4-2

DRAFT: ELA: Online Integration & Management

4-2.1 Online Integration and Management in the Language Arts

Teachers Talk: The Great Filter

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Reflection Questions: How did Mr. Jepperson's role as a teacher change when he began blending his classroom? How do you see your role as a teacher? How could you change your role to benefit your students?

Online integration is at the very heart of blended teaching.  It has to do with how you combine your in-person ELA classroom with online activities (remember the baker mixing dry and wet ingredients from Chapter 1). Because the main component of blended learning is integrating online and in-person activities, online integration is a good place to begin thinking about blending your classroom.  

This is where you as an ELA teacher begin to think about what specific online practices can help you address the problems of practice you identified in Section 1. The more examples of blended teaching you have personally seen and the more experience you have with online teaching, the easier this process will be for you. But even if you are just starting out, you will probably have a few ideas of your own. This chapter will help you explore more ideas.

Before you start, consider this advice from experienced blended teachers--think big but start small.  Small beginnings allow you to wet your toes in the process, focus on specific pedagogies and activities, see the benefits and drawbacks, and make improvements on a small scale without becoming overwhelmed by the process. 

Teachers Talk: Small Beginnings

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Jenifer Pickens

Just try it. Do just a little bit at a time, but do something. If you like it, then you can do more. And you will like it! 

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Brianne Anderson

The advice I'd give is just to do it. Start doing it, start small, then build and expand from there. There’s always more to learn, and it is such an exciting experience and so worthwhile.

4-2.2 Planning for Integration

You can take that first small step by doing the following:

  1. Identify the problem of practice and the learning objective that you are interested in blending.
  2. Think about activities, both in-person and online, that could support the student learning. (A framework for this process is to think about activities that involve students interacting independently with content, activities that involve students interacting primarily with each other, and activities that might involve interaction with an instructor.)
  3. Consider how the online activities and the in-person activities can connect.
  4. Choose one of the activities you have considered and create a blended lesson. 

See the example below for how this process might work. The teacher in this example explores several activities that could be blended. You have a similar chart in your Blended Teaching Notebook. 

The teacher has identified her problem of practice: I want my students to be more precise and  careful in their analysis of character. The learning objective states: "Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text."

Here are some ways she could combine online and in-person activities.

Table 1: Planning for Online Integration

Student-Content Interactions

Online Activities: 

  1. After reading a text, students use Jamboard (a sticky note tool) to explore character. Use one color of sticky note for character traits and another color for evidences from the text.
  2. The student will write one paragraph of a group character sketch in a Google doc. 

In-person Activities:

  1. Students read a text, identifying character traits of a character of their choice.

Connection:

The students will use what they found in the text to create their Jamboards, which will later be used to make paragraph assignments and to create a collaborative online character sketch.

Student-Student Interactions

Online Activities:

  1. Students who chose the same character will copy their Jamboards to a discussion board and will make comments on two other students’ jamboards, noting traits they agree or disagree with as well as analyzing the strengths of the evidence they used to support their conclusions.
  2. Students will give appropriate feedback on the Google Doc for the paragraphs of the people in their group. They will also proof each other’s paragraphs. They will make suggestions for transitions that will make the paper feel more unified.

In-person Activities:

  1. Students will meet in person in their groups, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their character traits, and decide which character traits to write about in a collaborative character sketch. They will determine who will write the intro and conclusion as well as each paragraph describing a different character trait.
  2. The students will meet one more time in person to read their completed paper aloud and make any final changes.

Connection:

The work the students do on jamboard and the discussion board will prepare them for a productive in-person group discussion about the character and for being able to plan an outline for their character sketch.

Once the character sketch is completed the students will leave feedback online, make improvements of their draft, and meet in person for a final review and revision of their sketch.

Student-Instructor Interactions

Online Activities:

  1. The teacher will leave feedback on the discussion board, asking one question about each person’s jamboard.
  2. The teacher will give feedback on the complete character sketch on the google document.

In-person Activities:

  1. The teacher will meet briefly with each group when they meet in person to answer questions and to assess progress.

Connection:

The teacher will respond online to the Jamboards, asking a question that can cause the student to think more deeply about the character or consider another piece of evidence.

She will use what she learned from their Jamboards and discussion board to guide her in-person meeting and to later give online feedback on Google docs.

In your workbook, using one of your problems of practice, fill out the Planning for Online Integration table.

4-2.3 Selecting a Blended Teaching Model

Once you have chosen an activity or activities to blend, consider which blended teaching model best fits the activity. (For a review of blended teaching models, see Chapter 2: Online Integration in K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration.) 

Teachers Talk: Flipped Classroom 

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Reflection Questions: What content could you deliver online in our classroom? What can you do with your classroom time when you deliver some content online?

Teachers Talk: Station Rotation

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Reflection Question: How can you create a lesson plan that goes horizontal?

Teachers Talk: Lab Rotation

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Reflection Question: How can you foster peer review using technology?

Teachers Talk: Flex

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Reflection Question: Think about your students. What are some targeted lessons that could benefit groups of your students?

4-2.4 Deciding What To Do In-person in an English Language Arts Class

Blended learning is the strategic combination of online and in-person modalities. But how do teachers decide which activities to do online and which to do in person? 

One way to begin answering the question of what can be done most effectively in person is to look at your strengths as a teacher, the needs of your students, and the types of activities that lend themselves to the best use of the in-person space.

For example, students may be working (collaboratively or alone) on a project or paper. You want to do this in person because you know they will have many individual types of questions. Answering those questions in the moment that they come up can keep students from getting stalled in the process and keep energy high. It also helps assure that students don’t have to back up and redo work. 

Similarly, you may want to begin a discussion in person. You want students to get excited about the topic and begin thinking about the possibilities of the discussion. Once they’ve had this beginning, they may be more ready to participate in an online discussion. 

Perhaps you are good at reading aloud, and your students enjoy hearing you read. You might want to introduce a new text in person, reading and discussing it. 

Role-playing, whole class simulations, reading circles, discussions of goals and progress may all be activities that work best in the in-person space. 

Know yourself, your students, and your subject matter well enough to determine what you want to preserve the in-person space for. 

Once you know how you can best use the in-person space, you can begin to explore ways to use the online space to allow the kinds of activities you want in the in-peron space, to best use the affordances of the online space, and to make meaningful connections between the two modalities. Answers to the following questions may help you decide. 

4-2.5 Evaluating Blended Activities

Blended learning is not just about using technology in the classroom. It is about strategically combining technology with in person activities to improve pedagogy and student outcomes.

The PIC-RAT framework provides a means of evaluating your use of technology to see if it is adding value to your classroom. It helps you evaluate students’ relationship to technology as well as its impact on traditional practices.

For a complete explanation of the PIC-RAT framework, See 2.3.1 "The RAT Framework," 2.3.2 "Blended Activities that Engage (The PIC Framework)," and 2.3.3 "An Evaluative Framework for Blended Teaching" in Chapter 2 "Online Integration" of K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration.

4-2.6 Planning Blended Routines and Behaviors

Routines

Teachers Talk: Routines in the Classroom

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Brianne Anderson

My first week I made sure that all the Chromebooks were plugged in, but I didn’t check the power strip. It had been flipped off. Everything was plugged in, but that little light button on the power bar was off. I came the next morning and had this awesome lesson, but all the computers were dead.

The simple use of technology in the classroom is something that has to be implemented on day one. If your students haven’t used technology in the classroom before, you’ll have to teach them even simple things like how to turn on the computer and open the internet. The first thing I like to teach my students is how to communicate with me digitally, giving them clear instructions on the best way to contact me. I also like to teach them where to find answers, trying to help them be more self-sufficient. These are things we practice.

Establishing routines in a blended classroom is crucial. Helping students understand when and how to move around the classroom, how to access an LMS or other online programs, how to log in and out, where and how to store hardware, how to communicate civilly and respectfully, and how to turn in assignments is essential to creating a usable blend. In addition, making plans for how to manage off task behavior can prepare you for situations that are sure to arise. 

General:

  1. Decide specifically the kinds of behavior and routines you want to put in place.
  2. Spend the first two or three weeks really drilling and practicing those routines. 
  3. Set clear expectations.
  4. Decide what you will to help students who have a difficult time meeting the expectations. How will you respond to them?
  5. Evaluate your plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Table 2: Blended Learning Routines

Blended Learning Routines—Teacher Tips

Student Movement
  • Will you have activities that require the movement of students (such as in a station or lab rotation).
    • Will students be moving all at the same time?
    • At different times?
    • Plan an efficient way to facilitate those movements.
  • I have my students do three things when they coming class:
    • Open their grading portal and check their grades.
    • Open their email.
    • Open the class website to see if there are any new posts.
  • Be very clear. Make few rules but enforce them well.
Hardware Management
  • Don’t waste time plugging in computers between periods. Make sure they’re plugged in at the end of the day. 
  • Use of cell phones (some teachers collect them so they don’t have them in class; others let them use them for assignments) Keeping Chromebooks or other hardware charged (if devices are kept in the classroom; students don’t take them home).
  • Establish a routine for making sure computers are charged into the right charging station.
  • Creating checklists.
  • Make assignments.
    • Make sure computers are plugged in and charging.
    • Sanitizing computers.
    • Keeping a log of damages or problems.
  • Assign specific computers to specific desks or specific students; this increases accountability.
  • Teach how to hold and carry devices; practice.
Software Management
  • How to turn on the computer, log in, access internet.
  • Practice using the LMS, opening it, finding assignments, checking grades, submitting assignments, etc. 
  • If you have specific formats you want students to use when submitting assignments, teach them what they are.
  • Creating checklists.
  • Teach how to download, upload, and organize files.
  • Practice everything you teach them.
Student Questions
  • Teach them where to find answers before they ask you.
  • Specific ways to contact you outside of class and how to address you politely. 
  • Teach them how to use email.
  • Establish “expert” students that other students can turn to help.
  • Create instructional videos or review pages students can access when they have common questions.
Classroom Configuration
  • Decide what kinds of activities you do in your classroom. Are there classroom configurations that will support those activities? For example:
    • Create a comfortable reading space.
    • Create a space for collaboration, where students can talk together.
    • Create a quiet space for writing or other thoughtful activities.
    • Do you have fewer than 1-to-1 devices? If so, create a space for working on computers.
Off-task Behavior
  • Use software that allows you to monitor what is on the screen of each student. 
  • Teach them to monitor themselves.
  • Sometimes if I have problems with students straying away from what we’re doing on their computers, we shut down the computers and use paper again for a day.
  • Even good students can get off task. I try to always walk around the classroom, both to be available for help and to give quiet reminders to stay on task.
  • Utilize your LMS or other software to keep track of online behavior.
  • I have a table by my desk. If there is a student who is really having a difficult time staying on task, I place him or her on that table away from the other students and monitor that student more closely.
Other
  • Help students develop time management skills, so that they use their time as efficiently as possible.

Teachers Talk: Addressing Off-task Behavior--The Cool-off Zone

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Reflection Questions: How did Mr. Lee help students avoid distractions and regulate their learning? What can you do to help your students make decisions about how they will regulate themselves?

English language arts teachers say they typically spend four to six weeks at the beginning of the year establishing routines and expectations and teaching students how to use the technology. But, they say, it pays off in the long wrong with a smooth running class, increased opportunities for interaction and personalization—all of which they see as positives in their blended classroom. 

In the next chapter you will begin to explore online interactions in your blended teaching.

Suggested Citation

(2021). DRAFT: ELA: Online Integration & Management. In , , , & (Eds.), K-12 Blended Teaching (Vol 2): A Guide to Practice Within the Disciplines , 2. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/k12blended2/ela_olim

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