Friday, February 24, 2012

Reflections on Week 4 (smooth sailing with a few rough waves to brave)
Week 4 of the Spring Semester is now over and I feel like this has been another great week in my Flipped Class.  I feel like everything is starting to be "smooth sailing", with a few rough waves along the way. 

All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here. 

*Each week, I spend some time personally reflecting on the week - what I did, what worked, what didn't, what I liked, what I didn't, etc.  I try to organize my reflections in a similar manner each week, since they do get pretty long: (1) Math Analysis; (2) Algebra; (3) Sharing and Collaboration; (4) Other Thoughts; (5) Running lists (Things I've heard this week that I love; Characteristics and qualities of my flipped classroom that I want to keep; Changes I've made this week that I like; Ideas I'm still contemplating and experimenting with).  I hope these reflections give you insight into my classroom and give you some ideas to try in your own flipped classroom.  I appreciate any comments, feedback, ideas, and follow-ups that you provide, so please comment and join in on the conversation! 

Math Analysis
It was a great week in Math Analysis.  I am very excited to see the test results for Unit N (they take it on Wednesday of next week, so I will have another data post soon comparing their scores to last year's non-flipped scores) and see how well they do! (I hope!!)  I feel like I am pushing my kids past the simple memorization and computation of the Unit Circle (that's what we are studying right now, and it can be very memorization-focused) and into actual understanding of why things are the way they are, why and how things connect with others, and what sort of patterns exist throughout the unit.  In my four years teaching Math Analysis, I've never really been able to have these higher-level discussions and conversations with my students, and my flipped class completely enables this to happen!  In addition, these conversations happen in small groups where participation can easily increase and student accountability is higher.

A big catalyst for helping this happen was the "My Perfect Summary" activity that I did on Wednesday.  I asked the students for feedback on Thursday and they said they didn't necessarily like the critiquing the summary part, but they really liked the questioning part.  Several students said it was "fun" and that it really made them think.  A few students said it was "easy" to answer the questions, but that it proved to them they knew what they were supposed to know.  Also, this activity helps my students see what "HOT" questions really are and how they can take a simple question and dive deeper into it.

So, how can I make "My Perfect Summary" activity more effective and fully useful for the students?  I think making the focus transition from analyzing the whole summary to including as many vocabulary words IN CONTEXT as possible (and giving them a minimum - like make sure you have 3, and then be ready for the interview/interrogation by me!...but letting them have as many as they want).  I'll try it that way next week and we'll see how it goes.

Student comments on "My Perfect Summary"
Student 1: The "My Perfect Summary" activity was very helpful and made me realize how hard it actually is to SAY what you mean about a topic.  It's easy to have important information written down because you can see it on the paper as you think, but out loud it is much harder and requires more concentration as seen in the "interview" part of the activity.  The summary part was especially helpful because it required listening to another student's work for things to add or fix.  This helped to remember some key information that I'll be sure not to exclude next time the concept comes up.

Student 2: I really enjoyed the activity that we did Wednesday, I like how you made us highlight the key math vocab, then you came over and interrogate us to see if we really knew the vocab we were using or we were just putting it in our summaries to sound smart or just because you use it. You made us think hard and it helped me because now i know the actually definition of a reference angle":) 

In other news, I do have a concern with my students watching the videos.  I post them on YouTube, SchoolTube, and then have them available offline in my classroom or via flash drive.  The majority of the students watch it on YouTube, and only a few overall watch it via flash drive because most (all but 2-3 total) have internet access at home.  I keep track of the views each video gets, and every night it should be averaging 80 views.  Most of the videos over the last couple weeks have been averaging 60 views.  Assuming the few that watch it offline, that still leaves room for a lot of students who aren't watching it but somehow coming to class with the notes, summary, and question done.  I talked with the students on Wednesday about my observations and how if they are choosing to find a way to get around the system, they aren't hurting anyone but themselves.  I also mentioned that I actually feel bad for them that they would feel the need to cheat and compromise their integrity on something as simple as a 10-15 minute video, when all they have to do is tell me and they can watch it in class.  I kept the conversation very short (about a minute), but I hope it hit home with the students.  In a flipped classroom, students are given more responsibility than most of them are used to, and they have to find a way to take charge of their learning.  A lot of them will continue to find the easy way out of actually doing the work, but I hope that by the end of this semester they have learned a lot about themselves and how to take that responsibility and greatly succeed because of it.  Friday update: I had 94 views for today's video on YouTube alone (7 on schooltube, and 5 in my classroom this morning), so that was MUCH better after our "talk". I hope it continues.

With that whole responsibility thing, I have found it very helpful to keep a visible "task list" on the standing whiteboard in my room to guide my students.  It lists out everything the students have to work on (in order by what I feel should be priorities).  Students constantly have things to do, and when they are done with one task, they move on to the next one.  It is a visible reminder to them of what needs to get done and what they can work on in case they don't feel like doing a certain task at that moment.  I am trying to give them as much ownership as possible, but still feel they need to be guided, and this allows them that freedom within my expectations and boundaries.

On a final note, on Thursday I did something new with Math Analysis.  Normally, the classwork assignment for Thursday would not be signed off until Friday, because if a few students didn't finish it for whatever reason, they would have to finish it at home in addition to the videos. However, on Thursday I told the students that they had to finish the classwork and get it signed off before 4pm that day or they would receive a "red line" (late credit) for the assignment.  I did this because I really felt a lot of students were not making good use of their time with the excuse "Oh, I'll just do it at home". (Then, of course, they complain that they have too much to do at home and I give too much homework!!).  They don't all know how to manage their time or realize that it is more beneficial to get it done now than to have to do it later.  Anyways, it went well and I don't think it is something I will do every day, because it did make several students feel very pressured and rushed, but every so often, I think it's good to throw it in there to keep them on their toes and focused.

Algebra 1
Algebra 1 was definitely an up and down week.  We started off pretty miserably on Tuesday after the long weekend.  I had the most number of students ever come to class not having watched the videos.  (11 in period 1, 7 in period 3, 9 in period 4; compared to usually 3-5 max each day in each class).  I had mixed feelings about this - one thought was "I'll have more than usual because the kids will be out of town" while the other was "I should have no kids missing because they had a whole extra day to watch it".

Of course, it had to be the day that every principal in our district (ES, IS, HS) came to our campus to do walk throughs of all the classrooms on our entire campus.  I was upset/nervous/anxious at the beginning of period 1, knowing that the administrators walking through would not see exactly what I wanted them to.  However, it ended up not being too bad.  I have three classroom computers now (the tech guy told me I should have two more within the week!), so we just rotated the kids and about 8-9 of them got the video watched in class.  I had three administrators walk through (one of them being the AP I work with a lot and he was able to explain to the other two what was going on).  They talked with the kids, they saw what they were writing, they listened to their conversations, etc.  I didn't talk with them personally, but I did overhear them whispering to each other, "They're writing in a math class!".  Our AP will be presenting results/data on Monday so we'll see if he mentions anything.

On Wednesday, I tried something new. It was the day before the test, and I decided to give them a little more freedom (with a "task list", of course) and see how they handled it.  I actually really liked it.  The kids had three things they could work on - review problems from previous chapters they would see on the test, review problems from the current chapter they would see on the test, or taking/retaking concept quizzes for the five concepts in this chapter.  I was up front most of the time and the kids were bringing me their quizzes and I was grading them automatically to give them feedback.  If they got something wrong, I either (1) tried to quickly identify their error if it was small, (2) circle where they made their mistake and tell them to go fix it and bring it back, or (3) (if they had no idea how to do it), told them to go grab a computer and re-watch the lesson.  The period flew by, and I feel it was really productive.  I will be grading those tests this weekend and will post the results with data soon.
Upsides - Students worked on what they needed to work on. Students were given independence and freedom.  Students received immediate feedback on what they were doing right or wrong.
Downsides - there were kids who didn't bring me a quiz all period.  I was not walking around to monitor so some kids I'm sure were off task. I gave them the guidelines/protocol for taking the quizzes (put everything away, don't talk to anyone), but didn't fully monitor it because I was up front giving feedback.

Student thoughts on the independence/freedom:
Student 1: I think it was a really great idea because we have our opportunities to re-take our quizzes at times when we don't have time or we can't just make it. But it will improve our quiz scores, so we'll improve much better on our chapter test.  :)

Today (Friday) we started our new chapter on Factoring.  Here are some goals I have for myself for Algebra 1 this chapter:
1. Re-explain the WSQV chart.  I guess my students are confused by what they are supposed to do.  I'm not sure why they are confused, but I've received requests to clarify it, so I will.  There's a column labeled classwork that says "Chapter 8a PQ2" and then they have a worksheet that is titled "Chapter 8a Practice Quizzes" (that's what PQ stands for) and on there is a heading labeled "Chapter 8a Concept 2".  We've done it all year.  Who knows.  There's another column labeled "Homework assignment (video)".  In the column is the title of the video they need to watch "Chapter 8a Concept 4".  If they don't have a video that night, it says "No video" followed by the actual assignment title. I did this on Friday in class and hopefully it is clear.  Some kids laughed when I told them I was going to explain the chart because they thought it was so easy to understand.  But, what will it hurt to explain it one more time? :)

2. Work with them as a class on their summaries so they know what I want and so they are more meaningful to them.  Their summaries are still pretty crappy overall and don't show me any deep thinking or connections.   I think some modeling is needed. I did this on Friday for Chapter 8b Concept 1 (Divisibility rules and GCF's).  We wrote a complete summary as a class and talked about what I am looking for.  I told them that right now I am getting "short and crappy" summaries, and I don't want my example (which was pretty long) to make them think that I want "long and crappy" summaries.  I gave them a visual of how a summary needs to include all of the important information that is given in the lesson and not just bits and pieces to fill up the minimum five sentences.  I am hoping to see improvement next week.

3. Give them question starters from the HOT question list so they can start asking better questions.  I don't think giving them the whole list would be helpful.  I need to pull out good question starters for them and give them a modified list.  I'll work on that this weekend and post it here.

Sharing and Collaboration

My "Teachers Using the Flipped Classroom" survey is up to 45 responses, but I am still looking for more before I close the survey on Sunday night to collect the data.  I will still accept responses after that in case people come across this post too late, but I am going to use that as the stopping point for looking at the information as a whole. 

This week will include two Data Posts.  One for Algebra 1 Chapter 8a (later this weekend) and one for Math Analysis Unit N (end of next week).  I'll link to those here once they are written.

Other Thoughts
One of the things I'm loving about the flipped classroom (and am looking forward to even more next year when I have all my units and videos finished ahead of time!) is the ability for students to work ahead.  This year, I only have one student really taking advantage of it fully.  To give you an idea, the class just finished learning the material for Unit N today.  This student took the Unit N test a week ago and is taking the Unit O test tomorrow. I think he finds pride in a couple of things: (1) knowing he is ahead of the class (2) being able to catch mistakes I may make before the rest of the class (3) being my "answer key" - now I hardly make answer keys because I just use his because he does it a couple weeks ahead of the class.

He is limited by the materials I have ready. I try to be a unit or two ahead of the class, but depending on time, it's not always that way.  Next year I would like that option to be open to more students.
Math Analysis Summer Packet and the Flipped Classroom
Several years ago, we would give our incoming Math Analysis students a summer packet to do to prepare for the class.  We stopped doing that the last three years (don't know why), but I'm really thinking about bringing it back.  Our first four units (about the first month of school) are really a lot of review.  I'm thinking that with this whole flipped classroom idea, students could get the packets and video links for the first few units and those could be completed over the summer (our school is big on summer homework - they have summer reading for English, summer stuff for history, etc.  I think they want to keep the kids busy so they don't get into the bad stuff they could in the area we live in).  Because of the videos, students would be able to get help on the material they don't remember from Algebra 2 and be given all the resources needed to start the year off great.  Then, when they come back to school, we could spend one week reviewing the material and testing them.  We could jump into the new stuff and that would give us a lot more time throughout the year to cover certain concepts in depth and to re-instate some of my favorite things we have had to cut out because of time (parametrics, polar equations, 3-D graphs, etc).  I'm talking with the other Math Analysis teachers about it and we'll see.  The only downside is I didn't start recording videos this year until Unit F, so I would have to get Units A-D recorded before summer break.  It's doable, but it will take planning...

(I had students fill out a "Second Semester Survey" to give me feedback on the Flipped Classroom so far this semester.  Here are some notable quotes.  Once I receive all 200 responses (it is due Tuesday) I will write a post about the results. 

Question: What have you learned about yourself as a student because of the Flipped Classroom?
I learned that it is helping me become more responsible as a student and later on as i grow older i will have learned to be responsible for myself
I learned that I am responsible for my own learning. I realized that if I want to succeed, it is all up to me.
I learned that I can work in a roomful of people talking about different things at one time.  I can easily ignore conversations that do not fit into what I am doing at the moment. 
I am responsible for my own learning and if i do not get the material, i can always go back and re-watch the videos. 
I've learned that maybe you're smarter than you think you are.
I have learned, that even as a busy student, with the flipped classroom I can manage my time wisely. I have learned to also become more productive. 
What I have learned is that it helps me more than a traditional classroom. It allows me to try to manage my time more as well as understand it
I have learned that when left to my own abilities, as I no doubt will be in college, I need to intentionally set time aside to watch videos and take responsibility for my learning. 
i think I've learned that if you are actually trying at something then you can do it. because in the beginning of flipped classroom I didn't try and I almost got a homework card but now I'm actually trying and I got a perfect WSQ chart.
I've learned how to be responsible and how willing i am to make a commitment.
what I learned was that I'm capable of learning things and become successful in my math class only if I stop being lazy and actually do my homework and learn what I'm suppose to be learning.
I learned to help others in the flip class room. It has help me a lot this flip class room.
I do much better in my class work, I get my work done
I learned that I am actually responsible about my education than I thought I was, since I never miss a video and always do my homework.
That I can be very lazy, and that I need to spend more time trying to make myself accountable for my learning. It teaches me that if I don't pay attention, i can often find myself not understanding the concept at all.
I learned that I learn better in a more convenient environment where there are less distractions.
As a student, using flipped classrooms, I notice that I actually do have a problem in focusing when a teacher is talking. My surroundings do affect and distract me. Learning at home and asking for help in school to the teacher or peers is better than sitting at home asking the wall.

1. Students MUST ALWAYS have a written answer to the question part of their WSQ.  This can be written by them individually or answered with the help of a group member or myself.  The questions must require more than just a Yes or No answer.   This ensures that their question does get answered, and it forces students to practice using academic language in writing.
2. Picking a place in the classroom next to a group and sitting on my stool for a while, helping if needed, but listening in and guiding the group along.  (did not do that as much this week, but I like it). This includes sitting down to work with them if they have problems, but also sitting down and just questioning them, probing them, and getting them to think, speak, and make connections.

3. In the videos, always have at least an example or two that students need to work out on their own.  Two ways to do this - #1 - in the middle of the video, tell them to pause it and try it on their own.  Then they can follow along with me once they get stuck, and then pause me again and try from there. #2 - at the end of the video, assign 1-2 problems for the students to complete on their own before class.  Work out these problems in a "part 2" of the video for students to reference if they still get stuck. 

4. Every so often, make the classwork due at the end of class to keep students on their toes and to keep them on task during class.
1. "My Perfect Summary" - In Math analysis, I added a questioning/probing time with each individual group.  I liked that part better than the actual "make the summary perfect" part.  Watching the light bulbs come on in my students' brains were amazing!
2. More independence and freedom (but still very structure and guided) for my Algebra 1 kids.

IDEAS I'M STILL CONTEMPLATING & EXPERIMENTING WITH (running list each week with updates):
1. "Waiver" for assignments once students have shown mastery on a quiz- I think it went really well in Math Analysis this week and I think I will be keeping this.  One thing I want to change is that they have been "waived" from all future assignments for that concept (practice, videos, and WSQs).  I think they are just going to be waived from the practice, but they still need to watch the videos.  There is information presented in the videos that they need to hear, even if they don't need to do all the extra practice.

2. Coming up with a list of "key questions" myself for each concept to have handy to ask students, to have students discuss in groups, and to show students what "good, HOT questions" look like and sound like (modeling)... still haven't had time to really think through that for this week, but still want to do it.  It might turn into a summer task to kick off next year.

3. Letting the students pick their own groups and who they work with in class.  I think I want them in their set groups for the WSQ discussions, but then let them know they are free to work with whoever they want.

Thoughts, comments, ideas, your own experiences? Please share!!!
All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here. 

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