Why you should start creating your own curricular and pedagogical content for your class

So for this week, I chose to read a quick article that broke down the 6 blended learning models. As I was reading through each model, I started searching for videos relating to the ones that I was more interested in. Here is a list of the models and some resources I found while reading through the list:

THE 6 BLENDED LEARNING MODELS

1. The Face-To-Face Driver Model.

2. The Flex model
Flex model example

3. Rotation model
Great explanation of how to implement the rotation model in a classroom.
Blended Learning with Catlin Tucker: Episode 2 – Station Rotation (Part 1)

Blended Learning with Catlin Tucker: Episode 3 – Station Rotation (Part 2)

4. Online Lab School Model.

This model involves students traveling to and attending a school with total online educational delivery for entire courses. There are no certified teachers on hand, but, rather, trained paraprofessionals who supervise.

5. Self-Blend Model.

6. The Online Driver Model.

Alright, so I didn’t really dive in too far, but I did read into a few of these models in greater detail. After a little reading, the area I chose to focus my attention on today is the rotation model.

The following model drew a few questions and observations on my behalf. I came to a few realizations and some brainstorming occurred as I wrote this. I only say this because my thoughts may be all over the place, so PLEASE BARE WITH ME!

The rotation model is something I see all the time in elementary schools; but it is definitely still something I haven’t learned to execute properly. Other than the one year that I taught grade 2 (6 years ago) and had a coworker literally show me and give me everything I possibly needed for daily five….I’ve never been able to successfully implement this model in my class (this is partly due to my stubbornness btw.).

As I was watching Catlin Tucker’s video about station rotations, I started to think about how this would look in my grade 6 classroom and how it would affect the learning environment I would be creating for my students. I’ve always struggled to implement these types of models in my classroom because quite frankly, I’m a little old school when it comes to teaching. I like to talk; I like to lecture; I like structure; and I really don’t do too well with noise and chatter. I realize a rotation model doesn’t mean kids are going to be talking and fooling around (in a matter of fact, if students are trained and shown what I’m expecting of them, this shouldn’t even be a thing I should ever worry about), but truth-be-told, I have an illogical fear of losing control of everything.

The more I think out loud however, the more ridiculous I realize how I must sound. As this semester has unfolded, I’ve started to realize that implementing blended learning models in the classroom, especially in regards to rotation models, wouldn’t mean I’d be losing control; I’d actually be gaining much more control, knowledge and overall understanding of how my students are doing, because I would be much more involved in their learning.

I think another more important thing I’ve come to realize this past school year is the importance of sharing the power in my classroom. Why on earth am I the only one calling the shots? I’m trying to distance myself from the traditional lecture-style approach; because this style leaves very little room for the student to make any form of decision on their own learning. Whether it’s transforming my traditional lecture-style lessons to more inquiry-based and open-ended group discussions, or blogging, I’ve definitely started to make a stronger effort to break out of this shell I’ve locked myself in.

At an elementary level, one-on-one or small group teaching is highly effective, so it really makes no sense not to be teaching this way, especially since every kid learns and sees things differently from one another.

Now before I start deviating too far from what I am supposed to be talking about, let me refocus my attention on technology. Catlin’s video made me realize that providing students with online lessons, activities or assignments are excellent ways to keep my stronger students busy and challenged, while providing students with tools that they can learn from in new and perhaps more effective ways. Some students work way better by themselves. Some students prefer individual style lessons like some of the module-based learning Catlin and other professionals have used in their stations. At the end of the day, these tools aren’t just to keep students “busy”, it’s an effective way of providing them with different ways to learn and explore content on their own terms…which is something I personally would love to do a lot more of.

I keep going back to math on this one. I mean, math is a great example that depicts varying levels of understanding in a classroom. At no point will you ever have the entire class be on the exact same page; there’s always going to be a few people who either find what we’re working on to be way too easy, or some that will be so behind, that you may as well continue working on foundational skills.

So I’ve kept asking myself this question: how would online components look like in this scenario? Well, now that I’ve started seeing more and more examples, I’m starting to get more ideas on what I can personally do. This past year, I’ve enjoyed creating my own media. It started with my first summary of learning assignment last year for my eci830 class, where I used Windows Movie Maker to edit all the footage I recorded using my Iphone. I’ve always enjoyed cinematography, and thought to bring this into my summary of learning project in a fun and creative way. I found that creating content (video in this case) was not only fun, but a challenging and meaningful learning experience for not only myself, but my students as well.

My summary of learning from ECI830 this past spring:

Not only did my class participate in the video, many of them helped me film the footage. As I worked on my assignment, I constantly showed my class my progress. Students saw an early draft of my summary of learning, and obviously got to see a screening of the finished project when I was done. They loved it. They loved that they were in the video. They loved that they helped film the video. They loved that they had input on some of the ideas, music and details revolving the final project. I found that students were extremely engaged in the process and they got so much out of the experience. By the end of the year, everyone wanted to make their own videos.

So why not?

And perhaps more importantly, why not explore this area of interest? Students obviously are drawn to these sort of projects, so why not create modules WITH them?

Although there are tons and tons of online lessons and resources that I could use for math stations, wouldn’t it be more fun (and not to mention COOL) to make my own? Or maybe even have my students help me make them? Being that I’m a French immersion teacher, I find that it’s next to impossible to find great French resources that my students will understand. Keep in mind, most French resources are for native-French-speaking students; not French immersion students who are still learning the language. If I show my grade 6’s a video we would typically use with grade 6 students in Quebec, good luck…it’s going to go over most of their heads. Unfortunately, this is usually the case, which means I rarely ever end up using online resources, other than the English ones I end up finding (completely defeating the purpose of teaching in FRENCH!). Creating content specifically for these students would be HUGE! I could make quick videos WITH my students. A lesson can be filmed and edited and USED the following year (or posted later for parents and students on our class blog). I could be building my library of online lessons RIGHT NOW!

I could start a YouTube channel and post all my lessons on there for students and parents to see. How useful would that be? A student is away on holidays, they could still do all their work online. Students are away sick? No problem, they can sit down, watch my quick lesson, do the assignment and hand it in online. A student is struggling on a concept, parents can help them out by getting familiar with the concepts by using the same videos I’d be providing my students in class.

I know this blog post is all over the place right now, but I’m finally starting to piece together some of the main things I want to do for my blended learning prototype. Content creation is something I’m really enjoying right now and I’m trying to find fun and exciting ways to bring my artistic skills to use. I feel like I have a lot to offer, so why not dive in and see what I can do with all of these tools? Furthermore, setting up stations would allow the opportunity for content creation to take place, as you’d be putting together everything for the stations either way.

Before ending my post this week, perhaps I should ask you what you’re doing in your classroom that involves content creation. Are any of you doing any of the things I’ve been discussing here? How often do you create your own content for lessons? Do any of you have online modules that you’ve personally created over the years? How long does it take you to put all of these things together? How realistic would it be to create EVERYTHING from scratch? How are some effective ways that I can involve my students in the process?

As much as I’m learning about all this stuff, I’m still sort of in the dark about it. This is all my doing of course, as I’ve avoided doing a lot of these things in my classroom because I’ve been unsure of how to execute this type of model successfully. I guess nothing works out perfectly the first time, and maybe that’s the first thing I need to start realizing; perfection is something that takes a lot of trial and error to reach, and even then, you should always be striving to improve and make things better than what they already are.

Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks for all the input.
Have a great week!

Dre

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8 thoughts on “Why you should start creating your own curricular and pedagogical content for your class”

  1. I’ve been thinking more about creating modules or lessons with students as well. It’s always hard to give up control and make sure that you “cover everything,” but it could be more engaging and valuable. Scaffolding and infusing digital literacy and technology would have to take the spotlight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Scaffolding is what immediately came to mind for me too. I love to have students involved but sometimes their depth of understanding is lacking and is evident in their work. So sometimes they may only appear to grasp content. That’s where creation of content modules personally may become valuable as it gives them the floor-level content they can use and understand to create.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes yes and yes! Scaffolding is huge and you cannot expect the kids to just go out and do all of these things…it’ll definitely flop. My group last year ended up making their own videos only after my whole process with the summary of learning was complete and we did our own tutorials and worked with these tools as a class. We did lots of scaffolding and having them help with my summary of learning before doing anything at all gave them an idea of what you can end up doing if you do everything correctly. I’m hoping to address all of this with my prototype, it involves tons of scaffolding.

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  2. Andres! You have got me thinking about a lot of different things with your blog this week!

    Ok, I’m impressed that you went into so much depth with some of the different variations of blended learning. My first question is: is blended learning limited to these 6 formats, or is there flexibility in how they are managed?

    My next comment speaks to the French resources piece. I am teaching grade 1 core french for the first time this year, and I have to say I agree with you regarding resource availability. I am often creating my own resources to align with the required curriculum as if I can find things that are available, they go beyond where we currently are in grade 1!

    I also have an illogical fear of losing all control in the classroom (you are not alone), but I think it is important as an educator to move into the areas that make us uncomfortable from time to time. The importance (for me) makes us realize that there is more than one way to ‘solve a problem’ (teach a lesson) etc., after all, if we want our students to understand and employ this concept, isn’t it easier if we can work to embody that? (Sorry, that got a little soap-boxy).

    I love your idea of utilizing your strengths as an artist along with your students to create content. I don’t have my own classroom, so I can’t speak to creating content with my students – but it sounds like something that could absolutely have potential, and I would love to see anything you do create (if you decide to try it out)!

    Not sure if I’ve been helpful in this response or not, but I enjoyed your post and you got me thinking this week, so thanks for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the other replies that you are moving in really interesting and exciting directions! When it comes to student creation, I think the subject matter can give you ideas of what to have them do. For math, it can be great to have them go through solving a problem and demonstrate it. Peer teaching is a good way to approach it. They need to learn it well enough to explain to other students. And they know if other students don’t understand, they’ll speak up. So it puts more pressure on them. You still have to think carefully about what’s appropriate and be ready to provide them some guidance though. Sometimes you need to do the introductory steps. Sometimes you can have them do the introductory stuff and you push them beyond that. It depends on where student interest lies. If you can harness students’ interests, then you can really get somewhere cool! I’m really looking forward to seeing where you might go with this sort of thinking though!

    Liked by 1 person

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