Interactions in the Online Classroom

As middle-years educators, we recognize how important the social aspect of a school is in the development of young people. When students leave our classrooms, it is the experiences and relationships that stand out to them – rather than the content they learned in class. Due to the physical nature and proximity in a classroom, many of the connections and relationships occur organically.  

Furthermore, teachers strategically design lessons and activities to develop social skills and build relationships among the members of their classroom. However, when students transitioned to online learning, it became more challenging to naturally develop social relationships that are typically fostered in a physical classroom environment. 

Through our experiences in the Master of Education program, we have come to know and understand the importance of interactions in the online world. Through experiences such as breakout rooms, Flipgrids, and blog posts, we have found these opportunities valuable in making our online classes more engaging and enjoyable.   

Our Prototype:

Understanding the importance of building connections in an online environment, we have implemented the following experiences for our students: 

Flipgrid: 

Source: https://info.flipgrid.com/

In our course prototype, we plan to utilize Flipgrid for a variety of activities including the target game, movement sequences, and alternative first-aid supplies.   

We chose this platform because: 

  • It allows for students to collaborate and share their work with others.   
  • Students can provide feedback and comment on each other’s work – allowing meaningful conversations about their learning to take place. 
  • Commenting can be accomplished in a variety of ways including text, audio, video, or stickers. 
  • Very flexible time length as videos can range between one second and 10 minutes.   
  • Student privacy is protected as videos can be posted to a private classroom grid that can only be accessed by members of the same classroom.   
Student Sample

Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms: 

Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software

While OneNote is a large part of our LMS, we decided to place it within Microsoft Teams because this allowed us to easily utilize the breakout room feature within our lessons and activities. Specifically, we plan to use this feature to facilitate group discussions at the conclusion of our target game lesson, as well as a group work project in our First Aid section. 

 We chose this platform because: 

  • The breakout room function is already built within the LMS that students will be using – making the experience for users relatively simple. 
  • Working in a small group alleviates the stresses of large group discussion and provides students who normally may be hesitant to share, the means to do so.   
  • Students can easily share their screens with one another, which will be an asset when they are designing their safety presentation at the conclusion of our first aid lessons. 
  • Screen recording is available for students who may not have been able to make the synchronous learning sessions. 
  • Teachers can easily “pop” into each room and check-in with groups while they are working, while also having access to all breakout room chats. 

Kidblog: 

Source: https://kidblog.org/home/

 Although many of the written assignments for our lessons take place in OneNote, we provided students with a few opportunities to share their thoughts with one another via blogging. While there are many blogging sites online, both Trevor and I found Kidblog to be the best option for student blogging because: 

  • Provides students with the means to create engaging and interactive literary pieces that integrate multiple pieces of digital media into their writing.  
  • Collaboration and connections can be made with fellow classmates or other students outside the walls of their classroom. 
  • The comment feature also encourages meaningful feedback from classmates and initiatives authentic discussions between students. 
  • The privacy settings along teachers to make blogs private so only students within the classroom can view or comment on the work that has been published on Kidblog. 
  • Students’ accounts can be connected to their Microsoft Office accounts – creating an easy login experience. 

Mentimeter: 

Source: https://www.mentimeter.com/

We plan on using this tool within our course for quick formative assessments as well as engaging our students in a live activity on safety practices.   

We chose this Mentimeter because: 

  • Students can collaboratively participate in word clouds, open-ended questions and rating systems – giving them a voice in their learning. 
  • We can create a balance between interaction and information. 
  • Provides meaningful formative assessment, which will help to guide future lessons and activities. 
  • A variety of multimedia can be embedded into presentation slides and quick assessments. 
  • Menti works very well on mobile platforms. 

As we progress through the development of our course, we have found that it is important to critically analyze when and where our students interact. With a plethora of options online, we’ve considered what’s easily accessible and user-friendly for our students. While it may be difficult to replace the face-to-face interactions that occur in a physical classroom, there are no shortages of tools and strategies to facilitate these experiences in an online environment.   

Videos for Online Learning

For this week’s task, we were to explore an aspect of blended/online learning that we are interested in. I choose to take a closer look at instructional videos and video content in general, as this is something I think I could do a better job of in my teaching practice. Focusing on instructional videos will also be helpful for the blended learning course that I am creating with Matt, as we are creating videos for each lesson. In my experience with online learning in the middle years classroom, which consists of the emergency remote learning period last school year and two weeks around Christmas this school year, I have relied heavily on the content previously created on YouTube. There are so many amazing videos that have already been created for you to use in the classroom. For example, I enjoyed using the Math With Mr. J videos for my math lessons when teaching online. I enjoyed these particular videos because they were clear, concise, and included many good examples of the math concepts that I was teaching in the classroom. I found them to be valuable for my students when they were working independently, as they could reference them if they were struggling with a math concept or missed the live lesson.

Math with Mr. J

As a starting point, I read an Edutopia article titled, “A 5-Step Guide to Making Your Own Instructional Videos” and an article titled, “Effective Educational Videos.” Here are a few things to consider when creating educational videos for your students:

Chunk Instruction:

Research has shown that student engagement begins to drop off after 6 minutes. You start to see a dramatic decrease in engagement once you’ve hit the 9 minutes mark. They’ve suggested that creating multiple short videos is a better strategy than one long video. Personally, this makes a lot of sense to me and I naturally gravitate to shorter videos than the long, drawn out videos. Clear, concise, and to the point seems to be the way to go and I can get on board with that. I connected this to TikTok and how engaging this is for our students, which is limited to 60 seconds per video. Would the app be as successful and engaging if there was no limit on the time of videos? I guess it would just be another YouTube if that were the case. They close by saying, “In a world of short attention spans, videos like these make their points clearly and quickly”

Strategic Design

It’s suggest that instructional videos should be highly focused, use visual cues to highlight key points, and minimize the use of on screen text. As we were lucky enough to hear John Spencer speak this semester, I really like the design and structure of his videos. He does a great job of using visual cues to focus the viewer on certain points and ideas in his videos. I also noticed that most of his videos come in around or under the two minute mark, which I’m sure has been done for good reason.

Writing Prompt Sample – John Spencer

Enhancing Engagement:

Forcing students to watch videos isn’t going to guarantee that they will be engaged with the concept or topic. It’s suggested that students should have the opportunity to take notes or answer guided questions as they are viewing the video content. As I wrote about earlier this semester, EdPuzzle is one example of a tool that might be leveraged to increase student engagement, as they must answer questions throughout the video. I also think that simple guiding questions on paper can help to keep students engaged and focused on the video content. In my personal experience, it’s very easy to open another tab and start doing something else while playing a video in the background. When Matt and I created our first instructional video for our physical education course, we embedded a few, “Hit Pause and Reflect” points in the video to have students write a few notes and think about the content. We hoped that this would focus the students and get them to think and write about what they are learning in the video.

It’s also suggested that one of the most important things to consider is making your videos authentic and relevant to the students that you are teaching in your class. As they state, “Videos in which the instructor speaks in a natural, conversational manner, with an enthusiastic tone, are the most engaging. In my experience, students really appreciate knowing that it’s their actual teacher behind the video.” I believe this is one of the most important aspects of creating engaging content for your students. Relationships between teachers and students are essential to engaging and motivating student. When students see their teacher behind the camera, I’m sure there is a significant increase in focus and effort given towards any assignment. Further to that point, when the content is created by the teacher, the content and information in the video are relevant to what’s going on in that particular class. At times, I find that I only want to use specific portions of a YouTube video, and cut out the rest. With the teacher created videos, you can really focus on what you are expecting your students to learn.

What are the challenges?

Although good quality instructional videos are great for student learning, there are definitely some challenges that come with making the content. For one, I think the biggest challenge that teachers face is the amount of time it requires to create good quality videos. In my experience using WeVideo, it can take you upwards of two hours to create a very basic instructional video. As an elementary classroom teacher, it can be a very daunting when you are required to teach multiple subjects and effectively use your 240 minutes of prep per week. I think one way to combat this challenge would be to start small and focus on one subject area. Maybe you create instructional videos for one unit in Science and then build your bank from there.

Another challenge that some teacher might face is learning and understanding the software required to create instructional videos. WeVideo, Powtoon, Explain Everything, Animoto… The list goes on! For me, I’ve focused on learning one main “go to” tool and I utilize that for most videos I need to create. Although it took me some time to really understand the in’s and out’s of WeVideo, I feel that I’m at a place that I create instructional videos more efficiently. In addition, there should be a considerable amount of PD dedicated to educational technology tools and resources. This would help to alleviate some of the initial concerns and challenges that teachers face when trying to use technology tools.

To close, it was quite beneficial to dig a little deeper into what makes a good quality instructional video. As someone who uses a high level of technology in my 1:1 classroom, I often make many decisions without thinking that deep about them. Even with this high level of technology integration, my experience in creating videos is very minimal and lacking compared to many teachers out there. To become stronger in this area, I think I could use some graphic design tips from some of my peers in this class. In saying that, I believe it is important that that videos I create are rooted in good pedagogical perspectives.

Module Feedback

As was mentioned in past blog posts, for our Physical Education Blended Course, we decided to utilize OneNote and Microsoft Teams as our LMS.  These were familiar tools as both Matt and I have extensive experience using them in the physical classroom, as well as online learning.  As a result of our frequent use of these programs, our lesson planning in OneNote has become second nature – which has resulted in assumptions surrounding student knowledge and understanding.  Although this may work in a physical learning environment, it may not be suitable for online learning and a more strategic approach is necessary.  With this in mind, we found it beneficial to have our course modules critiqued by our classmates who do not frequently use these tools.   

What our classmates liked about our course: 

  • In the first video we created, we provided multiple opportunities for students to stop and reflect on their learning. 
  • They felt the overall layout of our course within OneNote was well organized and visually appealing. 
  • The sequential order of the module components was easy to follow and it would make for a relatively stress-free experience for students. 
  • Multiple aspects of media were utilized within the two modules (Video lessons, Flipgrid, YouTube videos etc.) 
  • Work could be completed and assessed in the same environment (OneNote), which allows for immediate feedback on student assignments.  
First Instructional Video

Suggestions for improvement: 

  • Number the instructions at the top of the assignment to make the information easier to read. 
  • Consider increasing the length of the Flipgrid responses to 5-10 minutes rather than 2-3 minutes.   
  • Create a more detailed rubric for the heart rate reflection as it is very generic. 
  • Embed videos into OneNote rather than link to YouTube – could cause problems if student loses Wi-Fi. 
Second Instructional Video

Where Do We Go from Here? 

Now that we have reviewed other modules, and listened to the comments from our peers, we’ve taken valuable time to reflect and critique our own module.  In addition to addressing the valid points from our peers, there are also a few things we would like to change after viewing other courses from our classmates.  

 Some things we would like to explore further or hope to achieve are: 

  • Including more text in our instructional lessons – Amanda and Erin did an excellent job of this. 
  • Create a more detailed and student friendly rubric for future assignments and activities. 
  • Create a follow-up lesson to avoid having multiple “one-off” lessons as the basis for our course. 
  • Utilize other technology tools for students to demonstrate their learning outside of OneNote (Kidblog, Microsoft Teams Breakout Rooms, Menti, etc.) 
  • Try to incorporate humour within the instructional videos as a way to engage students.

We are excited to see where our module goes from here. As only a few class members were able to view the modules last week, please feel free to provide us with any further feedback you may have as it would be greatly appreciated!

Edpuzzle Experience

This week, I decided to spend some time exploring a tool that I haven’t used since my first year of teaching. I created an Edpuzzle video that I will be using with my students in Social Studies class. We are currently learning about various countries that border the Atlantic Ocean so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to experiment with a tool that has been around for many years. As I haven’t used this tool in a few years, it was valuable to take a deep dive into the possibilities and features of this free tool. As with most educational technology tools, there is also a paid version that gives users some extra storage space and support.

What is Edpuzzle?

Edpuzzle is a tool that allows the creator to cut and crop existing videos to create new or modify existing content. Teachers have the ability to import their own videos or use the existing videos to create content. Edpuzzle gives the user the ability to voice-over videos, embed multiple-choice questions, add short answer questions, and also include video or written notes for students.

Strengths

Overall, I see some positive reasons for one to consider this tool. As I only experimented with the free version, I can only speak to the features available in this version. After doing some reading, it appears that the paid version doesn’t offer many more features, rather just an increased amount of storage. Some strengths of this tool include:

  • Cutting the video allows teachers to eliminate unnecessary or irrelevant information in videos. I like this feature because when you are using content that you did not create, there are often parts that you don’t need or like. This feature allows teachers to personalize content for their students.
  • Voiceover is positive as it allows students to hear their teacher’s voice. Due to YouTubes Terms of Service, you cannot voiceover YouTube videos.
  • Multiple-choice questions can be embedded at various points through YouTube videos or videos that you create yourself. I like this feature because it allows teachers to reinforce specific parts of a video.
  • Open-ended questions allow students to elaborate on their understanding of a specific part of the video or the entire video.
  • Teachers don’t need to create their own videos and can use videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, Ted Talks, and National Geographic.
  • Bank of previously created Edpuzzle’s that teachers can access for free of charge. Teachers can also edit these videos.
  • Students cannot skip ahead in the video and must finish activities in sequential order.

Weaknesses

  • There is no ability for students to create or collaborate with their peers on this tool. Students are simply watching a video and answering multiple-choice or short answer questions.
  • The user interface is not very visually appealing and somewhat clunky.
  • When using a cellphone, students must download the application to complete the videos.
  • Limited to storing of 20 videos at one time. If you use the tool frequently, you might max out on your storage quickly and have to remove good quality videos.

Student View

Teacher Dashboard

Central America Geography Video Student Sample

Here’s a sort clip of the video I created for my students.

Edpuzzle Sample Student Video

Conclusion

I think that Edpuzzle would be best used if the teacher is creating their own content. As we know, students prefer to hear their own teacher when learning online. If a teacher is creating their own content, I could see that Edpuzzle would be a positive tool to reinforce and direct students to certain concepts or topics in your lesson.

Overall, I think this tool is a good tool if you are trying to hold kids accountable when they are watching videos for your class. The teacher dashboard allows teachers to see which students are watching and completing the tasks within the video. In terms of student engagement, I’m not sure this tool would make much of a difference. I think that student engagement is more dependent on the content and quality of the video.

Let me know of your experiences using Edpuzzle!

Course Profile – Phys Ed 8

Target Student Population & Demographic: 

The main population for this blended-learning course is Grade 8 students aged 13-14 years old.  While we will be following the Saskatchewan Grade 8 Physical Education Curriculum, these activities could easily be adapted to meet outcomes in Grade 6 and Grade 7. 

Course Format

This blended course will utilize a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, spanning a 3–4-week period. The modules will reflect a combination of physical activity and the completion of assignments through various technology tools.  For the prototype, we will begin by dedicating 120 minutes per curriculum outcome as outlined by the Regina Catholic Schools time allotment. As this project is only a prototype, we plan to further develop these modules and address other indicators in the future.   

Course Toolset

Microsoft Teams will be the main platform for students to access this blended course.  Within Microsoft Teams, we plan to utilize the OneNote Classroom Notebook to house our asynchronous learning activities and assignments.  For our synchronous learning sessions, tools within Microsoft Teams such as video calls, chat and channels will also be used.  However, the functionality of Microsoft Teams and OneNote is limited as it is not a true LMS.  As a result, we will also be using additional tools such as: 

Communication directly with students will be completed through the video call or chat function on Microsoft Teams.  Students will also have the ability to collaborate with one another using the same features. 

Course Content  

This project will address all three strands of the Saskatchewan Grade 8 Physical Education Curriculum

  • Skillful Movement 
  • Active Living 
  • Relationships 

The specific outcomes that will be explored are: 

  • PE 8.1: Health-Related Fitness 
  • PE 8.6: Concepts, Tactics & Strategies 
  • PE 8.9: Movement Sequences 
  • PE 8.12: Basic First Aid 

Learning Objectives: 

  • Make students aware of physical education opportunities in the world around them. 
  • The importance of sustaining physical activity outside of school.  
  • Develop a basic understanding of first aid to keep themselves and others safe.  

Assessment Strategies

Assessment will be achieved using various educational technology tools, this includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Journaling through OneNote and Kidblog.  
  • Formative/Summative assessment using Microsoft Forms and Quizizz 
  • Demonstration/presentation of learning through Flipgrid and Microsoft Teams video calls. 

Consideration for Common Concerns

Since Phys. Ed is largely comprised of movement-based activities, it can be challenging to hold students accountable when face-to-face instruction is not possible. Through the development of lessons and activities, our hope is to leverage educational technology to keep students accountable and create meaningful assessment. 

From our experience within very diverse buildings, we understand that there are challenges with online instruction for EAL learners. To address this, we plan to utilize subtitles in our instructional videos as well as make ourselves available to students through Microsoft Teams.  In addition, detailed assignments using basic language will be posted in the OneNote. 

Rationale: 

In our online teaching experience, when Physical Education has been completed at the elementary school level, the primary focus is typically fitness related with minimal instruction and assessment.  As this is a curriculum expectation, we feel that there should be more guidance as well as meaningful teacher-led instruction in this area. More importantly, we believe that it is essential for students to be active – even if they are participating in online learning. We want students to be aware that they can learn about their bodies and be physically active without access to a physical gymnasium.  Through the use of a blended-learning course, we hope to demonstrate how educational technology tools can be utilized and integrated into a physical education classroom.  

What are your thoughts on teaching physical education online? Have you had any positive experiences? Have you integrated technology into your physical education classroom? Please let Matt or I know your thoughts or experiences on this topic!

Blended Learning in a 1:1 Classroom

It was a great pleasure getting back into the #edtech mix this past week. In last Monday nights class, I was able to have a great conversation with Raquel, Kelly, and Gerod about blended learning and what this looks like in our classrooms. As we discussed, it seems like blended learning can mean so many different things. Teach thought describes blended learning as:

“An approach to learning that combines face-to-face and online learning experiences. Ideally, each (online and off) will compliment the other by using its particular strengths.”

This definition supports and simplifies my understanding of what blended learning looks like in school. For me, I like this definition because it doesn’t place a greater importance on F2F or online learning. Rather, it’s an optimistic outlook on both types of learning and focuses on the combination of both types to create a better system.

After some thoughtful reflection, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I do in my classroom could be considered blended learning. As I’ve said before, I feel extremely privileged to be teaching in a 1:1 classroom through RCSD’s Connected Educator Program. This program, which provides my students with their own device for the entire school year, has allowed me to experiment and grow so much as a teacher over the past five years. Aside from the technology, the network of professionals developed through this program provides an incredible amount of professional development and inspiration in the area of educational technology. Why is this important? I think it’s important to acknowledge that I’ve had a very positive experience with technology in the classroom over the past five years. This has definitely influenced my mindset and beliefs, which leads me to have a very positive attitude towards the blended learning model in our schools. Here are two pros and a con regarding blended learning.

Pro: Assessment Opportunities

In a blended learning classroom, there are countless ways that you can integrate a variety of assessment tools into the classroom, both technological and traditional assessment styles. As Evolving Education writes,

“Tried and true strategies like check-ins, exit tickets, and multiple-choice tests can be enhanced with a multitude of technologies.”

For me, the blended learning classroom doesn’t do away with the traditional forms of assessment that can be used to assess students or guide our teaching practice. Rather, teachers can leverage technology and create a variety of meaningful assessments. In my personal experience, I have had a great experience with a variety of formative/assessment tools such as: Quizziz, Go Formative, and Socrative.

For me, using technology to enhance assessment is beneficial in so many different ways. Some benefits include:

  • Provides real-time feedback as students work through their assessment.
  • Various tools and assessment types allows for a variety of assessments.
  • Some tools, such as Classkick, allow peer support for students.

Take a peak at some fun Matt, Dalton, and I had around some of the more traditional types of assessment last semester.

Pro: Personalized Learning Flexibility

One of the great possibilities about blended learning is that it creates a model that can personalize learning to meet the needs of all students. Combining the components of the traditional class, such as writing an essay or giving an oral presentation, the integration of technology allows students to express their understanding in so many different ways. As Imagine Learning writes,

“Blended learning classes offer flexibility for teachers in how they present material and for students in the pace and variety of the learning approaches they experience.”

In my experience, students have been able to leverage technology to show their understanding in many different ways. This include creating videos on Adobe Spark, coding on Micro:bit, and Genius Hour projects.

Overall, I truly think that students are much more engaged with learning when you combine the good aspects of the traditional aspects and the good aspects of technology. Even with 1:1 in the classroom, there are definitely many great things about not using technology and allowing students to express their learning in the more traditional methods.

For me, it’s largely about choice and giving many options for students to express their learning. Without that flexibility, I’m not sure that blended learning is all that beneficial for teachers or students. It’s about going away from the one size fits all mentality and allowing students to be creative and find ways that work for them.

Con: Digital Divide & Technology Access

Lack of access to quality technology is often one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to blended learning. In my experience, learning online has worked the best when all students have the same type of technology at home. For example, when we shifted to remote learning for two weeks, all of my students were able to take their device home for this period. As a teacher, this was incredible beneficial because I could create assignments for students knowing they would have the proper types of technology to complete these activities. Compared to remote learning last year, when students were using all sorts of technology, it was much more challenging for students to complete the same work. There were often technology issues and students couldn’t complete certain activities due to these problems. Not only does the device make a difference, the quality of the internet connection will also have an impact on the learning.

The digital divide is definitely something that needs to be addressed to ensure that blended learning and other uses of technology in school isn’t making things worse for students. In my current teaching situation, the digital divide hardly affects my students. But, I can definitely see this being a major challenge in many different communities and school divisions. If we think that blended learning is the way to go in the future, we must first address the digital divide and find ways to level the playing field in this area.

Conclusion: I’m In!

To conclude, I fully support and see many positive reasons to implement blended learning at all levels. In saying this, I also believe that there must be a lot of professional development and support offered to teachers if this is the way they are going. Throwing technology at teachers with minimal expectations and training will not lead to positive outcomes. I think this would simply lead to a lot of “Substitution” if we were using the SAMR Model. With strong PD and support, there are so many positive possibilities that can come out the blended learning environment. Whether this be collaboration outside of the school walls, increased student engagement, access to a vast resources/information, or improved assessment methods, I believe that the blended learning model can benefit all teachers in on way or another.

SAMR Model for Tech Integration


Introduction

Hello! My name is Trevor Kerr and I live on Treaty 4 land in Regina. I currently teach grade 6 at St. Kateri with Regina Catholic School Division. I am a proud member of what’s known as the Connected Educator Program. This program has given myself and over 100 other teachers the opportunity to teach with 1:1 in the classroom. The opportunity and ability to be part of such a great community of learners within my school division is something I really enjoy and cherish. One of the great leaders in this program, Jen Owens, is also one of our classmates this semester. We are very lucky to have her expertise and knowledge this semester.

This will be my fourth educational technology class with Alec and I am in my final semester of my master’s studies. It’s been an extremely rewarding experience but I am definitely looking forwarding to having a bit of a breather. I’m excited to take some of the amazing ideas and concepts back to my classroom that I’ve gathered over the past two years. I am extremely happy to finish my master’s degree with an educational technology class. The community and connections made in this course are so beneficial and my classmates often push me to do better. I look forward to seeing some of the amazing things that people will create over the next few months.

I’ve completed this great journey with my good friend Matt Bresciani. It’s been a very rewarding experience to work closely with someone that has great passion and desire for teaching. As you can see below, we had a great time learning about Plickers and few other assessment tools in our very first master’s class (EDL 820).

I look forward to working with all of you this semester. Give me a follow on Twitter!

Experience with Assistive Technology

It was truly a pleasure getting to learn more about assistive technology during that week’s presentation from Kalyn, Megan, Leigh, and Jenny. After listening to their presentation, it made me realize that some of the everyday tools we use in the classroom can be classified as assistive technology. I definitely agree with the presenters when they say that assistive technology can benefit all students, not just those with physical or learning disabilities.

Through their presentation, they did a great job of explaining the various levels of assistive technologies being used in the classroom. I spent some time reflecting and thinking about what tools I’ve used in my teaching practice. Here are a few examples of assistive technology from all three levels used frequently in my classroom:

Math Manipulatives (Low Tech):

  • Manipulatives are a great resources to use in the classroom as it allows our students to see math in an alternative way. I was recently teaching students about the volume of a cube and it was a great tool for students to visualize the concept. As it can be confusing for some students when calculating math concepts on paper, it helped my students to further their understanding of volume. Not only are their physical math manipulatives, there are also digital manipulatives available for students.

Adapted Seating (Mid Tech):

  • Generally classified as mid level type of technology, a wide variety of seating options are available in my classroom. In my personal experience, students naturally gravitate towards a seat that works best for them. A variety of seating options allows students to self regulate, which will inevitably lead to greater academic success in the classroom. If a different type of chair doesn’t work for a student, they can easily switch to something more traditional or something they find comfortable. If one had access to a large amount of money to purchase classroom chairs, there are so many different options you could incorporate into the classroom.
Seating Options In My Classroom

Computer (High Tech):

  • Lucky for my students, they are all equipped with their own device that has endless amounts of assistive technology built into them. Similar to choosing their own type of seat in the class, students have the flexibility to use assistive technology tools that will lead them to greater success. Whether it’s using the immersive reader in OneNote, students using a translator, or listening to audiobook on Sora, there are many assistive technology tools for all students.

Visual Timer (Low Tech):

  • One of the most used assistive technology tools in my classroom, the visual timer is part of my everyday teaching practice. A visual timer is great for time management for both the students and myself as a teacher. When the timer isn’t used, students will often ask how much longer they have to work on an assignment. With the timer, students are clearly aware of how much time they have and are able to set short term goals to complete their assignments. In addition, there are so many online versions of digital timers that can be projected on to your board in the classroom.
Visual Time

Challenges & Limitations of Assistive Technology

  • A major challenge I see with using technology is the lack of access to a good device at home. In my class for example, students have their own personal laptop that allows them to use assistive technology at school for the entire day. When students leave my classroom and go home, they don’t necessarily have the same access to quality technology. Therefore, privileged students that have access to good quality technology at home will not have the same challenges as those dealing with older technology or no technology whatsoever. This is problematic and we need to continue to work on addressing the digital divide.
  • In addition, as identified in class through our discussions, the cost of specific assistive technology can be very high and challenged for individuals to obtain. Whether it be an electrical wheelchair, laptop device, or an expensive app, the cost associated with high level technology is quite troubling. In addition, through our discussion about the Accessible Technology Program, one had to wonder the motive and end game for a variety of technology companies. Are profits put before the people they are trying to help?

Assessment Presentation and Formative Review

It was a rewarding experience collaborating with Dalton and Matt on our assessment technology presentation. As the three of us teach in a 1:1 environment with Regina Catholic, it was a positive experience to work with people that are very like-minded and use a variety of educational tools in their classroom. There are so many tools out there that can accomplish many of the same things and these two were highly skilled using a few of these tools. Even though I’ve been using a good amount of technology for over five years, it’s good to hear varying perspectives and beliefs about educational technology.

In addition, the paid versus premium versions of tools also create a variety of challenges and decisions for teachers to make. Throughout the entire process of preparing for our presentation, I only focused on using the free versions of all the tools I was diving into. In my opinion, teachers spend enough money out of their own pocket to ensure their classroom is properly prepared, decorated, and connected to the latest technologies. Although I pay for a few tools in my classroom, I try to stick to the tools and resources that are free or supported by my school division.

Lastly, we had a great time exploring some of then “traditional” methods of assessment that many of us still use in the classroom. Although these have been around for many years, many of them provide good data and assessment for teachers. Take a quick peak at Mr. Danaher’s classroom and his use of assessment methods.

Assessment Methods

When using any type of digital assessment tool, I think it’s important to identify the pros and cons when picking a tool. My group and I analyzed Go Formative and determined these to be some of the major pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Free features allows the teacher to create six different types of assessment questions (Multiple Choice, T/F, Multiple Selection, Essay, Short Answer, and Show your Work).  
  • Questions will mark themselves, giving students immediate feedback and teachers time to support students in need.  
  • Teachers have the ability to see student responses in real time. Data is shown in a way that it’s easy to recognize the students who are struggling and need extra support.  
  • The assessment does not have a time limit which alleviates pressure and anxiety in students.  
  • Sign up is very easy and student don’t need an email address to create an account.  

Cons:

  • Free version does not allow teachers to share and collaborate with other teachers on an assessment.  
  • Individualized assessment tool doesn’t allow students to collaborate or work with others.  
  • There are no options for audio or video responses to question on the free version. This limits student choice.  
  • When creating a question, the only media a teacher can attach is an image.  

Setup & Account Creation

When setting up a Formative account, the process is relatively smooth and straightforward. Some of the things I like about the setup and creation include:

  • Students can create an account via Google, Clever, or through a Microsoft account.
  • If students do not have an email, the teacher can still create them an account with a unique and simple username (Ex: Matt833). This process is very quick and I created an account for our entire ECI class in about 10 minutes.
  • The teacher can direct students to the join page and they can find the class with a join code.

User Experience

As I’ve been using Formative for a few years now, I have become pretty comfortable and confident while using this tool. It’s been a fairly positive experience overall and I continue to use this in my classroom. Some general thoughts include:

  • Creating questions in Formative is very easy to complete. Unfortunately, the free version limits the types of questions you can use in your assessment. As you can see below, there are many additional question options when using the premium version (See stars).
Types of Assessment Questions
  • Real time data provides teachers with a great visual on how their students are doing on any assessment. This allows teachers to provide support, feedback, and the ability to intervene when necessary.
ECI833 Assessment Report
  • Teachers have the ability to change some setting on terms of what feedback is given to students. You can control when the scored are returned, when the correct answers are returned, and also whether students can edit the Formative after it’s been completed.
ECI 833 Assessment Settings

Formative or Summative Assessment?

I think that this tool can be used for both formative and assessment data in the classroom. This tool can easily be used as a pre-assessment or to gauge the general knowledge of your students. Also, the real time data allows teachers to pivot or intervene when it is necessary. But on the flipside, this tool can be used to wrap up a unit in math or science. A teacher could easily duplicate an assessment traditionally completed on paper through this digital tools. I believe it really comes down to how and when you are going to use the assessment data. In my personal experience, I have definitely used this tool for both formative and summative assessment.

To conclude, I would definitely recommend this tool for teachers looking to gather assessment data through a digital source. This tool provides enough options through the free version to make it worth your time. In addition, it will also free up some of your time so you can focus on the other 100 things on your plate!