Monday, April 7, 2014

Moving from a Linear to a Dynamic State: Blended Learning via GAFE 2.0

The start of Lent provided a great blended learning opportunity for myself and my students. Using our Learning Management Site (LMS), the students were provided with instructions and links to engage in answering the following question:

What will you do during Lent to show that you are sorry and that you want to become a better person?

Before the students went into the LMS and started working on their task, we had discussions on what Lent is and what Jesus experienced throughout the 40 days before Easter. Within the structure of this task the students were taught how to leave helpful comments/feedback on the work of their classmates

Once a foundation for the topic was established I took them through what they would be experiencing via the LMS. In the LMS I had embedded a YouTube video (stop, pause, and start at their leisure, watch as many times as they require) about Jesus in the desert, a Google Form to collect information about what they were able to take away from the video (different question types), and a link to the Google Document where they would paste the link to their work (sharing, collaborating, communication, creation) so that their classmates would be able to access their work (addressing the question above) and provide comments (descriptive feedback from me and others).

Here are screenshots of the layout within the LMS:

YouTube video
The video was a great way to hook them into our topic and provides them the ability to stop and start it as they wish. They also have the ability to watch it more than once if they feel they need to do so. Moreover, it provides us the opportunity to address some of the curriculum expectations in Media Literacy.

Google Form used to collect the understanding of my students.
With the Form embedded the students don't have to leave the page where the video is playing. The first two questions are KU questions that will meet some of my students where they are at and the next two questions are higher order questions that will meet other students where they are at. Using a Form allows me to collect their understanding immediately (formative assessment) which allows me to check in with students right away about their understanding. There were a few students that needed my support and I was able to provide it to them as soon as they submitted their information. It was a great way to work with those that required some remediation right away before proceeding. The students that required enrichment were able to have their needs met by moving forward into the Google Apps.

Students could now use any Google App (Docs, Form, Draw, Presentation, Spreadsheet) to begin working on the question posed to them.

The students then decided what Google App they wanted to use to answer the question. Once they knew how they wanted to proceed they copied the link of their work page and pasted it into the shared Google document that is listed at the bottom of our LMS page. Here is what it looked like once students had filled it in:

It is important to note that the students have also shared their work with me. I can go into their work with unfettered access to make comments and edit. The links in the Google document above are set with the "comments only" permission. By only providing commenting rights to their classmates it minimizes the risk that work will be erased or manipulated. Erasing and manipulating people's work is not the norm in my class, but it does teach the students how to set specific permissions around the use of their work and it teaches them to decide what permissions they choose based on what they want their audience to do with their work. 

As students are finishing up on their task they begin to refer to the Google Document in order to comment on the work of others. Here are a couple of examples (Google Presentation for the first and second one and the use of Google Draw for the third one) of what this looks like:

As you can see, the students make the work their own and engage in doing some really neat things as they work on the task at hand. They take pride in their work and it is an understatement to say that they enjoy creating, collaborating, and communicating with respect to their work. The feedback portion was a "bump up" for us and I would like to keep working on that with them. Now that they and I have had experience using the GAFE suite of apps I would like them to use what they need to meet the expectations set out for them in our learning goals and success criteria. Students always have the option of using whatever they need to accomplish their task - it is not limited to the use of the technology. More often than not, they will use the technology and when asked why they tend to tell me it is because they have greater opportunity to do things that they wouldn't be able to do with pencil and paper and other mediums.

They are well on their way and continue to amaze me with what they are doing via the blended learning model we are using. The ability for me to get to their work and provide them with instant feedback is quite valuable for everyone involved.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to connect with me via email, Twitter, Google +, or by simply leaving a comment for me below.

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