Monday, May 4, 2015

The Learning Never Stops

We can't say it enough. Our teachers here at Iowa Learning Online are amazing, talented individuals who are able to adapt, encourage, have fun, allow student voice.Thank you, thank you, thank you. #ThankATeacher 

Chat it up with other teachers for a special Teacher Appreciation chat tomorrow. #ThankATeacher on #CTQchat will celebrate on 5/5 at 6:30, or just tag a tweet with #TeachingIs and tell your story.

photo credit: summer love via (CC license)

Ready for Summer?  (What a dumb question.  ;P )

As our Spring semester winds down for Iowa Learning Online, we know that brick-and-mortar buildings are staying busy for a few more weeks. Good luck in those efforts. Many of you have summer teaching options with the organization, others have coaching responsibilities, and we all have people that matter to us.  As you take some time to relax, reflect and unwind, remember that learning is a never-ending process, as long as you want it to be.  Here are some easy ideas to get your started.

Collaborate with the Zoo Blank Park Zoo has several workshops that include cross-connections to other subjects, collaboration with other cool teachers in the state, and re-certification credit.  Check it out.

Spin a webinar or two into your learning mix, or listen to a recorded version as you are grading and latch onto some new ideas. and Teacher Talk are just two of the many places that focus on online teaching and learning each month.  

What's fun for you may not be another's cup of tea, but there are learning opportunities galore out there for the summer.  The possibilities are endless, but make sure you take some time for some plain old crazy laughter.

Becoming a connected educator is a journey, so take a little time to search all the reflective resources and blogs found at to find something that clicks with your interests.

Your learning, your way.  Across the state, Iowa AEAs offer summer courses, conferences, and even online professional development tailored to your busy summer lifestyle.  If there's not a course that meets your needs locally, check an adjoining AEA and travel for a new summer experience.

Cultivate your passion.  Whether it's travel, community painting classes, Coursera courses for fun, swimming or reading a novel, we know that teachers squeeze living around conferences and classes that have been scheduled for months.  Summer is not down time--it's a turnaround time for new options, new dreams, and new ways to work with kids.  

ILO Teachers, let us be a part of it.  Iowa Learning Online teachers, the regular summer workshop for Iowa Learning Online is already scheduled for July 28 on-site at the Department of Education in Des Moines, so make sure to save that date on your calendar.  We'll be excited to hear your stories. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Feedback. It matters.

 Feedback is really important for all students, but for online education, feedback is a must.  Feedback can strengthen relationships, but how do we focus on the needs of the learner in a way that meets the efficacy test?  Here are some pieces of feedback (italicized) online teachers at Iowa Learning Online have used this year.

1.  Choose your tone carefully.   Tell your student where s/he is at.
I appreciate the complete answer and the evidence you used to support your claim. (this answer tells the student that you noticed his/her work and gives a rationale.) instead of  Good job! You always do such great work. (this feedback does not tell the student what worked in the answer and can become about ego instead of answers)

2. Tell the student what s/he can do.   Sometimes, tests and assignments are not completed by the due date. Although this is discouraged and you will receive a "zero" in the grade book, this zero is not permanent.  I can override the grades for work turned in late, but I ask that you please do this for me: please send me an email notification that you have completed the work on the day that you have completed it.

3.  Choose the timing and focus carefully.  It does no good to wait to provide feedback until after the summative assessment.  The best feedback happens within 48 hours and focuses on one major aspect of the assignment. Appropriate choices and analysis. I also think about the wheelbarrow, although I am significantly older than you I still tend to focus on the risks of forgetting about the joys in simplicity as I am bogged down by the social requirements of adulthood. Do you feel as though your perceptions are changing as you get older? Do you feel more responsible for contributing to society as you move through high school and into college/career?

4.  Engages your students' self-reflection and curiosity about the task.  Your voice can encourage students to go beyond. Your exercise suggestions for Bill and his cardiac rehab are great!  What about diet, medications, or other lifestyle changes he may need to make?

5.  Be authentic.  You are the part of this journey with students. Perfection was never a criteria, but personality is essential.  Online teachers are not robots.  Make sure you allow yourself adequate time to get this done.  The investigating and planning charts for the Service Learning Project also take some time.  If you procrastinate, it will be very difficult to get this all done. Don't get in a pickle because you think you are a hot dog.  Ketchup!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Building Effective Online Class Communities

Which door to choose?  Click on one of the door headers for a February surprise.  

(Then come back and look at some of these other great links and ideas to empower your students)

Relationships--not just for 2/14 

"Help students consider:
  • Who am I?
  • Who is "other"? And how? In what functions and degrees?
  • How do we relate? What do we share?
  • What do they need from me, and I from them?"

Develop short self-checks for online effectiveness

Here's an idea:
  1.  I have a notebook and pen
  2.  Headphones
  3. Set a goal for today.  I will.....
  4. Shut unrelated browser windows.
  5. Set a time or use a pomodoro app for short, focused bursts.

Remind Students to Self-Advocate

Email students and educational coaches, but also give them multiple ways to reach you, the educator.

Use a checklist feature in Moodle or another LMS to help students to monitor progress.

Suggest the 'third-way'option

In an era of Youtube, mobile learning, and practice apps, look for a third way to help your students if they need extra practice.  For the online student, this means permission (and encouragement) to reach out beyond the walls of your classroom--by phoning a friend, setting up a Zoom conference.   

Personalize, personalize 

(several pages to the article)

  • Respond to students by name in your forums
  • Incorporate student interests in feedback.
  • Give feedback often.
  • Student choice and voice will make a difference.

Keep learning with free PD

or ask for more options.

Door 1: Open Sesame

Door 2: Things known and unknown

via The_Doors Wikipedia

Door 3: Knock knock, who's there?

via Geograph, a #sschat resource