Evidence of Learning and Reflection #1
The first artifact that I have selected to demonstrate my understanding and ability to apply skills from OLTD 502 is my lesson critique and review. For this assignment I selected an existing lesson and revised it using the Understanding by Design (UbD) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) models for instructional design. The lesson I chose was from a unit on the brain as this is a topic I generally cover at the beginning of the year to help my students understand the most important tool they bring to school.
Reflection to Support Evidence
This assignment provided me with an opportunity to demonstrate my familiarity with common terms, definitions and elements related to blended and online learning environments. Prior to OLTD 502 I was not familiar with the UbD model developed by Wiggins or the inclusive UDL model initially developed to make learning and assessment activities more accessible to persons with disabilities. While I had been introduced to the "flipped classroom" this was the first time including it in my instructional design. This assignment demonstrates my ability to design and implement instruction within a blended or online learning environment and incorporate UDL principles. The inclusion of a self-designed rubric demonstrates my ability to create assessment and evaluation tools that are suitable to the strengths and challenges of blended and online learning environments.
Familiarizing myself with the UbD model of instructional design and utilizing the UbD template to revise an exiting lesson plan provided me with the knowledge and tools to be more purposeful in my lesson planning and delivery. Purposeful is perhaps the the thread that connects all my learning in OLTD 502. It is my intention to be more purposeful in my practice and to continue utilizing these models.
Prior to immersing myself in this project I struggled with how to deliver instruction in a blended or online environment at the early primary level. Introducing the concept of the "flipped classroom" provided a means for accomplishing this. In this example I included a link to an age appropriate video on the topic for students to view with their family to introduce the unit and provide some background before commencing the first lesson.
Incorporating features of UDL and providing a variety of learning tasks and choices for demonstrating learning means that virtually all learning styles are addressed.
Understanding UbD and UDL will, in all liklihood, make me a more effective educator. I also foresee it eliminating many classroom management concerns as providing choice will keep students engaged and an engaged student is an on task student. In this day and age where classrooms include students with a wide range of skill and knowledge levels these models help design instruction that will meet the needs of all students, not just the majority in the middle.
Redsigning lessons as I did with this assignment will take time and effort but the end result will be worth it so I intend to make it part of my practice in the future.
Evidence of Learning and Reflection #2
The second artifact that I selected to demonstrate my understanding and apply skills from OLTD 502 is my major project. For my major project I chose to create a screencast on the Daily 5 model of instruction. The Daily 5 is a model I implement in my practice as a primary teacher. I attended a conference on it in the fall of 2015 and wanted to share what I learned with my colleagues. To create this project I applied technical and practical skills as required in OLTD 502 learning outcome 7. Specifically I utilized Prezi and Screencast-o-matic, neither of which I was familiar with prior to OLTD 502. This provided me with an opportunity to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of these tools so as to determine whether or not to continue to utilize them in my practice.
Reflection to Support Evidence
The process of creating a script, capturing video footage, creating a Prezi from scratch, embedding video footage and using Screencast-o-matic to include a narrative proved exceptionally challenging. It took me out of comfort zone to develop and apply new skills and problem solve when encountering glitches that one can usually expect when working with unfamiliar technology. I did not anticipate that the video footage I captured would be incompatible with the Prezi software or that length of the presentation would exceed that allowed by the free trial version of the screencasting software that I downloaded. The process of creating the presentation did, however, provide me with a new skill set that I can utilize in my professional practice and deepened my understanding of the content that I was presenting.
Screencasts such as the one I produced lend themselves to a connectivist approach to learning where individuals learn from and teach each other. They are best suited to visual and auditory learners who process information best by observing or listening. They work well in an online learning environment because students can access them at their convenience rather than attending a lecture in person at a scheduled time that may not be practical. Unfortunately they are time consuming to produce and lack interactivity.
Developing and applying technical skills is an important aspect of being an online educator or creating a blended learning environment. While it is unlikely (though not impossible) that I will use screencasting with my primary students to deliver instruction, I can see using it to deliver in-service or provide professional development to colleagues.