Category Archives: language learners

(re)Creating a virtual educator.

What will an online class look like with Mr. Petlak?  What will an online Biology class look like with Mr. Petlak? Are labs done in person? Do students gather their own supplies? What balance of instructional strategies maximizes distance learning? Is content more important than relationships?

petlak to screen.jpg

How do we replicate the left to be delivered like the right? – Computer Screen via FreeGreatPicture

If you don’t know me, relationships make my classroom work (I think). It’s my foundation for learning, but how do I make that happen online, through a screen? Historically, I would argue I entertain to engage, but I think there is the potential to get caught up in engagement and miss out on more content, is content the priority online?

Researching Online Learning

In my digging, I found an article detailing best practices which provides great reminders when planning for distance learning:

  1. Visibility – students may get caught up in text and forget the teacher is a presence in the digital classroom. Be sure to maintain visibility.
  2. Organization and Analysis – plan out course well in advance of offering it, provide timely feedback and be open to constructive criticism of your course.
  3. Compassionate – understanding the requirements of a teacher may actual be more personal than in a traditional classroom because some voiceless students may now have one.
  4. Leader-by-example – model proper behaviour and foster connections with students.

The same article then provides a list of strategies that are critical to online teaching:

“ Student Led Discussions  Students Find and Discuss Web Resources  Students Help Each Other Learn (Peer Assistance)  Students Grade Their Own Homework Assignments  Case Study Analysis”
Bill Pelz, (My) Three Principles of Online Pedagogy , 2008

“ Group problem-solving and collaborative tasks;  Problem-based learning;  Discussion;  Case-based strategies;  Simulations or role play;  Student-generated content;  Coaching or mentoring;  Guided learning;  Exploratory or discovery;  Lecturing or teacher-directed activities;  Modeling of the solution process; and  Socratic questioning.”

– “Best Practices in Online Teaching Strategies“, Hanover Research Council, 2009

How similar do the above sound to an Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt course?

My course

Upon reading plans of Adam and co., perhaps my plan here is a bit too detailed at this point, I normally share Aimee’s approach of crushing it all at once later on (I definitely overdid this post, so if you’ve stuck it out this long, congratulations). With this information in mind, what are my initial thoughts and rationale for an online course?

  • I am going to use Zoom to record videos and screen-share in the recorded videos for any sort of drawing I will draw on the touchscreen (I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab) and deliver the content asynchronously. Additional modules would place an emphasis on discussion.
  • I intend to use my website for students to follow along with content, post notes and presentations as well as class plan.
    My rationale behind this is to open up learning opportunities for any students interested. I have background in Office 365 and Google classroom but intend to make the work as available as possible for students, educators, and parents – Office 365 and Google classroom would require a student login. 
  • The audience will be grade twelve (ages sixteen to eighteen), and the students should have access to all content assuming they have a WiFi connection and a device to utilize it with.
  • Assessment will be completed using Socrativeformatively and summatively. Due to the asynchronous session, the Socrative will be made available for the week and close at the week’s conclusion so that outside learners may still observe content, but weekly work, attendance and accountability for in-class learners will therefore be mandatory.
  • Communication will be completed via email. Or via synchronous sessions when available.
  • Course content/learning objectives will be from the AP Biology© curriculum so that I can use it in my class!
  • Activities will include: brief video lecture for content (~3-5mins), hands-on activity to enhance understanding (~2-4 mins), and subsequent sharing of videos using an open Flipgrid discussion thread or typed discussion through commenting on the YouTube post, teacher access with mobile device should allow for consistent and quick response times.
    Potential concern: sharing video responses online and making this public, students may be susceptible to online risks/harassment. As such, they will be informed beforehand, however, use of Flipgrid seeks to eliminate ease of harassment through simply YouTube commenting. 
  • Students will require device-access (that has a camera) and a strong enough bandwidth for videos to be watched and shared (YouTube).
  • Subtitles will be provided in informative videos, allowing EAL students to observe spelling of terms. The asynchronous nature of the course will also allow students of different ability (technological or learning-wise), will be able to pause on important points. (Important points in the video will also be provided in the information location of the post so that students can go to specific learning points in the video.
  • The content will attempt to include different cultural perspectives in the context of the work. Ie. different explanations for natural phenomena beyond western science.


Closing Thoughts

Plans and reality may deviate slightly, but hopefully this delivering of course content will not only allow for a larger audience to become informed on the content, but also interact with the instructor and others through commenting and sharing. Links can be made available on the YouTube video shared, but also link to my webpage. Ideally, once background content is established, students can take this personalized learning and make it more personal, allowing it to grow form there in a direction of their choosing through inquiry and questions evolving from content discussion.

The ongoing question I intend to ask in the delivery/creation of this content is “am I happy with the decisions I’ve made”, and “are there times I can avoid making a video of myself or simply use open resources”? A great example of the type of video I would hope to create for the content delivery is included.

 

Thoughts, comments, critiques? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak


Revelations: feedback and music/language learning

Amidst my piano “practicing” (henceforth referred to as “playing” as I read is beneficial for teaching children)… I have been putting in time at school and at home. Fortunately today, I got an inadvertent compliment from a student while I was playing (practicing) piano… specifically while I was playing the four chords: E, A, and B Major and a C#minor… “Mr. Petlak! I didn’t know you could play piano!” And naturally, in my typical self-deprecating manner, I responded “I can’t”, while laughing. She proceeded to tell me about how she likes to sing and make music but doesn’t feel she has the instrumental talent to support it. She even said she considered taking the Acapella angle (which I had tried in weeks past to loop my music).

Holy parallels, Batman.

I didn’t really grasp the depth of the conversation at the time but it was not only a connection made between two individuals around a love of music… but also a sharing of the struggle to express yourself via music… which sounds strikingly similar to that of the frustrations of an English language learner. Music has its own language. However, I never considered drawing a parallel between language learning and music learning. In light of this… it’s helping me to be more realistic and avoid frustration when I feel like I’m not learning piano as fast as I should be… and also appreciate the learning process in my classroom. I searched up if there was any correlation between the two and, I found on The Guardian that “just one hour a week of learning music is enough for the full brain benefits to take place – including an all-round boost in language skills and a significant increase in IQ.” Learning music can even help language learners? Does engagement have anything to do with this for language learners (Love music –> Engaged learner –> Learning language)?

image

Doll Star Fig Street Performer via Pixabay

In addition to the learning and relationship connections the student’s comment presented… I also received some of my first feedback from another individual albeit mildly non-descript. And I forgot about the importance of feedback until Sarah Wandy referenced it amidst her guitar learning. Am I perhaps too hard on myself? Or not hard enough? And written feedback through social media is great… but what about oral feedback? Sarah, also mentioned someone she was learning from told her “that it takes time to see progress!” And while I am impatient when it comes to playing the piano… I can take comfort knowing that if I just keep playing, everything helps!

Feedback, thoughts, questions? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak

Ps… I did this post entirely on my phone. Self-back-pat!


Revelations: feedback and music/language learning

Amidst my piano “practicing” (henceforth referred to as “playing” as I read is beneficial for teaching children)… I have been putting in time at school and at home. Fortunately today, I got an inadvertent compliment from a student while I was playing (practicing) piano… specifically while I was playing the four chords: E, A, and B Major and a C#minor… “Mr. Petlak! I didn’t know you could play piano!” And naturally, in my typical self-deprecating manner, I responded “I can’t”, while laughing. She proceeded to tell me about how she likes to sing and make music but doesn’t feel she has the instrumental talent to support it. She even said she considered taking the Acapella angle (which I had tried in weeks past to loop my music).

Holy parallels, Batman.

I didn’t really grasp the depth of the conversation at the time but it was not only a connection made between two individuals around a love of music… but also a sharing of the struggle to express yourself via music… which sounds strikingly similar to that of the frustrations of an English language learner. Music has its own language. However, I never considered drawing a parallel between language learning and music learning. In light of this… it’s helping me to be more realistic and avoid frustration when I feel like I’m not learning piano as fast as I should be… and also appreciate the learning process in my classroom. I searched up if there was any correlation between the two and, I found on The Guardian that “just one hour a week of learning music is enough for the full brain benefits to take place – including an all-round boost in language skills and a significant increase in IQ.” Learning music can even help language learners? Does engagement have anything to do with this for language learners (Love music –> Engaged learner –> Learning language)?

image

Doll Star Fig Street Performer via Pixabay

In addition to the learning and relationship connections the student’s comment presented… I also received some of my first feedback from another individual albeit mildly non-descript. And I forgot about the importance of feedback until Sarah Wandy referenced it amidst her guitar learning. Am I perhaps too hard on myself? Or not hard enough? And written feedback through social media is great… but what about oral feedback? Sarah, also mentioned someone she was learning from told her “that it takes time to see progress!” And while I am impatient when it comes to playing the piano… I can take comfort knowing that if I just keep playing, everything helps!

Feedback, thoughts, questions? Let me know!

– Logan Petlak

Ps… I did this post entirely on my phone. Self-back-pat!