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{E-Learning} ~ The 411

E-Learning defined ~  the use of technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere.

For those of you not from the Indiana area, last winter was one to certainly remember. Most districts in the area only had a few school days in January to do to  extreme weather and LOTS of SNOW. As many of you have probably heard the State of Indiana had over 50 school districts apply to the state to be able to make up Snow Days using E-Learning on the day of cancellation.

The board of our school district was presented with the idea and has approved it. Meaning if we have a cancellation due to weather or any hazardous conditions that would prevent our students from safely coming to school; we kick E-Learning into full swing that very morning at 9:00 a.m.

And I for one, fully support and am excited about the opportunity to be at home in my fuzzy slippers and post lessons online and support my students in completing these lessons throughout the day. No, ladies and gentlemen we do not get the day “off”. We are to have the lessons posted and available to answer any questions the students or parents may have via e-mail or other online communication the district has set up from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00p.m.

How does E-Learning work?

Last night my sixE learning 3th grade team came together and mapped our first official E-Learning Day. Our instructions were clear from the district. We are not to post any new, untaught material for students to work on, there shouldn’t be any work that needs to be done on paper. Everything must be electronic. Everything must be some type of review or lessons which students can complete individually with minimal help from parents. Each subject  taught such as Reading, Writing, Math, Science , Social Studies and Health, must have at least 30 minutes of work time. If you’re thinking like a teacher, most subjects such as Reading and Social Studies can be combined into one. So no worries parents, our just is not to make your child miserable on a snow day; but to keep them busy and thinking about school even though they have a day off.

Thankfully, our districts has equipped us with tons on online ways to post assignments, for students to submit assignments without the hassle of remembering to turn anything in on the day they return. Knowing the specifics required of us we created  our lesson plan and posted it to My Big Campus,

MY Big Campus , which is a is a Learning Management System that extends the classroom to a safe and engaging online environment, balancing educational use of Web technologies with classroom material. Each student has a user name and password to log into MBC and from there are directed to go to their “group” their teacher created. Within the Group there several tabs they could maneuver through to find their lessons; however, I have trained my students in school, how to go to the correct one, which is discussions. In discussions, they will find the full, kid friend lesson plan for their day.

CompassOn this lesson plan we included Math and Reading activities which students need to access from another online learning system called The Learning Compass: Odyssey Compass Odyssey has a curriculum of its own for K-6 and it also has Common Core standard activities. Students are instructed to log in using their individual user name and passwords, and complete activities assigned to them for that day {listed on the lesson plan}. The activities include a guided instruction first, whether that be Theme, Plot, Verbs and so on, and then it includes a quiz. Each score is sent to the teacher once he or she logs in to check who has completed the assigned task. The students enjoy Compass Odyssey because it is animated and kid friendly.

XtramathFor Math we have also included things such as XtraMath for Facts Practice. Each student once again has their unique user name and password for this. At the beginning of the year they take placement tests for each operation {addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division}. If they do not pass it starts them with addition and keeps them going until they pass and then moves them on to subtraction and so on. Excellent for differentiated instruction. It doesn’t overwhelm the student because it does have a time frame and when it is over, it simply says “You are done for the day!”

Now I do have several students who have already passed all four operations so the other option listed on their lesson plan is SumDog. SumDog is a FREE Math website available to all. Teachers simply have to create an account and input their class list. The website generates user names and passwords for each child. The teacher has the ability to set each individual student’s level in Math simply by checking off what grade level Math he/she can independently work on without  getting frustrated.

They also have 2 more activities to complete on the lesson plan. We use TweenTribune to read current event articles. In our class, depending on which rotation {Science,Social Studies, or Health} we are in, students normally choose an article to read. On the right hand side of the website the students ahve the option of selecting their Lexie level and it generates articles at that level so that there is no frustration.  Each article has an open response question at the very bottom. The students are asked to respond to this question using Showbie.

ShowbieShowbie is another online paperless classroom made simple. I use Showbie everyday in my class for Literature Response letters,  quizzes, discussion questions, they can even upload presentations for me to grade and so on. Trust me when I say, Showbie is a hit in my room! For those parents who have Ipads at home, Showbie is an app the student can add.

ATTENTION PARENTS AND TEACHERS:{DON’T FREAK OUT}

So you’re probably thinking WOW this is too much work? How can students remember all the passwords? How long will it take them to do this? How will parents be able to help?

Well I can speak for 6th grade only when I say all the answers above are simple. Children are more tech savvy than most adults think. Give them some credit. 🙂  All the websites and activities listed above are done every day in our classrooms without parents around. I personally have trained my students on each website throughout the year and  we even have “mock” e-learning day posted on My Big Campus already.

Majority of their user names and passwords are the SAME for each site so that it is easy for them to remember. {after 7 years of creating different ones, I learned my lesson} Also, before they go on their HOLIDAY break, each child will HAVE their user name and password TAPED to their folder. Another option on the day of E-Learning is E-Mailing the teacher. We are here to answer questions throughout the day!!! 🙂

To Sum it Up ~

Our world evolves around technology, I think it is an excellent tool available to us in this century to make up days. Why make up summer days if we do not have to. After last winter in Indiana, I sure am ready for some E-Learning Days…. if it comes down to that!

Happy E-Learning! As always….Teaching Beyond Finger-Painting

~NidzaraSnawman

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