And so it went.

This semester has flown by unbelievably fast. I can’t believe it’s almost April, though where I am, spring seems to have forgotten us.


I’ve completed my course prototype and I think it was absolutely worth it. When Katia and Alec first described what the course prototype would be, I was excited for the final project.

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Finally, something that I could use beyond the class ending.  This was infinitely a better final assignment than a long-winded essay on something I wouldn’t care about two days from the class ending.

Figuring out what I wanted to do and how took much less time than I feared. Because I have access to GAFE, I knew I wanted to use Google Classroom. I felt this would have the greatest impact on my future teaching because I would actually be building something I could use and reuse.

via UConn

Once I had established how, I needed to focus on the what. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work on perfecting a class I’ve taught a million times (I’m looking at you, ELA 9) or work on a class I’ve only taught a handful of times (ELA B30 and ELA 20).

I decided that while I have time and patience (well, some of each), that I should work on a course that I don’t have as many resources for. So, my unit introduction on Hamlet began.

I used elements of the unit I’ve taught previously, but wanted to challenge myself to make it more accessible and less dependent on being in class, so I experimented with iMovie.

via Dribble

I have zero — and I mean ZERO — experience video making or editing beyond my Summary of Learning for EC&I 830. I’ve always thought video editing was too picky and time-consuming for my taste.

I started by experimenting with the trailer function of iMovie and found it ridiculously easy to use. So, I started putting together my video for the Hamlet introduction by creating a presentation with all of the information, screenshot (screenshotted?) all the slides and put my video together.

I really learned a lot about the editing power of iMovie as I had to make sure my voiceover matched the length I had chosen for my pictures and how to make them equal.

I think I’ve found a new love in iMovie.

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via Giphy

This process has really made me think about how I’m presenting content in my class: how easily is what I’ve asked my students to do translatable to other mediums? Can a word doc become something more? Can a lecture become something else? How hands on is my content? Are there opportunities for revision?

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this final project more than any other one I’ve encountered in my grad studies because I’m able to use it right away and it is something I created for myself for my practice rather than for a professor and their practice (sorry, Alec and Katia). A highly selfish project, but also the best project.


Full Tilt

It’s most definitely nearing the end of the semester.My blood pressure is always an accurate measure.

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Working on blog posts, summary of learning, and the module is definitely keeping me hopping.

Last week in class, we had the breakout sessions to discuss potential criteria for our final project. One of the comments from Bill Cook really got me thinking.

How is authenticity affected by the degree of openness? Is it possible to support “authentic” learning in a closed forum or discussion space? Is authenticity guaranteed if we open the conversations to the online world?

Bill wondered about identity and how we, as educators, can guarantee that who we’re teaching is who we’re supposed to teach, specifically related to assessment.

How do we know that what we’re getting is actually from the student whose name is on it? In a strictly face-to-face class we can assign in-class assessments that we can monitor. With online classes, there’s a greater degree of trust on the part of the educator. Teachers, notorious control-freaks, must relinquish power and control.

However, it is concerning  just how can we tell if what a student has done is actually their and  not a sibling or a former student? This is an honest question. I don’t know. Maybe that’s an argument for blended learning rather than strictly online?

This is a puzzle that I hadn’t considered but I’d like to hear what others think. I don’t know why this hasn’t occurred to me previously.

I think this is going to change how I proceed with assessment in my final project as well.

What do you think? How can assessment in a strictly online class be monitored for authenticity?

Creating “Hamlet”

Today’s blog post will attempt to answer the questions posed by Alec and Katia about the authenticity of interaction in my course prototype.

As I discussed before, my prototype will be about Hamlet. Shakespeare is unique in that the curriculum mandates a Shakespeare play be taught in ELA B10 and ELA B30:

TGS: Teacher Guided Study, IS: Independent Study

b30 Therefore, a student in ELA B30 will study Shakespeare as a teacher-guided text, but it is up to the individual teacher as to which of the four plays to study.

Before I discuss interaction between students/instructors, I want to elaborate on my hypothetical student body.

My “class” would comprise of many students with many needs: high absenteeism (due to whatever reason: home life, vacations, sports etc.), a significant EAL population, students with diagnosed and undiagnosed LD for which they may or may not be receiving extra support, and a “middle of the road” population. These categories may overlap (an EAL student who is absent and has an LD). To me, this is a typical classroom at the school I teach at.

My course prototype/module is an introduction to Hamlet, which is the context for the play, a character overview, and a plot overview through a video, which will be posted on a Google Classroom (when I actually teach the class. For the purposes of this class, it will posted to my blog)

For the interaction portion of this module, I want to start with a Flipgrid set, which scenarios related to the play for students to pique interest in the play and themes (for the specific questions, you’ll have to wait for the module!)


Furthermore, students will split into groups for a theme presentation project, for which they’ll use Google docs/slides to collaborate.

If I were creating the entire unit on Hamlet, there would be integration of quick Kahoots for comprehension, various selections from hereHamlet bingo (if you’re interested in what this is, let me know and I’ll send you the doc), and the culminating assignment of a comparative essay.

Because this will be on a Google Classroom, students will have the opportunity to interact on assignments with both myself and others through forums. There will be reflection questions based on the current portion of the play. Students will not have to discuss every prompt; they will be numbered and assigned a specific set of prompts and are required to interact on their prompts only. For the purpose of the assignment, prompts/discussion will take place on my blog for accessibility.

Because my hypothetical class would have in-class time as well as components online, there’s a mix of in person and online interactions.

Using Schwier’s chart, there are elements of mutuality in the group assignments and using technology that’s generally available or can be shared (i.e., school laptops, cellphones).

As for assessing student interactions, on the Classroom will be formative assessments (comprehension of the question and the thoroughness of their response). The summative assessment is the culminating essay, which students will be able to use ideas developed in their responses. Essentially, the questions/responses on the Google Classroom will act as pre-writing.

As well, students will be assessed on their thematic presentation, which should be completed in a collaborative space, such as Google docs/slides.

I really didn’t mean to write so much and I hope this is understandable and not as stream-of-consciousness as I fear.

Any suggestions for further formative assessments would be greatly appreciated! I’m looking for ones that show a general comprehension level (such as the Kahoot or Menti) and ones that show individual comprehension (like exit slips)