This semester we were tasked with creating an online course prototype and I am pretty proud of what I accomplished. When I began this course I didn’t necessarily think I taught in a “blended” classroom, but with my use of Google Classroom increasing every semester, I realized quickly that I actually do use forms of blended learning in my classrooms all the time, mostly for simple things like posting extra videos, notes, or assignments so students have the opportunity to access information when they are absent from class. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take a course I am already teaching and make it even more blended. This is why I decided to create a prototype for my AP Calculus course. I also knew I wanted to use Google Classroom since my students are so familiar with it and our division encourages its use. You can check out my course profile here for more details on how I laid it out for the semester. I thought this course would be perfect because I see my students every day for a total of 60 classes before they write the big exam in May. This gives me an opportunity to use the LMS of Google Classroom to enhance our time together and create more opportunities for learning online. This will also help my students become more independent learners, which is incredibly important for their next years in university because they will all be headed in that direction.
I began my course with the idea in mind of using a flipped model of instruction. My students actually quite enjoy this model, but others do struggle to commit to the video lessons in their downtime. It’s been a balancing act so far but I have used them as my guinea pigs for a couple of different assignments. I wanted to use a flipped model because I knew it would open up more time for questions and for working through problems together in class which is really what my students need. One of the suggestions on my peer review was to create a place for students to communicate with each other, so I introduced a question and answer Padlet in hopes that students would freely contribute to questions and supply answers to each other instead of relying only on me as their source of information. If you want to see more about how my classmates’ reviews influenced my prototype, check out this blog post.
For the modules I created for this class, I wanted to focus more on simpler concepts (things my students would be able to learn from a video as well as hopefully not be too overwhelming for my peers in this course)! I think I selected the right material and I have to say I learned a lot about myself as a teacher through this process as well. Last year, I was made to focus solely on content. Teach myself, teach the students, move on to the next idea. This year, I am much more relaxed and have been able to play around a lot more with my lessons and build new connections with the material as well as preparing my students even more for the exam. I can look more into Khan Academy, create more formative assessments, and know better what my students need. Both my modules run the same way with an intro video as the notes using Screencastify and SMART Notebook. I knew I wanted to create short videos and have students follow along with notes where they could record the information. This also allows them to go back, pause the instruction, and re-watch if they need to. Then there is practice, which is a handout assignment with an answer key. Finally there is the formative assessments which I varied from each module. I think I gave ample practice and I even tried to implement some different formative assessments in Socrative and GoFormative. If you feel like testing your math skills, try them out on my course! The Google Classroom code is wnn06j and you need to log in using a Gmail account. Feel free to check out the rest of my prototype as well including videos, assignments, and practice problems. Also, feel free to check out my course walkthrough if you would rather a quick feel for my course prototype.
Overall, I’m really happy with how my prototype turned out. For my second module, I focused on an entirely different unit and created an opportunity using Flipgrid for my students to actually show how they work through a problem. I want them to explain their reasoning and their answer since that is such an important concept on the AP exam. Another idea I had was to create a Padlet where they could discuss ideas on how to solve a couple of problems we would look at in class anyways to act as a starting block on how to solve it. Some of these problems can be really complicated so I want to create the easiest environment that I can to teach them in that it’s okay to be wrong and this is the best way we can learn. One of the hardest things for my students to learn is that to get a “4 or 5” on the AP exam is to really achieve a pass. Many of the practice problem average score is between 3 or 4 out of 9. Teaching them the process and wording of these problems is crucial to their success on exam day and understanding that they only need to try every part of a question to succeed. I included a section for practice exams as well as problems for them to work through on the prototype. We also spend time in class working on these but the ability to access them outside of class time will be incredibly beneficial to my students. The most important thing I am taking away from this assignment is that I am actually capable of creating a blended learning environment and it isn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be. I would like to eventually blend all my courses in this manner because I think that is where education is heading. Dean V. mentioned this quote on Twitter this week and I think it sums up exactly what we and this course are working towards: