My teaching style is primarily teacher-centered and lecture-driven. I think this is because I was taught using this style. As I have taken courses and attended trainings, I have begun to realize that there is a better way to reach students, and I have been trying to adapt my own teaching style. While my style is still probably primarily teacher-centered, I am striving to include more student-centered activities and let some of my controlling tendencies go. I think the online environment requires instructors to shift from a teacher-centered style to a more student-centered style. Lectures are often more suitable for asynchronous delivery in the online environment. There are many more distractions available to students in the online environment, so lectures must be engaging enough to hold student attention and there must be a way to hold students accountable for the information they are needing to learn from the lecture. This is where synchronous meetings could come in handy. Synchronous meetings could be used to provide students with an opportunity to ask questions they may have and to also assess whether or not they have an understanding of the required information and concepts. Synchronous meetings could also be used to facilitate group work in an online environment, to hold engaging discussions, and as a presentation tool.
I decided to evaluate myself using the Asynchronous Lesson Rubric, and as I did so, I found that self-evaluation can be very helpful. I could see that there were some areas of my lesson that could be improved upon that I might not have paid attention to without taking the time to look at the rubric. I think having students evaluate their own work could increase the quality of work we receive from them. You can find my self-evaluation attached below.
I also included the following Common Core Standards in my lesson.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
I believe these core standards are met because students are required to read an article and determine the main ideas in that article then summarize those ideas in the presentation they create for younger students. They are also required to look at other sources of information (the VoiceThread presentation and videos) to aid them in the creation of their presentations.
I am definitely a visual learner. I have always known I was a visual learner. All throughout school, I have always preferred reading as opposed to listening to lectures. Whenever trying to spell a word, I either try to visualize it or preferably I write it down. One of the best strategies for visual learners is the creation of graphic organizers and mind maps to help organize information and concepts. MindMeister is a great tool to be able to do this. Users can create mind maps for brainstorming, note taking, and many other creative tasks. Visuwords is another great tool for visual learners. It is a dictionary that produces diagrams to demonstrate a word’s meaning by connecting it to other words and concepts. When reading text it is important to be able to highlight and annotate notes even when online. Evernote is a great app for note taking. Users can snap a picture, create a sketch, highlight, and more. It is an online service, so it is available wherever you go. The last tool I am going to mention for visual learners is Pics4Learning. It is a picture library that is safe and free for educators and students to use. The pictures are copyright-friendly for educational use.
Auditory learners are fairly opposite from visual learners. They learn best when they hear information rather than seeing it. This can be a little more tricky in an online setting. Auditory learners can benefit from instructors giving lectures and oral presentations using tools such as Screencast-O-Matic or Adobe Spark Video or live meetings through tools such as Skype. Auditory learners can also sometimes benefit from having some background noise or music while working. Playlist is an app that allows users to listen to music live with friends. Pandora is also a site that allows people to listen to music that fits their taste. Users can create “channels” that plays music based on a particular style, song, or artist.
The iNACOL Standards are really not all that different from the standards in a traditional classroom. Online teachers are required to stay up to date on best teaching practices and pedagogy, provide meaningful learning activities and assessments to their students, and maintain professional interactions with all students, colleagues, and parents. The standards also require online teachers to prepare students for the future, use a range of strategies and technology tools, provide differentiated instruction and accommodations to learners, and provide students with clear expectations and prompt feedback. These are all standards that traditional classroom teachers are also expected to meet, but the way in which they are met is what may differ in an online environment. Online teachers have to understand that community building and communication with students is going to be very different in an online environment, and they must know how to adapt and cater to these differences. Online teaching also tends to be more student-centered than in a traditional classroom, so it is very important for online teachers to know and implement best practices and strategies that support this type of learning environment. I think one of the most important standards that is different from that of a traditional classroom is that of teaching students about digital citizenship and how to be safe online. I also think it is extremely important for online teachers to have a deep understanding of the technology tools they are using and trouble-shooting procedures in order to ensure that the logistics of using technology do not get in the way or hinder the learning process. I feel that online teachers are required to meet all the standards of traditional classroom teachers plus some because of the added technology element.
As I read through the readings this week, I thought a lot about how I could bring Psychology concepts alive and make them more meaningful in my classroom through the use of technology. I found some simulations and activities that I feel my Psychology students could really enjoy. These sites make it possible for students to experience things that they would not be able to without the use of technology.
I participated in a real time chat with two other people from another class. We were placed in a group to complete an assignment using Google Slides. We used the chat feature in Google Slides to communicate as we were working. Real time chat capabilities make group communication online much easier. We also communicated some through emails, which took much longer to get questions answered and anything accomplished. The real time chat allowed us to work together and discuss as if we were all sitting in the same room together. Real time chats do have some disadvantages though. When too many people get involved, it can be difficult to keep track of the conversation and who is responding to who. It is also difficult to gauge emotions through online chats. It can be very easy to misinterpret someone’s intentions. Our group found the use of emoticons to be helpful in this aspect. We were able to convey that we were trying to be helpful and friendly when giving constructive criticism or feedback. I also found that it can sometimes be difficult to keep everyone focused and on track when communicating in real time.
I think real time communication is very effective in online settings, but I do think we have to take the time to teach our students how to communicate and use those tools correctly. Especially with high school and younger students, I think it is important to have guidelines for students to follow in real time chat settings.
I chose to join a couple different communities through Google+. I joined Connected Learning, Educational Leadership, and Teachers Helping Teachers. I chose to join these groups because Google+ is still relatively new to me. Joining these communities gives me a chance to further utilize and explore Google+ while collaborating and learning from other teachers. Thus far, I have participated more as an observer than as a contributor in these communities. I enjoy reading through the different articles and ideas that other teachers post. I believe these communities help me stay up to date on what is going on in education as well as providing me with new ideas and strategies to try in my classroom. I enjoy knowing I have a place to go to ask questions and bounce ideas off of other educators. I am the only Psychology teacher in my district, so online communities are very beneficial and valuable to me as a means of communicating with others in the Psychology field. I think online communities could also be very beneficial for students. Online communities allow students to share ideas with others outside of their classroom. They can join communities that align with their interests, which encourages them to further their learning. I also think online communities provide an audience for students to share their thoughts and opinions with. Everyone wants their voice to be heard and to feel validated, and online communities provide a means for this to be accomplished.
Students will watch the video below to gain an understanding of the Netiquette expectations for this course. Students will then complete the Scavenger Hunt Activity via Google Forms.