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Lets get started ... review of previous work

If you are joining the group late or if you know people still wishing to join but they have not, please know that this is a slow and gentle start up to allow for stragglers to catch up quickly and join us with the real exciting work in a few weeks. 

As we dive into April, I will start posting weekly goals and updates and reviews of what we have done. Everyone has crazy schedules at times, and we can all respect the need for flexibility. It is still important for people to try to carve out a little time to really get into this work so that we can produce high quality results that will benefit your classrooms and the classrooms across the country. I will not be chasing after people with a stick and I hope I don't have to beg too much smiley. The end result will be that the more we can engage in the explorations, the more we can create and offer good resources to use. 

To get everyone up to date, it would be good to look over the summary of the last microgroup's work. By April 8th (a week from this Saturday), I would like everyone to attempt the following items and share your thoughts in discussion under this post. Please interact with the thoughts of others as you see similarities or differences. 

  1. Organization of Resources: The group established a list of categories to organize resources found. Link to their categories here. This list of categories differs quite a bit from organization structures found in OER Commons, or other resource sites. Share your thoughts when you think about comparing or contrasting the different ways sites categorize online resources. Does one system work best for you when you are looking for a resource? Have you experienced frustrations when you go to look for a type of resource in the past? In short, how do you want to find the resources you need or wish to explore in your classroom? Does anyone out there come close to getting it right for your needs?
  2. Evaluations: Here is a link to a summary of the previous microgroup's work. On page 2 there are a list of tools that were evaluated by two or more people. If you have used any of these tools, it may be helpful for you to read through the evaluation and think about your experiences. Were they similar or different? In what ways? Look at any of the evaluation sheets for those tools listed. Are there pieces of the evaluation that seem much more important to you? Are there parts of the evaluation you care less about? Share your reactions if an administrator printed these evaluations out and asked you to pick 3 of these things to try in the next year. 

Please remember that the focus is on sharing thoughts and discussion. Please read all comments shared as individual perspectives that may differ for many reasons from what you feel. Be sure to share your feelings and experiences because all of us can learn much from your perspective!

Keep recruiting for the group if you can. More people equates to more input which leads to a richer discussion and more tools peer evaluated in the project!

As always, if you have any questions, please post them here or if you rather you can privately email me at ohgeer@gmail.com

Comments

Edward Latham's picture

I am happy to see that many people have read the post I shared a week or so ago and hopefully most of those viewing have had a chance to look over the links to the work done in the previous micro-group. 

Unfortunately, it does not appear that anyone has had time to share their thoughts to the prompts offered yet. I know COABE may have accounted for a bit of a distraction and some of you may still be recovering from all that fun in the sun in Florida. I wish I could have been there !

For those of you reading this in email digest, I have included the two prompts so that you may be thinking about how you feel about each. Then when you can get some time, you can hopefully share a few thoughts that come to mind. 

  1. Organization of Resources: The group established a list of categories to organize resources found. Link to their categories here. This list of categories differs quite a bit from organization structures found in OER Commons, or other resource sites. Share your thoughts when you think about comparing or contrasting the different ways sites categorize online resources. Does one system work best for you when you are looking for a resource? Have you experienced frustrations when you go to look for a type of resource in the past? In short, how do you want to find the resources you need or wish to explore in your classroom? Does anyone out there come close to getting it right for your needs?
  2. Evaluations: Here is a link to a summary of the previous microgroup's work. On page 2 there are a list of tools that were evaluated by two or more people. If you have used any of these tools, it may be helpful for you to read through the evaluation and think about your experiences. Were they similar or different? In what ways? Look at any of the evaluation sheets for those tools listed. Are there pieces of the evaluation that seem much more important to you? Are there parts of the evaluation you care less about? Share your reactions if an administrator printed these evaluations out and asked you to pick 3 of these things to try in the next year. 

This Sunday I hope to have another update for out next steps. Please remember that it's better to be late than never! It is important to hear the diverse thoughts, ideas, perspectives and experiences of the many talented individuals we have in this group. 

Edward Latham's picture

Good day all. Lacking any discussion to the prompts offered a couple times this last week and a half, I offer the following summary of a similar discussion last year. Please offer any thoughts that this summary may trigger. 

When we explored the many different online sites that house resources we noticed there were some trends. 

  1. Most of the sites organized content by grade level. This made it very difficult to find materials for a few reasons. Primarily, there is a wide variance of what teachers consider appropriate for any given grade. Not all states use the same standards and many of the resources present on sites was put there before standards were really a focal point. Even within the standards, at the upper grades there are numbers of grade level years clumped together. Additionally, there was a complication in figuring out how Adult Education fit into this grade level organization. After contacting a few sites, some added in an Adult Ed tag in their sorting but it was not apparent how that tag really filtered the content and requests for clarification were not fulfilled. 
  2. Many of the resource sites available have little to no quality control measures. A large portion of sites do not have any feedback mechanism. Even those sites that have some sort of feedback system caused concern because only a few ratings existed on any resource and the ratings offered did not seem accurate or relevant in many cases. Quality control of what is out there seemed to be a concerning issue. 

From the categorization discussion, it was decided that the materials we evaluate might best be organized by the function of the resource. If something helped students present information learned, the resource would be placed in "Presentation and Expression of Learning" category. You can see the list of categories here if you have not seen them yet. Feedback is always welcome!

To the second point, evaluations, it is hard for me to comment much on this one because I was part of the authorship. Our team collaborated on the creation of the evaluation criteria and form (Link for your review if you wish). 

My personal perspective on the evaluation form is that many of the criteria seemed to offer important information for a teacher looking for a resource. There was one area I did not feel was as effective. The Job Readiness Skills and the General Skills categories did not seem to produce much variance in the evaluation data. I would ask any of you to please look over the evaluations from last year with a focus on evaluation parts that just seemed to have the same materials for every resource. If a criteria is simply going to produce the same data for every resource, it probably can be removed. Are there criteria in our evaluation form that can/should be removed? Are we missing a critical criteria you would like to see added?

Your thoughts and perspectives are valuable and appreciated. I will be starting up a thread for our next week's work shortly and hope next week's topic is more engaging for you and solicits more participation from the group. 
 

Jana Harper's picture

I realize I'm late to the game, but (insert excuse here).  I just reviewed the evaluation tools and overall am impressed and think it will be easy to use.  My concern is, as you pointed out, is with the Job Readiness and General Skills.  For me, I'm quite comfortable assigning different *language* skills to any tool/resource since that's my niche as an ESL teacher.  I can use the *basic* skill indicators just fine.  But Job Readiness and the skills listed under "General" are more ambiguous to me.  What requires "persistence", let's say, is going to be different for different people.  And don't all of the resources require some level of self-management to use?  And some level of independent learning?  Same for focus, confidence, organization, etc.  I just don't know that I could differentiate what makes one resource better at promoting some of these skills than others.

Teamwork, on the other hand, is very clear to me.  I can readily identify which tasks/tools will require teamwork.  Maybe others feel the same?

Edward Latham's picture

Thank you Jana for sharing your perspective. I have very similar thoughts when looking at the Job Readiness and General Skills sections. I remember filling out evaluations and dreading those two items because I could never differentiate between choices that felt very ambiguous or too general in nature. 

Any suggestions on how hold on to Teamwork? Possibly we could slide it up to Basic Skills as it does seem a basic skill that will be used in most any circumstance? 

Are there any other items in Job Readiness or General Skills we feel would be good to save. Please provide your rational, because my finger is hovering over the delete key and I don't know how long I can hold it up like that :) 

Thank you again, Jana, for sharing your thoughts. It would be great to hear from others to get their perspectives!

 

Jana Harper's picture

Just wondering if there's a reason that there isn't a listening/speaking category.  Can we add one?  It's a very functional category type for us ESL folks.  

I actually thought I saw L/S somewhere earlier but can't seem to find it again, so if it's there and I'm just missing it, can you direct me?  Thanks!

Edward Latham's picture

Jana and all, when I look over the sub categories I do see some things that might fit or be modified easily to fit. Please let me know what you think about the following:

Reading and Writing Learning - C. Speech to Text: Perhaps we can just truncate this to Speech? We can include a little text blurb after it like, "Speech to text, tools that help English Language Learners build verbal skills,...). I am ignorant of what specific speech tools or resources might fight in here though. 

Presentation and Expressions of Learning - C Audio Creation and editing: This category may also include some ELL application because it would include  tools that allow students to record and mix spoken word with sounds

For listening, I would again claim some ignorance of what tools and resources might be available. Perhaps this might work: Communication - Combine F Video Conferencing and G Telephone Conferencing into one category of Digital Communications (Skype, Google Hangout, Discord, Ventrillo, Teamspeak...) "Tools that allow people to communicate verbally with or without visual over distances with other people"?

I agree that Listening and Speaking are vital components. If you have specific tools or resources that you wonder where they might fit, drop a quick description and maybe a link in this thread and we can all check those resources out and see if they fit somewhere or if we need a new sub category somewhere. Please let me know what you think about the suggestions above or offer other suggestions you might have.