are better suited to which disciplines as what may work for mathematics may not be a good platform for social studies. I want my module/course to be something that I can grow and develop further to give my students more options and be comfortable with the tools so that I can make online courses for the various different courses that I teach. Most importantly, I want to create something that my students would actually WANT to use and be happy to learn through. I am lucky to have students that will give me honest suggestions about what they like and not like and I look forward to integrating the tools we learn about and what students want to see in an online course into one!

An “about me” post would not truly describe me without some form of math-based video SOOO…. in honour of the fact I will start trigonometry with my Workplace and Apprenticeship 10 course on Friday, one of my favourite videos on the subject can be found here: https://youtu.be/t2uPYYLH4Zo. This group of teachers makes awesome math videos and students enjoy watching them as well!