Using Announcements to Stay Connected During “Off” Weeks in Blended Classes

I don’t know about you, but I found that when I first started teaching blended classes, students treated the weeks that we didn’t meet as a class as “off” weeks — in other words, they didn’t do anything! When we came back to class the following week, people seemed disconnected and somewhat surprised that I had expected them to do some reading or some online activities during the previous week when we didn’t meet in the classroom (this, despite what I thought was pretty clear language to the contrary in the syllabus)

I didn’t like feeling disconnected, and wanted students to be able to refer back to something to remind themselves what they learned in class during the previous class meeting, as well as a fun way to remind them there was no “off” week — just an “online” week.

Here’s what I do. I use the Announcements feature in BlackBoard.  To memorialize what we learned during an in-person meeting, the announcement thanks them for coming to class, summarizes what we learned in class, and lets them know what’s coming up (what assignments are due, and what we’ll be doing during our next class meeting, as well as materials they need to review/bring to the next class meeting).

During the “online” week, I put together a simple GoAnimate video to remind them what they should be doing that week so they are prepared when we meet in person again.  Here’s an example:

Click here to view your notes Cool

Ok, I admit maybe I have too much fun with the GoAnimate videos.  But the students seem to like it, and they’re more engaged and better prepared.


One thought on “Using Announcements to Stay Connected During “Off” Weeks in Blended Classes

  1. I do something similar to you in this regard — After each of my in-person classes, I summarize the activities we discussed and/or completed along with announcing the forthcoming assignments the following week. In addition, I always add material for their information that complements and supplements the course. Of course, for my on-line courses the format is similar.

    Here is an example of my most recent summary announcement from April 22:

    Forthcoming class:

    Week 14 – April 29 – Comprehensive final review completed in groups or individually if you so choose; if you have missed 4 classes or more, you are required to take the comprehensive individually. I will randomly choose ANY 10 of the 15 exercises/questions on the comprehensive. See the guidelines for completing the comprehensive.
    click this link for the guidelines for taking the comprehensive….Guidelines for the comprehensive final(2).docx
    click this link for the comprehensive final…Final updated(5).doc

    a. Assignment: retake the critical and creative behavior assessment and compose a comparative analysis – to be handed in

    click this link for the critical/creative assessment…Critical and Creative Behaviors and Attitudes.doc(2).docx

    this is an example of a former student’s submission of a comparative analysis:

    My score was 280 whereas the first time I completed the assessment I scored 242. I improved in everything except independence which I stayed the same. My scores improved remarkably. I still need improvement in decreasing impulsive behavior, flexible thinking, being open minded and precise language. My lowest score was in precise language. I think I speak well but I need to pay more attention I guess.
    My goals were to think before I act. Do research when I am presented a problem and seriously listen to others ideas. I would also like to improve to consistent in behavior by the end of this class.
    I think I have improved on my goals very much but want to continue to strive to be better. My scores were much better this time. I have learned a lot from this course and am very excited to continue to use this knowledge in my life.

    ———————————–class activites discussed and/or completed on April 22
    1. returned graded papers
    2. brain teasers processed
    3. several students shared their observations relative to chapter 15
    4. presenters: Kyle V.- remodeling; Kyle T. – bow hunting; Brad – graphic design; Jose – barbering
    5. viewed several segments relative to Earth Day — ABC special
    6. groups – to discuss and finalalize the comprehensive final
    7. advertisements and the use of fallacies:

    ——————————————————————————–supplementary material

    Habits of mind —Thoughtfulness =tools of thought used habitually

    What? —What is it that I know?

    Reasons? —what are my reasons behind this idea? How do I know what I think I know? What is the evidence? Is it credible? What is the point of view?
    Assumptions? —what are the assumptions underlying what I claim to know?
    Inferences/Implications?— what inferences can be drawn from this statement? What are the implications? What difference does it make? What is its significance? Why do I think so? Who cares? Who said?
    True?—Is it true? Why do I think so? What else do I need to know or understand before deciding if it is true or not?

    Examples? —What would be a good example of this? How is this example connected with other ideas? Can I think of any examples of this in contemporary life?
    Counter examples — Can I think of counter examples? Can this idea be reconciled with this counter-example? Are there any contradictions?

    Socratic Seminar International—

    What follows are a series of Irrational beliefs or ANTS – automatic negative thinking – review each statement and reframe it as a positive belief or disputational belief. The way I think, determines the way I feel (happy, anxious, positive, or defeated), and the way I feel, determines how I act and react.

    1. It is too difficult
    2. I might fail and that would be awful, and I couldn’t stand that
    3. I will get even
    4. I will do it later
    5. I will do it after I do something else
    6. But I really don’t feel like doing it
    7. It is not like me
    8. Others may try to stop me or resist me
    9. I should not have to
    10. The time is not right
    11. I have to know for sure
    12. It is probably more trouble than it is worth
    13. The situation is bad
    14. If I succeed than what
    15. It is too scary
    16. What will other people think
    17. I can’t
    18. If I have to do it, I have to do it well, otherwise, why do it at all
    19. I might; maybe I will; probably will; Yes, I will, but…
    20. I am too busy
    21. I have to know why I procrastinate before I stop doing so

    “One great use of words is to fight your own thoughts” – Voltaire
    “You don’t have to believe every thought you have” Dr. Amen
    “Your thoughts often lie to you” Dr. Amen
    “The mind is a nice place to visit, but I would not want to live there” Freud

    Now, here are samples of re-framing your negative thoughts into positive thoughts

    1. It is difficult, but not too difficult; many of the challenges for me are hard to do, but not too hard
    2. True I might fail, but failure isn’t the worst of all possible failures
    3. Nonsense, I don’t want to imprison myself
    4. I better do it now because I will have other tasks to do later
    5. I will do what is better for me to do now, even if it is more difficult to do than something else I can do later
    6. I better do it anyway, once I get started it is usually easier to continue
    7. Just because I have not done it before doesn’t mean that I can’t start doing it now
    8. Others have a right to try and discourage me, but I could tolerate it and move on
    9. Where is the universal law that I shouldn’t have to go through the necessary steps to achieve the given result
    10. There really isn’t a perfect time
    11. Why do I need to have absolute certitude before I can take the first step
    12. There may be some disadvantages but let me see if there would be just as many if not more benefits
    13. My life is going well in many other ways, but maybe I can make them better
    14. If I do succeed I wouldn’t have to push myself to keep succeeding if I did not want to
    15. There are some risks and chances involved, but there is no gain without possible pain
    16. The opinion of others does not equal me as a person
    17. I won’t know my potential until I try
    18. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly
    19. Knock off the horse manure and make a full fledged commitment now
    20. Better I rearrange my priorities and put myself first and others a close second rather than the other way around
    21. Doing gets it done; knowledge is not the same as action; it is not what you know but what you do with what you have.

    An adaptation from Think Straight! Feel Great! By Bill Borcherdt, 1989.

    Regards, roger

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