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Teaching on the Education Frontier: Instructional Strategies for Online and Blended Classrooms Grades 5-12

Kristin Kipp, Susan Patrick (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-1-118-44977-6
256 pages
June 2013, Jossey-Bass
Teaching on the Education Frontier: Instructional Strategies for Online and Blended Classrooms Grades 5-12 (1118449770) cover image


A groundbreaking guide to facilitating online and blended courses

This comprehensive resource offers teachers in grades K-12 a hands-on guide to the rapidly growing field of online and blended teaching. With clear examples and explanations, Kristin Kipp shows how to structure online and blended courses for student engagement, build relationships with online students, facilitate discussion boards, collaborate online, design online assessments, and much more.

  • Shows how to create a successful online or blended classroom
  • Illustrates the essential differences between face-to-face instruction and online teaching
  • Foreword by Susan Patrick of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning

This is an essential handbook for learning how to teach online and improve student achievement.

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Table of Contents

About This Book xi

About the Author xv

Foreword xvii
Susan Patrick

Introduction xix

1 The Many Variables of Online and Blended Teaching 1

Self-Paced versus Cohort Approach 3

Full-Time versus Part-Time Online Students 5

Blended versus Fully Online Courses 6

Create-Your-Own versus a Purchased Curriculum 8

Teacher as Course Author and Organizer versus Teacher as Facilitator Only 10

Teacher Performance (and Perhaps Pay) Based on Course Completion versus Based on Rubric or Evaluation Systems 12

What Kind of Online or Blended Teaching Model Is Right for You? 13

2 Course Philosophy 17

Connect to Content 18

Connect with Other Students 21

Connect with the Teacher 23

Connecting on All Three Fronts 24

3 Preparing to Teach an Online Course 27

Course Organization 28

Fleshing Out the Course Information Button 30

Be Vocal, an Acronym for Teacher Success 34

AWord to theWise 35

4 Building Relationships with Students 37

Starting at the Beginning 38

Continuing the Relationship 42

Hosting Face-to-Face Events 46

Building an Online Persona 46

5 Using Announcements Effectively 49

Types of Announcements 50

Practical Considerations in Using Announcements 55

Incorporating Voice Elements into Announcements 58

6 Discussion Board Strategies and Facilitation 61

Discussion Board Basics 63

Asking Quality Questions 64

Rubrics and Grading 66

Teaching Students to Respond in Ways That Keep the Discussion Moving 70

Teaching Discussion Board Etiquette 72

How Much to Be Involved 73

Types of Posts 73

Handing over the Reins for Student-Led Discussions 75

7 Teaching Synchronous Sessions 77

Basic Capabilities of Synchronous Tools 78

Communication Tools: Microphone, Video, Chat, and Polling 79

Presentation Tools: Whiteboard, Screen Sharing, and File Sharing 81

Time Considerations 82

Making Up Missed Sessions 83

Building a Routine 84

Activity Ideas 85

8 Creating and Modifying Assignments 89

Defining a Good Assignment 90

Creating Un-Googleable Assignments 92

Keeping Your Course Current 93

Using the Platform to Create Unique Experiences 94

9 Collaborating in Online Courses 97

Why Collaboration Is Essential 97

Wikis 97

Blogs 99

Google Docs 99

E-portfolios 101

Collaborative Groups 101

Staying Involved 102

10 Differentiating Assignments 105

What Is Differentiation? 105

Creating Choice within Assignments 107

Customized Path through a Session or Unit 111

Critical Paths 111

Differentiating for Special Needs Students 113

11 Grading and Feedback 117

Grading in a Virtual Space 117

Understanding the Basics 118

Canned Comments and Personalizing Feedback 121

Rubric Grading 127

Word Options for Grading Student Work 129

File Management 130

12 Accessibility, Communication, and Office Hours 135

Communicating with Digital Natives: Speaking Their Language 135

Office Hours and Tutoring 137

Communication Methods 139

Choosing Your Communication Method Based on Message 147

13 Time Management and Routines 151

Making the Transition 151

Creating a Weekly Routine 152

Top-Three Strategy 152

Managing the E-mail Monster 153

Using Adaptive Release 155

Creating a Work-Life Balance 155

14 Strategies for Blended Learning 159

Toward a New Way of Learning 159

Basic Blended Learning Models 160

Learning Variables on a Digital Scale 161

Example Activities for a Blended Environment 163

Designing Mixed Assignments 164

Using Online Tools to Make the Face-to-Face Classroom More Efficient 165

Choosing Your Tools 165

15 Training to Teach Online 169

The Process of Becoming an Online Teacher 169

Taking an Online Course 170

Online Training Courses and Professional Development Books 170

Teaching Part-Time Online 171

Taking on More Advanced Roles 172

What to Expect During the Transition 172

Finding a Mentor or Mentor Community 172

Avoiding Isolation and Connecting with Other Online Teachers 173

A iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses 177

B Sample Syllabus 185

C iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching 193

D Frequently Asked Questions 209

References 213

Resources 215

Glossary 221

Acknowledgments 223

Index 225

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Author Information

Kristin Kipp, a classroom teacher and instructional coach, was the Colorado Online Teacher of the Year for 2010 and the National Online Teacher of the Year for 2011. She has been teaching online and blended courses since 2007 and she chronicles her experiences on her blog, the Education Frontier, (www.educationfrontier.org) She also consults and does webinar and speaking engagements around the country.

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Press Release

July 02, 2013
Teaching on the Education Frontier: Instructional Strategies for Online and Blended Classrooms

Our education system is rapidly changing.  The days when a typical middle and high school classroom meant a 1 to 25 teacher to student ratio, a blackboard and lecture are long gone.  Today, online and blended learning are taking over the K-12 education system faster than most teachers can keep up, and National Online Teacher of the Year, Kristen Kipp, is here to help.  

TEACHING ON THE EDUCATION FRONTIERInstructional Strategies for Online and Blended Classrooms (Jossey-Bass; a Wiley brand; $29.95; Paper; ISBN: 9781118449776; July 2013) provides teachers with an opportunity to learn how to effectively teach online classes for any subject in grades 5-12.  Twenty-seven states, as well as Washington, DC, have statewide full-time online schools and 38 states have state virtual schools or state-led online initiatives. By 2020, it is projected that 50% of all high school courses will be taught online, and many more will include some kind of blended learning

Even the best teachers need help when it comes to teaching in an online environment.  With TEACHING ON THE EDUCATION FRONTIER, teachers will now be able to master best practices for online education, including how to:


  • Structure an Online Course for Student Engagement
  • Build Relationships with Virtual Students
  • Develop Discussion Board Strategies
  • Collaborate with other Teachers Online
  • Provide In-Depth, Meaningful Feedback
  • Differentiate Assignments in an Online Environment
  • Design Online Assessments
  • And Much More

Each chapter offers clear explanations and examples of each underlying topic which will lead to a better understanding of the realities of online teaching.  TEACHING ON THE EDUCATION FRONTIERgives teachers what they need to confidently deliver a quality online education to their students.

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