My Children Stories on Storybird

I studied creative writing at UCLA’s extension program back in the 90s with two published children’s authors.  It was my outlet for creativity. Since then, I’ve written several children stories and poems, but they have remained unpublished sitting in a basket beside my desk (except for two educational ones that I sell on TeachersPayTeachers). 

Currently, I’m using Storybird‘s monthly challenges as my impetus for getting a new story out every month. I just started in October of 2017.  My Halloween story didn’t quite make it in on time to earn a badge for the challenge. I’ll keep posting new ones here on this page.

OctoberMy Tale for a Halloween Treat

African American girl speaking to a frog near a pond
Art by KDMaz on Storybird

Summary: Paula reveals her thought process as she writes a Halloween story for a school contest. Meet Polly and Pollard in their adventures in a town near a forest with a witch, a fairy, and some hairy seeds.

NovemberGrandma Doesn’t Speak English

Grandma sitting in a rocking chair while she knits with grandson playing with a dog in front of her.
Art by Victoria Usova on Storybird

Summary: Love removes all language barriers in this story based on a visit to grandmother’s house. She doesn’t speak English, so she gets the children’s attention by saying ‘mira’ which means ‘look’ in Spanish.

DecemberThe Do Over Wish

Barn owl in snowy forest flying towards you
Art by Frimages on Storybird

Summary: Two twelve-year-old cousins go hunting for quail but end up wishing for a do-over when they shoot a barn owl. This leads them to make a pact to only hunt animals for meals or personal safety.

I’d love feedback on my stories either here on the blog or on Storybird, which is free to join.

Universal Design for Learning

Accessibility_Logo
Logo by Christy Blew of University of Illinois for Educause, 2012

Universal design (UD) refers to the consideration of the needs for persons with disabilities in regards to physical spaces and objects.  The Principles of Universal Design (1997) are equitable use, flexibility of use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for appropriate use. See the UD poster. The Center for Universal Design described UD as a design that does not need adaption for persons with disabilities in perceiving the content or operating the program. The word ‘content’ is key to education. This means equal access to information because you don’t want someone to wait weeks while you provide a specific accommodation like closed captioning to a video lecture.

There are several efforts to design education with UD in mind. Palmer and Caputo (2003) proposed seven principles for universal instructional design (UID): accessibility, consistency, explicitness, flexibility, accommodating learning spaces, minimization of effort, and supportive learning environments. The UID model recognizes those needs for course design. Its main premise is equal access to education and extends this to all types of learners and not just those with disabilities. For example, all learners can benefit from multi-modal lessons.

I recently attended a webinar by Dr. Tobin in which he recommended these instructional strategies for UDL: 1) Start with the text. It can serve as the script. 2) Make alternatives available such as a PDF instead of Microsoft Word, so they can use the feature in Adobe products to read aloud the text. 3) Allow students to select their type of assessment choice. 4) Go step by step to break information into small chunks and provide still images for illustration when possible. 5) Set content free. By this he means to make sure it’s sharable and not tied to your choice of tool/software. Ex. MP3 audio file as output instead of the Audacity file, which students would have to know how to use to open/play. The benefits of these strategies reduce cognitive load for all learners.

UD for the web is not only for education. Legal aspects include the web design standards created by the the WWW Consortium (W3C). They produced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), which are promoted globally.  I use their Web Accessibility Initiative website, as a reference at work: http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.   Additionally, US federal laws include policies for equal access to Web-based information and technologies such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Access Board standards.  The Access Board standards are based on the WC3’s priority checklist.

Here are a few resources on UD:

References

Palmer, J., & Caputo, A. (2003). Universal instructional design: Implementation guide. Guelph, Ontario: University of Guelph.

The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University.

Gagne’s Instructional Sequence for Podcast Learning Module

Title page to tech project

The following instructional design strategy is based on Gagné’s (1985) nine events of instruction in which he provided a format for designing effective training by correlating internal cognitive processes with that of external instructional activities. Many K-12 school systems utilize his sequence of instructional events as a framework for lesson planning. I have previously blogged about Gagné’s work.

These are the instructional events adapted from Gagné to teach k-12 students how to upload an audio file to publish a podcast channel on Podbean.com:

1. Gain attention by first showing a short video of the purpose and meaning of podcasting by Lee LeFever.

2. Inform student of the learning objective(s).

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning by reminding them of the images and vocabulary for technical terminology. Use a KWL chart to make meaningful connections to the sample podcast and informational video with their personal experiences. Have them share these experiences with their peers.

4. Present the content in a demonstration screencast depicting examples from the actual Podbean site to enhance the retention of information. In this way, learners will be more likely to apply the information to their
own project and internalize the content.

5. Provide learner guidance by utilizing callouts (arrows, highlights, & focused lightening), labels, and screenshots in the demonstration or recorded presentation. Use a how-to guide to support the presentation and provide for students with different learning preferences scaffolded instruction. These components will help students stay on track.

6. Elicit performance by having students follow the instructions in the how-to guide and/or presentation.

7. Provide feedback by having students conduct a self-assessment or peer-assessment of their performance with a checklist. Students can read each other’s user profiles and hear the final audio products when they share the links among themselves via email.

8. Assess performance by having students submit final project link to an instructor via email.

9. Enhance retention and transfer to the task by having them send their podcast to another student and have each of them upload it to their own, therefore, replicating the process again. The teacher could also send them an audio file to upload after a week has passed to have them revisit the steps. Encourage students to upload podcasts on a monthly basis in order to rehearse the skill, and therefore, submit to long-term memory.

The complete learning module (teacher guide, CCSS, pretest, KWL chart, student checklist, rubrics, vocabulary PowerPoint, how-to guide, & posttest)  is available for sale in my TeachersPayTeachers store, Teacherrogers.

(Note. Gagné’s 9 events of instruction are italicized. These do not need to be done in this exact sequence, as this is an iterative process.)

Reference

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Elements of Cooperative Learning and Their Application to Distance Ed

Embed from Getty Images

 

According to Wikipedia, the cooperative learning theory has been around since the 1930s and discussed by researchers from diverse fields such as philosophy and psychology. Cooperative learning involves strategic group practices and elements to aid critical thinking.  As an educator, I’m most familiar with Kagan’s (1985) approach to cooperative learning. Additionally, I learned about Palinscar and Brown’s reciprocal teaching method; their article on Reciprocal Teaching of Comprehension-fostering and Comprehension-monitoring Activities (1984) predates that of Kagan’s work.  Johnson and Johnson researched and wrote about cooperative learning activities in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I learned about their work in my doctoral coursework on instructional strategies.

Johnson and Johnson (1994) were the first to describe the following five essential elements of cooperative learning: positive interdepence, face-to-face (F2F) promotive action, individual & group accountability, social skills, and group processing.  The following lists their elements and how they can be implemented in online courses.

  1. Element of Cooperative Learning: Positive Interdependence

Course Design– A) Provide example of project team roles. B) Another layer to this is to then divide the content assignment into specific components and assign them to team members.

Resources–  I modified the list that Dr. Dempsey shared in our doctoral course on instructional strategies at the University of South Alabama: team leader, timekeeper, idea monitor, QA monitor, and Wild Card (for the extra item that varies according to the content or situation).

Difference from F2F Instruction: A) Not all students will be able to meet F2F on campus due to geographic distances. B) Not all students will see information (login) at the same time. Delays can cause emotional distress to team members and create psychological distance.

2. Element of Cooperative Learning: F2F Promotive Interaction

Course Design- Include synchronous sessions with live audiovisual possibilities.

Resources– Use virtual meeting spaces such as BigBlueButton, Skype, Google+ Hangout, & Second Life

Difference from F2F Instruction: A) Students can discuss items freely without being in earshot of the teacher or other teams. B) Students need technical skills to be able to participate online. C) Meetings can easily be recorded for review.

3. Element of Cooperative Learning: Individual & Group Accountability

Course Design– Create rubric for individual and group tasks explicitly described.  Ask student to complete a peer evaluation of team members according to their assigned components.

Resources- Teacher asks students to create this for greater understanding of the requirements.

Difference from F2F Instruction- No real difference except for no F2F lecture mode to explain rubric.

4. Element of Cooperative Learning: Social Skills

Course Design– Teachers model social skills with teacher talk.  They shape students’ behavior by providing praise when appropriate actions are taken.  They provide rubrics that describe the actions such as how many times to post in forums and to whom.  Students set up their own agreed upon ground rules.

Resources– Netiquette: There are several versions out there.  There’s even a multiple-choice test that scores a students’ netiquette knowledge automatically.

Difference from F2F Instruction– A) Etiquette rules differ. B) In OL, every student gets the opportunity to respond. C) For OL, there’s a larger chance of procrastination due to the “absence” of the traditional classroom routine, physical building, seeing friends in the hallway to remind you, etc.

5. Element of Cooperative Learning: Group Processing

Course Design– Ask students to create their own set of group rules and definitions. (This was another Dr. Dempsey idea.) Monitor group work by asking to be added to their collaborative project sites.

Resources– Use Web 2.0 tools like wiki, clog, and/or Google Drive to collaborate.

Difference from F2F Instruction- A) Must decide on which synchronous and Web 2.0 tools to use and create accounts. B) Meetings include the World Map for time and date. C) May be grouped with someone that you will never meet F2F (I’m unsure of the psychological ramifications but certain this plays a role in online behavior).

References

Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (1994). Learning together and alone, cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. Needham Heights, MA: Prentice-Hall.

Kagan, S. (1985). Cooperative learning. San Clemente, CA: Resources for Teachers, Inc.

Palinscar, A.S., & Brown, A.L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities.  Cognition and Instruction, I(2), 117-175.

How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

See blog post from PBS below.

It could take a year or more to rebuild certain areas of Puerto Rico, officials say. Here’s how you can help.

Source: How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Preparation

Note. This blog originally was co-created with my friends and family on my personal Facebook account to share publicly with my readers back in 2011. We live on the Gulf Coast and have weathered many storms.

Here’s a list of items and actions to consider when preparing for a hurricane:

  1. At least $100 cash to $500 if possible (1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, 100s and a roll of quarters) because ATMs or credit card machines may not work.
  2. A large ice chest with ice, healthy drinks, snacks & any extra medications needed.
  3. A bath tub full of water in case it’s cut off. You have about 40-50 gallons of fresh water stored in your water heater; you’ll need a hose to drain H2O heater.
  4. Batteries and flashlights (or solar-powered or hand-cranked flashlights), candles and matches, and manual can opener. Don’t assume the batteries in the junk drawer are still good.  Check them in advance. Place items in convenient location for when you lose power.
  5. Remove any loose items around the outside of the house that could be lifted by strong wind.
  6. Board your windows.
  7. A first aid kit with a variety of items. Check to see if anything expired.
  8. Toiletries for at least 2 weeks (e.g., diapers, wet wipes, feminine hygiene)
  9. An emergency evacuation plan AND a shelter-in-place plan.
  10. Duct tape to repair items.
  11. Make sure your car’s gas tank is full. A gas can for emergency. Gas pumps run on electricity, so if there is a power outage, it won’t work.
  12. Keep shoes on at all times and by the bed. Foot injuries are most common after storm destruction. Select thick-soled and closed-toe shoes.
  13. Heavy duty gloves for handling debris.
  14. A weather radio.
  15. A small grill that uses those little green propane tanks or your large backyard grill will do.
  16. A generator (if you can afford it).
  17. It’s a good idea to have your pet micro-chipped for locating if lost and has updated antirabies shot, etc. At the very least, make sure you pet has a collar with ID tag.
  18. Make sure your tetanus vaccine is current in case you have to handle any rusty nails among the debris aftermath.
  19. Make copies of your critical information/important documents and place in a water-proof bag.

Last, think about the environment in your immediate area.  Consider removing any dying trees in your and your neighbor’s yard, placing lawn furniture in the garage, and preparing for your pets.  After one hurricane, the neighbors’ beehives were displaced/scattered and there were bees everywhere. I couldn’t go outside for 2 weeks due to my allergy to bee stings.  This list is based on personal experiences.  For professional advice, visit the National Hurricane Center.

 

Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction for English Language Lessons

Embed from Getty Images

Note: Gagné’s instructional events have been widely adopted for instructional design purposes in multiple disciplines.  For example, K-12 school systems utilize his instructional events as a framework for lesson planning and evaluation. See my blog post on Gagné to learn more.

Teacher Preparation: Review lesson and consider content that requires scaffolding (support) such as bringing in realia or images of uncommon words, prepping for reviewing grammar or pronunciation rules, or considering practice activities and resources. These 9 events are iterative meaning you can jump around. For example, you might need to gain attention or provide feedback at different moments in a lesson. Also, ongoing assessment should occur for formative assessment checks in addition to summative assessment (test of everything they learned) at the conclusion.

  1. Gain Attention: (Simple strategies) Show images or items you plan to discuss in lesson. Practice pronouncing them. Ask if they are familiar with them. (Complex strategy) Role-play activity with ESL teachers to demonstrate situation.
  2. State Objective: Write the objectives on the board and check them off as you cover them. This helps the learner know what has been covered. Simplify the language of the objectives, so students will understand them. Use drawings for beginning levels. See list of verbs for language objectives below.*
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning: Have you ever_____? Share experience. Tell me about ____.  Use brainstorming to illustrate information on white board. This will tap into their prior knowledge and ready their brain to receive related information for enhanced storage and retrieval.
  4. Present content: Direct instruction of lesson. Provide examples and nonexamples.
  5. Provide learner guidance: Accommodate learners as needed. Answer questions (consider ‘wait time’ across cultures may from a few seconds to minutes before a response). Guidance can be as simple as a head nod for accuracy or other total physical responses such as going up on your toes when a syllable is emphasized in a word.
  6. Elicit performance: Participants do the task individually, pairs, or whole group. Use gaming activities to make learning interactive (e.g., Hangman, Spelling Race, Mime for Guessing Game).
  7. Provide Feedback: Answer questions and assist participants one-on-one. Provide clarification verbally and in writing. Check workbook. Provide answer key and let them check their own answers in pairs.
  8. Assessment: Ask some basic recall and application questions. Ask higher order questions for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Assessment can be as simple as raising hands for polling questions. Alternative assessments include performance or production of artifact (drawing, essay, pamphlet).
  9. Enhance retention and transfer: 1) In one word, how can you use what you learned today in your life/work? 2) Use language strategies to practice what you learned today. Which strategies will you use? Recommend appropriate strategies listed in my blog post. 3) Review newly learned material at start of next class for retention.

I prepared this instructional sequence for novice ESL teachers to prepare their lessons. I’ll definitely be adding to it. I’d love feedback/input from my ESL/EFL peers!

*Language objective verbs (Excerpted from Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2012) focus on the language functions.

Listening – tell, role play, identify, review, label, describe, define, name, match listen, recognize, pint, show, follow

Speaking – name, discuss, rephrase, summarize, explain, tell, use

Reading – preview, read aloud, find compose, construct, create, design, elaborate, specific information, identify, skim, test, infer, predict, hypothesize, invent, design explore Evaluation – choose, decide, recommend, select,

Writing – list, summarize, ask and justify, defend, support answer questions, create sentences, state and justify opinions, write, contrast, classify, record

Vocabulary Development – define isolated words, define words in context, find words and construct meaning

References

Echevarria, J., Vogt. M., & Short, D. J. (2012) Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners: The SIOP® Model. Pearson Education, Inc.

Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.