Author Archives: Bret McMann

QUIZLET!

Assessment has always been an area of growth that I want to continue with each school year and I want to incorporate different or new types of assessment so that I am not always falling back to things like quizzes, projects, tests, papers, etc.  Although these types of assessment do have a place from time to time, I think students welcome new and improved ways of showing their understanding of particular concepts.  

The problem I seem to have repeatedly with this continual growth and incorporation mindset is that at as the school year progresses, I often find it difficult to keep up assessment methods fresh and fall back to the more traditional ways of assessing.  For this reason, I have chosen to look at a content creation tools that center around assessment, in hopes of creating new avenues to assess my students.

What is Quizlet?

In the most basic form, Quizlet is a digital learning tool for students, teachers, and parents.  These tools  include flashcards, study modes and game modes.  The site was created by a highschool sophomore, Andrew Sutherland, in 2005.  He was driven to create Quizlet in preparation for a French assessment; he aced it, and began sharing the program with his friends.  Quizlet’s motto is “we believe that anyone can learn anything. All it takes is a tenacious spirit, the right guidance, and the tools to see it through.”  According to their website, Quizlet has over 60 million monthly users, 500+ million study sets created, and 2 in 3 US High School students use the website.

Getting Started with Quizlet!

Jill Duffy outlines in her Quizlet Review, that Quizlet is available as a web app, android app, and iOS app for iPhone or iPad.  To get started, users must create an account with an email address, username and password; or by authenticating through Apple, Google or Facebook.  There are other questions such as birthdate, but they are not required and users can include as much info as they feel comfortable doing.  

Once you have your account, you can start creating your own study sets or looking for ones that have already been created.  You are able to add these pre-existing study sets to your files.  To help you organize your study set, users are able to create folders. Users are also able to control which of their created study sets are public.  You are also able to join a class if an educator gives you a link, enabling users to access pre-made course specific study sets created by the creator of the class

How Does Quizlet Work?

Quizlet is an online content creation tool where teachers, students, or parents can input information and create study sets.  Once the information or study sets have been inputted, Quizlet takes this information and converts it into flashcards, quizzes and games so that its users can study information using various forms.  Teachers, students and parents who decide to use Quizlet as a study tool, have a few options in creating content.  Users are able to create their own study set, search for and use study sets that have already been created, save study sets using the folder organizations option and they can share their sets with other users.  Creating and editing quizlets is simple and easy.  However, users are not able to edit other study sets that they did not create.

In the article Pros & Cons of Using Quizlet in Your Classroom, Bri Stauffer outlines that  users have 7 avenues they can engage with content and review study sets of information while using Quizlet: 

(1) Flashcards – interactive/online version of the old paper form of flashcards, which are created based upon the study set that users input into Quizlet or a pre-existing set.

(2) Learn – a study mode based upon how well you know the information of a study set.

(3) Write – fill in the blank study mode.

(4) Spell – a study mode that dictates a term or definition to you, that you must copy down correctly.

(5) Test – study mode to quiz yourself on how well you know the information of the study set that you are working with.

(6) Match – a time based game where users need to match terms and definitions. 

(7) Gravity – this is a level based game study mode where users must answer correctly before being hit and destroyed by an asteroid.

Various Quizlet Modes (missing Live Mode)

Pros and Cons to Quizlet 

As with any program, website, or app, there will be pros and cons.  These will depend entirely on what you are looking for and how you intend to use it.  Quizlet is no different, there are some good things and then there are some not so good things.

Quizlet Pros

Bri Stauffer outlines a few different pros to Quizlet in her article Pros & Cons of Using Quizlet in Your Classroom:

  1. Differentiation – Quizlet can help differentiate for students of various levels and abilities.  As we all know, each student is unique in the way that they retain knowledge and Quizlet provides 7 different modes that students can work through and find what best fits for their styles.
  2. Collaboration –  students are able to use Quizlet with their peers to help create study sets.  These options help promote teamwork and responsibility as they work to create content with others.
  3. Assessment Prep – Quizlet provides students with unique opportunities to prepare for assessments.  Anyone can create an account, so students and parents do not have to rely on teachers or instructors to be able to access the program.  Students are also able to create their own study sets, with their unique spin on concepts which helps them understand what they are learning.  With Quizlet being a digital tool, students can access when they want to, how they want to or wherever they want to; if they have proper devices and access to the internet that is.

Jill Duffy also outlines a few different pros to Quizlet through the Quizlet Review she published in 2021: 

  1. Ease of use – accessing and engaging with content in Quizlet is easy and free. 
  2. Content Options & Mode Variety – Users are able to create their own content, find pre-existing study sets, save and organize and share their study sets.  Quizlet also provides 7 different modes that students can utilize.
  3. Language support – a great tool to help learn new components of a new target language such as vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, etc.

Quizlet Cons

In the same article, Stauffer outlines what she sees as the cons to using Quizlet in your classroom.

  1. Distracted students – while most users will be using the free version, this means that the ads will be popping up frequently.  This could become distracting students and take their attention away from their task.
  2. Incorrect Information – with the ease of content creation with Quizlet and the ability to search for pre-existing study sets, students run the risk of relying on information that may be incorrect.
  3. Cheating – dishonest users may take advantage of these study tools and find ways to cheat on homework and assessments.  These students will push the boundaries and can be very resourceful in finding information online.

Duffy too, goes on to shed some light on what she sees as Quizlet cons.

  1. Plus membership – all initial users have access to the free version, the cost to upgrade to a plus membership has seen increases in price.  
  2. Locked features – some features are locked and only accessible to those with the plus membership.
  3. Memorization – Quizlet is suitable for rote memorization and requires users to problem solve to be able to use it to study and engage with deeper content.

SAMR Integration & Classroom Potential

The article Online Tools for Teaching & Learning outlines how Quizlet fits into the SAMR model of technology integration in classrooms.  This article also outlines that before we integrate or implement new tech into the classroom, educators use the SAMR model as a way of identifying the feasibility of implementing the new piece of tech.  SAMR stands for: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Instructional_design/SAMR_Model/What_is_the_SAMR_Model%3F

Online Tools for Teaching & Learning article goes on  further to identify how Quizlet fits within the SAMR model:

Substitution – students create flashcards through Quizlet instead of on index cards.

Augmentation – students can link images or GIFs to each of their digital flashcards as a memory hook.

Modification – students can add multimedia to all stages of their project, set deadlines, track all activity and work remotely if needed. Teachers can also track all activity that occurs and set deadlines to help reduce time misuse.

Redefinition – both students and teachers can see all activities and see who contributed in what ways and at what times.  Students can critically analyze these logs to see where they could have made improvements.

Classroom Potential

In her paper, eTools: Using Quizlet in the Classroom, Kelly Soczka outlines that the beauty of Quizlet is that it can be used in the Face to Face (F2F) classroom setting or any Online/Remote learning models.  Quizlet can be used in a number of useful ways in our classrooms as a new and exciting way to not only assess students, but a tool that students can use to help prepare themselves for their assessments.  In conjunction with assessment, Quizlet could also be used as an instructional tool in our classrooms as an addition to lessons, projects, etc.  Soczka outlines that she sees Quizlet fitting into classrooms 3 different ways: 

  1. Interactive Learning Activity (Quizlet Live) – teachers are able to use the Quizlet in a live F2F classroom where teachers can review content in real time with their students, preview new material, or use it as a formative assessment tool.    Quizlet Live operates very similarly to Kahoot in the sense that the students join a live game that the teacher has selected or created.
  2. Study Notes/Assessment Preparation/Self Study – users are able to create their own study sets/notes in preparation for assessments.  They are able to use their own study sets, as Quizlet allows for randomization in the order it presents the content, which ensures the student grasps concepts vs memorizing the order.  Users are also able to share their content they create with their peers.  This can also prove to be another excellent avenue for students to prepare for assessments.
  3. Online LMS activity – teachers are now able to upload Quizlets to the LMS for students to access remotely.  Users are able to upload and annotate images for free.  Once the image is uploaded, users are able to use learn, write, match or live modes to navigate through the information that is embedded into the image.

There are other ways that Quizlet could be utilized in our classrooms, but it may require a little bit of creativity in the sense of how you set up your study sets.  Users could create questions on the flashcards and input the answers as the definition.  This could be utilized in multiple subject areas like Science, Math, Social Studies as a way to check content comprehension and deeper understanding or application of concepts. 

Quizlet would also be a useful tool in language classes and EAL classrooms where its users are tasked with learning new vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and other aspects of the new language.  There is also a text to speech function which would aid users in learning proper pronunciation of the target language.  

Conclusion

If you are looking for a tool that you and your students are able to customize to specific content that you are covering in class and help them understand and review specific terms, then Quizlet could be the tool for you.  If you are looking for a tool that helps your students understand concepts to a deeper level of understanding or application, then you may want to look elsewhere.  I think Quizlet is a great tool for study prep, understanding basic concepts and terminology, but lacks the capabilities for users to show their understanding to a much deeper level.  Although you could program your study sets to accomplish this, the original setup really isn’t conducive to that type questioning/assessing.  Quizlet would be a great study prep tool as students can create their own unique study sets and share them with their peers, which would provide numerous opportunities to engage with the same content but from a different perspective. 

Cheers, 

Bret 

Course Profile!

Course Development Profile

Design a blended online learning course was the task given to us this past week in EC&I 834. Select an LMS, collaborate and develop a blended online course with potential synchronous and asynchronous components. In collaboration with Brianne McFetridge and Leona Stephen, we have put together an overview of a grade 8 Science course in Cells and Structure.

A. Course  – Life Science – Cells and Systems

This course will follow the Saskatchewan Curriculum guidelines for the Life Science – Cells, Tissues, Organs and Systems – focusing on outcomes CS8.1, CS8.2, CS8.3 and CS8.4.
https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/cell.htm

B. Course Outcomes and Indicators

The outcomes of this course are prescribed as per the Saskatchewan Curriculum and a variety of indicators will be covered throughout the course: 

CS8.1Analyze the characteristics of cells, and compare structural and functional characteristics of plant and animal cells.
CS8.2Demonstrate proficiency in the use of a compound light microscope to observe plant and animal cells.
CS8.3Distinguish structural and functional relationships among cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems in humans and how this knowledge is important to various careers.
CS8.4Analyze how the interdependence of organ systems contributes to the healthy functioning of the human body.
https://www.userbrain.com/blog/4-big-questions-wary-web-users-want-ask-brand

C. Course Guiding Questions

What makes a cell a living organism?
How does it function?
How are single and multicellular organisms different from each other?
What does it mean to have selectively permeable membranes?
How do diffusion and osmosis transfer liquids and gasses in cells?
How do you use a microscope effectively to observe cells?
How are plant and animal cells different from one another?
Why are cells the basic unit of life?What is cell theory?
How are cells used to create the other portions of the human body?
How do systems function together to make the multicellular human body function?
How do the systems of the human body react to internal or external stimuli and change?

D. Target Audience and Timeline

This course is intended for students that are in a Saskatchewan based school at the middle years level. Specifically students that are in a grade 8 or a 7/8 split classroom. The course will span over a four week period.

Adaptations and flexibility can be utilized at the teachers discretion based on the needs of the classroom.
https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/digital-literacy-skills/

Course Format 

This course will follow a blended model with face to face and online components.  Students will be able to access this course synchronously from school or asynchronously from home. The synchronous components will be school based with hands-on science components (labs) and potential group work. The asynchronous component will have prepared videos lessons by teacher or the use of you-tube supported material.  
https://edu.google.com/products/classroom/

Course LMS and Toolset

Throughout this course, Google Classroom will be utilized along with a variety of online tools to deliver content, practice skills, provide a variety of learning opportunities to engage all types of learners.

Several different online tools will be used to guide the students’ learning. The following are examples of possible student tools:

Google Workplace for Education
Mentimeter
Kahoot
Quizlet
WeVideo
YouTube

Course Communications

The classroom teacher can decide which method of communication will be most suitable for the students and parents to be connected with the course. Suggested options for quick communication between teacher/student and teacher/parent could be as follows:

EDBSY – for messaging daily or weekly short announcements about due dates and reminders to students about resources to bring to school for the course.

School Board based teacher email for larger concerns about student behaviors or help needed by teacher

Google Calendar for due dates of course assignments and the suggested learnings of the week.

A Google Meet or Zoom to have synchronous online teaching and class discussion. 

Course Assignments

Students can access all assignments, assessments and due dates using Edsby and Google Calendar.

If students will be absent for long periods of time, students will access course material through Google Classroom and can complete all assignments independently.

Students can submit all assignments and assessments using the Turn In tab once they are completed.

Assignments and expectations will vary for each module. As well, assignments will vary depending on students’ needs.

Course Materials

The course will utilize a variety of materials in order to reach the variety of diverse learners in the room. It is advised that students have access to the following materials both at school and at home.

Pearson Science 8 – Saskatchewan Resource is available online through school division access and in classroom provide by school division library services.

Access to devices both in the classroom and at home that are able to connect internet service.

Access to Headphones for in classroom work with videos.

Access to lab equipment while in class learning

Course Assessment

Course assessment will be both formative and summative;  These assessments will be provided both virtually as well as hard copy for those students without regular access to technology and internet outside of the classroom.

Students will demonstrate understanding through a multitude of formative and summative avenues throughout the course. They will work through summative assessments such as labs – both in person and online, research and express understanding through blog type activities in addition to a culminating course Summary of Learning.  

Students will also work through various types of formative assessments like Menti, Kahoot, Google Forums, and Entrance/Exit Slips.  

Course Attendance

As per government law attendance in school is mandatory whether in person or online via Zoom or Google Meet. Flexibility can occur when students aren’t able to attend for various different reasons that are approved by teacher, administration and parent.

Course Concerns

Internet and Technology Access can be assured during synchronous learning, however uncertainty lies with asynchronous learning at home.

EAL Learners will be encouraged to use Google Translate for words and phrases they do not understand. 

EAL learning will be asked to record a glossary of terms in English and their native language.

Student awareness of LMS use and Technology Skills to complete this course will be pre-taught to ensure student success.

Lack of engagement from the students – desire to interact on camera during class discussions.

Maintaining structure and flow of lessons if students are sometimes face to face and other times online.
https://stock.adobe.com/mt/search/images?k=rationale

Rationale For Design

This course was designed to effectively engage and meet the needs of all learners. As we continue to evolve in education we recognize that there can be adjustments made in our teaching methods and strategies. Students deserve an education that is relevant and concurrent with the pace and needs of our digital world. By providing students with the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, by learning through and with technology hopefully we can prepare them to be digitally literate.
https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/digital-literacy-skills/

What the Heck is HyFlex Learning!?

https://nearpod.com/blog/what-are-hyflex-and-hybrid-classrooms/

To begin I need to admit that I have never heard of the term HyFlex learning prior to last week.  This is where I began my research this week.  I needed to figure out exactly what this type of learning was and what it ecompasses.

What is HyFlex?

Leigh shared a great article titled Educause’s article titled, “7 Things You Should Know About The HyFlex Course Model” which outlines HyFlex Learning model. First off, this type of learning model has many moving parts that need to be aligned and functioning well to be an effective mode to deliver online education. This can make it difficult to do well. 

Simply stated, HyFlex learning is a type of learning environment which combines face to face (F2F) and online learning together.  A more in depth and detailed outline describes HyFlex learning as a format which offers the student the choice of engaging their learning in-person, synchronously online and asynchronously;  the student has the flexibility in how they will participate daily.  

https://ofdblog.wordpress.ncsu.edu/2020/08/20/the-hyflex-course-an-alternative-for-teaching-in-difficult-times/

Within the article from Educause Learning Initiative, was another article that sheds some light on what Hyflex Learning is.  Brian Beatty outlines in Hybrid Flexible Course Design  that the result of HyFlex learning is a “student-directed, multimodal learning experience.”  This approach provides students with autonomy, flexibility and seamless engagement no matter where, how, or when they engage with the course.

https://www.uwindsor.ca/ctl/HyFlex-Classes

What Goes Into HyFlex Learning!?

Now that I have a somewhat decent grasp on this HyFlex Learning concept, it is now time to dive into how the heck it is implemented! HyFlex Learning requires educators to adapt to an environment that they may or may not be accustomed to.  It requires them to rethink the entire learning experience and how students are going to be interacting with their peers, instructors, and course material.  The teacher must organize and develop the course content, tools, and channels in a way that will reflect the structure of the HyFlex framework. All of these components must jive together to ensure a smooth course implementation.

A few major components that go into making the HyFlex framework tick are: all students must have access to the learning resources, the instructor and their peers regardless of how they choose to engage with the content.  All educational resources must be online and students will typically take part in some sort of online chat or forum.  With that said, students also need to have unlimited internet access so they are able to take part in all the aspects of their HyFlex course offering.  A different component to HyFlex learning that may not be seen in other online learning modules is its ability to provide students the opportunity to complete classwork asynchronously or away from the designated in person or synchronous classes.

Advantages to HyFlex

There are a number of advantages to implementing and utilizing the HyFlex Learning model. One of the major advantages is its ability to continue learning through different adverse times, while also maintaining the health and safety of all involved.  We are seeing this currently play out as we are navigating the current health crisis of COVID-19.  This model will provide opportunities for learning to continue even when it is not safe to congregate and collaborate in person.  A global health crisis is not the only situation where this learning model can be effective.  There are situations such as natural disasters or disability which can create a situation where classes or students individually are unable to attend F2F classes, but would be able to continue learning with the utilization of the HyFlex model. 

Brian Beatty outlines in is chapter on Costs and Benefits to Hybrid Flexible Course and Programs some of the  advantages to HyFlex:

 Advantages for Students: 

  • Increase access to courses – when attending class in person is problematic, and when desired classes are scheduled at the same time
  • Schedule control – more control over day to day schedules associated with attending class.
  • More learning resourcesmultiple modes of participation often require more robust instructional materials, enabling richer instruction and providing additional opportunities for learning 

Advantages for Educators:

  • Able to serve more students with the same resources (time, instructional materials, distance, travel)
  • Develop skills and experience in teaching online without giving up classroom instruction
  • Provide a built-in alternative when classroom instruction isn’t possible due to scheduling conflicts

Disadvantages to HyFlex

Brian Beatty also outlines in is chapter on Costs and Benefits to Hybrid Flexible Course and Programs some of the  disadvantages to HyFlex:

Disadvantages for Students:

  • Requires personal management related to learning path: decision-making (which way to participate?) and when online is chosen, requires substantial time management skills.
  • Personal and technical resources are required to participate in the online version of the course: (most commonly) hardware, network, ability to engage in online learning platforms, and the ability to learn through mediated experiences.
  • Digital Divide – not all students have the same access to technology and as a result may impact their ability to take engage in the online portions of this model wheter it is synchronous or asynchronous.

Disadvantages for Educators:

  • Design and develop a course that supports multiple and simultaneous modes of student participation, essentially creating both fully face to face and online formats.
  • Manage the technical complexity of multi-modal instruction, especially when synchronous participation is supported.
  • Administrate the participation of students in varied formats: tracking attendance and participation, practice and assessment activities, and providing interaction and feedback.
  • Managing the moving parts to effectively excute this type of learning model. The technology and curriculum must align and the technology must work consistently for all those involved. Finally, the learnig must be equivalent no matter the learning path chosen by the student.

HyFlex Feasibility

With the continuation of the technology boom and the current global COVID 19 pandemic, I think the HyFlex Learning model is gaining more and more momentum as the education world is forced to pivot over and over in hopes of providing opportunities for learning to continue.  The pandemic has shown us that it is indeed possible to provide good learning opportunities without having an in-person component.  We will continue to see more students engaging if this is a model that is offered on a continual basis due to the flexible nature of this model alone.  I feel that HyFlex has a major draw towards the Graduate level courses or to an audience who may find it difficult to attend in person classes or to continue their education due to time constraints and other responsibilities.  Like most things that require change, there are going to be those who are not in favor of this model and will continue to operate in their previous ways, which I see as a good thing and another opportunity provided! 

Cheers, 

Bret

Here We Go Again!

Hey EC&I 834,

Here we go again with another masters course!  I am excited to learn more about online and blended teaching and learning, as it is currently super relevant and applicable!  This will be my 7th masters course and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Who Is This Guy?!

My name is Bret McMann and I grew up in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan – best place in the world to live!   I completed all my K-12 education there and then went on the University of Saskatchewan where I attained my Kinesiology and Education degrees, while also playing 3 years of CIS football for the Huskies on the defensive line.  Since finishing playing football, I have become very active in coaching.  I have spent time coaching minor football, high school, provincial teams and most recently coaching for the Regina Thunder of the CJFL!  My wife and I have called Regina home since 2016.

https://foamlake.com/ 

I currently work for Regina Public Schools.  I am in my 7th year of teaching and I teach grade ⅞ at Harbour Landing School in the south end of Regina.  Grade ⅞ is a new grade placement for me this year.  The majority of my career has been spent teaching in the grade 4/5/6 areas previous to this school year.

Over the Christmas break, my wife and I  recently became parents!  We welcomed 0ur son Jenyr, was born on December 18, 2021 at 6:29pm at Regina General Hospital.  He was 6lbs 11 oz and was 51cm long.  It is crazy that he is already a month old (today) and is growing like a weed!

Last semester, EC&I 831 (Social Media Education) required us to undertake a major digital project and I chose to focus on learning more about parenting and pregnancy so I was able to connect with my wife and understand what she was going through, understand what was happening to our baby as he grew and developed over the nine months and to help with some initial parenting tips and tricks!

Goals for EC&I 834

  • Online course design.  Now that I am teaching grade ⅞ I feel these students are much more capable of self-directed study online.  I have tried (and failed) to implement some sort of online course in previous years, but that was hindered due to grade level as well as my uncertainty on how to design and implement an online course or a component of an in person class effectively.
  • Become accustom with Blended Learning and what it ecompasses.  I really have no idea what a blended learning/classroom looks like.  As the pandemic continues, this may be an area that would be beneficial to have in my teacher toolbox.  
  • Apps/Online resources.  As the technology boom continues and more apps/resources become available to education, I would like to become more accustomed to implementing and using these in my online or blended classroom.  I would also like to become more aware of the privacy/confidentiality that goes along with using these apps/resources as this remains to be one of the biggest hurdles keeping me from using these in my classroom.

Cheers, 

Bret

Project Wrap Up!

Well, that’s a wrap on my Major Learning Project! I have taken so much away from this Project throughout the fall semester of EC&I 831! At the beginning of this class, I was really struggling with finding a topic that I wanted to learn more about, so I reached out to a co-worker for some ideas and she suggested I should do something surrounding pregnancy – I am sure glad I took her suggestion.  I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about pregnancy and child development, other than what we had learned in Biology/Science classes in school and University.  

I decided that the best way to organize the majority of my project was to mimic how my wife would be progressing through her pregnancy and use trimesters to outline what is happening during each of these phases.  I supplemented these 4 trimester posts with 3 other posts that outlined various takeaways, routines, and work that we have done in preparation for the arrival of our first baby! 

In my first post, I outlined some of my first resources that I had found to be super helpful in preparation of becoming a dad and what is going to be happening over the next 9 months.  I quickly noticed that there was a significant amount of information out there for new moms (for obvious reasons) but there wasn’t the same amount of information out there for new dads.  I shared a resource, We’re Pregnant! The First Time Dads Pregnancy Handbook written by Adiran Kulp.  I found it to be extremely helpful in explaining what is happening during a pregnancy.  Within this post, I also outlined how our journey to parenthood began and how my wife surprised me with some of the best news I have ever received.  

My second post focused on a book recommendation that I got from my wife – Like A Mother written by Angela Garbes.  This book takes a look through the female perspective of pregnancy and the many challenges that they are tasked with tackling solely based on the fact that they are biologically going to be growing and delivering babies.  This read was eye opening for me and I had a couple key takeaways.  First, the power of the female body is absolutely amazing! To be able to adapt on the fly and growing another human being is absolutely mesmerizing to me.  Secondly, postpartum care or lack of postpartum care for new moms.  There needs to be an emphasis placed on the physical, mental and emotional recovery of these ladies as their bodies have just been through a traumatic experience in childbirth.  

I didn’t get into the happenings of the trimesters until my third, fourth, fifth and sixth  posts where I outlined most of the happenings of each of the trimesters.  I focused on the growth and development of the fetus as well as the changes that mom will be experiencing throughout each week.  During my 6th post, I learned that the first 3 months were actually considered the FOURTH trimester even though babies are now living in the outside world with the focus of this trimester focused on their continued growth outside of the womb.  

Finally, I capped my project off with my 7th post that was surrounding the set up of baby cues (sleepy and hungry), how to soothe our baby using the 5 S’s, sleep training using the SITBACK and EASY principles, bathing, possible day routines, and some basic information regarding sleeping and eating.  Most of this information was provided through a resource that we were given –  Will I Ever Sleep Again? Creating Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Newborn which is provided by a company Taking Cara Babies.

Comparing where I began this project to where I ended, I feel much more confident and excited about becoming a dad and taking care of a newborn!  At the beginning, I did not have the slightest clue about the intricate details that go along with a pregnancy and taking care of a baby once they have arrived. There will obviously be a lot of learning on the fly that will continue once they arrive, but I feel that this project has better prepared me for it! 

Thanks for following along!

Bret

They’ve Arrived, Now What?!?

We are now responsible to take care of another tiny human and this is an opportunity that I am extremely excited to tackle with my wife.  She has been such a trooper throughout the entire pregnancy and I am extremely proud of her!  I am going to use my final post of my project to outline some of our routines we have planned for our little one when they arrive through the first few months.  I have found another resource that is written by Adrian Kulp entitled We’re Parents – The New Dad’s Guide to the First Year.    

0-3 Month Checklists 

Baby Month 1

  • Be sure to watch for jaundice in the first few days.  If the baby appears to be yellowish, even in the eyes, be sure to let your pediatrician know.  This is a common condition and usually responds to sunlight exposure or light therapy treatment.
  • Be sure to spend as much time as possible during the first few moments.  Be sure to touch the baby often – massage, cuddle, gently move their legs in a cycling motion.
  • Be sure to support the baby’s neck – they are not strong enough yet to hold up their head.  
  • At nighttime, keep the lights low and the movement to a minimum.
  • Keep the umbilical cord site clean and if applicable do the same for the circumcision site.  
  • Be aware of the fontanel (soft spot) on their head.  
  • When changing diapers, be sure to wipe from front to back! 
  • Be sure to start stocking up on breast milk if possible.  If not, be sure to find a good formula to use in place of breast milk.

Baby Month 2

  • Put the baby into their crib when they are still sleepy, so they can learn to fall asleep on their own. 
  • Be sure to talk and interact with your baby often! 
  • Give the baby plenty of opportunity to move and assume different positions.
  • Continue learning what your baby likes and what soothes them! 

Baby Month 3

  • Start tummy time! They may find this frustrating at first but it is so good for them and helps them get stronger.  There are tons of tummy time activities online – so be sure to look some out and give them a try! 
  • Begin to let the baby cry for a bit when they first wake up – resist the urge to run in.  This will help them learn how to self-soothe and possibly fall back asleep.
  • Be sure to expose them to a lot of color throughout the day. 
  • Continue to chat it up with your baby.  This helps develop their own communication skills – they may even begin responding in their own unique ways.

Mom

  • If breastfeeding is an issue, consult a lactation specialist, or switch to formula feeding.
  • Be sure mom is eating well and getting plenty of water, especially if she is nursing.
  • Take stock of her mental health.  Changing hormones can result in mood swings, but you will want to watch for signs of postpartum mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

Signs of Postpartum Mood Disorders

“Postpartum Depression” has become the umbrella term for mood disorders that moms may be experiencing after their baby has arrived.  They experience these mood disorders as a result of fluctuating hormones, high stress levels, sleep deprivation, and exhaustion.  Some new moms may also experience the lesser known postpartum anxiety disorder.  There is some crying and worrying to be expected with childbirth and parenting but we must be aware of when these behaviours become too overpowering for moms.  

The  “Baby Blues” are characterized by temporary symptoms such as mood swings, crying, anxiety, feeling of overwhelm, irritability, difficulty concentrating, but these usually subside within 2 weeks.  Postpartum depression or anxiety can last for months or longer if not treated.  New dads can experience these mood disorders as well.  New moms and dads need to know that these mood disorders are temporary, common and treatable.   

The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety will differ from person to person but can include a variety of the listed signs and symptoms below: 

  • Excessive crying
  • Rage or anger
  • Severe mood swings 
  • Difficulty bonding with baby 
  • Severe fatigue or restlessness 
  • Withdrawal from others 
  • Feelings  of despair, hopelessness, guilt or unworthiness
  • Feelings that you’re not a good parent
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Diminished interests in activities
  • Hallucinations – are more serious and are a sign of postpartum psychosis.

If you suspect that you or your partner are suffering from any of these symptoms, DO NOT hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals to get treatment started ASAP!

Soothing

Being able to soothe someone who is not able to communicate their needs directly, means that you need to understand various cues and what they may mean.  Even though babies cannot speak yet, they do have unspoken cues which they are utilizing to communicate their needs to their caregivers.  Crying or becoming visibly upset is usually the last attempt to get your attention.  Baby’s may provide their parents with cues that will let them know when they are hungry, sleepy, uncomfortable or need a diaper change (these are just a few cues they will give).

When a parent is trying to or needing to soothe their baby, they should follow the 5 S’s of soothing a baby

  1. Swaddle – Swaddling recreates the snug packaging inside the womb and is the cornerstone of calming. It decreases startling and increases sleep. And, wrapped babies respond faster to the other 4 S’s and stay soothed longer because their arms can’t wriggle around. To swaddle correctly, wrap arms snug—straight at the side—but let the hips be loose and flexed. Use a large square blanket, but don’t overheat, cover your baby’s head or allow unraveling. 

**Note: Babies shouldn’t be swaddled all day, just during fussing and sleeping.**

2. Side or Stomach Position – The back is the only safe position for sleeping, but it’s the worst position for calming fussiness. This S can be activated by holding a baby on her side, on her stomach or over your shoulder. You’ll see your baby mellow in no time.

3. Shush – Contrary to myth, babies don’t need total silence to sleep. In the womb, the sound of the blood flow is a shush louder than a vacuum cleaner! But, not all white noise is created equal. Hissy fans and ocean sounds often fail because they lack the womb’s rumbly quality.

4. Swing – Life in the womb is very jiggly. (Imagine your baby bopping around inside your belly when you jaunt down the stairs!) While slow rocking is fine for keeping quiet babies calm, you need to use fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant mid-squawk.

5. Suck – Sucking is “the icing on the cake” of calming. Many fussy babies relax into a deep tranquility when they suck. Many babies calm easier with a pacifier.

When a baby is hungry they are going to go through 3 stages of cues to try and let their parents know they are hangry! 

  1. Early Cues – stirring, continually opening their mouth or turning their heads to the side.
  2. Mid Cues (Feed me now!) – stretching, increased movement, putting their hands in their mouths.
  3. Too Late Cues –   agitated, turning red, crying.  These cues will likely require mom or dad to soothe the baby before they are ready to eat.  

Sleep or tired cues are different from those they use to demonstrate they are hungry.  Babies may use numerous cues to communicate that they are sleepy.  These cues may be increased yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling on their ears, clenched fists of losing interest in things or people. 

Sleep Training/Routines

We were given a great resource that focuses on sleep for both parents and the baby which is entitled “Will I Ever Sleep Again – Creating Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Newborn”.  This resource was published by the company Taking Cara Babies which specialize in newborn to two year old sleep classes and resources.

Cara, from Taking Cara Babies, has 7 tips for successful baby sleeps!

  1. Swaddle – arms in, very snug! 
  2. Always wake a sleeping baby during the day – babies usually do one long stretch of sleeping, try to make that happen at night! E.A.S.Y – Eat, Awake, Sleep, You time.
  3. Let daylight in, darkness fall – carry on normally with all sounds and light you normally do during the day.  At night, it is all business – eat and sleep with no purposeful awake time.  You also need your sleep!
  4. Use a sound machine for sleeping day/night – babies are used to a lot of noise from inside the womb where it is noisy 24/7 and a quiet space will be weird for them.  Low pitched noises (white noise, rain, ocean), no music as this stimulates the brain.
  5. Lay baby down – end goal is to teach the baby to be able to fall asleep on their own.  You do not want to create routines where they need to be fed or rocked to sleep.  Be sure to set the baby down for naps 1-2 times a day still awake.
  6. Don’t skimp on naps – good daytime naps lead to better nighttime sleep and less nighttime wakings.
  7. Stretch night feedings based on age –  5 weeks = 5 hours,  6 weeks = 6 hours, etc. Use S.I.T.B.A.C.K as your guide.

When your goal is to lay the baby down for a longer stretch of sleep, Cara recommends to S.I.T.B.A.C.K.  

Stop, wait, watch, observe – are they awake or just stirring?

Increase the sound machine – this will mimic the comforts of the womb.  Move the sound machine closer or increase the volume.

Touch the baby’s chest 

Binky – if your baby has a pacifier, offer it now.

Add in rocking (of the body) – gently rock the baby while they are swaddled side to side.

Cuddle/C.R.I.E.S – now is time to pick up your baby or implement CRIES which is the same premise as the 5 S’s to soothe a baby.

K… it’s time to feed.

Daily Routines

Setting a daily routine was something that we were stressing out about as we had NO CLUE what these schedules even look like.  We were comforted by the fact that each routine should be set up to cater to each specific family.  Be sure to follow and adhere to your baby’s hunger and sleep cues.  Taking Cara Babies outline a few guidelines that will help each family succeed with setting up their daily routine.  

  1. Baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day.  Never allow your baby to go longer than 3 hours between feeds.
  2. Try to get the baby down for a nap 60-90 minutes after awake time.  If you wait too long you will have a cranky baby who will struggle falling asleep.
  3. During the later afternoon (4-10pm) it is not uncommon for babies to cluster feed every 90-120 minutes.  They are tanking up for a long stretch of sleep!
Sample Daily Routine – We will adjust to fit us the best!

Bathing Baby 

Whether you are using a fancy tub insert, stand alone tub, kitchen sink you will have to prepare your bath space.  You will need:

  • Gentle baby soap
  • Two or three washcloths 
  • Plastic cup
  • Soft baby towel and thick plush towel
  • Clean outfit for all involved.

Once you have all of your supplies gathered, it’s time for the bath! 

  1. Set up a landing area – clear an area and spread a towel over the plush thick towel for them to wrap up with.
  2. Beware of the belly button – if they have not yet lost the umbilical cord stump, be sure to give the baby a head to toe sponge bath with a warm, damp washcloth, baby soap, avoiding the belly button.  Wash the baby’s bottom last and set that aside to be run through the laundry.  Wash off any excess soap with a second, warm cloth.   
  3. Fill the bath – If they have lost their umbilical cord stump, you can fill the bath half full, just enough for the baby to sit in some warm water.  Test water before putting the baby in, and never let go of them.
  4. Wash head to toe – start with their head, use a warm, damp washcloth to later put a small amount of soap onto their skin.  Support their back and neck as you work your way down and be sure to wash the bottom last, setting that washcloth aside.
  5. Rinse – fill the plastic cup with some warm water from the bath and pour it over their trunk and legs to keep them warm and rinse them.  Wet the second cloth and wash the soap out of their hair.
  6. Wrap up – lay the baby on the towel  you set aside at the start of bath time.  Wrap them in the clean towel, spot drying his head and body.  Cuddle them until they are warm and dry and put them into their clean outfit.

As I wrap up this learning project surrounding pregnancy, fetus development and initial parenting, I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that within a month I will be a dad to a young baby boy or girl.  This project has helped me understand what my wife is going through, the changes she is experiencing, but also what and how our baby is developing, and early parenting duties, routines and expectations.  It has also helped me understand what the first few months are going to be like and how our lives as parents are going to change.

Thanks for following along!

-Bret

OER Commons!

The whole idea of Open Education(OE) and Open Education Resources (OERs) remains very new to me and I didn’t know much about them up until our last class which was centred around them. After completing last week’s blog post discussing OE and OERs I feel that I have a bit more of an understanding about them and how they could benefit the educational world.  

The Nova Southeastern University outlines OERs to be “are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions (UNESCO).”

These types of resources include a wide range of formats such as (but not limited to), books, case studies, assessments, etc.  One aspect of OERs that I came across after posting my post last week was the 5Rs that outline the use OERs:

  1. Reuse – resources can be reused in their unaltered form.
  2. Retain – users have the right to make their own copies.
  3. Revise – content/resources can be altered.
  4. Remix – multiple content/resources can be mixed to create something new.
  5. Redistribute – content/resources can be shared.

OER COMMONS

I have chosen to take a deeper look into OER Commons – an open education resource website that is free and available to anyone.  The main goal outlined on their website, OER Commons is “here to support your remote teaching and learning”.  They also outline that their hope is to help educators gain the necessary skills required to find, adapt, and evaluate high quality open materials to use within their own individual teaching practices.

Is it user-friendly and well-organized?  

My initial thoughts when investigating the OER Commons website is that it seems to be easy to use.  The search bar is extremely hard to miss, as it is the centrefold of the opening page.  Within that search bar, you are able to search for a specific topic, or a more broadly based search through the drop down menus that are provided and you are able to refine your searches once you get the results to narrow down the quantity.  You are able to narrow searches down based on grade level, subject area, as well as standard outcomes which gives you a good starting point.  

Are the resources typically high-quality? 

The first thing I noticed about the resources I searched for was that there was no Canadian Curriculum or standards attached.  This would leave Canadian educators having to use professional judgement in terms of if the resource they are looking at aligns in accordance to the grade level outcome expectations – which I believe most educators do already and do not rely on the published grade level or standards that coincide with a resource.

I think as with any resource that an educator does not create personally, there is going to be some sifting through some lower quality resources before we get to the higher quality, worthwhile resources we would utilize in our own practices – I found OER Commons to be the opposite.  I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the resources that were available.  I did a quick search for some ideas for my Human Body unit in Grade 8 Science.  

Within that unit I like to spend some time centered around engineering/technology and I was able to find a whole unit with hands-on practical activities that show different types of engineering/technological advancements that I feel will be super engaging – needles to say this has been saved in my recently created profile on OER Commons for use later this year.  I struggled with drawing the line on what I was going to save and what I wasn’t because all of the resources I found around the human body were so good! 

Is it easy to use? Is it easy to navigate/search? 

Using OER Commons is very simple, easy and straightforward.  You are able to begin a basic search as soon as you enter their site on their homepage.  Once you have completed that initial search, you are able to narrow down your search using the fine tuning parameters that they have built in on the left hand side.

Saving resources is also simple and it allows you to begin organzing your saved resources right away. You are also able to save directly to Google Classroom.

There are multiple features that an educator can use within OER Commons:

  1. General resource search – this can be done very broadly to begin with searching via subject, grad level and outcome standards.  Once your initial search has been completed, you are able to fine tune with checkbox options on the left hand side.  This can be done directly from their homepage and gives users a really good starting point when they are looking for resources.  
  1. OER Commons Groups – this feature that is built within the OER Commons website allows anyone to create and add to a specific group of resources.  I feel that this is a great way to collaborate, share, and create new resources that are geared towards a specific topic.  This also allows the user to streamline their searches for whatever they are after.   This feature also allows its users to join a specific OER group and be able to network with other educators around the world. 
  1. OER Commons Open Author – This is another feature that is built within the OER Commons website.  It allows users to create and share a created, collaborated or new OER.  This option helps users create their resource as well as helping them publish it within the site.  TO be able to use this feature, users must first have a profile through OER Commons and they must be logged in.  I feel this feature would act as a sort of training wheels for those who are just getting started with creating OERs.  The process seems to be fairly straightforward and the feature looks like it is very user friendly.
  1. Creating a profile –  with creating a profile within the OER Commons site provides users a few advantages.  You are able to track your activity within your profile.  This will track resources that you have saved, submitted, evaluated, authored and remixed.  You are also able to organize resources within your profile by specific subjects or topics.  With creating  profiles, users are also able to add specific details about themselves such as their location, grade level, subjects/courses taught and any social media links.  

Is it visually appealing? 

The OER commons is a very appealing website.  They have done a great job with the design, layout, and color schemes.  The design of the site is super welcoming and there are not a whole bunch of competing colors, graphics, or pictures.  There has been a lot of thought and care put into the layout, color and design of the website which has made it super attractive and welcoming.  I also like how there is limited text within the site.  There is a very clear motive behind the purpose of this website and it is to be able to complete your search for particular resources.  There is a catchy tagline – “Explore. Create. Collaborate.” which I thought encompassed the main goal behind the OER Commons as a whole.

Would it be valuable to educators that you work with?

I would not hesitate to recommend OER Commons to my colleagues.  The site is simple to use and the resources that are on the site are very high quality.  There is also a nice variety of whole units with lesson plans, single lesson plans, activities, etc.  I think OER Commons opens a whole new door in terms of searching for resources to help you teach a topic primarily or even as a supplemental activity that is already ready for you to use it!

-Bret

The 4th Trimester

The whole idea of a 4th trimester was completely foreign to me.  This is basically treating the first 3 months of a baby’s life as a whole separate trimester than runs from 0-3 months.  I guess this makes sense as there will be some serious changes that both parents and baby are going to have to get accustomed to!  New routines take some time to develop and it only makes sense to refer to this as a whole extra 3 month trimester. 

The addition of this trimester would take pregnancy and birth into month 10,11, and 12.  This trimester is the one that seems to be causing us the most amount of stress and anxiety for the sole reason that we don’t know how to take care of a baby!! I guess we are going to have to figure it out, ready or not!  Being in this trimester, means that we will have survived the stay at the hospital and have managed to white knuckle our way home with our precious cargo!

A few years ago, we came across the show Life in Pieces.  The premise of the show was 4 short stories between an American family.  In the first episode, Jenn and Greg are expecting their first child and as the episode progresses they are admitted into the hospital, discharged and getting settled into their new home.  I am assuming there will be some comparisons as to our experience as well.  

Weeks 43-46

During the tenth month, most expecting moms would have already delivered, however, some may enter into this month with their delivery date coming very soon! During the tenth month, is when it is the partners time to shine and help mom recover whether that is taking over the chores around the house, midnight feedings, bill payments, pretty much anything and everything to ensure that mom gets the rest she needs.  In a previous post, I mentioned the lack of care for moms after they have given birth.  Now would be a good time to set up or visit health care practitioners that can give some aid to help in the recovery process.  

During this month, your baby will be around 7lbs.  There are some significant things to note that are normal during this time.  Weight loss during the first week is normal, communication through crying, feeding times will get longer and more frequent, umbilical cord will dry out and fall out and facial expressions like smiles will begin.

Like mentioned above, babies will lose about 5% of their weight during week 43 and this is completely normal.  They will also become pros at latching during feedings and expel meconium which is black, tar like poop (completely normal).  Babies will also have their first weeks pediatricians checkup and if there is trouble latching to feed, there may be a consultation with a lactation specialist. Mom’s hormones will once again begin to change now that she is postpartum and she may be experiencing some effects from the birth process such as discharge and tender breasts.  The post-partum blues may also be starting to set in – 80% of moms experience this to some degree.  

Week 44 means that the baby will begin putting back on some of the weight they lost last week and may return to their birth weight.  Babies will also be much hungrier this week and feeding times will need to be longer and more frequent to accommodate.  Their movements are more focused and controlled.  If mom is breastfeeding, she may be experiencing some discomfort and may experience some weight loss.  Sleep is becoming a thing of the past, her hormones are starting to level off and the post-partum blues may be present.  Mom’s hunger and thirst level will be high as she is requiring a lot to be able to feed. 

Through week 45, babies will continue to gain weight on a 5-7oz/week trend and their digestive system is kicking into high gear.  Their eyes are now focusing on more complex objects and shapes and they are sleeping an average 15-17hours sporadically throughout the day.  Mom is still recovering and is not yet cleared for physical activity.  Her abdominal muscles are still stretched so she may still look a little pregnant.  Incontinence may also be experienced as a result of stretched and weakened muscles from delivery.  

During week 46, babies are now ready for some tummy time – which means resting on mom or dad’s belly to work on strengthening those neck muscles.  They may also be starting to mimic facial expressions that they see throughout the day and they may be beginning to grasp at objects.  You may also get to experience their little laugh for the first time this week.  This is also the week for the first 4 week peditrician’s appointment.   Mom’s hormones are really starting to return to normal but she is still feeling some discomfort in her breasts and other areas of her body.  As the 10th month begins to wrap up, Mom is starting to feel as if she is getting the hang of this momming thing which can lift her spirits and help with the post-partum blues and some light exercise like walking will also help mood.

Weeks 47-50

This would mark the beginning of the 11th month and most parents and families have now started to settle into and feel comfortable in their new routines.  The baby is now heading towards 2 months and is about 10lbs.  During this month, they will become less colicky, starting to sleep 6-7 hours at a time, their appetite continues to grow, they are now able to respond to lights and sounds, will experience their first major growth spurt, and are considered a tummy time beginner.

During week 47 you may see more of the baby’s cute toothless smile and that they are responding to social clues.  They can now recognize music so it is worth having a baby play list that they enjoy and can work to help calm them down.  They will continue to grow like a weed, around 1 inch per week and are now eating every 2 hours or 8-10 times a day with each feeding around 2-5oz per meal.  Mom is slowly returning to her normal physical condition.  Utilizing kegels can help her battle the incontinence if it is still a lingering problem.  Her breasts have now started to adapt to nursing and the discomfort should be starting to dissipate.

Week 48 means that the baby is consuming more at feeding times and possibly going a little bit longer between meals.  They are still eating around 10 times per day, with 2-5oz per meal and continue to grow an inch per week roughly.  Mom’s uterus has returned to her pre-pregnancy size and she continues to drop weight, especially during breastfeeding.  Mom may still be carrying a little of the baby weight, but is starting to lose more.  This week marks the time for mom’s 6 week postpartum checkup.  

During week 49, babies will begin to experience less crying jags as they may have had beforehand, unless they have colic (1 in 5 babies are affected).   They are hopefully sleeping 6-7 hours at a time, which is giving mom and dad some much needed rest time.  Growth continues with around 1 inch and 7oz per week.  Babies are now consuming 4-5oz per feeding.  Mom’s hormones are changing and may be beginning to produce less milk which means a switch to bottle/formula feeding may be occurring soon.  Swelling and other other pregnancy discomforts are starting to return to prepregnancy levels.

In week 50, the baby should now be able to follow routines and is beginning to develop into a creature of habit.  They are now likely feeding six times in 24 hours, consuming more and more each time.  This week is a common week for another growth spurt.  They continue to get stronger and sleep for longer stretches of time.  Baby’s 2 month check up will also likely be happening during this week, with immunizations possibly starting as well.  Most of mom’s systems are back to normal unless she is still breastfeeding.  If mom is not breastfeeding, her monthly period may return which also means she will be ovulating and as a result can become pregnant once again – be careful!  Her body is continuing to balance out its postpartum hormones and she may seem to be on a more even keel.  

Weeks 51-54

This marks the 12th month of pregnancy/afterbirth childcare.  These are the final weeks of the 4th trimester which means new routines are likely settled into already.  Mom should be starting to feel more and more normal as the weeks go by.  You should be proud of yourselves as you have gone through the mental and physical rigours of pregnancy and remained supportive of each other.  They are on their way towards being 3 months old and by the time they are 3months old, they will be around 15lbs.  Baby may be sleeping through the night, self soothing, moving from side to back during tummy time, sucks their thumb, coos, smiles and laughs. 

During the 51st week, the baby may be sleeping through the night, but some relapses may occur.  They are able to self-soothe with a pacifier or thumb.  If they wake up, it is good practice to let them cry for a few minutes as this may be all they need to fall back asleep.  More supervision will be required during tummy time.  Mom may continue to nurse exclusively because it is beneficial for weight control.  Pregnancy brain has been replaced with baby brain, which all of a baby’s needs distract mom.

During the 52nd week, the baby is adapting well to routines: waking up, feeding times, playtime, nap and repeat until bedtime.  They continue to gain weight and grow.  Feeding times are stretched out to every 3-4 hours and they are eating 4-6oz.  They will continue to sleep 15-17 hours per day, with the bulk being 8-10 every night.  Mom’s physical changes this week have to do with her sleep, diet, and exercise, as well as breastfeeding.  She may feel guilt towards the fact that she may not be enjoying all aspects of motherhood.  Partners need to reassure that this is a normal feeling and it is ok.  

In week 53, the baby can begin indicating preferences to you.  They have become familiar with your personality and they continue to coo, smile and laugh at certain things.  The feeding and sleeping schedules are clearly set and the baby is thriving with them.  They may now have begun the phase of putting everything in or near their mouth.  As the baby inches closer to 3 months, Mom may be feeling a bit nostalgic and want to slow things down.  Now is a good time to reminisce about the entire process thus far and marvel how much mom, dad and baby have grown.  

Week 54 marks the end of the 4th trimester.  They will continue to grow like a weed,  maintaining around 2lbs/month up to 7 months old.  They are now eating 5-7oz during each feeding and are sleeping 15-16 hours a day with sleep routines normalizing.  Mom may now be dealing with some separation anxiety when away from the baby.  If the decision to pump or transition is usually done during this week.  

Until next week, 

Bret

Open Educaiton & OERs?!?

Up until last week’s class, I was not very familiar with Open Education (OE) or Open Education Resources (OER).  I had heard the term before, but never really took the time to understand what they actually encompassed.   Thank you to Gillian and Leigh for sharing some resources.  I was struggling a bit with this whole concept!  From the article Leigh shared, PK-12 OER: Key Benefits and Sustainable Implementation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2015)outlined that open educational resources (OER) are “high quality teaching, learning, and research resources that are free for others to use and repurpose.”  

This article goes on to further discuss that these resources can range from full courses, digital textbooks, images, and assessments and they can be regularly updated and reused in a variety of settings.  Both of these resources have helped me better understand what encompasses OE. I see the draw to engage with these types of resources or use them in your teaching practices.

As educators, I strongly believe in the culture of sharing and not reinventing the wheel – working smarter, not harder.  This was especially true during my first years as a teacher, when I would beg, borrow and steal resources from anyone who was willing to give them.  I listened to the podcast Teaching in Higher Education – Creating and Extending Open Education with Terry Greene that Gillian recommended.  He went on to discuss his thoughts on Open Education and mentioned that if you are sharing resources, you are essentially taking part in Open Education whether you created the content or not.  

I feel that I am able to take the most away and apply to my personal teaching practices when I engage with other educators regarding ideas, resources, or strategies – to me this is a branch of open education!

When thinking about OERs, I have a hard time not thinking back to my undergraduate degrees and stressing about being able to afford an expensive textbook that is REQUIRED for the completion of the class.  I was fortunate enough to be able to afford to purchase these, but I did have some friends who weren’t so lucky.  Some tried to make due without the text and others pooled their money to be able to afford the text.  This is where I believe OERs can and should be recommended to be used so that there is equal opportunity for all students to have access to all resources required to complete the course. 

Post secondary education is already expensive enough as it is and adding the high cost of textbooks only piles onto student debt and stress.  Like Gillian, I too came across the article Impacts of Open Educational Resources written by Oliver Dreon as I was doing some research into OE and OERs.  Dreon goes on to say “…OER is an equity strategy for higher education: providing all students with access to course materials on the first day of class serves to level the academic playing field in course settings.”  The use of OERs or a promoted culture of sharing resources in the post secondary institutions could work towards providing a more equitable educational playing field.  

I appreciated the article that Leigh shared which articulated how these OERs could benefit the PK-12 educational world.  PK-12 OER: Key Benefits and Sustainable Implementation, outlines 4 major benefits for utilizing OERs in the PK-12 grade range.  The first they outline is the benefit of creating empowered teachers.  OERs have the ability to increase teacher collaboration and student learning when adopted division wide.  Next they outline that OERs provide increased opportunity to access high quality teaching material.  Following this, they outline that OERs could provide divisions with the ability to reallocate funds that were previously put towards resources, such as textbooks, that can be reallocated and used differently.  Finally, outlined arethe capabilities OERs have in creating a more collaborative culture throuhgout education as a whole.

OERs can help fill the gap or completely take away the shortfall of materials that are made available by school divisions for student use.  Leigh also shared the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2015) that explains the K-12 education sector suffers from a scarcity of effective materials and that OERs can provide flexible and affordable materials to bridge the gap and for this reason, school divisions should look more seriously at enlisting OERs to help provide the best materials for their students.

It is also hard to not think about the quality and quantity of resources and materials that school divisions are able to procure. As in the video “Why Open Education Matters” outlines, a lot of schools are unable to afford the up to date or proper amount of learning materials which forces them to use insufficient or outdated ones.  In my Grade ⅞ classroom, there is not enough Math, Science, or Social Studies textbooks for each one of my 27 students to use on their own – we are currently operating with a 3:1 student/textbook ratio for Math, 1 textbook to use for Social Studies and not near enough for a class set of Science textbooks.

OERs would be a simple solution to the lack of material and eliminate the need for students to have to share. Not only would it eliminate the lack of resources, but also ensure teachers and students are working with the most up to date and relavent information. OERs would also enable students to have access to these textbooks anywhere outside the school, as we do not permit school materials being taken home.

I feel that these benefits outlined should be taken into consideration when/if school divisions are trying to decide whether or not to promote OERs.  I think school divisions should look at the possibility of implementing OERs based solely on the stretched funds that most divisions are strapped with.  They could relocate these funds towards an underfunded aspect such as transportation.  I realize that this would not be an easy undertaking, but these OERs and open education seems like a very attractive avenue to help school divisions in numerous ways not only financially.

-Bret