Reflecting: One Foggy Winter Afternoon . . .


Aleta May

Blog Post Week 8  Reflection

March 8, 2014

for EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham

Initial Blog Post:  Title:  Supporting Students and Their Teachers for Online Pedagogy

Reflection Blog Post:  Title:  Reflecting–One Foggy Winter Afternoon . . .

Week 8 Reflection for Essential Question:  Essential Question: How can we support students in being successful in our online course? Why?

When I come up with ideas for our Literature class, I don’t know exactly whether it is a good plan or not.  I wrote about setting up a place for students to read and edit each others’ work and Jon replied that he thought it would work and that he uses Google Docs for his students lately:  “I’ve been using Google Docs with my students lately as a way for them to help each other revise. It’s been pretty effective so far. I think that if middle school kids can handle it, we could use that as a tool as well” (Jonathan, reply to Aleta’s Blog 8, 3-14).  We may require google accounts for the students taking the course for uploading videos.

Jon mentioned using vlogs, video blogs.  Since Lee Graham, our course design instructor, mentioned providing students with alternative ways to express themselves, such as presenting using a screen-cast-omatic; vlogs seems to be another way to present.  Some students may not mind using the webcam on their computers to record their blogs, so the vlog would be a great option.  The screencast-o-matic is a way to present using a visual from the desktop while speaking to a group about the presented piece, such as a graph or other word document.  I did find a place at where it appears that video blogs may be stored.  Jon said, “I’m going to really recommend that students use vlogs in discussion portions of the course, especially if schedules don’t line up well enough to have much synchronous activity. I don’t want to rely heavily on synchronous communication, but I think that to see faces and hear voices really makes a course enjoyable and builds camaraderie. I think that for our course, it will even improve engagement for social reasons (at least among high schoolers…). Even if it is just a text chat, real-time conversations (in general) help in all of those ways” (Jonathan responding to Tammy and I on Tammy’s  blog).  There are group-paced courses in virtual high schools that “focus on supportive academic interaction . . . in group synchronous (real-time communication, such as chat or videoconference) and asynchronous (communication occurring over time, such as email or discussion forum) settings” (Repetto, Wayer, & Spitler, 2013).  In our course design, we need to provide for both.  If we focus on an asynchronous model, it will be easier to change to synchronous when this option is available.  For example, a video blog (vblog) may be used for students to view each other and discuss in a written blog later, or in a response vblog.

One question that is persistent in my mind is are districts ready for providing the supports necessary to make an online delivery course succeed in villages where there may not be a certified teacher available to guide summer credit recovery, and are students ready to be available and present to be there if a teacher is available?  Maybe this program needs to be set up in the hub of the district where students are housed and fed in Bethel, for example, with staff on hand daily.   The textbook, on page 157, makes it clear that access is important to people in rural and remote areas (Moore & Kearsley, 2011).  Maybe this needs to start with more support in a less rural location that is still known and familiar to them.

As I consider how I will support students (and their teachers) in the narrative writing module, research has made specific contributions to what is best practice for students who struggle with writing.  One recommended practice is to instruct students in the writing process.  By the 11th grade, students are already familiar with the 6 traits of writing and the writing process:  organize, edit and revise).  Hopefully they have experience writing collaboratively.  And they will have learned that organizing their writing often begins with graphic organizers or other methods such as outlining (Butler,Monda-Amaya, & Yoon, 2013).  Since students normally write using digital media (e-mail, social media, etc.), they will benefit from using a variety of strategies to write, called multimodal strategies.  Print is necessary to communicate in most cases, yet photographs (sometimes paired with music) communicate a thousand words.  Emotions are expressed through drawings that may be scanned in or uploaded with a tablet program.  Creative expression through graphics, and digital narrative stories are ways to draw on the student’s affective stance for writing.  They need to know how to inform in expository writing, but they also need to communicate their message by reaching through their feelings to the audience to draw them into the story.  Some students will thrive by producing a Digital Media Project (DMP).

A DMP is much more difficult to produce for a portfolio than may be thought by many.  There is a lot to consider.  I will quote from the Butler, Monda-Amaya & Yoon, 2003 just what is involved:  “In applying digital media to narrative writing, consider the core story elements:  (a) telling a story from a particular point of view, (b) emotionally engaging the audience,  (c) overall tone of the story (i.e., humorous, say, mysterious, or exciting), (d)  using spoken narrative, (e)  incorporating soundtrack music to enhance the story,  (f)  the role of pictures or video in telling the story, (g)  use of creativity and originality, and  (h) awareness of time and story length.” (Butler, Monda-Amaya & Yoon).   These principles are based on presenting a story that uses literary elements, and were summarized from a digital storytelling book by Ohler (2008).  As I reflect back on the reading from the text, it is important that students learn deeply so that they will be engaged enough to want to continue learning widely.  To be motivated intrinsically, students need to be challenged to communicate in ways that their audience will be drawn in (Moore & Kearsley, 2012).  Most students are familiar with reading from digital literacy.  They will more likely want to present in a way that is for changing the way their peers think about a topic or situation.  This will often be through multi-modal sources.  Though this seems so challenging to me as a teacher, students will work harder at applying narrative writing concepts when they have an opportunity to use the tools that are most meaningful to them.


Butler, A. M., Monda-Amaya, L. E., and Yoon, H. (2013).  The digital media writing project:  Connecting to the common core.  Teaching Exceptional Children  44(1), pp. 6-14.

Moore, M. G. and Kearsley, G. (2012).  Distance education:  A systems view of online learning.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth-Cengage Learning.

Ohler, J. (2008).  Digital storytelling in the classroom:  New media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin.

Repetto, J.,  Wayer, N.  and Spitler (2013).  Online learning for students with disabilities:  A framework for success.  Journal of Special Education Technology, 28(1).

Jonathan responding to Tammy and I on Tammy’s  blog site:

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