Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Year in Review and a Look at What's Coming in 2014

Season’s Greetings! 
As the year comes to a close, we want to thank you for all your support. 

From participating in our courses, taking our trainings, and viewing AEA PD Online: LIVE events, we’ve accomplished so much together. 

Check out our biggest accomplishments that are highlighted in this video and how you’ve helped bring joy to our world over the past twelve months!

AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online

Friday, December 13, 2013

A View from the Field: Jean Bontemps

A View from the Field: Jean Bontemps

Read about Jean Bontemps journey into blended learning. Jean teaches sophomore English and contemporary literature at Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa.

Tell us about your interest in blended learning and how your building got started?
I became interested in blended learning for two different reasons.  First, Amy Burns, a co-worker at Dubuque Senior, began teaching a blended learning speech class.  I have always looked up to Amy and how she incorporated technology into her classes. She made a huge effort to research and implement technology on her own, and often shared her learning and ideas with the rest of the school.  When she began incorporating the ideas of blended learning into her classes, I knew that it was also something that I wanted to investigate.  On her recommendation I took the Moodle classes offered through the AEA and became hooked. (Information about professional development courses focused on blended learning can be found here.)  Second, as I pursued my Masters in Library and Information Sciences, I learned that there are many benefits to blending instruction. Students who receive blended instruction become more responsible and independent with their learning.  They are responsible for the same amount of work, or learning, but they can choose to do this on their own, work with small groups of students, or the instructor. Blended learning opportunities provide students with a lot of flexibility that can help every student excel.

What kinds of things did your district/building do as you got ready to start some blended learning instruction?
The district administration agreed to fund a demonstration classroom complete with three media: scape collaboration tables and Steelcase Node chairs and desks. These tables, chairs and desks created an environment conducive to blended learning. In addition to the demonstration classroom, each student in the class would receive a 1:1 device .  They initially started out with Toshiba Netbooks (which were not the best solution).  In August 2013 I received access to the demonstration classroom for my Contemporary Literature course and was able to receive Lenovo Thinkpads for use with the students instead of the Netbooks.  With access to technology and support from my colleague, Amy Burns, I was able to move forward with blending my instruction.

What are some features of Moodle that you find helpful?
I enjoy most of the Moodle features. I really like the incorporation of the themes and the new layout.  I’ve been able to incorporate our school’s colors and mascot. It looks great, and an appealing appearance is always easier to engage students with. I’m also able to organize the content into units that appear in tabs across the top of course homepage. Makes it easy for students to navigate through the content.

Moodle also has a lot of ways for students to interact with the content, other students, and myself. Not only do students have access to the text that they are reading, but I can also post documents and videos that support or expand on the course content. I also use discussion forums and wikis. These Moodle activities allow students to share ideas and collaborate. Finally, I use the Moodle quiz features to assess student learning.

Moodle allows you to incorporate online tools into your blended instruction. What online tools do you use?
For papers and presentations we are currently using Google Drive. For research, we regularly use the AEA databases, but the students also must have a Carnegie Stout Library card, so most of our research is done online in those formats.  Many students also use these for independent reading through the ebooks that are offered.  
Blended learning really provides students with a lot of independence. Most projects are also open for how students present their learning. Students have created Prezi’s, Glogster pages, and YouTube videos. They then share these projects with me and their classmates.

What were some of the ways blended learning impacted your classroom?  How did the students respond?
One of the things I like most about the blended learning format is that students can watch videos and begin work at home leaving more class time for discussions and questions.  The students, for the most part, have responded well and are excited about coming to class and working on the projects.  They also enjoy the additional technology that the district has provided to support the class.

What surprised you about the students' response to blended learning?  
I wouldn't say this surprised me, but some students had a hard time scheduling their time. They were used to the traditional schedule of classes and for the first month of school a lot of the students struggled with planning time to do work outside of the classroom walls. As the semester has progressed, students have become better at managing their time.

What knowledge-building and prep did you have to do with students, parents and administration in prep for your use of blended learning?
I spent time emailing, mailing letters, and calling students and parents to explain the benefits and expectations of the Contemporary Literature course in the blended format.
One key point that I have communicated to the district and to parents is that for a lot of students who are going to pursue any type of higher education after high school, blended or online learning is going to be a reality they are going to face in their post secondary experiences. The more we can prepare them for this reality, the better we are doing our job as educators.  

Any advice for teachers or buildings considering the implementation of blended learning?
It is worth the risks and time.  I have only taught this class in a blended format for one semester, and I am already planning ways that I will teach it differently and improve it next semester.  Trying new things in the classroom, despite the risk, can really pay off in the end. I am also willing to learn from other teachers and from the students themselves. Realizing that everyone can be a teacher and a learner in this format can really take the classroom to a higher level.

Note: Information on how access to AEA K-12 Online’s free Moodle hosting services/e-curriculum can be found here.

Creating Online Student Portfolios with EduClipper

EduClipper is a free, social web resource that makes it easy for teachers to capture and share educational content with others. However, it goes far beyond most social media tools. It also allows students to create portfolios of their work and provides teachers with easy ways to provide written, audio, or video feedback to students.

EduClipper: The Basics

eduClipper from AdamBellow on Vimeo.

EduClipper: Using EduClipper to Create Student Portfolios

eduClipper - Getting Started with Assignment Portfolios from AdamBellow on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We just wanted to take a minute this week to thank you for participating in AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online activities.

Thanks to you, we've grown so much this year!

We have

  • Offered new online professional development courses
  • Added to our catalog of online trainings
  • Hosted a series of live and recorded events around current education topics
  • Created communities of practice in the Agora
None of this would be possible without the help of connected educators like you.
Thank you for being a part of our community!

Best wishes to you and your family for a safe and happy holiday.
AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online

For more updates and new information about AEA PD Online and AEA K-12 Online services and products read our blog at aeapdonline.org or aeak12online.org or follow us on twitter @aeapdonline.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Accessing AEA K-12 Online's Moodle Hosting Services and E-curriculum

Have you been thinking about blending your instruction, but not sure how to get started? Follow the lesson below and find out just how easy it is to access AEA K-12 Online’s Moodle hosting services and E-curriculum. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Join us for Core Skills Mastery Webinar

Join us for a webinar introducing Core Skills Mastery (CSM), a new free web-based course for college and career readiness.  CSM digs deep into math and literacy skills while also building strong problem-solving and thinking skills and fostering independent learning strategies and academic habits of mind such as persistence, carefulness, self-reliance, and confidence. CSM uses formative assessment to provide highly differentiated instruction and provides teachers with new kinds of data to allow them to be more strategic in their classrooms.  CSM adapts to each student, and can be used in grades 8-12 as a stand-alone college prep or problem-solving class, a math elective, or as a supplement in other classes such as algebra.  Participate in the webinar to learn more about CSM’s innovative curriculum, instruction, and Teacher Toolkit, and how you can use CSM in your school.

Dates and Times
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2-3 p.m.
To access this webinar go to www.webex.com, click "Attend a Meeting" , and enter  190 671 135
Intended Audience: District decision makers & teacher leaders

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
To access this webinar go to www.webex.com, click "Attend a Meeting", and enter 190 578 557
Intended Audience: Classroom teachers

Thursday, Dec. 12, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
To access this webinar go to www.webex.com, click "Attend a Meeting", and enter191 085 728 or call (415)655-0001 and enter 191 085 728.

If you experience technical problems please call (303)862-7233.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Connected Educator Month: Network to Learn, to Collaborate, and to Innovate

Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just‐in­‐time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating, and others aren’t realizing the full benefit. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.
For these reasons, the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative is launching Connected Educator Month in October of 2013.Through October, there will be coordinated opportunities to participate in events and activities in dozens of online locations to develop skills and enhance one’s personal learning network.  

Getting Started
An intensive, two-­day, online conference on transforming teaching and learning—featuring U.S. Department of Education senior officials and education thought leaders—will kick off the month. Plans are underway for opportunities such as the following:
  1. Month-‐long forums regarding key topics, such as personalizing learning and the future of the teaching profession, which will be moderated by noted education leaders and consist of activities such as online discussions, interviews, webinars, and chats

  1. Guided tours and real-­time community open houses, which will connect educators with communities, answering questions such as: Who can help me solve challenges I’m facing in my classroom, and how do I best connect with them? How can I help change my profession for the better?

  1. •Contests for addressing community challenges, developing innovative ideas, and creating compelling video demonstrations

  1. Inauguration of a new series of open badges for connected educators as well as online communities

All events and activities will be archived and synthesized into multimedia “proceedings” that will serve as a permanent resource to educators and community sponsors.
Invitation to Participate
We welcome educators at all levels and those who support them to participate.  The first step is sign up, which can be done in seconds on the Connected Educator Month home page at http://connectededucatormonth.org/. Once you’re signed up, you’ll get regular updates about:
  • •Webinars and other real-­time events—many headlined by education, technology, and community leaders—that you can register to attend.
  • Forums on key education and community issues in which you can participate.
  • Guided tours, open houses, launches, exhibits, collaborative projects, polls, and other special activities of which you can partake or be a part.
  • Contests you can enter, badges you can earn, plus other resources ranging from starter kits to book clubs and classes to help you join the world of connected education or become more connected.

Connected Educators is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology and led by American Institutes for Research in partnership with the Consortium on School Networking,  Forum One Communications, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University, Grunwald Associates LLC, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

A View from the Field: Angie Emerick

AEA K-12 Online  interviewed Carroll High School Physical Science teacher, Angie Emerick, to find out how she blends her classroom instruction.  

Angie, What courses or content are you blending?
I am blending/flipping my Physical Science classes.  Physical science is a required course for all freshmen.

What are some considerations you use to determine if the instruction should be face-to-face or online?

I try to keep face-to-face lecture instruction to a minimum.  In fact, this year I’m hoping to do more flipped learning by recording my direct instruction and then providing the students with the video.  In the videos, I give explanations and information that the students will need for their work in class and test over it.  So far, I have used a combination of adding audio to SlideRocket slideshows of me giving explanations and example problems being worked out on my Smartboard.  I try to keep the videos less than 15 minutes.  Students watch the videos at home.  To make them more accountable for watching the video, they need to either take notes or be prepared for an activity or quiz the next day.   I am hoping this allows me more time to work with students as they complete physical science labs or solve problems. In my classroom, I have students work in small groups while I rotate from group to group to work with them.

View one of Angie’s videos.

What do students’ experience in the face-to-face portion of your instruction? What do students’ experience in the online portion of your instruction?
When my students are online, they are building background information, by watching my videos or reading through the online curriculum from AEA K-12 Online (formerly Resource Iowa). They also complete simulations online. Some of my favorite simulations are from pHet  (phet.colorado.edu).  These simulations are great because they allow students to work with something they possibly wouldn’t be able to do in class.  One of their favorites is the SkatePark Ramp simulation.  In this simulation, they can decide the shape of the ramp, the amount of friction, the size/mass of the object on the skateboard, and gravity by placing their ramp on Earth, Jupiter, or the moon.

When my students are with me face-to-face we spend most of our time working on labs, activities, having discussions, and solving problems.
What tools do you use for the online portion of your blended instruction?
I wouldn’t be able to function in my blended/flipped environments without Schoology, ITSI, and moodle.k12.ia.us.

I use Schoology to assign materials to students, provide links to online resources, and test online. Schoology helps me keep my classes organized and manageable.

I also use Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry (ITSI). (ITSI) is a great resource that anyone can use. It is a free portal-based source for activities using models and probes for all grades 3-12.  ITSI includes customizable activities in the areas of engineering, life science, earth & space science, biology, chemistry, physics, and math.  Before finding this resource, using probeware (ex. motion sensors, digital thermometers, force sensors) intimidated me.  Using these activities makes it so easy to do.  The customization feature is also nice because I can make the activities fit my students and classroom easily.  More information is available at concord.org/itsi or if you are ready to get started itsi.portal.concord.org to sign up. 

AEA K-12 Online’s Moodle hosting services (formerly known as Resource Iowa) is a resource that is available to everyone through AEA K-12 Online. It is a learning management system where I can access the curriculum that I have developed and house my courses for students to use.
How has blending your instruction benefited your students?
I’ve seen move interaction and engagement in my students since changing to the blended instruction.  Kids are all about computers and technology now.  This puts the class in a format they are familiar and comfortable with.  I have also seen an increase in student achievement.  I rarely have a student fail my class. I do my best to create an environment in which students aren’t afraid to try and are willing to make a mistake in front of me and their classmates.  I want them to learn to work together, make mistakes together, learn from those mistakes, and become better for experiencing them.  Furthermore, in Carroll, we give Iowa Assessments. These standardized test scores are continuing to improve each year.
Any additional information you would like to share.
Both blending and flipping are a lot of work.  They also take most teachers out of their comfort zone.  I was one who liked to do the same thing all the time every year.  I liked the control and organization of it.  I have to say it was a big step to let go of that, but it was really worth it.  I would never go back to “traditional teaching”.  I love being a part of my students’ learning and learning right along with them.  The relationships you get the opportunity to build when you get out of the front of the classroom are amazing.  If you are thinking about changing what you are doing, it is OK to be scared.  It is important to have the support of your administration and educate parents from the beginning.  I could not have done this without the support of my administration.  They allow me to speak to parents at freshman orientation at the beginning of every school year.  This along with a letter home helps make parents aware of how different my class will be from day one.
I have heard different times during this change that I don’t teach.  Thank you for that compliment.  I don’t want to teach.  I want to be a partner in the learning process with my students. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Moodle for K-12 Teachers: What is it? And how to get it?


What is Moodle?
Moodle! Moodle! Moodle! You’ve heard about it. You may have even seen it, but you may be unsure of what it is or how it can help you with your students. Take a moment to watch the video below to hear how Moodle can change the way you teach. It will be well worth the one minute and fourteen seconds to find out what everyone is talking about.

I Want to use Moodle. What now?
Remember when the video mentioned “Ask a Moodle partner to set up a site for you?” AEA K-12 Online is that partner. AEA K-12 Online will host a free Moodle server for districts participating in the district opt-in.  This server will be hosted at http://moodle.aeak12online.org, and it includes our free e-curriculum for districts as well.  Plus, we will be creating customized Moodle themes for your school at no charge.

If you are interested in a) having a blank course shell on the new Moodle server, b) a copy of one of our blended learning courses, or c) content from the old server (http://resourceiowa.org) moved over to the new server, please let us know via this form found here.

Okay, you’ve convinced me...but I need more...where can I learn more?
AEA K-12 Online and AEA PD Online provides educators with lots of different opportunities to learn more about Moodle.
  • The Online Learning for Iowa Educators (OLLIE) and More Iowa Learning for Iowa Educators (MOLLIE) courses are fully facilitated courses that will introduce educators to online learning, help them build online learning environments, and teach them the skills they need to facilitate online learning. AEA PD Online’s full professional development catalog can be found here.
  • AEA PD Online: Live! Creates and curates videos that will help educators learn how to maximize student learning in online environments. To view AEA PD Online events go here.
  • The Blended Learning community in the Agora (agora.aeapdonline.org) is a place where Iowa educators can share and exchange ideas and resources related to blended learning.
Monthly blog posts on AEA K-12 Online and AEA PD Online highlight news related to online learning in Iowa, across the country, and around the globe.

View from the Field: Janet Wills

The 2013-2014 school year is Janet’s 19th year of teaching. This year she is teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies, 7th and 8th grade computer applications and Western Civilization at Southeast Webster Grand Community School District in Burnside, Iowa.

Janet integrates technology into all of her courses. When planning her instruction, online or offline, she keeps the learning goal(s) at the center. She carefully considers which format will work the best in helping students meeting the learning goals.

Online instruction in her room consists of a variety of components. With the myriad of online resources available there is greater room for differentiation. Lower level readers might watch a YouTube video while higher level readers might read something from the Library of Congress. Games, especially for U.S. history, are increasing in quality and quantity.  She specifically likes websites that take the students on different paths. Students don't all have to be on the same page/site in order to meet the learning goal.

Some of Janet’s favorite resources include:

Edsitement (Lesson plans)

PBS (Videos, games, audio clips, photos, lesson plans, and more!)

iCivics (Government and civic games that are accompanied by lesson plans)

Mission US (Games that put students into historical situations)

Janet sees many advantages to blended instruction. Students are more engaged and interactive features complements the learning styles of kids who have been connected online since they were born. Students have stated:

"Online resources make learning more interesting."
"You can't lose your homework as easily when it's on Google Docs."
"Computers are faster and more efficient than books."

Janet recommends that if you are thinking of introducing blended learning in your classroom remember that you don't have to do everything at once. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the resources available. Take it one lesson at a time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New K-12 Moodle Server

Starting July 1, AEA K-12 Online will host a free Moodle server for districts participating in the district opt-in.  This server will be hosted at http://moodle.aeak12online.org, and it includes our free e-curriculum for districts as well.  Plus, we will be creating customized Moodle themes for your school at no charge.

If you are interested in a) having a blank course shell on the new Moodle server, b) a copy of one of our blended learning courses, or c) content from the old server (http://resourceiowa.org) moved over to the new server, please let us know via this form found here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

AEA PD Online Course Participants: Moodle Transition

Don’t forget AEA PD Online is completing the transition to Moodle 2.0 this spring. All courses finishing after May 1 are on the new Moodle server at http://moodlesw.aeapdonline.org. AEA PD Online’s old server (http://moodle.aeapdonline.org) will officially be closed down on June 1, and that link will re-direct to our new server. 

If you do not have an account on Moodle 2.0, you must create a new account. Usernames and passwords from Moodle 1.9 will not work on Moodle 2.0. 

If you have questions about this transfer process, please contact Peggy Steinbronn at psteinbronn@aea11.k12.ia.us.

2013 Summer Blended Learning Seminar Series

2013 Summer Blended Learning Seminar Series K-12 teachers don’t forget to check out AEA PD Online’s summer Blended Learning Seminar series. View an overview of the the Blended Learning Seminar Series

The complete list can be found here.

Blended Learning

The infographic provides a quick look at blended learning. Pay special attention to the six models of blended learning and complete the survey below.
Blended Learning
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

What model of blended learning do you implement with your students?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

View from the Field: Blended Learning & Flipped Classrooms

As we looked at in our last post, blended learning takes on many different flavors, varying in both what takes place online vs. face-to-face, as well as the overall degree of how much takes place online.

One of the trendiest formats for blended learning is that of a flipped classroom.  In fact, if you've attended a conference recently, be it ITEC or i11i, you probably have seen several different sessions about teachers "flipping their classes".

Though there is some difference in opinion, a flipped classroom will often take and use tools like screencasting to record your presentation of the curriculum.  And then, you make the recording available online.  In essence, you take the "traditional" model of lecture in the class and activity outside of the class and flip it, so that students watch the lecture on their own and come to class to apply it.

A slightly different take on it is to say that what traditionally happens in a classroom is in the lower two levels of Bloom's (remembering and understanding), whereas the higher levels are reserved for projects completed outside the classroom.  Flipping it would have students work on the lower levels on their own, leaving the in-class work for the higher-order thinking skills.

Flipping a classroom has thus far been primarily a voluntary process in Iowa schools.  It typically is a passionate teacher who is looking to do something different and better.  Teachers I have worked with in the state see big changes in both the day-to-day learning of their students as well their attitudes towards learning in general.  Is this all attributed to the blended learning format, or is possibly enthusiasm among the teacher and students with something new that uses online technology?  Good question... one the research is looking to tackle.

Here is an excellent overview to blended learning from a teacher's perspective:

For more on Blended Learning, check out these resources:
Educause's 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms (pdf)
The Flipped Classroom Infographic
The Flipped Classroom Website

Blended Learning Seminar Series

This spring and summer will be the prime time to create what blended learning looks like in Iowa. We're calling on experienced educators like you to collaborate with a team of content experts and instructional designers to do this work. The work will begin with our spring and summer Blended Learning Seminar series.  While earning relicensure or graduate credit, seminar participants will co-create blended units that will be available through AEA K-12 Online and build their capacity to teach online or in blended formats.

Blended Learning Seminar Social Studies: Government Remix College, Career, and Civic Life
Develop e-curriculum to use with students in a blended or online environment. The focus of the development work will be to create a government unit that incorporates the new College, Career and Civic Life Framework while addressing social studies standards found in the Iowa Core.
Register at 22015799991401
Course Dates: June 3-July 24, 2013
Credit(s): 2

Blended Learning Seminar: Development English Language Arts
Develop e-curriculum to use with students in a blended or online environment. The focus of the development work will be to create a high school English/language arts unit that addresses literacy standards found in the Iowa Core.
Register at 22015899991401
Course Dates: June 3-August 3, 2013
Credit(s): 2

Blended Learning Seminar: Development of Blended Algebra 1 Course
Develop e-curriculum to use with students in a blended or online environment. The focus of the development work will be to create an Algebra 1 course that addresses math standards found in the Iowa Core.
Register at 22015599991401
Course Dates: June 3-July 24, 2013
Credit(s): 2

Blended Learning Seminar: Science Development
Develop e-curriculum to use with students in a blended or online environment. The focus of the development work will be to create a unit that addresses physical science standards found in the Iowa Core.
Register at 22015299991401
Course Dates: June 3-July 24, 2013
Credit(s): 2

Blended Learning Seminar: Should It Stay or Should It Go? Integrated Analysis of a Community Landmark
Develop e-curriculum to use with students in a blended or online environment. The content of the curriculum will integrate social studies, literacy, math and science standards as students explore landmarks in their communities.
Register at 22015699991401
Course Dates: June 10-July 24, 2013
Credit(s): 2