In this module, you will create the second of three required essays. The Future Learning Goals Essay asks you to think about how you will continue to learn and grow after your master’s program is over. Please keep in mind that we will be starting mid-semester feedback throughout this week and the next – if you haven’t yet, please read over our FAQ on mid-semester feedback to learn more about what it is and how you can prepare. It is therefore possible that we look at your portfolio before this essay is finished.
Also, remember the tech check requirement – now might be a good time to take care of it! You need to complete your Tech Check before the end of Module 10.
Things to Keep in Mind – As you design your work, keep the following in mind:
- Scope – While we describe this assignment as an essay, it’s really more than that. We ask you to create a 750-word Future Learning Goals “guiding document” that summarizes and represents your plans to continue acquiring the vast knowledge you need to excel in your professional practice.
- The Rubric – Make sure that you align your future learning goals essay to our standards, rubric, and common issues for Future Learning Goals Essay. Which are always available at the bottom of every assignment page under “Elaboration”.
- A Work in Progress – you do not have to finalize your essay now, as the goal in this course is always to get something working first, and continue to refine it based on feedback.
- Need Inspiration? – Consider a few examples of future learning goals essays from past semesters, including: Lauren Villaluz, Destiny Moore, Megan Hess, and Sarah Lipphardt.
Make your Future Learning Goals Essay – make a 750 word essay in the following steps:
- Make your Introduction – Your essay should tell a coherent and compelling story about the knowledge you need to excel in the future. Your first paragraph should broadly outline your future goals and plans, and introduce the paragraphs described below. You should also explain (in detail) how you decided on the goals and resources that you discuss in the essay. Chances are that you didn’t just pull them out of a hat — tell us some about how these specific goals fit in with the larger picture that you’ve been telling us about.
Identify Three Specific Topics for Future Study – In the main part of your essay identify three specific topics or areas of focus that you want to learn about in the future. These topics could be technical skills, such as learning HTML and CSS. They could also be broader themes, such as leadership in education, or integrating technology into a specific content area, such as mathematics.
You should dedicate at least one paragraph to each of the three topics; that paragraph should introduce the topic, describe why you chose that topic, and identify (and link to!) at least one resource (a blog, a class, a video, etc.) that you plan to use to help you to learn about and master that topic.
- Wrapping it Up – As you finish, make an effort to make this entire essay coherent and compelling — consider adding transitions to these paragraphs that show how they relate to each other and a conclusion that summarizes what you’re trying to accomplish overall and how these topics will help you with that. Please also remember that you’re shooting for 750 words. We don’t say that as an invitation to be wordy but as a reminder that we’re genuinely interested in your plans for the future. Please tell us about them!
- Video Reflection and Feedback – You know what to do by now. Post a video reflection that starts with your first & last names, talks about your work, and add two pieces of feedback, using this fligrid. Remember that posting good reflections and providing feedback is is an important part of this course – Full posting description and rubrics are below in “Elaboration” if you would like more guidance.
- Reminder – Your 2nd Piece of Flair is Due by Module 8 – Your second piece of flair is due at the end of Module 8, turn it in anytime by clicking on the pieces of flair link and following the instructions.
Each assignment in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. There are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific assignments in this module will count towards your grade as follows:
- (Up to 1 point) – Creating a Future Learning Goals Essay and posting the Link in Flipgrid on your video reflection
- (Coming up) – The quality of your video reflections and video feedback in this module will be self-accessed (with some guidance) in Module 12. There, in Module 12 you will give yourself between 0 and 5 points for your efforts across Modules 6 through 11.
- (Coming up) – Your have to complete a tech check sometime before the end of module 10. This requirement is worth 2 points, and explained in “Elaboration below”.
As you design your future learning goals essay, please use the following standards of excellence to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving feedback on for this assignment. These standards form the basis of our full grading rubric, on which we base our end-of-semester assessment of portfolios.
- Title – Does your essay have an expressive title?
- Introductory Paragraph – Do the introductory paragraphs outline future goals and plans and the criteria, guidelines, or strategies used to determine the areas of focus for the essay?
- Compelling Narrative – Does the essay tell a coherent and compelling story about the knowledge you need to excel in the future? Does it effectively use text (and possibly other media) to do so?
- Topics and Resources – Do you include three distinct topics with fully-functioning links to corresponding resources?
- Word Count Is your essay about 750 words?
- Avoid Jargon – Remember that people outside your program or workplace might not understand all the terms and acronyms you use. It’s always a good idea to “spell out” an acronym the first time you use it, and you should also consider defining terms that aren’t commonly used.
- Advance organizers – Think about adding an “advance organizer”— a sentence or two to introduce and summarize these goals—before writing about them in more detail.
- Add context – Your goals are your own, but they fit into a larger context—try to relate these goals to the school where you teach or the world that you live in.
- Add a Link to a PDF – Think about adding a link to a PDF copy on this page so that viewers have the opportunity to read your essay in an alternative format (and this makes for easier printing if someone wanted to print your essay).
- Avoid PDF only access – An additional link to a PDF is great, but it cannot replace a web-page version of your essay. If you’re going to do one format, put your essay on a webpage. If you want to go that extra step, add an additional option for a PDF (not a replacement for a webpage)
In the Capstone Course, we believe in the power of peer feedback. Reynolds (2009) argued that students’ peers are capable of pointing out things that would have never occurred to their instructors, and we’ve repeatedly found that to be true as we’ve taught this class! However, we also know that the opposite is true: While we do our best to make our expectations and grading process clear to everyone during peer feedback, we also know that sometimes there’s no substitute for having the instructor look over your work. We’ve done our best to follow your progress thus far in the course, but mid-semester feedback is our time to give you some more thorough feedback.
Starting in Module 7, we will go through your whole portfolio, evaluate the pages according to the descriptions and rubrics that we’ve shared with you, and give you detailed feedback at least through the Showcase. If possible, we’ll also look over anything else you’ve completed by the time we get to your portfolio. You will not receive a grade based off of your mid-semester feedback. This is formative assessment. As we explained at the beginning of the semester, we believe strongly that this course should be about starting with just “something” and improving it as you go along, and we feel that grading your work at this stage of the course would contradict that philosophy. However, we will be thorough and very detailed as we evaluate the elements of your portfolio as they currently exist, and we will be using the same rubrics that we use to grade your portfolios at the end of the semester. Please keep in mind that this is not necessarily a complete and exhaustive list of ways to improve, just a round of feedback.
We want to use mid-semester feedback to make it clear what our expectations are and what you may still need to do to meet those expectations. So, please take mid-semester feedback seriously! There are two main ways you can do this:
- Be as close to complete as possible: The more you have done, the more we can evaluate. It’s not the end of the world if you still have a few things to add to your Showcase (after all, it won’t count against your grade), but it does give us fewer opportunities to guide your thinking and your work.
- Take our feedback to heart: This is ultimately your portfolio, and we hope that you will truly make it yours, even if that means tossing out some of our requirements once the course is done. However, since this is your final project for an entire master’s program, we do have some specific expectations about what should be included and how it should be done. Please take our evaluation and feedback seriously—it will help all of us (especially you!) save some time and effort at the end of the semester.
In Module 9, we’ll ask you to read over your mid-semester feedback and reflect on it.
Reynolds, A. (2009). Why every student needs critical friends. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 54-57.
When you post and reply in this course, please pay attention to the following guidelines. These are guidelines also form the basis for the rubric used to grade your discussion contribution.
What makes for a good post?
It depends on the specific assignment, but the following generally apply:
- Pay attention to the prompts
- Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you.
- Show us what you’re thinking, and why you’re thinking it.
- When sharing your own work, point to some places where people who respond to you might be most helpful in giving you feedback.
What makes for a good feedback?
Good feedback is important in all design activities, including the design of portfolios. It is especially important in this class. When giving feedback, keep in mind that good feedback is:
- Thorough – Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you. Try to cover as many aspects of the assignment that you can – do not focus on only one thing. Also, don’t try to cover too much, because each point you make should have some details (see next point).
- Specific – Avoid generalities like “you had a good design”, and instead be more specific like “You have a thoughtful use of headers that are easy to read, clear, and helps to break up text into more manageable pieces.”
- Critical – Point out what needs improving. Even if you’re looking at the best piece of work, you can give the author something to think about working towards or thinking about differently
- Supportive – Point out what is working well. Even the earliest of drafts is the start of something good that can be highlighted as a success
Finding ways to meet face-to-face in an online class can be tough, but we’ve found that it’s worth it, especially for your exhibition in Module 11. To make exhibitions go smoothly and to give you some additional opportunities for face-to-face feedback, we require you to check out the Capstone Coffeehouse technology at least once by the end of Module 10. In short, the Capstone Coffeehouse is Zoom – the video conferencing software we use in this course.
You can find some general information on using the Capstone Coffeehouse here. To fulfill this requirement (and get your points), you must specifically do four things:
- Check video: Make sure that your webcam is working and that you (and others) show up on the screen when you join the Coffeehouse. This should happen automatically.
- Check audio: Make sure that you can hear other people in the Coffeehouse and that they can hear you. Zoom, the Coffeehouse technology, should ask you for permission to use your speakers and microphone once you join. In a few cases, though, this takes a little fiddling to get it to work properly.
- Check chat: Make sure that you know how to open the chat window in Zoom (the Coffeehouse technology) and that you can read and write messages properly. If you’re using the Zoom desktop client, the Chat button should appear at the bottom of the Zoom window.
- Check a page: You (and each of your classmates) should take a few minutes to share a page that you’ve recently completed. If possible, make this a Piece of Flair page, but you really have free range on what you’d like to look at. Have some specific questions and concerns in mind: What are you trying to accomplish with this page? What are you still struggling with? This is a great chance to “practice” for the end-of-semester exhibitions and to get some more face-to-face feedback, which capstone students consistently point to as one their most valuable experiences.
For most people, the Tech Check is a quick and easy assignment, but problems do occasionally occur. If you are experiencing frustration with the Tech Check, keep in mind that it’s better to experience this during the Tech Check than during the exhibition! Also, please remember what you had to do to get past the difficult spots, just in case they come up again.
There are two ways to complete the Tech Check: through office hours or with a classmate.
Office hours (if you prefer to talk to instructors)
In addition to talking about your portfolio during an office hours session, you can carry out the Tech Check with the instructor who is running office hours. Just mention that you’d like to take care of your Tech Check, and she or he will walk you through the steps and make sure to give you the points!
Classmate (if you prefer to talk to your fellow educators)
The great thing about the Coffeehouse technology is that it is available 24/7. If one of the office hours sessions doesn’t work for you or you would prefer to meet with a classmate instead, you can schedule a time to meet with a classmate in the Coffeehouse and take care of the Tech Check on your own. Walk through the four specific steps listed above, and once you’ve made sure that everything works for all of you, send us an email to let us know that you took care of everything. While this should be a short email, please include enough detail that we know who you worked with and that you walked through all four steps together.
In this deliberately broad assignment, we ask you to look to your future as a lifelong learner and write a “projective” essay about how your experiences in this master’s program have influenced your approach to lifelong learning and how you envision yourself continuing to learn. Life and learning continue beyond the master’s program—in this time of rapid technological change and globalization, how will you keep learning and growing as an educator? Formal professional development workshops may very well be a part of your personal learning plan, but they may not be enough, so consider what other face-to-face and online resources you have at your disposal as you manage your professional development and lifelong learning.
One important requirement is to focus on specific future goals, plans, and associated resources for after the program. Please share with us some of the specifics that you have in mind—if there is a book you want to read, a topic you want to explore, or a class (formal or informal) you want to take, we want you to have an opportunity to express those here.