Summary of Learning

I can’t believe that four weeks have passed and EC&I 834 is over already! It has been such a pleasure participating in this class. This class has been very engaging and I wish I had more electives so I could take more classes on online learning and using technology in the classroom. I will admit I knew little at the start of this class however through lectures, peer feedback, and discord I now have so many tools in my toolbox moving forward.

Please watch my Summary of Learning video below to see what I’ve learned.

Thank you to my peers and Katia for a wonderful class!

Grade 5 ELA Course Walkthrough

In reflecting on this class and developing my course module, I am extremely proud and excited about what I have accomplished. It’s been a quick and wonderful semester. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m anxious to put my knowledge to use in my classroom in the fall. Teaching a new grade level can be challenging, but having resources like a blended ELA class can be tremendously beneficial. I’m hoping that my module will meet the different demands of my students. As we learned about different topics through lectures, literature, and our peers, this module took hours upon hours of modifying and adding in more elements.

It was an honour to be placed in a breakout room with Miranda, Durston, Kate-lynn, and Navneet to obtain peer feedback on my module prior to submission. This breakout room was a breath of fresh air because we all had various viewpoints and approaches to our course module project. I received a lot of favorable feedback on the arrangement of my layout when I presented my course module to my group. I am grateful for this because I had various doubts along the way. 

My group also provided me with various suggestions for additions to my course module. Miranda and I talked about how disappointing it is that Google Classroom does not have a decent system in place for goal/outcome sharing with students. Miranda came up with the concept of including a “Big Ideas” section under each topic title to offer student-friendly outcomes and questions for deeper understanding with my students. I adore this concept and have incorporated it into my course module. Another simple and enjoyable suggestion Kate had was to incorporate emojis into topic titles. This adds another visual tool for students and may make it easier for them to find specific topics within Google Classroom. Like Kate’s suggestion to include emojis in the topic titles, there are various components of my module that I would never have considered before this class. 

Picture of the Big Ideas section with Student-Friendly Outcomes and Questions for Deeper Understanding

Accessibility, equality, and building a sense of community in an online class are all things I’ve never considered before. Taking EC&I 834 expanded my understanding of online education and allowed me to better meet the requirements of all students. I am excited not just to construct my course module and test it with students, but also to see how my module develops. Moving forward, I intend to expand my module to include a whole school year of grade 5 ELA blended learning. I intend to expand on each of the themes for which I have already given headings in the future. As I expand my blended ELA class, I recognize and accept that there will be adaptations and changes along the road. Many of our teaching approaches, I feel, are trial and error, which only makes us better educators in the end as we grow and change lessons as needed to make them better.

Please let me know your thoughts about my course module!

Community.. A Small Challenge

When it comes to online interactions and how to plan for developing an enjoyable online community I am presented with a number of obstacles. One of my challenges is that my target students already know each other well, and many of them have been attending the same school and in the same class for the past six years. As a result, my students come to me with a pre-existing community. As I said in an earlier blog post, I am very familiar with my group of students, including the fact that they have both positive and negative attitudes toward one another. It may be difficult to create a positive online community in a blended classroom with a group of students who already know each other and have pre-existing relationships, but I’m not one to give up on a challenge! 

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

As Michael Wesch’s students state, it is important to humanize the online learning experience through interactions as it takes away the hardness of learning online. Providing short simple videos is a great way to interact and connect with students in developing strong relationships. Therefore, I have incorporated several short videos of myself into my course module. Most of the videos give a brief introduction to the assignments or are video tutorials on how to complete a certain online assignment. I have used Screencastify as well as Google Meet as screen recorders to create videos that give step-by-step instructions. Once students have watched these videos they always have the option to comment with any questions they might have. 

Photo by Julia M Cameron

Since I will be teaching grade five I believe it is highly important to follow the principles that Bates sets out in chapter 4 of his text; setting clear guidelines for student online behavior, preparing students, setting clear goals, and having a regular online teacher presence to monitor students online participation. Therefore, it is my plan to incorporate digital citizenship lessons into my health and ELA classes to promote the use of proper online interactions. After teaching digital citizenship lessons, I then plan to provide more online collaborative opportunities for my students to interact with one another. 

“Community is more than participation; it requires moving from participation to engagement, involvement, and action” – Barkley & Major

This comment from The K. Patricia Cross Academy’s 6 Strategies for Building Community in Online Courses spoke to me deeply. It pushed me to consider how I may change my course module to encourage deeper participation among my students. My objective is that by first teaching digital citizenship and then, as my course module continues into later classes, introducing deeper and more meaningful collaborative opportunities among students, I will achieve deeper engagement in the topic. Commenting on other students’ work to provide peer critique, as well as working in groups to construct rubrics and evaluate final projects, are two ways I intend to involve students in collaborating. In addition, I intend to employ the Paper Seminar technique on student final projects before submitting them to me for final evaluation. 

I’m excited to collaborate with my students to build a great online learning community. I hope that through digital citizenship, teacher presence, and whole-class cooperation, students can create open-minded relationships with their classmates. I honestly feel that building a positive classroom community requires time and frequent adjustments throughout the school year. I am eager to put some of my ideas into action, but I am also willing to modify and analyze my students’ needs and classroom environment as needed during the school year. 

Accessibility and Equity for All

How do the concepts of accessibility and equity apply to online and blended learning? When we were originally presented with these questions, I struggled and thought to myself, “ON KNOW, I have no experience with any of this.” As we were divided into breakout groups and began to converse, I quickly realized that I DO have some expertise with these themes and have successfully adapted to many student needs over the years. 

Since I live and teach in a small community, I believe I may have an advantage in learning about students’ needs. Working in a small K-12 school with students from other grades playing on the playground as I supervise, participating in extracurricular activities, and strolling the halls, most teachers come to know the majority of the primary students by the end of the school year. As a result, I have the opportunity of getting to know my students before they walk into my classroom on the first day of school. There is always an exception to this since we welcome new students to our school and community each year. As a result, even though I am familiar with my students, I always make an effort to connect with them and their families. Collaboration with student families is one of my core principles because I feel we are a team that must work together to help their child. Supporting their child is providing them with the tools they require to achieve, and in order to do so, I, as their classroom teacher, must be aware of their requirements. I frequently send home a needs assessment form during the first week of school so that parents can supply me with important information about their children. 

Once I obtain the needs assessment forms, I begin to go over the information to see if there are any areas where I can improve and change my teaching to better meet the requirements of my students. For many years, I taught students with cognitive difficulties, which necessitated the development of numerous alternate assignments. I frequently divide assessments into smaller, less intimidating assignments, give more time to finish assignments, and offer alternative evaluation options. As a result, many of the practices I’ve been using for years will continue and find their way into my blended learning Grade 5 ELA class. Within my course module, I’ve included numerous assignments that combine student choice, as well as audio, visual, and text-based options. According to Bates, it is critical to provide a variety “of options for student learning within the same course.” I will also encourage students to utilize screen readers, Google Read & Write or Read Aloud, Seeing AI, enabling CC (Closed Captions), and use the accessibility option in Google Docs as appropriate. It is critical to not only have students utilize these technologies but also to teach them to use them without assistance so that they can develop lifelong skills for navigating technology throughout their lives.

Picture of the Accessibility Settings Menu in Google Docs

Considering I already know the students I’ll be teaching in the fall, I’ve made various adjustments to the lessons and assignments in my course module to accommodate my individual student needs. That is not to suggest that I will not get new students, so some effort and thought on accessibility and equity must be incorporated into my current course program. I intend to go over my course module and include accessible features such as YouTube transcripts… which I had no idea existed until I read RoxAnne’s blog post “Defining Course Accessibility & Equity.” Thanks, RoxAnne! Other possibilities I will adapt by offering print options to students who may want paper copies of assignments due to a lack of digital access for a variety of reasons. 

Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

Finally, with both accessibility and equality, it is important to prioritize your students’ needs and collaborate with them and their families to give choices that work for them so that they can achieve academic success. 

Please let me know your thoughts and feedback on how else I could provide accessibility and equity options. How will you make your course module accessible and equitable for all learners?

Lumi… A Learning Opportunity

Lumi is a brand new resource to me and I found it quite interesting and fun to play around with. My initial thoughts of Lumi were…  what is this? How do you use this? And wow… This is a bit overwhelming. After playing around with it for a bit I had several aha moments and thought wow this is neat! How I wish I knew of this resource during COVID times when I was making all assignments interactive. Making interactive Google Slides is certainly not as user-friendly as Lumi. After watching the video tutorial from Katia my understanding of Lumi was reinforced even further and I began to feel confident in using it to create student assignments. Least to say, my first assignment that I created was a flop as I took a way more complicated approach to things in trying to make my entire module/ unit into one Lumi. This is definitely not the right approach for me.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As I began to play around with Lumi more and more I decided that it would work best for me to use Lumi to make SOME (not all) of my lessons interactive and combined into one space. For my target audience, I know that if I used Lumi and similar formats for every lesson they would soon become unengaged and rather disinterested. Before watching Katia’s video I started by creating an interactive slides presentation. I used one of the lessons from my Grade 5 ELA Identity & Heritage Unit to create this Lumi lesson on the story “Names/Nombres” by Julia Alvarez. This lesson offers students a choice of reading the short story to themselves or listening to the YouTube version of the story. After listening to the story there is a link to participate in a Jamboard exercise where students have the opportunity to reflect and connect to the story. Students then complete the lesson by doing a quick five-question quiz in Lumi for assessment. 

After listening to Katia’s tutorial video I then decided to create another Lumi lesson, but this time it would be an interactive video, as required for our assignment. I looked at my module and found a lesson where I was already using video content. From my grade 5 Identity & Heritage Unit I chose the lesson “When I was Eight” by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Since I have chosen a blended format for my course prototype ideally I would read this story out loud to students for enjoyment first. However, that being said, I have designed this lesson so that if a student were to be absent they would not necessarily have to listen to the story for enjoyment first. In my experience, children of all ages love to be read to and even grade 5 students still enjoy picture books. After reading the story aloud to students, students would have the opportunity to use the Chromebooks to complete this Lumi lesson. Throughout this lesson, students would get to listen to the story again, however this time there are pauses throughout the video to allow for formative listening comprehension assessment. After answering the questions throughout, students will use the link at the end of the video to go to a Google Forms set of questions for formative assessment. 

My reasoning for making these decisions is based on my specific target group of students. Rather than making all of my lessons on Lumi, I decided to create two Lumi lessons out of the eight that I have planned for my unit to present a range of instructional techniques. This technique, I feel, will bring greater diversity and a deeper connection with my students. I also choose to mix up my question types in my Lumi sessions so that students are interested and have other methods to express their understanding. I’ve included Google Forms and Jamboard activities in my lessons to help with idea reinforcement. This also provides me with numerous possibilities for evaluation. I may choose to use Lumi-embedded questions as formative evaluations and Google Forms or Jamboard assessments as summative assessments, or vice versa. This also allows me to switch between formative and summative evaluations based on student needs. 

In conclusion, discovering and interacting with the resource Lumi was a very positive experience for me. I definitely can say that I was very unsure of the website from the start, however after discovering through experience and learning through Katia’s tutorial I have a changed mindset. Lumi is a great tool for easily make lessons interactive for online and blended learning. I can see myself using this website more and more in the future as one of my future professional development goals is to minimize student worksheets. My goal is to use Lumi more in the future to reduce the use of paper copy worksheets and provide digital interactive assignments. 

How will you use Lumi in your future classroom?

Course Profile for Grade 5 ELA Identity & Heritage Unit

Course Overview

This course will focus on a grade five English Language Arts class. The course module will specifically focus on an Identity (Exploring Heritage) Unit for the comprehend and respond ELA strand. I chose CR5.1 from the Saskatchewan Curriculum as the learning outcome for this unit. According to the outcome, by the end of the unit, students will be able to comprehend and respond to a variety of grade-level texts (including modern and classic visual, oral, written, and multimedia materials) on the topic of identity and exploring heritage. This module will cover eight lessons that will allow students to explore other heritages, as well as explore their identity and heritage. The course will take approximately three-four weeks to complete.

Target Student Population & Demographics

My target audience for this course will be grade-five students. For this specific course, I will be focusing on the grade five class that I will be teaching this fall. I have taught the same diverse group of students for two consecutive years now and will be going into my third year of teaching this same group. I have spent a lot of time pondering how I can best suit their unique needs. My target group of students has a great range of diversities in reading and writing levels, as well as diverse interests. This group consists of below-grade level readers and writers, as well as learners who are achieving at and well above grade level in English Language Arts. My target audience consists of fourteen grade-five students. The students are a mix of diverse race, gender, abilities and socioeconomic status. One of my students is diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, however, loves using technology. I hope to provide this student with appropriate tech tools to aid them through reading and writing assignments. I also have one student who struggles with attending school regularly, therefore I hope to use my Google Classroom space to keep this student on track with assignments. 

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Course Format

The format for this course will be a blended format with both synchronous and asynchronous tasks. The course will take place in the physical classroom with the integrated use of Chromebook assignments. Students will be given verbal face-to-face instructions as to what their daily tasks will be for each ELA class. These instructions will vary throughout the unit depending on what lesson we are focused on. Please see an outline of each lesson below:

Lesson 1 – All About Me T-Shirt Activity – Non-Digital Activity – to be done with a paper copy in class

Lesson 2: Identity Conversation Starter – Mentimeter Discussion – whole group synchronous 

Lesson 3: “When I Was Eight” – Read Aloud (verbal and digital options) – whole group synchronous 

Lesson 4A: Names/Nombres – Students will independently Listen or Read the Story in a digital format – independent asynchronously

Lesson 4B: Names/Nombres Story Quiz – digital via Google Forms – to be completed independently in an asynchronous manner 

Lesson 5A: Raven Power – Watch the Video – whole group synchronous

Lesson 5B: Raven Power Responses – to be completed in a digital format independently in an asynchronous manner 

Lesson 6: Exploring Heritage Interview – to be completed in a digital format independently in an asynchronous manner  

Lesson 7: Identity & Heritage Choice Assignment – options for physical assignment or digital – to be completed independently in an asynchronous manner 

Lesson 8: My Family Heritage Final Project – to be completed in a digital format independently in an asynchronous manner 

Course Tools

LMS: Google Classroom 

Other Educational Technologies: Google Workspace including Google Drive, Google Slides, Jamboard, Google Forms, Mentimeter, YouTube, Rover (Edonline Sask) Videos, Flip, Vocaroo

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels


Assessment will be done in a variety of ways. There will be several opportunities for formative assessment through Jamboard activities as well as in-class and online discussions via Mentimeter. Students will also have several opportunities to provide summative assessments throughout the eight lessons. Some of the summative assessments include “When I Was Eight” Comprehension Questions, Book Quiz on “Names/ Nombres”, Flip Video Response on “Raven Power”, Exploring Heritage Interview, Identity & Heritage Choice Assignment and My Heritage Final Project. Assessments will always be differentiated for each learner’s diverse needs. Therefore, although it is not advertised on google classroom when I am marking assignments I will always consider each student’s needs. For example, this may include having higher expectations for students who are achieving above grade level and expecting more thorough answers when completing assignments. It is my philosophy that all assessments will be differentiated to best suit the needs of my learners. 

Course content

Course content will focus on the theme of “Identity and Exploring Heritage”. In this unit students will have the opportunity to discover themselves and others and celebrate differences. Students will have the opportunity to learn about other cultures including First Nations and Metis culture within Saskatchewan. Students will develop an understanding of who they are, where they come from and their connection to others. Amongst their connection to others, students can recognize and celebrate differences as well as similarities. Toward the end of the unit, students will have the opportunity to take their learning further by involving their families and asking about family heritage. Students will conclude the unit by exploring their heritage in a final project. 

Learning Objectives

CR5.1 – Analyze and respond to a variety of grade-level texts (including contemporary and traditional visual, oral, written, and multimedia texts) that address:

  • identity (e.g., Exploring Heritage)
  • community (e.g., Teamwork)
  • social responsibility (e.g. What is Fair?)
    • (a) View, listen to, read and respond to a variety of visual, multimedia, oral, and print texts that examine the diverse range of personal identities, perspectives, and backgrounds (e.g., appearance, culture, socio-economic status, abilities, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, career path) including First Nations and Métis texts.
    • (b) View, listen to, and read a variety of texts related to the theme or topic of study and show comprehension by:
      • understanding, retelling, and explaining the ideas and information presented in the texts
      • analyzing the text structures and features
      • analyzing the texts and developing responses with evidence from the texts, personal experience, and research.
    • (c) Describe and build upon connections between previous experiences, prior knowledge, and a variety of texts.

Considerations for Common Concerns

Tech. Issues: When using technology it seems that no matter how well you have something planned out there always seem to be tech issues that arise. The benefit of using a blended learning model within the physical classroom setting is I (the teacher) will always be there to help solve issues. To plan for foreseen tech issues I always like to have extra Chromebooks available if a Chromebook is to come upon an unfixable issue. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

EAL Learners: My foreseen target students for this course model do not have any EAL learners at the moment however with an ever-changing school roster that is not to assume that I will never have future EAL learners. Ways that I can adapt this course model for my EAL learners are to provide audio recordings in the translated language of origin or spend more one-on-one time working with this student. I can also teach my EAL learners how to use text-to-speech digital translation tools. 

Attendance: Students who have poor attendance and can access Google Classroom remotely will be provided with specific instructions for how they can complete coursework from home. For example, since day-to-day instruction will happen face-to-face in the physical classroom, absent students may be e-mailed these same instructions or be provided with daily posts on the classroom stream so they can keep up with classwork from home. If students with poor attendance do not have access to technology at home, I will ask for special permission from our administration to see if it is possible to send a Chromebook home with students. 

Course Rationale

Given that grade five students’ reading and writing levels can be quite inconsistent it is beneficial to teach ELA in a blended learning format. For this blended learning course I have chosen to use Google Classroom as my LMS due to students being very familiar with this LMS from previous school years. Google Classroom and Google Workspace are also very accessible and the recommended LMS within our school division. Students with diverse needs require significant variety in learning expectations. Throughout a blended learning format, expectations can be differentiated for each learner. Students who are reading below grade level, for example, can have texts altered to their reading levels or be given audio versions of grade-level texts to reduce reading. Another benefit of using a blended learning approach in grade five ELA is that students with difficulty writing due to fine motor issues can use voice-to-text, which reduces the quantity of writing. If student reading and writing are not differentiated to students’ individual needs this can create severe frustration for students who are achieving below grade level as they cannot reach success with such high levels of learning. It is also important to note students reading above grade level can also be challenged by using technology. The use of a blended learning format gives all students a chance to take responsibility for their learning by creating more independence. However, blended learning in a classroom-type setting still allows for the classroom teacher to support students as necessary. 

At the age of grade five, students also have very diverse interests. Technology is a way for students to access a world of information. Through websites such as Epic Books, students can find books that interest them. This website also has a read-to-me option for students who may have lower reading stamina or perform below grade level in reading. Another tool for engaging students in writing is the website WriteReader, which is a book-creation website to engage students in writing. Repetto et al. suggest that the use of blended learning in elementary learners is a more engaging way to learn than in a traditional classroom. If a blended learning style is not used in upper elementary ELA classes students may show little engagement or interest in reading and writing. According to Macaruso et al., blended learning is highly beneficial in supporting elementary student reading as compared to traditional classroom methods. Therefore, blended learning is a great way educators can motivate, engage and differentiate for their diverse learners. 

Link to ADDIE template

Course Development: Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic for my course development assignment was simple for me. In the fall, I will be teaching fifth grade, which is a completely new grade for me. Although teaching a new grade and new topic is daunting, I am quite familiar with the students I will be teaching. I’ve had the privilege of teaching this group of students in grade three, part of grade four, and am now continuing to teach the same group of students for their full grade five year. Since I am familiar with this set of students, I chose to focus my course development assignment on a hybrid grade five English Language Arts module. As Bates indicated in chapter nine, knowing your learners well is essential for determining what is best for their learning needs. Considering my learners are still young and lack independent working capacity, blended learning meets their needs, allowing me to facilitate and supervise their work habits as their teacher.  

I’ll be concentrating on an Identity Unit for the comprehend and respond ELA strand. I chose CR5.1 from the Saskatchewan Curriculum as the learning outcome for this unit. According to the outcome, by the end of the unit, students will be able to comprehend and respond to a variety of grade-level texts (including modern and classic visual, oral, written, and multimedia materials) on the topic of identity and exploring heritage. I chose this topic for my course development project because I intend to use it in my fifth-grade classroom this fall. Since I am familiar with my group of students, I am aware of their strengths and limitations. 

For many of my grade five students reading and writing is a major strength, however in my target group of students several students achieve well below grade level in their reading and writing skills. In 2018, Prescott et al. suggested that a blended learning approach can be beneficial for students with diverse learning needs. A blended learning strategy will enable my students who are performing well above grade level to take control of their own learning and use the online module I have developed to learn independently in synchronous and asynchronous tasks. On the other hand, this will allow me, the teacher, to spend more one-on-one time with my students who are not performing at grade level. I can provide a variety of engaging tools to my students that suit their learning needs, allowing all students to be motivated to take control of their learning. For example, I can use technology to present every student with the same grade level content, but I can also provide students options for how they will receive the information. I may provide my above grade level readers a copy of the reading and have them read it to themselves, but I can give my below grade level readers an audio recorded version of the book. I can also offer options for sharing their reading comprehension and text expertise. Some students may simply type their responses, while others may use voice-to-text technology. 

As a result, using a blended learning style in grade five ELA provides numerous benefits and alternatives for differentiating for unique learners. A blended learning environment not only allows for differentiation for every student, but it is also a fun and engaging approach for children to learn. In 2020, Macaruso et al., took beginning steps in doing research regarding the use of blended learning to improve reading levels and suggested that blended learning is more engaging for students than traditional learning. I would agree that today’s youth are constantly engaged by technology and immersed in its contents. Many students get motivated by opportunities to use technology and incorporate the use of it into their everyday learning.

My Experience with Online and Blended Learning

I am an elementary school teacher with a great interest in using technology as a teaching tool. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching grades two, three, and four for the past eight years of my teaching career. During this time, I employed both online and blended learning methods. Both of these experiences have numerous advantages and disadvantages. I’ve used Google Classroom as my LMS (learning management system) throughout my online and blended learning experiences.

When our schools were closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic, I used online learning to teach grade three. This was an entirely online learning format that included live video conferencing via Google Meet, as well as pre-recorded videos via Screencastify and digital assignments. This style of teaching presented numerous obstacles due to my students living in rural areas and have varying socioeconomic backgrounds, making it difficult to constantly have access to the essential technology and resources for online learning. Several of my students struggled to finish homework on their own and needed the help of their parents. Parental assistance was not always available because many parents had to continue working. One of the most significant advantages was having extra time to engage with students via one-on-one video conferencing. For example, I worked one-on-one with one of my students who struggled with reading for half an hour every day. In contrast to the classroom, where it would be difficult to devote my full focus to a single student for an extended amount of time. Another advantage was that students may communicate with one another in a secure online setting when it was not safe to meet in person.

After the COVID-19 lockdown was over and life began to return to normal I began using more and more blended learning in my classroom. I often use Epic books for daily reading tasks as students can pick from a large variety of books that interest them. The pandemic lockdown made me realize how I can use technology to better serve my students by diversifying their tasks. Prodigy, a math-related website that helps teach math concepts, is another tool I frequently utilize in my classroom. I give students the opportunity to be more independent and in command of their learning by using technology and internet tools to engage them in their study. Another way that I use blended learning in my classroom is through inquiry projects. Through appropriate internet searches and tiered assignments, I give students opportunities to build research skills and take ownership of their learning.

Prodigy icon 2020

Prodigy Website Logo

Photo Credit: SagoTucson64, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Throughout EC&I 834, I hope to learn more about developing effective and efficient blended learning strategies that I can take back to my classroom and apply to my teaching in the fall. I hope to learn more about how to critically analyze online and blended learning so that I can provide meaningful blended learning opportunities for my students. As a professional, I see how technology can be used in a meaningful way, however I also see how technology is inappropriately used in the classroom. It is my goal to use technology as a meaningful learning tool in a blended learning environment in my classroom in the future. I can’t wait to dig deeper into properly designing online and blended learning!