I’m baaaaack….

I know I haven’t written much on this blog for a very long time, and I apologize for that. Life is very busy! For that reason, I thought I might explain just exactly what I have been doing in the field of online education.

First of all, you should know that I hold a M.A.Ed. in Adult Education and Distance Learning. I completed the entire program from University of Phoenix online, so I understand the student position in online classrooms, as well as the instructor position.

Currently, I instruct critical reading and writing classes for gifted and talented elementary students at the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University (grades 2-12, using Moodle), high school writing classes at Time4Writing (where I also develop high school classes, in Moodle), and elementary, advanced writing classes at Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. The classes I teach at Johns Hopkins are asynchronous and include working in a Moodle environment. The work includes planning, teaching, tutoring and student tracking, including weekly assessments. The students in this division range in grade levels from 2-5, while students in the writing classes are grades 5-12, and all students are gifted and talented, so the curriculum is structured at middle to college level. At Time4Writing (Moodle), I teach all the high school writing classes; I also develop new high school classes and work on special projects for Time4Learning, the parent company. I developed the classes I teach at Northwestern, and they are geared toward gifted and talented 3rd – 5th graders, which means a middle school level curriculum. Finally, I do private tutoring via email for elementary and secondary students.

Besides working with elementary and secondary students, I also teach online classes for adults at Performance Learning Systems where I am certified to teach “Developing 21st Century Literacy Skills” and “Foundations of Literacy: Beginning Reading.” I also work as an SAT essay scorer for Pearson, and have done so since the fall of 2007.

My most recent endeavor is training to be a facilitator for Quality Matters, in the G6-12 program. Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses, and I will begin training for them in June. I have previously reviewed online courses for Colorado Online Learning.

For those of you who don’t know me, I have been teaching online exclusively since 2005. Some of my previous online experience includes being an instructor for online high school English classes for both a private school, Advantages Online Private School (using Apex curriculum) and a public school, Texas Virtual School (using Blackboard-classes based on iNACOL standards). In addition, I was an e-structor with Smarthinking, where I worked in an online writing lab to assist high school through doctoral students with their writing. I also taught AP English Language and Composition to at-risk high school students at Aventa Learning, as well as honors and regular high school English classes that I developed, as well as taught, at Excel High School.

At Advantages Online Private School, I was the English department head, and I also taught all honors and regular English classes for grades 6-12. I taught AP Language and Composition classes to at-risk kids for Aventa Learning; I also developed and taught seven English classes at Excel High School.

Prior to my online work, I taught writing exclusively for nine years in a brick and mortar fifth grade (100+ students each year); three years prior to that, I was in a self-contained classroom, where I taught all fifth grade subjects. During my time as a fifth grade face to face teacher, I also worked as a teaching mentor for student teachers, a position that involved instruction in methods of teaching, development of course materials, regular conferences with the students’ university supervisors and ongoing evaluation of the student teachers. In addition, I served as a mentor teacher for veteran teachers who were new to the district.  This involved instructing the new teachers in district policies and procedures, scheduling meetings and remaining in constant availability for coaching and support.

My interest in teaching online grew out of my classroom experience of utilizing technology to teach writing at the elementary level. I was in a fifth grade public school classroom for twelve years.  For nine of those twelve years, I taught writing exclusively to 100+ fifth graders.  My students ranged from remedial to gifted, and all ranges in between.  When technology first presented itself, I saw a new avenue for my writing classes, and as the writing teacher for the school, I required that my students use computers for writing and turning in notes and reports, communicating with one another and with me, conducting web research, and creating special presentations (such as with Publisher or PowerPoint). I also founded and sponsored a school newspaper, published entirely by fifth graders in my writing classes.  The newspaper was run like a regular business; the students applied for positions on the newspaper staff, and were required to undergo an interview with me and my colleague, the reading teacher.  We “hired” the editor and assistant editor, and allowed them to manage the “reporters.” I sponsored the newspaper for six years.  The students sold their newspapers for anywhere from a dime to a quarter, and always earned enough to pay for paper and ink and have enough left over for a party at the end of the year.

Running the newspaper was one of the most satisfying experiences for me as a teacher; another has been guiding students on an individual basis, as I do with all of my writing students. I believe one-on-one interaction is essential to students’ development as writers.  I may offer suggestions for correction and revision, but I leave the actual corrections and revisions up to the student. Many parents have commended me for my “insightful, guiding, gentle, encouraging and positive feedback” which they believe “inspired” their student; that’s how I achieved the Online Teaching Excellence Award at Johns Hopkins in 2007, and I have been nominated every year since then. Many parents of my former students specifically request me to teach their younger siblings.

Well, there you have it! As I said, life is busy! I am looking forward to a busy summer as well, but I am planning to set aside some time to travel to Indiana to enjoy some quality time with my 93-year-old father

and my beautiful daughter and her family. I can’t wait to hug my grandkids!!!

Well, I know I’ve said it before, but I will try not to be so long between posts.

Have a great one!

Viki

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One thought on “I’m baaaaack….

  1. I love the pictures! It’s great to incorporate those into your blog- I’ll have to take that tip away. We should get together and collaborate on a course as I, too, teach for Northwestern University’s CTD. I primarily teach English and humanities electives so I’m sure we could put something phenomenal together.

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