TTC Course (2014)

Developing a Personalized Learning Network: Week 8

About two years ago, when I was working in China, I began developing my Personalized Learning Network (PLN) for several reasons. It was my first international school experience and I wanted to make the best out of it. And if I am really being honest, the city I lived in wasn’t my favorite and my PLN was also a good outlet. Additionally, because things move so fast and there is always something new, a good PLN could help me keep up and share. It’s a great resource for free, personalized, professional development.  After attending several conferences, I began to build what I thought was a strong network of educators. I began to spend a lot of time swimming the waters of my developing PLN and I found it to be helpful and inspiring. I even put together a couple of workshops at my school in China regarding the benefits of developing a strong VPN with a focus on Twitter. And then I moved to Istanbul.

When I arrived in my new Turkish city, I fell in love. What an amazing, magical place with so many things to explore. Also, IICS is a Google school. Learning about Google became a major focus and I ended up taking a GAFE course with Jeff Utecht. So much to explore and learn! However, this resulted in a lost focus for my PLN. I basically fell out of the habit. This is where I find myself today.

For me, the next step within my PLN is sharing. I will comment and retweet, but I haven’t shared much of what I do within my classroom and school. When Dr. Bieber spoke of this within the Week 8 video, I was comforted to know that he had many of the same reservations that I find myself struggling with now. What makes what I am doing worthy? How do I know if someone will get something from what I do? And the worst fear yet… what if I don’t get any subscribers???

I understand the value of a well-vetted and developed PLN – all of the ideas and connections have the potential to greatly benefit my teaching. Since I will start my new position next year as a Tech Integrator and with this course, I thought this would be a great time for me to make time and get back into my PLN.

In thinking of next steps, I have several in mind. Earlier this year, I began an online professional portfolio using WordPress and I will use this platform to reflect weekly on something classroom or school related (not necessarily technology focused). Once published, I will share this on my Twitter feed as well as my Google+ account. Since I teach at a Google school, I would like to model how to effectively use Google+ and I believe this is a good start.  I have tried to use LinkedIn more effectively several times, but I find it confusing. I will continue to keep my information there current and I might look in on some groups, but overall, I really just don’t get it. However, I would like to develop a Diigo account for resources and articles that I think other teachers at my school would benefit from.

As far as advice, one bit of advice that the current Tech Integration at IICS gave me was to create a time in my daily calendar to research, plan and organize. Essentially, create time. With so many new ideas, strategies, and tools out there, I thought this was simple, good advice. Also, don’t be afraid. It is not like the stream of information is going to slow down to wait for me to feel comfortable or relevant. Time to jump in.

A guide of tips, tricks, and advice for moving your face to face course to a blended environment: Week 7

When I first read about this assignment, I immediately felt overwhelmed because I thought of my new position next year and started thinking of all of the different comfort levels and tech abilities of the different teachers… and I almost jumped ship. But then I watched the video and the teacher talks about baby steps and that’s when it all started coming together.

The first teacher at my school site that popped into my head was Jenny. As you will see in the presentation, she is hesitant to use technology and doesn’t always see the value. However, as a school, we are headed towards a blended learning environment so it is something she understands that she needs to know.  As a result, I tried to keep my tips, tricks, and advice very simple and easy to follow and to make sure that I am there to demonstrate how to use the tools with quick mini-lessons. It is my hope that in starting small and simple, it will build her confidence and she will start to explore these tools and many others on her own, independent of me.

Google Presentation 
(week 7)

Assessment and Evaluation Tools and Strategies for a blended online course: Week 6

The week’s task was  a group task and it was a bit frustrating. We had some contact but one group member was very busy with work (as happens  with everyone), so this person was late getting to the party. Another group member dropped out for a few days and everything seemed very last minute. Granted, this could have easily been me and this is not meant to throw anyone on the bus. Work comes first, class second. This situation just helped to remind me of the frustrations that students might have to deal with and as a teacher, I need to be aware and empathetic to these occurrences. How will I help students who are frustrated and how can I help students who are overwhelmed or very busy?

Also, I had to adjust my expectations and as a result, I wasn’t as gun-ho to participate. When I didn’t hear from anyone after I had created a Google Doc, I sort of just started to do things without the other group member’s feedback. Again, this could be me next week, too busy to think, but it was interesting because I felt more responsible but at the same time, a bit defeated. In that sense, this was a great week as I had a different perspective but also, glad the project is complete.

Week 6 Presentation
(Google Doc of collaboration on the last page of presentation).

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Blended Learning: Week 5

This week’s task was to outline the advantages and disadvantages of a blended learning environment. I wanted to use a different presentation tool other than Screencast-O-matic so I decided try Powtoons which was introduced to me by the current Technology Integrator at my school. Additionally, a student in my class independently created an amazing presentation using this web 2.0 tool. Little did I know how much I have to learn! Long story short, I could not figure out how to enable the Voice Over function on Powtoons. After recording my voice using Garage Band (.m4a files), I discovered that Powtoons only supports .mp3 files. Like I always tell my students, using a new technology can be an amazing experience or a beautiful disaster. Mine was the later and I ended up using Screencast-O-Matic in the end to show my Powtoons… I think that is called irony. Ah well, I hope you enjoy the presentation.

Understanding the learning styles of your students:  Week 4

Below is my response to Task 4 for my TTC course. I surveyed students this week to find out their differentiated learning styles (auditory, visual, and tactile). From this data, I needed to discuss how this information might impact my blended learning class environment in terms of tasks, communications, and protocols.

I asked students to answer questions twenty questions on a recommended quiz from Education Planner. Nineteen students responded to my Google Form but one student put in the wrong information so her results were not included leaving me with 18 student results:

My class data:
Auditory (learn from sound): 27%
Visual (learn through seeing): 11%
Tactile (learn through touch): 22%
Auditory/Visual: 22%
Auditory/Tactile: 11%

Link to Results

I was surprised that my results leaned towards Auditory. I would have bet that students would have been more Visual and Tactile. The students are always very excited to do hands-on manipulations in class. It’s easy to recognize when it is time to stop the ‘teacher talking’ by the squirms and movements around the classroom and move onto an activity.

Also, it makes me wonder if with the technology that we have today, students simply aren’t getting outside and doing things – they are inside on their computers, not really doing ‘physical’ things. I remember my dad used to just send us outside until dinner time. It was a fantastic time to explore the real world and just build stuff and get my hands dirty. From talking to my students, it seems the only time they are really outside is when they are in a structured, group activity – they aren’t just outside to be outside. Is that why they aren’t as Tactile?

As far as how this affects my blended classroom, this data actually helps me. My main communication for students and resources was going to be students watching and creating videos and presentations (to review what we are learning,are going to learn, or presenting on what they learned). The auditory seems to be conducive to this form of communicating, learning, and producing. I think it would mostly impact the Expectations, Protocols, and Communications. Particularly for my class this year, I would have to be available to explain and clarify assignments beyond written and verbal directions. So I would have to be available more in the non-school hours. This class seems to need clarification from me directly. This can also be an age issue in terms of confidence and independence, but from this data, I also believe it is a learning style issue. It is knowing when to take that control and when to let loose the reins that is a critical balance when teaching, especially in a blended learning environment.


The video below was created to think about and develop the protocols and logistics to support  a learning community in a blended classroom. This video helped me to streamline my thinking but at the same time, left me with questions regarding facilitating the course with my students. I included videos, photos, links, and one student presentation to support my ideas and also show what I am already doing to develop culture and connections within my classroom. I hope you enjoy the video:

Also, below a link to the Google Presentation so you can check out the links in depth:
Creating Culture and Connections

Week One:

Below is my video for my 2 to 3 minute introduction to my blended learning course. Enjoy!

(video currently unavailable)

8 thoughts on “TTC Course (2014)

  1. jadams5751 says:

    Hi Claire… I enjoyed your introductory video. As a grade 9-12 math teacher, I enjoyed your response to the question “why do we need to learn that?” I agree that math is a building block to further learning, but I wonder if grade 5 is too early to challenge the students to think on another level. I try to teach that problems which are easily solved with a known formula are not true problems; rather they are exercises. True problems have unknown solutions, unfamiliar approaches, and formulas that have not been developed yet. These problems exist for adults and students at any grade level; the solution comes when someone chooses to reach outside of what they know and try something that they don’t. To see the problem and recognize similarities to skills practiced in exercises allows us to create a new solution that was never explicitly taught. Some might summarize this as “learning to think” or “learning to identify interesting questions.” I might summarize this process as doing math.

    An example from basic geometry: We have clay tiles on our auditorium roof which is composed of trapeziums, rectangles and triangles. When the roof was initially installed, someone had to calculate the number of tiles needed, but there are no formulas to satisfy this exact roof. Rather, the designer needs to see the roof as a composition of known shapes and apply formulas for these smaller sections.

    An example from a grade 12 student: A girl wanted to “digitize” our school logo by describing each feature with an equation that followed each curve of the logo. This required some known techniques for modeling simple curves, but it also required investigating methods for building piece-wise functions, which we had not yet studied. This student successfully combined over 20 different equations into 3 different functions so that, when entered into a graphing calculator or similar computer software, the image that emerges is the school logo, a roaring panther head. Why did she do this? Because, as a graphics art student, she thought it was cool. Yet I could have never predicted that this type of project would catch her attention if she had asked me, “why will I need to learn this?” My answer today might be, “You will use this and a host of other mathematical ideas when you find something that confounds you and yet you still find interesting.”

    Yes, ok, great video for week 1… but I really like the font used!

  2. Marja says:

    Hi Claire,

    It seems that you already have a good handle on incorporating technology into the classroom. The presentation for week #2 was fun to watch. I have one question: The class site and class blog, are they the same things or do you use both? I am trying to decide how to organise my classes for reading responses and not sure whether to use a googlesites or a blog.


    • Claire says:

      Hi Marja,
      Thanks for looking at my site! The class site and the class blog are the same: The class site is more for class news and information. The students have their own websites/blogs (WordPress-school mandated) which you can see on the class blog on right hand side under Student Links. I have them use their blogs for the reading responses and reflections. We literally just started writing reading responses this week – some are pretty good and some need some work – but I think of it as a running record that other students and (hopefully) parents can comment on. I like that the students are learning how to create and develop their online presence. Great for digital citizenship! I hope this helps – thanks again for checking out my site!

  3. Jason Dillon says:

    Hi Claire,

    In watching your presentation, Creating Culture and Connections, I appreciated the things you are doing to support student success with the blended tools–especially the sentence frames for positive comments and the video you shared with them where they were working in collaborative documents.

    I find it really interesting to talk to my students about how their interactions with each other differ in virtual and face-to-face settings… and then in synchronous and asynchronous digital spaces.

    I like how you are making blended activities part of in-class work and this allows you to observe and reflect on student engagement. Currently, I’m trying to get my 9th graders acclimated to collaborating in this way so more of their work outside of class can be collaborative.

  4. Deniz Altiparmak says:

    Hi Claire,
    I loved the way you organized and presented your 1st week introduction about your classroom. I teach in Istanbul too and in my school, we are trying to build up a blended learning environment and as we are just starting to get a grasp of it, it would be very interesting for me to visit your school some time. It would also be nice to meet someone face to face from an online course 🙂

    • Claire says:

      Hi Deniz!
      Thanks for the online feedback! That is exciting that your school is looking to build up a blended learning environment. Are all teachers on board? What school do you teach at? I am at Istanbul International Community School but I live in Cihangir. I agree about meeting someone face to face. Maybe we could meet at Starbucks in Taksim for one of the assignments! There is also a new coffee house a bit down from Taksim that has amazing coffee… let me know what you think!

  5. Deniz Altiparmak says:

    Hi Claire,
    I teach at Kultur College in Atakoy. Yes, all the teachers are on board with the need to implement the blended learning into our curriculum but we are yet to find the best way that’ll work for us.
    I totally agree on meeting somewhere around Taksim. A Saturday afternoon would be great!

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