My students and I have officially made it through the first trimester of Online AP Calculus AB! This has been my first experience designing and teaching a fully online course. Honestly, I could not have anticipated it going as well as it has so far. Teaching an online course is time intensive and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the workload myself. But, my students are doing an amazing job, and I am so, so proud of them! As well, I am enjoying the challenge to figure out ways to keep the collaboration and personalization alive in an online environment! Teaching this class is pushing me to grow in new and exciting ways.
One of the things I’m most grateful for having set up is a student-led google hangout requirement, which I talk about in detail here. I love seeing the students chat things out and hearing how they’re thinking and approaching problems. I definitely enjoy seeing my students talk to the camera a couple times a week and imagine that my students probably appreciate the same. After only a couple months teaching in an online environment, I would say that one of my top recommendations is to make sure that you build in opportunities for students to verbally chat things out. Discussion boards and instant messaging are awesome, but there is something about hearing my students talk that really helps me feel more connected to them as individuals.
I talked about the main tech tools that I am relying on in teaching Online AP Calculus in this post. I am still using all of the tools I mentioned there and have added several extra:
- Slack for real-time messaging & chat
- I use the Limnu integration to embed a collaborative whiteboard into our Slack channel. Limnu offers a free upgrade for educators upon completion of an application. It’s awesome and has some additional features such as chat & video conferencing built in!
- Google Hangout for synchronous video chats
- During our weekly class Google Hangout, I use Pear Deck to run things. This is the perfect way to have students interact with my presentation. Because students all have a Wacom tablet, I can ask drawing type questions to see (in real-time) students responding to complex calculus problems (see this post for more details on using Pear Deck & Wacom). This gives me instant insight into how students are approaching problems and how long it is taking them to work through things.
- Socratic to post detailed math solutions to a global forum
- EDpuzzle to monitor student’s progress in watching instructional videos
- CamScanner (iOS app) for students to take pictures of their completed textbook work and have the multiple images instantly combined into one PDF file. Students then submit this file to our LMS.
- Bamboo Slate to make handwritten notes digital with the press of a button and to project from notepad to computer.
I format my class so that work is due daily. In general, on days where students are learning a new section of material, they:
- watch a video in EDpuzzle that I have created
- they should have printed out a hard copy of the PPT outline ahead of time to take notes on the video as they are watching
- complete a textbook assignment
- I post my detailed, handwritten solutions for them to check their work with
- scan their textbook assignment with CamScanner
- dropbox their scanned assignment in our LMS (Haiku) so that I can give feedback as necessary
Before a quiz or test, I always build in 2 review days. This review consists of:
- a worksheet with AP-like questions related to the section (a mix of multiple choice and FRQs, as appropriate)
- using the topics list that I post for the unit (these are just headers with the main themes from the unit) to create a detailed review sheet/practice quiz. For each topic:
- students write any necessary notes (definition, vocab, etc)
- students write any necessary reminders (ie: mistakes they made on the homework that they need to review)
- students find 1-2 sample problems to redo and rewrite these questions on their review sheet
- scanning and submitting completed work from step 1 & step 2 (so that I can leave feedback)
- using the practice quiz they created in step 2 to take a mock assessment at home. I always recommend that students close all notes and time themselves to get truly “game ready” for their test!
The above is just a very brief outline of how class runs, but it’s been working out really well! Grades in my online class have consistently been higher than in my face-to-face class. Now, I’m not trying to imply anything by stating that, but I’m just sharing what I’ve experienced in this post. And I’m so excited with the progress and results I’ve seen so far! I’ll continue to work to improve things as we head into the second trimester of the course. I am enjoying this teaching experience more than I imagined I would have and will continue to post reflections and updates as the year progresses!