Final Post

This past month has allowed me to do a significant amount of brainstorming that I am very excited to try and implement into a classroom setting. Pertaining to blended learning situations there are many, many different paths you can take to provide a fun and effective learning environment. The distance learning I am involved in right now is very limited in it’s use of technology, which could be great in the sense that I can pioneer the path for the school in bringing new technology ideas to the classroom. There is so much more to learn, I feel like I have only just scratched the surface. Already, I am planning on reading two books mentioned on the #tlap twitter chat over the summer. Technology advances so quickly and students all have their own unique way of learning. I have entered into a field of constant growth and change, which I am excited about but also slightly intimidated. Keeping up with the changes and adapting to new students every year will definitely be a challenge.

This situation of constant flux is exactly why my research should be shared with others. At the very least it can be a stepping-stone for someone else. All of the research that I have come across emphasizes the differences in students’ learning and that should be the focus for what types of technology gets implemented because the technology needs to be versatile to be effective. Continued research should include implementing studies showing how students learn most effectively and providing options for this in hybrid school programs. Creating access might be the biggest challenge in some of these environments. Luckily most everyone in today’s world has access to the Internet, so using that as a platform can make continuity between the classroom and the home relatively seamless.

I have chosen to take a risk with the last part of this project and I hope it will pay off. I want to implement one of my ideas and am going to create a post on Reddit to see what kind of feedback I get. It’s an idea that developed at the beginning of this course and I have continued to get feedback from students, parents, and teachers. I ran the idea by an administrator at my school and she thinks it’s a great idea. My brother and I are both teaching 12th grade this coming year. Both of our classes will be reading intensive (I’m covering British Literature and he is teaching Philosophy/Apologetics). We are going to create a private subreddit for the 12th grade class to post their thoughts and writings and get feedback from their classmates and teachers (we are going to create some sort of contest involving comments and upvotes). The classes will then post on a public subreddit that pertains to whatever topic the assignment involves (for my class /r/literature or /r/askliterarystudies). This will allow them to get feedback from the Reddit global community. My intention is to motivate the students to put fothr their best work and publish it in an arena where they can get feedback from all types of people including their peers. However, before I set this up I am going to post on /r/teaching explaining my idea and see what kind of feedback I receive. That is how I plan to share my research; not by showing the path I’ve taken through this class, but how I am going to implement my research into my own classes. Here is a basic grading rubric for this Genius Hour project.

Final Post

Genius Hour Post #5

For further research this week I wanted to go back to the survey I used to poll my students from this past year. I used the survey to try and get some feedback from them as to how they believe they learn best and also what types of technological integration they would like to see brought into future classes. Overwhelmingly the class identified “participatory learning” as there preferred learning style, to audible and visual. I was not entirely surprised by this considering these kids love to be engaged in the process rather than just being talked at or made to watch a bunch of videos. They all had a variety of ideas for technology integration but generally they all wanted a messaging function for the class to participate in. Many wanted to get into Skype sessions and also blogging.

Besides the survey, I got to speak with many of the students one on one about the best way I can help them learn for next year. Online research is good but I like to get face-to-face perspectives as well. They will all be seniors and I want their last year of high school to be dynamic and exciting inside and outside the classroom. Some expressed concerns about their writing abilities, which I assured them I was going to try and find fun ways to practice and improve their skills. Others inquired about what we would be doing besides, reading, writing, and discussions. As a group we voted on preforming one of the Shakespeare plays we would be reading, “A Midsummer Nights Dream.” The kids seemed to be very excited even though I explained to them that it would take a good bit of out of class preparation.

My final piece of research I used Pinterest. Because that is a part of the project for next week I decided I could see what kind of homeschool/blended learning people had posted to gather some tips going into next year. Laura Candler has a board (click here) that had a multitude of resources, mostly for younger kids (which I can apply to my 7th and 8th graders). There were a lot of practical pins as well as very creative ones. Not being particularly crafty myself, I gained some good ideas for keeping the classroom fresh and the kids engaged. I will definitely be implementing the “1 Minute of Reflection Time,” sign, except, I’ll probably make it into 5 minutes to give everyone a break from the 1.5 hour block period.

Genius Hour Post #5

Genius Hour Post #4

For this post I decided it would be good to get perspective from a parent, two students, and a fellow hybrid schoolteacher. Lucky me, they’re all in my family. I began with interviewing my mom and gaining her perspective on her likes/dislikes of the hybrid system. She said that she really enjoyed getting to spend more time with her kids as well as building family unity because we aren’t spread too think like we were when me and the older 3 kids were in traditional school. Her least favorite part was that it’s made it a bit harder for her to get house chores done with the boys at home more. Laundry, grocery shopping, and any other errands she has to run when the boys are in school on Tuesday and Thursday. She did mention that the benefits outweigh any inconveniences. One thing she hopes the program for the upcoming year will provide, is the ability to further tailor the difficulty of the curriculum to each of the boys. They are both smart cookies. She hopes that the school continues to build their community so that anyone who wants to be apart of the hybrid program will have the option.

I then spoke to my two youngest brothers, Zachary and Michael. Zachary is a rising 7th grader and is very bright although easily distracted. He mentioned that his favorite aspect of hybrid schooling was not having homework on school days to do but that his least favorite part is that he gets distracted on the homeschool days. Staying focused can be hard for a 12 year old but he does his best. Zachary has developed a lot of good friendships but one thing he would like to see in the future is the development of sports teams so he can interact with his classmates more.

My other brother, Michael, is a rising freshman. Even though he’s entering into high school where he will be in class 3 days per week rather than 2, his primary focus is spending time with his classmates and having an active social life. He likes being able to structure his time and school work the way he wants on the homeschool days. Unlike Zachary, Michael is very focused which allows him ample time during the week to focus on his passion for soccer. Michael wants to not only attain excellence in academics but he also wants to be a professional athlete. Many high level athletes are homeschooled for the same reason Michael enjoys the hybrid school program, because it allows them to schedule their school around their training. Both of the boys want to finish out their K-12 career in the hybrid school program.

Last but not least I interviewed my brother Alex who teaches with me at the same school my brother’s attend. Alex is a high school English teacher as well as the designated carpool guy. He gets to spend a lot of time with students from the lower school and high school and he loves his job. Like me, Alex thinks that the hybrid program is exceptional in that it takes education and puts some of the power back into the hands of the parents. It’s an environment that encourages family unity as well as strives to provide a high level of education. Both of us hope that we can bring a young, impassioned approach to teaching that will motivate the students to preform at a high level and grow to love learning. I’ve been keeping Alex in the loop with things I’ve discovered through this class and we are hoping to do some collaborative learning between our English classes whether through blogging , or student mentors or some other form of cross-class interaction to give students more varieties of peer feedback.

Genius Hour Post #4

Genius Hour Post #3

Going into the researching stage, I wasn’t sure how much information I was going to find about hybrid schooling platforms. My approach was to begin by researching homeschooling methods instead and see where it led me. The first article I read focused on student voice and web connectedness, which is essential in the homeschool and hybrid programs. Online connectedness is paramount to homeschoolers and how they connect and maintain a sense of community and their methods could be directly applied to hybrid schools. After reading more research on web connectedness, I have decided to create parent discussion forums for my classes for next year that will allow parents to communicate with each other as well as myself in order to develop good relationships, which in turn will cultivate more effective learning (hopefully).

After exploring ways to improve work outside of the classroom, I took a stab at looking for tips for blended learning platforms. Going through some of the material was slightly disheartening as it requires access and funds that my school currently doesn’t have. It’s very clear that while my particular school is still at it’s beginning stages; I will have to put in a lot of extra work to start moving towards creating a more stable environment for the students. However, it was good to read about goals I should begin to set for myself as well as suggest to the school.

There were a few constants in all of the articles that I found that I could continue to improve now which required no funding. Some of these include, encouraging mentor programs between students, tailoring learning to each particular student (should class size permit), and having teacher workshops where ideas can be shared between the staff to continue improving the learning environment. There were a number of articles that didn’t necessarily provide any valuable information pertaining to improving a hybrid program but praised different aspects of the program and how those options add value to the community. I wanted to see if there were any studies that did a comparison of hybrid schooling versus traditional homeschooling and found one from 2013. The result of hybrid student performance versus strictly online school student was a 14% higher positive outcome.

Anyone interested in the study can find it here (if you’re a UGA student): “Moving from Online to Hybrid Course Delivery: Increasing Positive Student Outcomes”

For my last bit of research I wanted to delve into the benefits strictly for high school students and online feedback in public forums. I was able to find a summary of the study, full access is only available at the UGA Library. The study took a 12th grade AP English class and recorded students reactions/thoughts to the comments they received after posting their work online. The study took into account not only the quantity of comments but also the quality. When I’m back on campus in July, I am going to make it a point to read through the study to see if I can get some good pointers before I begin teaching again in the Fall.

Genius Hour Post #3

Genius Hour Post #2

After going through the different genius hour proposals I have found a few that relate to my topic in a general sense. Some of the students want to understand how authentic learning can occur outside the traditional schooling arena. Others are exploring the ways that technology can engage, excite, and encourage students to be passionate about learning, which is essential in a hybrid school program. One student also mentioned studying parent/teacher communication and how it affects student performance.

Tackling twitter has been quite an adventure this weeks considering I have extremely limited tweeting experience. I have to say that participating in my first ever twitter chat was very intimidating. It took me a minute to get the hang of it because the chat I was a part of moved VERY quickly. I chose the Monday night witter chat #tlap because it stood for “Teach like a Pirate”…which I now aspire to do. I felt like I hit the jackpot because the topic of the night was a book written by Matt Miller titled “Ditch that Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom.” Considering part of our hybrid-schooling curriculum requires I effectively teach students from a distance and not teach face to face out of a textbook, this was a great topic to engage in. Many people had great sayings, ideas, and examples of how they have transformed their teaching styles, bringing them further into the 21st century. There were seven questions asked during the hour-long session that had hundreds and hundreds of responses. I did my best to favorite and retweet ones I was inspired by if anyone wants to check those out on my twitter @AndraSJBA. The questions were as follows:

Q1: Students want to see themselves reflected in our classes. How can we make instruction/learning more personal?

Q2: We’re good at asking the right questions. What questions are relevant to our students’ lives that we aren’t asking enough?

Q3: Businesses put customers first. How can we adapt that mentality to better serve and engage our students?

Q4: Every day, we’re depositing or withdrawing from “relationship bank accounts” with our students. How can we keep the balance right?

Q5: Dale Carnegie teaches to admit our own mistakes first in “How to Win Friends…”. How can we, and why is this important?

Q6: We have more access to global perspective than ever before with technology. How can we make our classes more global?

Q 7:What are your top mindsets/attitudes for innovative, empowering classrooms?

I left the chat feeling invigorated. If I ask those questions to myself before every school year, it will make me a better teacher. Later that evening I created a Google form and sent a survey to my students asking them to give me feedback on 1) the best way they think they learn and 2) What online technology do they think would best fit into a hybrid school platform. I’ve already gotten responses from half the class and plan on polling parents as well, later on this week. I also plan on reading Matt Miller’s book this summer. Any who feel inspired to do so, here is the link:

For those of you wanting to follow fellow education aficionados on twitter you can follow Matt Miller @jmattmiller and Dave Burgess @burgessdave who is the lead moderator for the #tlap twitter chats. I’m looking forward to participating further in the #tlap group to gather more helpful tips on how to bring a fresh approach to hybrid schooling and my classroom.

Genius Hour Post #2

Genius Hour Topic

My question for the Genius Hour project is, “What is the best way to facilitate collaborative learning in a hybrid school program?” For the past four years, my younger siblings have been involved in hybrid schooling. From kindergarten to high school graduation, I received a strictly private school education, along with my two younger siblings. After experiencing some difficulties in the total formation aspect of parochial schooling, my parents decided to place my two youngest siblings in a hybrid schooling program at St. John Bosco Academy to see if the hybrid system would greater benefit their overall formation. I now teach at this school and would like to make a greater impact by implementing a higher degree of technology during homeschool days. In doing so, I hope that students can still interact with each other and feel like part of a classroom setting, even though they’re at home.

Due to the increased interest in the school’s success and these type of programs, the school is growing very rapidly. I believe it is important to present both students and parents with the innovative technology and out of the box thinking and learning that St. John Bosco can provide. Incorporating different applications and websites such as Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, Reddit, Prezi, etc., can appeal to students across a broad spectrum giving them the opportunity to express their ideas in a multitude of ways. This kind of innovative new learning will hopefully keep students passionate and engaged in the learning process.

In my preliminary research, I’ve come across some schools in the United States that have experimented with hybrid systems. I plan on using past research, as well as research of my own, in questioning students and parents at St. John Bosco Academy to gain some insight into their thoughts of how they would like to see schooling progress in the hybrid schooling system. The following are a few Twitter handles for researchers and teachers that have investigated / used hybrid schooling methodologies.

  • Colleen Worrell @cdworrell
  • Aaron Doering @chasingseals
  • George Veletsianos @veletsianos
  • Rich Kiker @rikiker

You can also explore hashtags (#hybridschool #hybridclass #hybridlearning) to stay up to date on the hybrid school movement throughout the country, and even the world.

Genius Hour Topic