Poetry Kids Online Learning Environment

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1 Poetry Kids OLE 1 Poetry Kids Online Learning Environment by Penny Reed Instructional Technology Master Program Dr. I-Chun Tsai Strategies for On-line Learning 5100:639 Descriptive Paper Summer II 2009

2 Poetry Kids OLE 2 Abstract Teachers face the daily challenge of reaching all learners in a group of diverse children by implementing engaging lessons and activities, providing the opportunity for students to grow academically, and continually documenting their progress. All of this is accomplished while providing instruction that meets local and state required educational standards. With today s learners, teachers face even another challenge of preparing students for living in a 21 st Century society. Designing an online blended learning environment (OLE) assists educators in providing a meaningful and flexible learning situation, which encourages optimum student performance. This paper describes the design decisions and instructional rational behind creating the OLE. Description of the Project Poetry Kids is a wiki site designed and developed as an online learnercentered environment where second grade students interact with multimedia elements (learning objects) and each other about the literary genre, poetry. The goal of the OLE is to support students in obtaining content area objectives as stated in the state grade-level standards. The following objective is the learner s goal in participating in the OLE. Given websites and supporting information, students will be able to distinguish between poems and other forms of literature; produce informal writings by creating a poem; and deliver simple dramatic presentations by reciting poetry. This inclusive, class wiki site supports traditional classroom instruction by providing members a place to build new knowledge, practice and review skills,

3 Poetry Kids OLE 3 and demonstrate an understanding of poetry concepts. Opportunities for intervention and enrichment are included in the design to expand learning. The Poetry Kids main page informs learners of the objectives, directions, due dates, and learning activities to complete. Parent communication, printable accessories, help page, additional fun activities, and assessment are located in the sidebar as attachments. Sub pages contain the learning objects, checklist of tasks to complete, a detailed description of activities to complete with examples, and links to resources. Students in my class are pulled out daily for remediation, assessment, to practice skills, and enrichment, during the language arts scheduled block. The student population is a diverse group of learners with various capabilities and needs. I have minimal age appropriate classroom materials to assist in poetry instruction. Assessing the content needs of the learners and using the TPACK framework as a guiding tool, I choose a wiki site for supporting classroom instruction and as a way to deliver authentic engaging tasks. An online approach allowed for a wealth of information to be quickly made available to users in an age-appropriate and interactive method. The feature of asynchronous communication was an advantage because students could participate at different times and places. This was attractive since many of my students would need to complete work at different times and possibly from outside the classroom. The learner would be involved in a self-paced, collaborative, interactive atmosphere that would foster a sense of responsibility,

4 Poetry Kids OLE 4 ownership, creativity, and leadership. Participating in the site gave them a sense of a common purpose. As an instructor, I had to address pedagogy in delivering instruction in this manner. Different strategies were needed in connecting the content I want delivered, the learning objectives to be reached, and method of integrating technology in order to bridge the gap between where the student is and where I want them to be. By creating a blended learning experience, I could raise expectations and achievement by providing opportunities for intervention as well as enrichment. Assessment was addressed to ensure effective learning outcomes by providing intended expectations, examples of activities to follow, modeling desired behavior, encouraging reflective responses, giving timely and authentic feedback, and providing assessment rubrics. This method of delivering instruction lent itself to partner and independent activities meeting needs for a primary classroom. It also allowed for peer support both in the academic requirements and in technology skills. An online community develops a group identity that connects students with their learning. For the design and development of the OLE, I utilized instructional design strategies and key elements of TPACK. A Wiki site was an attractive, accessible, and easily created way to organize learning objects and permitted a secure place for interaction. I wanted to design a format that was simple, user friendly, and motivational to young learners; therefore I used bright colors and clipart to attract and keep their attention. I could organize information in an

5 Poetry Kids OLE 5 appealing way, design a consistently looking format, and easily update and maintain the site. Students could be exposed to a variety of authors and styles of poetry easily and in an engaging format. There were greater opportunities to differentiate with an online environment, which also allowed for students to collaborate on projects and make contributions at their own pace. I can assist students in practicing time management skills by helping them become more self-regulated and remain engaged for longer periods of time on tasks. With a blended environment, I could make sure to provide explicit directions and model expectations for responses. By conducting a usability test I was able to foreshadow problems to troubleshoot before initial implementation. Fostering communication through on-line dialog permits everyone to have an equal voice in the class. With a class size of 28 students this was a nice benefit. The website was also designed for students whom were absent from school to continue participating in class work. A wiki site was also a way to connect technology and writing and lend itself to incorporating other applications into the unit if desired, like PowerPoint presentations, video, and audio. Students come to the second grade with a basic understanding of poetry structure and composition. Initially, the poetry unit will begin with several face-toface instructional days in the typical classroom setting and computer lab because of the age of the learner. The lesson will include an overview of the learning goals and review of instructions and requirements for the on-line part of the course. Students have prior experience with the computer, Internet, and

6 Poetry Kids OLE 6 discussion forums, but instructions on how to access and navigate this site and modeling appropriate behavior for completing assignments will be covered during a class Wiki Walk through. This will be done using the LCD projector in the computer lab so all students can follow along on their own computer. Students will then be given time to practice logging on, navigating through the site, accessing links, completing an activity (ice-breaker) and logging out in preparation for working more independently later. The remainder of the unit will be blended between online and in class activities to be completed within a 2-week time period during Language Arts, computer, and morning work times. Online interactions will include activities for knowledge acquisition, skills practice, a comment area to post responses in fostering greater insight into poetry, and a place for online assessment. Home school connection section, objectives, resources, additional activities will also be located in the sidebar of the website. In class support includes printed materials from online activities such as task checklists, rubrics, templates, poems, and directions. Formal assessment in second grade is conducted mainly in the areas of math, reading, spelling, and writing although no letter grade is given. Certain academic standards are given more weight than others, in determining student progress. The Poetry Kids site covers several standards and will be assessed mainly as a participation grade in exposing students to poetry. A 20-point rubric is provided in the website Sidebar, indicating points assigned for finishing

7 Poetry Kids OLE 7 assignments within the 2-week time period; complete assignments; and working cooperatively with peers. Conclusion Designing a blended web-based learning environment for classroom interaction that would support in class instruction solved several academic and class management issues. The Poetry Kids OLE connected students with their learning in a highly motivational way. This method of learning makes school literacy more engaging and more meaningful to life in a digital world.

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