Summary of Learning

Well, that is a wrap!!  Thank you Katia for everything!  This has been such an enjoyable 4 weeks despite doing this course while travelling and camping.  It has been such a pleasure to end my Master’s with this course!  I feel invigorated by all that I have learned and taken away from learning and creating a course prototype!

Thank you to everyone for your comments, discussion, questions, and insights!  For those of your continuing in the fall, I wish you all the best!  Those who are finishing…CONGRATULATIONS!  You did it!

So, here is my last Summary of Learning!  I hope you enjoy it!

All the best!


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The End, But Also a Beginning

I sit here and write this last blog post with mixed feelings.  Not only is this the end of this course, but it is also the last class of my Master’s.  Part of me is exhausted after what has seemed like a long haul, and the other part is invigorated as I reflect on my learning from this course and over these last 4 years.

I was excited about ending my journey with this course.  Blended and online learning and integrating technology in my teaching and students’ learning has always been my interest and passion.  I think that is what has made these 4 weeks so enjoyable and, if I can say it, manageable.  I was worried about it being such a short time, but I am thrilled by how much we have accomplished, discussed and shared.

The process of creating this model has been very helpful and fulfilling.  When I was thrown into using Teams during Covid, I really had no idea what I was doing.  While I have learned more over time, building my course in Teams has given me the opportunity to delve into the world of Teams and how I can move forward and maximize its potential with my students.  I was also able to develop my knowledge and skills using  some of the tools I have used in the past – Nearpod, Kialo-edu, etc.  I often don’t have the time throughout the year to work through the ins and outs of a tool.  I often do the basics to make it work for my class.  It was great to have the learning time.

Two major takeaways for me that supported the creation of my course prototype are the ADDIE model and Lumi.  Lumi is a gem!!!  And one that I will continue to explore for next year.  Just from creating the interactive video, I can see the impact Lumi can have on student engagement and learning.  Katia, thank you for introducing us to it!!  I also found the ADDIE template gave me the framework for reflection and planning that should go into the creation of online courses and materials.  I will admit, that sometimes my planning and development of the online learning in my class can be haphazard.  ADDIE gives me a process that I can use moving forward.

Peer Feedback


Throughout the course, I have received positive feedback on aspects of my course prototype as I worked on it.  I received similar feedback from my group mates last class and appreciate all their generous comments.  They thought it was thorough and included a diversity of activities that could meet the needs of all students.  Those with some familiarity with Teams were interested in how I organized the course using Class Notebook and thought overall it was clear for students to follow and access.  Thank you to all who provided feedback, comments and questions.


Despite the shortened class length, this class was all I was hoping it would be – the learning, collaboration opportunities, sharing, and building on and of new knowledge. I am taking much away to start my teaching in the fall!  While this is my second time round using Discord, I am still working on being a proficient and prolific user.  It is not something I turn to regularly and is one area of this course I could improve on.  Thank you to all who shared and posted!  I read and followed!

So, here is the link for my course walk-through.  I hope you enjoy it!


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Online Community

Building community and meaningful interactions are a vital part of learning.  According to Bates (2019) learning communities encourage the exploration and creation of existing and new knowledge and encourage critical thinking and transformational learning.  Learning communities are about the active engagement and participation of students in their learning.   In the physical classroom environment, community is all around us.  The physical proximity to one another in the classroom encourages interactions and community building on various levels – from a quick check-in with a student as you walk around, to students asking each other questions and pairing up to work on a task, to a full-on class discussion about a topic.  Sometimes face-to-face interactions are easier to integrate into learning – whether planned or spontaneous.  In the online learning environment, I find these interactions require more planning and even forethought, but they are just as meaningful and important to consider as those we may bring into the physical classroom.

Throughout my course design, I have attempted to give my students several opportunities to come together to create a sense of community, build knowledge, and actively engage in their learning.  I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the community-building aspects of my course in the K Patricia Cross Academy article 6 Strategies for Building Community in Online Courses.   But, I still feel there is more that I can do, and this is a start and jumping point to continue building this sense of community in the online component of our blended learning environment.

I will outline some of my course interactions and ways I hope to build community throughout my course.

A Plan for Communication 

I have provided my students with a couple of ways to communicate within the online course.  Within the Team platform, I have created a chat group for my class to enable them to post questions, answer questions, and share information and ideas. This is similar to Discord for this class, but built-in the platform I am using with my students. Criteria for the chat will be co-created at the start of the unit to ensure students know and understand the aims and expectations of the chat.

I have also created opportunities for students to join meetings within the class calendar.  While much of their online work will be done at school, the online meet enables students to join in and collaborate if they are absent.  The class team also has a General and Course channel where I can post class announcements and any information students need to know.  This keeps students informed of what is happening in the class whether they are present or absent at school and provides them with the resources they need to achieve success, and provides them with reminders so they can stay on track during the course.

Meet in Real-Time

This course is a blended learning experience.  Students will have opportunities throughout the course to meet in small groups to complete tasks.  We will also have face-to-face discussions.  Online, as I mentioned, students will have the option to join a meeting each day.  The face-to-face learning and collaboration coupled with the meeting option give students the connections they need and desire.

Establish a Social Presence

The K. Patricia Cross Academy recognizes that students enjoy interactions with real people as an aspect of creating community and include immediacy, intimacy, and interaction.  I feel all of these aspects are part of the course I am developing.  It offers a blend of proximity with students working independently, with a partner, and also in small groups.  Students will work in the physical and online classroom as well as other flexible seating and work environments.  During interactions, students will create knowledge and share their learning and experiences, using technology such as Flipgrid and discussion forums. Lessons will be introduced with a Teacher Introduction video related to the topic of the lesson and videos will be used to give students instructions about tasks and activities.

Use of Collaborative Learning Techniques

According to Bates (2019), collaborative online learning encourages and supports students to invent, explore, problem-solve and be active and engaged learners.  We see often see collaborative learning, and there are so many ways to create a collaborative learning community and environment online as well.  A number of ideas were presented by the K.Patricia Academy.  I was intrigued by the Paper Seminar and how to use it at some point in my teaching.

One of the main activities in the lesson I have built is a jigsaw.  I have chosen to use this activity to help students become familiar with life in the 1960s.  Because this is a more substantial topic, I have chosen to give groups of students a subtopic to research, become experts and share what they learned in a Padlet.  This is a blended learning activity as there will be face-to-face and online collaboration time.  Students will also share information with their group members in a collaboration space in Teams to support the building of knowledge and the creation of their Padlet section.

There are strengths in both online and classroom communities, and a blended learning experience gives students the benefits of both.  As Bates (2019) indicates, the constructivist collaborative online learning approach, when well planned and delivered, can lead to deep and transformative learning for students and teachers.  The aspects of collaboration I have included in my course are a jumping point, and I look forward to learning more about ways I can make my students’ learning engaging and meaningful.

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Accessibility and Equity

Walking into a discussion about accessibility I automatically went to access to computers and wifi.  This was a primary focus going into the pandemic and often continues to be the focus.  However, if anything, tonight’s discussion and the readings made me realize accessibility is so much broader and deeper than just access to a computer and wifi.  Bates’s (2019) SECTIONS model really made me appreciate the degree we need to consider accessibility when integrating technology into our teaching and learning environments.

The Sections Model

As I was reading about the components of SECTIONS, the consideration of students and ease of use stood out for me.  The points made in these sections are making me take a closer look at my use of technology in my teaching and in our learning environment.


Bates (2019) discusses the idea that using technology can be very seductive and that teachers often feel the need to use technology because it has become an expectation and a given in today’s world where our students are viewed as being connected and demanding of technology in their learning.  But the reality is our students enter our learning environments with diverse experiences, access, knowledge, and skills of technology and with diverse learning styles and needs.  We need to set aside our assumptions that our students are digitally literate and expect technology to be part of their learning.


“it is…dangerous to assume that all students are highly ‘digital literate’ and are demanding that new technologies should be used in teaching” (Bates, 2019, 9.2.2).

I learned this the hard way last year in my teaching.  I use a lot of technology in my classroom on a daily basis.  In my classroom, each student is assigned their own computer and it is part of our daily routine at the start of class to grab your computer and log in.  Our lessons in ELA are created and posted on Teams for students to work on independently, in partners, and in small groups while I work with other student groups.  As the year progressed, I was finding the student enthusiasm to use the technology available to them waning.  Students were printing off handouts and texts instead of reading and completing them on their computers.  They were turning to the book displays I had in the classroom or asking me to go to the library to access information about topics we were studying.  They wanted to read the Social Studies textbook and complete handouts!  What a shift this was for me and an eye-opener!

“…the use of these tools or approaches should be driven by a holistic look at the needs of all students, the needs of the subject area, and the learning goals relevant to a digital age, and not by an erroneous view of what a particular generation of students are demanding” (Bates, 2019, 9.2.3).

I realized that, while technology can enhance the learning experience and support the various learning styles and needs in the classroom, there has to be a balance.  As Bates (2019) argues, we need to offer a range of options and opportunities for our students and not assume they want technology to drive their learning.  Using these tools requires us to holistically look at our students, our subjects, and our goals and make sure the tool fits the students and the learning.  Instead of the technology driving the learning, we need to ensure our students are at the forefront of our thinking and using technology to augment and support their learning.  It really comes down to knowing and listening to our students because they can tell us what they need and how they want to learn.

When reflecting on the course I am creating, while a substantial portion of the student work is online, I am hoping I have built-in enough opportunities for students to work in small groups or partners while using the technology.  The main activity of the module I am building is a jigsaw activity.  Because this is a blended learning environment,

students will be able to work with the technology while meeting face-to-face.  I have also included options for students to work with digital handouts or to print them off and write on the handout.  I hope the diversity of the activities and options will meet the diverse needs of the students and not create a digital and technological overload for my students.



Ease of Access

“Keep it simple” (Bates. 2019. 9.3.1)

The other learning curve for me in terms of student access is recognizing and supporting the diverse digital literacy skills students bring into the classroom.  We see them on their phones every day, and I believe this creates assumptions that they know what they are doing or that they have the skills they need.  I think teachers begin to realize very quickly that student digital skill sets can often be limited or specific to certain platforms.  We need to recognize that not all skill sets are the same and even the skills our students have acquired may not be what they need to use the technology we are asking them to access.  In addition to this, as Bates (2019) mentioned, there can also be gaps in technology skill sets between teachers and students.

While I was reading Bates (2019) and watching Michael Wesch’s (2020) videos, it was really driven home the idea to keep it simple!  The bells and whistles of technology can sometimes create excitement for all the possibilities and opportunities it can give to our teaching and learning experiences.  I often hear myself saying “How cool is that!”  But this can overshadow the accessibility of the technology for our students and the viability of using it in teaching and learning – whether it is related to support, cost, ease of use and access, interface, reliability, and sustainability.

This has made me turn my consideration to the course and lesson I am developing.  I have chosen Microsoft Teams as my platform and this presents some advantages and disadvantages in terms of ease of access.

While Teams has some limitations in terms of interface, I realize that there are aspects I can work on to help support accessibility for my students.  Providing orientation for students in using Teams and any technology and application within the courses is vital to give students the tools and skills they need to be successful and mitigate frustration.  This can be done face-to-face and also through tutorial videos, I have created in the lessons of the course.  Knowing how to use Teams and the technology also creates independence and support among the students.  I have also ensured that any website application and technology the students will use, they can access using their Microsoft login.  This eliminates the need for students to use multiple emails to access the tools and enables me to assess and track student progress.  Furthermore, most of the applications I am having the students use are supported by Teams – Flipgrid, Nearpod, etc.

I think my main concern is the use of Kialo-edu discussion forum and its accessibility.  This is a forum that relies heavily on text, and I have concerns about how to use it and support the learning needs of some of the students in my class.  I want to make sure the appeal of the forum doesn’t overshadow the ability of all students to access and navigate it.  It is part of their summative assessment and it is necessary to ensure the success of all students.  This will require me to provide some time upfront to walk students through the forum and have students learn its ins and outs.  Kialo-edu provides adds to the diversity of learning options available, but I want to ensure it still meets the mandate of keeping it simple and accessible.

Accessibility is so much more than computers and wifi.  Our discussions and reading have made me think beyond hardware and software.  It is first and foremost about our students – who they are and how they learn – and then what can be available to them easily to support and enhance their learning experiences.  No matter how powerful the technology or tool may be, if there are limits to any aspect of access for our students, then it prevents our students from learning and succeeding (Bates, 2019, 9.2.2).



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Exploring Lumi: S.E. Hinton Interview

First off, I want to express how happy and excited I am to have Lumi as another tool to add to my technology toolbox!  I have experimented with other applications that enabled me to create interactive activities such as Edpuzzle and Formative, but I have also enjoyed my experience using Lumi.  While it took some navigating, I found it to be quite user-friendly, but I also feel I have just scratched the surface of Lumi with the creation of this video.   I am looking forward to further exploration of all its tools and activities.

For this assignment, I am creating a lesson for a course about Identity through the study of the novel The Outsiders.  The lesson is an introduction to the author and the time and place in which the novel is set.  The purpose of this lesson is to give the students some context and understanding of the setting of the novel.  Knowing about the time and pace of a story gives a reader insight into the actions, emotions, and thinking of characters.  It provides cultural and social contexts and helps the reader understand the mood, themes, and plots of the story.  I also believe that knowledge of the author and his/her process and thinking gives students insight into the motivation and inspiration that goes into the writing of a story.  This helps readers see a story through the author’s eyes and experiences that often influence their writing.

The interactive video I created with Lumi is a Fox News interview with S.E. Hinton, the author of The Outsiders, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the novel.  In the interview, the interviewer and Hinton discuss the history and motivation behind writing the story.  I chose this video because the author discusses some of the setting contexts of the story and the inspiration behind the writing.   The interview gives us a glance into life in 1960s through the author’s eyes, which she transferred into the plot of the novel.  The interview also discusses the fact that Hinton wrote this novel as a teenager in high school, which enables the students to make connections to the story realizing that it was written by someone close to them in age.  This video helps to set the stage for the novel study by putting a face, voice, and person behind the name of the author on the cover of the novel.

Before I started creating the interactive video, I perused the various features of Lumi and practiced adding them to the uploaded video.  From this exploration and preview of the video I was using, I decided to add true/false questions, a video link to a video about social classes in the United States (as it relates to the setting context of the novel), a link to a list of Top 100 Young Adult Fiction books (The Outsiders is deemed as one of the first novels of YA fiction), and a video summary at the end.  I added a variety of features to keep my students engaged in the video.  The video link was added to provide more information about the social climate of the setting of the novel, and the booklist link was added to peak the interest level of my students in other possible YA fiction they may want to explore.

Top 21 Best Young Adult Books of Each Year (2000-2020)

As I was adding features to the video, I became much more confident and comfortable with the Lumi format.  However, I did find the timing of the features a bit tricky and an area I need to work on.  I think this could be solved with a more detailed preview of the videos and writing down the timeframes of where each feature would fit into the video prior to building the features.  The other aspect I am still sorting out is adding features as a poster.  I found the sizing and placement seemed a bit off and weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as the button feature.  I am sure as I work with Lumi more, I will find ways to address the issues of timing and the placement and sizing of a poster option.

Lumi is definitely on the list of technology applications I will be using in the future.  Here is a link to my first attempt.  Feedback is more than welcome!



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Course Profile for Grade 9 ELA Identity and The Outsiders

Course Overview

This course is being designed for a Grade 8/9 split ELA class within a quad-split ELA classroom. The central theme for the course is Identity – “All That I Am – In Search of Self.”  The students will explore this theme through the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  By the end of the unit, the students will be able to understand and respond to these questions with reference to the novel and a variety of grade-level texts and make connections to their personal lives and experiences while defining their own sense of identity.  The course will have students work through 8 lessons to read the novel and explore the idea of identity – their own and the characters within the novel.  The course will take 6 to 8 weeks to complete.

The Learners

Photo by Max Fischer from Pexels

This specific course is being designed for Grade 8 and 9 students I will be teaching in September 2023.  It is important to know that these students learn in a four-grade split classroom ranging from grades 6 to 9.  There are 15 students in the class – 2 Grade 6, 4 Grade 7, 4 Grade 8, and 3 Grade 9.  Together, this is a diverse group of students, with some students requiring specific learning needs – IIPs, Individual Outcome Plans (IOP), Collaborative Team Plans (CTP), accommodations and modifications, and vision and speech supports.

The grade 8 and 9 group of 7 students have a range of abilities.  One student in the group is diagnosed as having Diverse Needs and requires support for receptive and responsive language.  We have and will continue to use technology to support these needs throughout this unit (ie. video, discussion, artwork, etc.)  Students within this group have a range of reading and writing abilities.  At least one student is achieving well below grade level, requiring alternative ways of accessing texts and content and demonstrating understanding, and the others achieve at or above grade level.  Five students live outside of the school community on farms and are bused into school.

Course Format

This course will be a blended learning format and include synchronous and asynchronous components.  Students will be at school for both, either in the classroom or in alternative workspaces.  Synchronous activities will be face-to-face with the teacher and their classmates and will include discussions and whole group lessons and instructions, depending on the needs of the students and the nature of the content.  The course will include the following unit lessons:

Lesson 1 – Who Am I? – Exploring the Theme of Identity

Lesson 2 – Setting the Stage for the Novel – The Outsiders

Lesson 3 – Chapters 1 to 3:  Characterization

Lesson 4 – Chapters 4 to 6:  Choices and Consequences

Lesson 5 – Chapters 7 to 9:  Symbolism

Lesson 6 – Chapters 10 to 12:  A Closer Look at Theme 

Lesson 7 – Identity Final Project

All lessons will involve both asynchronous and synchronous activities and tasks, and students will have opportunities to work independently, in partners, in small groups, and as a whole class.

Course Tools

For all the classes I teach, I use Microsoft Teams as the format for the online learning components of my blended learning environment.  This is the platform chosen by my division and familiar to the students I teach.  Therefore, I have decided to build my course in Teams, using Class Notebook to house the content of the course.

I will use the various features of Teams during this course such as Teams Chat, Assignments, and Channels to communicate with students and have students submit their work.  Class Notebook also has Immersive Reader and Dictate features to support student learning needs, and it enables me to review student work and progress within the course lessons and assignments.

Course Toolset

While Microsoft Teams will be the main platform for this course.  There are a number of other tools I will use.  The following is a slideshow of the other tools the students will use throughout the course.

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  • Formative

    Chapter quizzes, ‘Big’ chapter questions, Final Test

  • Kialo Edu

    online discussions and debate

  • Sway

    presentation of content

  • Nearpod

    presentation of content with interactive activities (ie. collaboration boards, open-ended questions, polls, matching activities, etc.)

  • Google Earth

    a virtual tour of the setting of the novel

  • Edpuzzle

    comprehension checks during videos and video activities

  • Fliprid

    video responses to questions and peer and teacher feedback

  • Youtube

    access videos related to content and to audio recordings of chapters

Course Content and Learning Objectives


This unit will focus on the theme of identity through the study of the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  The students will explore the idea of identity and who and what influences who we are.  Through the study of the novel, students will reflect upon how influences, choices, and the environment impacted the character’s identities and apply this understanding to their own sense of who they are.  The novel study will also enable us to look closer at the impact of stereotyping and assumptions on our identity.  The students will end the unit with a choice project related to their personal identity and connecting it with the characters in the novel.  For this unit, we will focus on the following theme questions:

  •  From where does our sense of identity come?
  •  What makes each person unique and interesting?
  •  How do people express their individuality?
  •  How do people change as they journey through life?
  •  How do we keep our self-identity yet, at the same time, become
    part of a community?

Learning Outcomes

As this is a split-grade unit, I have included the main outcomes for Grades 8 and 9.  Numerous ELA outcomes will be covered and assessed throughout the entire unit; however, the following are the focus outcomes of the Lesson I will be designing for this assignment.

Assessment Strategies

Assessments throughout the unit will be both formative and summative and provide a variety of ways for students to receive feedback and demonstration their knowledge and understanding.

Formative Assessments 

Formative assessments will involve the exploration and knowledge-building activities the students will work through during their asynchronous work and tasks.  These tasks will support students in their participation and completion of their summative assessments.  Formative assessments will include:

  • Collaboration boards
  • Anticipation guides
  • Jigsaw activities
  • Nearpod lesson activities
  • Video responses using Edpuzzle
  • Journal responses
  • Reading comprehension questions

Summative Assessments

Summative assessments will occur during and after the synchronous component of this unit, where students will have an opportunity to share, synthesize, and build on the knowledge they created during their asynchronous activities and tasks.  The summative assessments will include:

  • Discussions and Lesson and Discussion Reflections – criteria will be created with students and discussions will be assessed.  Students will also complete a lesson and discussion reflection and a self-assessment.
  • “Big” Idea Questions – Each lesson will conclude with a big question students will answer related to the novel, the focus of the lesson, and the unit theme.  Students will have a choice to complete this as a written assignment or to record their responses on Flipgrid.  These questions will be completed after discussions.
  • Lesson Final Tasks – each lesson will have a summative task students will be responsible for.  This will include tasks related to character development, symbolism, and theme.
  • Quizzes and Tests – students will have quizzes and a final test for the novel.
  • Final Project – the final project for this unit will involve a choice board and will require students to synthesize their learning and understanding of the theme of identity in relation to the novel and themselves.

All assessments will be modified to meet the needs of the students.  They will have options to record, write, or create visual representations of their responses.  Also, the diversity of assessments used will also help support the needs of the students.

Considerations for Common Concerns

Attendance:  Attendance seems to be a common concern across all divisions and among educators.  My building is no exception.  This past year, we have seen students’ regular and consistent attendance drop for various reasons – physical illness, mental illness, family obligations, vacations, snow days, inability to get to school (ie. bus cancellations), etc.  Providing content and communication online gives students the opportunity to access the content, lessons, and communications while away.  Most students have the ability to access Teams and online resources through a phone, whether their own or a parent’s.  This will help students stay in the loop and be prepared for our face-to-face interactions.  It is my hope that providing an online component to our class will help address the issues of absenteeism in my class.

Tech Issues:  Our school is due for a refresh next year, and we should be able to maintain a one-to-one ratio for access to computers.  However, I always find there are issues with technology – from computer batteries not maintaining a charge, to not being able to access online learning tools because of our division’s restrictions for students.  While this is improving, it is something that needs to be considered when moving students to an online format.  Because I have chosen to offer a blended learning environment, some of these issues can be dealt with and mitigated face-to-face with students.  But, these issues can take time away from our valued instructional and discussion time in class.

Student Independence:  Working online requires a level of independence on the part of the students – from navigating the technology to working through, analyzing, and synthesizing content independently.  There are diverse levels of abilities and expertise among the students, and it will be important to recognize, support, and capitalize on these.  It will be important to establish expectations for students when working independently and online and vital to ensure students have networks of individuals they can access for technological and content support such as peer experts.  Students will also be made aware of and encouraged to use tools to support their independent learning such as Immersive Readers and speech-to-text tools.  I am hoping that multiple ways to access content (ie. print novels and audiobooks) and demonstrate their learning will support the diverse needs of my students and foster the independence they will need to work online.  Furthermore, I am hoping that using an online platform familiar to my students will also help students navigate the content with some ease and independence.


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Course Development Assignment

As a teacher of multiple subjects in my school, I had a wealth of choices for this assignment.  However, I have decided to focus on and develop a module and framework for a grade 9 ELA unit around the theme of identity –  “All That I Am – In Search of Self” – through the reading of the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  This unit and module will be developed for the grade 8 and 9 students in my grade 6/7/8/9 split ELA classroom.  For the purpose of this assignment, I am going to develop an introductory module that will focus on the theme and setting of the novel.   For this unit and module, we will explore the following theme questions:

Theme Questions:

  •  From where does our sense of identity come?
  •  What makes each person unique and interesting?
  •  How do people express their individuality?
  •  How do people change as they journey through life?
  •  How do we keep our self-identity yet, at the same time, become
    part of a community?

The students will have an opportunity to explore, understand, and respond to these questions by the end of the unit.  For the module, the students will learn about the time and cultural context and setting of the novel and apply this understanding in our discussion of the novel events, characters, setting, and conflict with a focus on our theme of identity.  By the end of the introductory module, the students will:

  • view, evaluate and respond to a variety of texts related to the theme of identity
  • select and use strategies to construct meaning before and after viewing, listening and reading
  • evaluate and demonstrate an understanding of multimedia texts
  • demonstrate an understanding of the texts and interpret texts in relation to our theme questions
  • use oral language to purposefully and confidently participate in discussions
  • assess strengths, needs, and contributions as a participant in a learning community

There are numerous reasons for choosing this content for a blended/online learning format – the amount of teacher-student face-to-face interaction time available in a multigrade classroom and meeting the diverse needs of the students in my classroom.  As a teacher in a quad-split ELA class, there are challenges to providing direct instruction to all grade levels during each learning period and supporting the diverse needs of the students in the classroom.  While I attempt to group grade levels together for units of study, face-to-face instruction time is still one of our biggest challenges.  To add to this, the students in my classroom bring with them many diverse needs that require differentiation and individualization.

A blended/online format along the lines of a flipped classroom would enable me to share my face-to-face interaction time with grade groups and individual students to provide direct instruction, facilitation, and support, and to assess student progress and learning.  The online component of this format will provide students with activities and content to interact with in order to build and create knowledge which will be shared during our face-to-face discussions and reflections.  Bates ( discussed the advantages of online collaborative learning involves deep and transformative learning that encourages critical and analytical thinking which leads to the creation of new knowledge.  Having a knowledge base coming into a discussion will enable us to use our face-to-face time for questioning, deeper thinking, synthesis, and analysis of the theme and novel, building and creating new knowledge that will engage and stick, rather than consuming lecture-style learning.

This format will also enable me to provide differentiation support to all students, such as speech-to-text responses, videos, audiobooks and files, and images.  These supports will meet the needs of students reading at various levels and students requiring specific accommodations and modifications that can be met through the use of technology.

The blended/online format affords me, as a teacher, the flexibility to provide time to support and facilitate all grade groups.  The format also enables us to use our face-to-face time with more purpose and focus to delve deeper into our understandings and knowledge and create a more transformational and engaging learning experience.



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My Experiences with Blended and Online Learning

Hello!  Welcome to my blog for EC&I 834 – Designing for Online and Blended Learning.  I am so excited to take this course and happy to finish my Masters with this last elective!

I am currently a Grade 6/7/8/9 teacher in a small rural Saskatchewan school.  I teach ELA, Social Studies, PE, Art, and Health, and I am the Learning Support Teacher in my school.  Prior to teaching in Saskatchewan, I was a teacher in one of the largest middle schools in Canada in Toronto, Ontario.  I taught grades 7 and 8 and was the Teacher-Librarian for 6 years.  Over my 22 years of teaching, integrating and using technology has always been a passion for me, and I realize that there is always more to learn in the ever-changing landscape of technology.  I have seen the gambit of changes in technology from overhead projectors to tv and VCRs, to document cameras, projectors, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, screencasting, and video streaming.  It has been a journey of discovery and learning.

When I began my master’s, I had the opportunity to experience a flipped learning style of class.  We completed modules online with discussion forums and met face-to-face once a month during the duration of the course for in-person discussions and applications of the content.  Then Covid 19 arrived and all my classes turned to some form of online and blended learning – from complete online with no face-to-face to online blended with Zoom sessions.  This was all very new to me, as my university career has always involved face-to-face learning, and I wasn’t sure if this style of learning was for me.  But, I have grown to enjoy it and appreciate the flexibility it has afforded me. This online and blended learning also extended into my professional development and has opened doors to opportunities that were not accessible to me at the start of my teaching career – such as virtual PD, attending digital summits, and professional reading book clubs, etc.

As a teacher, technology was always present in my room and a passion for me.  But it wasn’t until Covid 19 that I really had to delve into integrating it fully into the teaching and learning environment.  Up to this point, I used it to supplement my teaching and as a means of enabling students to produce products.  Covid 19 taught me that there are so many ways to use technology to engage, support, teach, and learn with my students online.  It was a time of experimentation for me and my students.  We learned, tried, failed, and succeeded together.  This time opened the doors to pathways that could support my teaching and my student’s learning in a multigrade classroom, and I continue to use much of what I learned in my classroom in a blended learning environment today.  I would say it has become similar to a flipped classroom – especially for my ELA classes.  I build lessons and activities in Microsoft Teams, as this is the platform my division uses, and assign them to the various grade levels.  Each grade works through its lesson and activities to prepare for our discussion and meeting time while I work with other grade groups.  It doesn’t always run as smoothly as I would like as there are sometimes challenges with levels of independence, ability to access components of lessons (sometimes works on teacher computer, but not older student computers), cost of using apps and programs (free versions seem to be disappearing), and the viability of the technology available to my students.  We have extension cords running all over the place in my classroom most days to keep our outdated computers running!  Sometimes, straight lecture-style teaching is faster than blended learning;  however, definitely not always as effective or sticky as using engaging technology and tools.  There is also a constant need to learn and explore all that is available and to stay up to date, which can be time-consuming in an already heavy workload.

However, despite the challenges, I am determined to continue integrating and using technology in our learning environment.  I believe Bates ( makes a strong point when he states we need to rethink and build our classrooms to engage our learners and support them in developing the skills they will need to live and learn in a digital world.  I am learning that technology when purposefully integrated into a learning environment, can provide flexible, engaging, adaptable, and diverse learning opportunities for students to not only consume knowledge but also build and create new knowledge that sticks.  It is my hope this course will give me the foundations to build on creating a blended learning environment which promotes active and accessible learning and teaching for myself and all my students.  I look forward to this learning journey!

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