The first lesson is available in its initial draft form at http://www.powtoon.com/p/cikE2Z0c93v/. I still need to finalize it.
It’s always overwhelming to start the detailed lessons for a unit. Anticipating that this unit will be durable sets the bar higher than usual. I am creating all the lessons via some aspect of a media presentation. I also am using my 6th graders as the target audience. That means no boring, straight-forward, language-heavy PowerPoints. I built the opening lesson this week using Powtoon. This cool online tool gives educators free access, as long as the presentations are under 5 minutes. Since I needed to build a short lesson, this tool was perfect. There are many templates available for editing. I found one that worked well and modified it to fit my needs.
At this point, I think I will house all the media needed for this unit in the library on Edmodo. I will be able to easily share links and my students can access the media any time. I think I can share my library with peer teachers, but I need to research this further. In the middle of working on some of the lessons this week, I had an opportunity to view the webinar by Matthew Turner on videos for the flipped classroom. The presentation was more about video production by students than the flipped classroom. The project he is involved in, called the Sister School Exchange was inspiring. In the future, I would really enjoy being involved in a project like this with my students. I liked the organization of his project. It seemed to align with the unit I am writing right now. I am going to modify my unit to incorporate some of the ideas from the Sister School Exchange. I liked the idea that he awards badges upon completion of certain tasks. I’ve done this using Edmodo with my students, but not on a big project yet. The tool that Matthew used to train his students on the creation of a documentary is called a “community profile video.” This generated one of those “a-ha” moments. In my unit, I envisioned my students making their own videos. I also wrote the unit with several choices as far as a culminating product. After viewing the webinar, I decided that the culminating video should be a group effort. Each student will participate by providing personal research and also taking a role for the final video. A short community profile video will be the up-front training tool for the whole class. This community profile video will give me opportunities to teach about interviews and photography/filmography.
Earlier in the week, I participated in Kathleen Kelm’s webinar on Engaging in a Global Classroom. This was a very helpful webinar from a career potential perspective. Kathleen develops curriculum and teaches international students online. It was interesting to learn that the majority of online education is done in English and also in Spanish. Much of how she plans out curriculum is similar to what I am experiencing, which was interesting since she teaches adults and I teach upper elementary students. When planning online courses, consider: the structure (asynchronous vs. synchronous), student expectations (how often to meet, how quick of teacher response), curriculum design, student engagement (relevance of material, international/ELL perspective), and workload (how many hours). The key is to incorporate effective communication and student satisfaction, of course.
If I wanted to pursue a career in online curriculum development or instruction, it is recommended that I have at least a master’s degree, a positive track record, and professional awards. A certificate proving expertise may also be helpful. Also, keeping up with professional organizations such as ISTE or Sloan-C will help keep me current in recent developments in this field.
Diary, this unit is turning out to be a big project. As I build the components of the online course, I am already streamlining some of the material. The main idea is to keep true to the standards I would like to teach without bogging down my students with too many details. They need clear instruction with an opportunity to practice and be successful.