Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summary Reflection - Beginning of the Journey

Now that the course is almost over, and that it has managed to open wide windows for us participants, it is time to reflect on the benefits and the difficulties and set a plan of action before we embark on the web 2.0 journey.

1) An overview of what I tried

I have had high expectations for this course since the minute I read the syllabus, and I am not disappointed though the kind of benefit I received is something I had not visualized. Above all, taking part in this course proved to me firsthand how helpful it is to create technology enhanced lesson plans. By implementing technology – when it brings in a real addition to the lesson – issues such as creating authentic contexts, motivating and involving the biggest number of students, catering to a variety of learning styles, fostering learner autonomy, and facilitating formative and alternative assessment are more easily addressed. These issues that are daily for every teacher seem to fall right into place. It has also become clearer to me how meticulously and extensively the teacher has to prepare beforehand. I know it should always be the case, but often relying on the textbook makes preparation easier; the risk is that it might lead to a one-sided lecture rather than an interactive class. Finally, I have come to understand more than ever that it is imperative that we teachers have faith in our students; in fact, this is as important as evolving professionally to be fully equipped to cater to their needs.

a. What was most useful:

- Creating an online discussion class using There, I have learned how important it is for a teacher to formulate a clear prompt with an indicative title and how essential it is for a participant to follow guidelines and detect keywords. In any case, a teacher / moderator has to be patient, flexible, and tolerant in guiding learners / participants but clear all throughout and non-compromising when it comes to certain standards. Finally, in that context, I learned the importance of creating a learning community of teachers who communicate about challenges and success stories and discuss the best ways to deal with one and benefit from the other. Along this line, I understood how valuable it is to have “intellectual generosity” instead of competition (here I am quoting a friend of mine with whom I was discussing this issue few weeks ago).

- Writing behavioral objectives: Although I have spent the past year experimenting with behavioral verbs in Bloom’s taxonomy and how to relate them to specific activities, now I feel I have a starting point – the ABCD model – that makes the task of writing an objective way easier. I am also surer than ever about the importance of sharing the objectives with students at the beginning of any lesson.

- Creating a blog and posting reflections have been a fascinating experience. The reflections were time consuming but helpful. I wonder if I can keep up such a habit, but knowing me, there has to be a purpose, an audience. Blogging is a very easy way to stay in touch and share, but one needs to have a group of people who rally around the same area of interest. I guess I still have to learn about the horizons that the web creates in terms of bookmarking and feeds and how people who do not necessarily know each other are connected. I will most probably create a different blog and consistently post in it about my various experiences in the coming year.

- Exploring new search engines: I was introduced to many search engines I had no knowledge of. Now I purposefully use one or the other from time to time instead of using Google. I also realized the importance of bookmarking the sites that proved to be useful. I imported them to and I still have quite some to sort out once and for all.

- Taking learning styles into consideration: I was reminded of the importance of getting to know my students’ learning styles and offer them the opportunities that would help them learn more effectively and easily.

- Providing opportunities for formative assessment: I think I gained a much better understanding of what formative assessment is than I did when I first read about it in the Shaping course or was introduced to it sporadically in the previous years. It seems one is readier to learn once the need arises for a certain gap to be bridged.

b. What was most interesting:

Creating WebQuests: I utterly fell in love with webquests. They offer a guided project-based space for students to create a variety of ways that prove they have understood the material and therefore a chance for alternative assessment. It is one component of the course I am sure was worth the time and effort. Although I haven’t tested it with students yet, I can’t wait to do so.

c. What was most challenging:

- Referring to skill-building websites: I still have difficulty in finding a website that I can rely on in teaching one skill or another. I think the main reason is that I need to find material that matches the objectives and the expectations. Whatever a website has to offer has to complement the textbook. Therefore, most of the time, a teacher has to modify, so the effort and time spent have to be justified. I prefer looking for separate activities and put them together. At this point, doing that makes more sense because these exercises can be posted on a wiki or combined in a sheet using the web poster wizard on I could also use the software (CD-ROMs & DVD-ROMs) provided with the textbook. Along the same line, referring to a website to prepare a class activity proved to be difficult again for the same reason. I needed a context to be able to prepare a certain sheet. I still have to explore that further as the templates offered are worth checking out once the content is ready. They promise to be a time saver.

- Creating rubrics has been a challenge and still is for they don’t stand on their own. They reflect the objectives and the instruction, and they are important tools to both learners and teachers.

2) How I will integrate what I have learned in this class into my teaching

a. The techniques and tools that I will try to use
- I will definitely use the WebQuest I have created or any other as needed.
- I have many options to integrate technology in my classes especially now that I know how to and that I can anticipate the benefit. Besides, I have suggested and worked on few ideas during our discussions that I would like to try out. I am referring in addition to the WebQuest to: the process writing lesson using or any other website; the project-based lesson on Lebanese musicians and innovators; creating a blog where students can post their reflections; more reliance on the software provided with the textbook with its interactive exercises and easily customized PPT presentations.
- I will make sure formative assessment is maintained along with a renewed reliance on rubrics.
- I will evaluate lesson plans and class instructions against the focus on learning styles and learner autonomy.

b. With whom I’ll use them

I will use them first in the classes I teach - grades 7, 8, & 9

c. How I will use them
I will make use of the technological facilities offered at school; I will explore the use of the e-room; I will discuss with the administration the possibility of equipping the division with more LCD projectors; I will also train my students to view the computer as a learning tool and to get used to access the web to view a blog or a class site for discussion, reflection, or assignment.

d. When I will try to use them

I will be working on implementing the above starting the coming scholastic year 2009-2010

3) How I will continue to learn about technology after this course is over
- I am already working on a dissemination plan to share what I have learned in this course with my colleagues. I will also, as mentioned above, test whatever I have worked on with my students. This process, I am sure, will necessitate that I modify, fix, and thus understand better the workings of wikis, sites, blogs, WebQuests, etc. It will be a period of experimentation.
- I plan to read more about the one-computer classroom to find learning tools that could be benefited from offline. I am also very much interested in learner autonomy. Already I can’t stop reading, and I find myself creating accounts everywhere!!!
- Finally, I am also very keen on becoming a member of any community of teachers who believe in the values of communicating and sharing, and definitely in the use of innovative tools in the classroom.

I will see which horizons or possibilities for improvement will present themselves along the way! Watch for my new blog!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Abdelnour,

    This is a wonderful summary reflection; thank you for sharing it. You've been able to go a very long way using the course more or less as a scaffold for your autonomous learning. I do hope that you will share whatever you can with your colleagues. Setting up a community of technology users provides you with not only encouragement and help, but also people with whom you can gripe about technical problems (and there are always problems of one kind or another).

    Please do keep in touch - and send your new blog address when you have it!