Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shifting Gears in 183: The Connected Educator, Flipping Lessons, and Blogging

I teach a wonderful course at Edinboro University titled Teaching and Learning with Technology. This course is an entry level education course for all aspiring Education majors. This class is held in a traditional computer lab, and my enrollment is between 25 and 28 students from all types of backgrounds. I took over this course when I joined the faculty here in Fall of 2011 as a temporary, full-time faculty member. With the Spring semester quickly approaching, I have been some new ideas to further push and develop my students.

The first major shift is the adoption of Sheryl Naussbaum-Beach's and Lani Ritter Hall's The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age. I read this book last semester and found it closely aligned to many of the tenants I am promoting within my classroom. Beach and Hall describe their book on The Connected Educator Blog as "a journey into what it means to be a learner first and an educator second." With chapter content dealing with new literacies for collaboration, the push for diversity, a developing learning theory connectivism, and a call to action for all educators, this book, although geared to teachers in practice, contains many foundational aspects that I aspire to seed within my students' learning and future teaching practices.

Another shift I am making is flipping more of the lessons so that the time in class can be spent in exploration, experimentation, and collaboration. I submitted an application and was accepted to join an online Flipped Classroom Training Program running from Jan 12th - Feb 17th. It is in this program where I will create 5 new flipped lessons and videos using the FIZZ lecture strategy developed by Dr. Lodge McCammon. I also plan to create a series of videos for my student teachers in the field of practice to support their continued growth and development - more on this later. 

The final shift is how I am using student blogs as a tool for collaboration and reflection. For three semesters I have used Blogger as a platform for student work and reflection. This past semester I really tried to promote the blog as a component of the students' personal learning network. Each student created their blog and then shared their blog with 5 other students within the class. Theoretically, each blog and each post would have an early audience of 5 people. The wrench in this was holding students accountable for their comments on other blogs. Early on the comments were constructive and consistent, but throughout the semester, these comments and the audience disappeared. So this semester I am implementing a digital weekly reporting form for students to complete and submit via the dropbox. As the semester develops, so will the audience requirements. 

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