Saturday, January 28, 2012

Student's thoughts on the "WSQ" for homework (Part 2 of 2 - Math Analysis 11th and 12th graders)

This is the second in a series of two posts about my students thoughts and responses to the first 2 1/2 weeks of using the "WSQ" for homework in our flipped class. Part 1 focused on the responses of my Algebra 1 students (Freshmen and Sophomores). This part will focus on the responses of my Math Analysis Honors students (Juniors & Seniors).

This is finals week at my school, so at the end of their final I had the students write their answers to a few questions. The first two questions were:

1. How is the WSQ process helpful to you as a student?
2. What would make the WSQ process MORE helpful to you as a student?

If you haven't read my post on what a WSQ is, be sure to check it out - "My Favorite WSQ"

I was very interested to read what my Math Analysis students had to say since we have been using an ever-changing model of the flipped classroom since about October. From October-December, their flipped classroom experience consisted simply of them watching the videos and taking the notes. There was no reflection, no deeper thinking, and no questioning. They would come back to class the next day and we would review the video before they got to work on practice problems. If students didn't watch the video, there was no really way to check, because they could have copied the notes and not really understood anything. In addition, the class time was very unstructured and unguided. I let students do pretty much whatever they wanted in terms of working individually, in partners, in groups, etc.

Now the WSQ model (in place for the last 2 1/2 weeks) provides more structure and accountability for the students. Not only is the WSQ a way to check their own understanding, but a way for me to check for understanding at the beginning of every class period. Lastly, in-class time is more structured with students having "WSQ groups" that they work with every day so they start really working well together. I make them turn their chairs around and work in groups because I want the conversation happening. If I see a student working by themselves, I ask them to join their group and get in with the conversations.

In addition, in Math Analysis, I have been focusing on "HOT" (Higher Order Thinking) questions based on Bloom's Taxonomy. The first few WSQs we did were full of very fact-based and recall questions that were pretty easy to answer. I showed the students Bloom's Taxonomy and the levels of questioning. I provided them with question starters for the different levels of "HOTness" (yes the kids find it funny to be talking about questions being HOT!). This helps our discussions to be more meaningful and the depth of my students' thinking to increase.

So, with that... here is what my Math Analysis students said was "MOST HELPFUL" about the WSQ process.

Period 5
-I get to organize my thoughts, and review what I understand
-It makes you think about the concept and how you can explain it
-It helps me recollect the lessons that I've learned before
-It helps me think about the lesson I just learned. Writing it down again makes it more understandable for me.
-It helps because I figure out ways to teach the material
-It makes me think about what I learned and put it in my own words so I understand it
-It helps me recap on the information I've learned and it helps me put the information into perspective
-Instead of just watching the video it makes us think about it by having us put it into words
-It has allowed me to further process the information as well as create a summary which allows me to quickly review the material for any reason
-Helps me keep track and lets me know I did learn
-It ensures that I watched the videos and that I understand it
-It reassures me that I know and understand how to do the concept
-It tests if we actually understood what was in the video

Period 6
-Being able to put what I learned in words. Also if someone asked me to explain to them a concept I would be able to
-I am able to explain a concept myself
-It keeps me on track to watch AND know what I'm learning
-I can go back to the WSQ and read it if I don't understand something
-It makes me think about the concept more
-It helps me organize my ideas
-It helps me memorize the steps involved in each concept
-You do more than just listen you have to understand what you saw
-It makes us ask questions and helps to see other views
-Instead of mindlessly doing the math I can actually think about it and understand it more in words not just numbers
-It forces us to pay attention when otherwise we would not focus as much
-Communicating more with my partners and understanding the concept more.
-It gets me thinking about what I just watched instead of just blowing it off
-Allows students to share their ideas in class
-Makes me pay more attention to the videos

Overall, the students really think the WSQ's are very helpful. I love that so many of them said it made them think (hence why I kept bolding that word!). Most of their answers to question #2 (What would make the WSQ's MORE HELPFUL to you as a student) said something to the sort of "they are already very helpful, I can't think of anything to change". This was nice to hear that the students are getting something from doing the assignment and that even though I hear some of these kids complain on a daily basis about having to write, they do feel it benefits them.

It could be more helpful if we could do some extra problems; Leave one blank from the video so we could do an example or talk about how to solve it Great idea, similar to what my Algebra 1 students requested. I am starting to do that, but still working out that problem at the end of the video. (I tell the students to pause the video, try it, and then check back in with me). I know that this method means some students won't really try it on their own and will just copy the answer again, but I am trying to put the learning in their hands and hopefully they will soon realize how to act in a way that benefits them the most and helps them understand more.

Have longer discussions on our WSQs with our group and If we could share our WSQ to more people Another great idea and one of my goals as we head into the 2nd semester. I would only like to have whole-class discussions once a week or even once a unit (2-3 weeks). Yes, there will always be things we need to clarify or review as a whole class, but the whole WSQ discussion I want to happen in small groups so there is more student-talking and less teacher-talking.

If we could be offered to use WSQs on tests Interesting thought and one I might consider for certain units, but definitely not all. There are just some things I feel students should understand to the point of automaticity and they shouldn't need notes to know it.

If we added an answer portion after the question We always do answer the questions, we just don't have students write the answers down. That's a great idea and I think I would like to see it happening in class as groups are discussing it.

If you gave us specific questions as well Earlier in the year, I would have "guiding questions" that went along with several concepts or units that I would want students to be able to answer without even having to think. That is something that is under development but would be a good resource to have. I don't want to add one more thing to the WSQ because I think the process right now is very student-driven and everything comes from their mind and their understanding of the concept rather than me telling them exactly what to take from it. I can do that in class - I want to see what they come up with first. I do think I will start working on the "guiding questions" for each unit, though.

Start letting us grade each other's WSQs
Another great idea. Right now, we have graded a few each day as a class and then students have self-evaluated their own WSQs. Adding in the change of grading each others would add another dimension to it and could easily happen in groups as they are discussing.

Questions for YOU (let's discuss in the comments!)
1. Based on what you have read about the WSQ process, what do you think seems to be the MOST HELPFUL part?

2. Based on what you have read about the WSQ process, what ideas do you have to make it MORE HELPFUL to our students.

3. Have you used something similar to the WSQ in your classroom? If so, what does it look like for you and how has it been working?

4. What do you do to keep students motivated and on track in your flipped classroom, as well as how do you hold them accountable for their work?

To end, a couple of Math Analysis WSQs as examples...

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