Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Using the WSQ to deepen student understanding and academic conversations in my Flipped Classroom

See the "Revisited" version of this post, published in August of 2016, by clicking here.

Tomorrow is my one month blogging anniversary, and I am celebrating over 2,700 views!!  When I first launched my blog on January 22nd, 2012, I was stepping bravely into somewhat unknown territory.  I was about to start fully flipping all five sections (2 Math Analysis, 3 Algebra 1) of math that I teach for the second semester of this school year.  My definition of fully flipping is that all lessons would be taught via video where students would have constant access to the material anytime, anywhere.  Most lessons were previewed with a video, while some lessons included videos that would review or supplement what was discussed in class.   I knew I wanted a place to reflect and make sense of all of the changes that would be coming, as well as to have a way to connect and share ideas with other educators using the Flipped Classroom. 

It has been an amazing month of personal and professional growth!  

If you have never blogged before, I highly suggest giving it a try - it has helped me immensely.  If you are a reader, but never join in on the conversation, I urge you to step out and share your views.  It's amazing how much we can learn from each other!

When thinking about what I wanted my Flipped Classroom to look like, feel like, sound like, etc., I had come up with the idea that I wanted my students doing more than passively watching the videos - I wanted them Thinking, Writing, Reading, Listening, and Speaking every day in my Flipped Classroom.  Thus, came the development of what I called the "WSQ" (pronounced 'wisk').

In the last month, I have adjusted, modified, and developed the WSQ beyond my original post, so I thought it would be good to give an update.

I truly believe the WSQ is a way to 
(1) deepen student understanding of the material (they have to be able to explain it in their own words, they have to ask detailed questions and answer them, they have to be able to hold a conversation with a group using math vocabulary in a way that makes sense.  I question them and probe them daily and if they don't make sense, I keep probing!)
 and 
(2) increase academic conversations (they are forced to talk about the material and not just blindly follow protocol and work problems out.  I walk around and am just asking, questioning, probing, and checking for understanding, and trying to make them do most of the talking.  Sometimes a student will ask me a question and I will jump into answer it right when their partner jumps in.  I stop and let the classmate answer because I want them doing the thinking and speaking as much as possible.)
in my math class.  

WATCH
  • All students are required to watch the videos on a nightly basis and take notes in their SSS notes packets that correspond to what I am writing on in the videos. I check to see that students have written down the important information I talked about the video; highlighted key information, and worked out the few problems I instructed them to try on their own before class.  It is usually evident to me who actually watched the video and who just "watched" or didn't watch at all.
  • Students usually have 4-5 videos a week.  The only time they generally bring home "regular" practice homework is on the night before a Unit Test.  I have chosen to keep it this way to maintain consistency.  At the beginning of the year when I was just testing the waters, we would flip one lesson but not the other and the students (and myself) got confused on if they were supposed to watch a video or do regular homework.  I like having consistency.  However, I still have the opportunity to teach or preview a lesson before students watch the video if I see fit.
  • Videos range from 8-15 minutes long.  I try to keep them short and cut them into Parts if they extend past 10 minutes.
  • Most videos include a "Part 1" - theory, instructions, vocabulary, introductory examples as well as a "Part 2" (and even sometimes "Part 3" or "Part 4" of additional examples for students to view). 
  • If we spend more than one day on a concept, students will still watch a video each night.  The first night will be more introductory, and then after we work on the concept in class, they will watch a second video that is a little more advanced.
  • Students may work ahead and watch videos ahead of schedule if needed or desired.  Students may watch videos in class if they choose, and work on practice at home.  This is not suggested, but is an option available.
  • Students are encouraged to rewind and rewatch videos, and also to pause and try examples on their own before watching me work through it or checking their work compared to mine (see "The Power of FFW" - a great post by a colleague at flippingmath.  I always try to have an example or two that I specifically ask the students to pause and try on their own, or leave a few examples for them to try at the end of the video on their own before class (of which they can watch me work out in "Part 2" of the video).  I am starting to encourage students to take initiative and try problems on their own in the video before they watch me try them.
  • See my video library on my YouTube channel. Videos are also available on SchoolTube under the same titles as the YouTube videos (you just have to search for them by name)

SUMMARY
  • After watching the video, students write a summary of the important pieces of the video.
  • Summary must be a minimum of 5 sentences long, but most are much longer.  My lower-level Algebra 1 students struggle with writing complete and detailed summaries.  Students are given sentence starters to help them in writing a minimum of five sentences.
  • The purpose of having students write a summary is to try to put in their own words what they just saw and heard on the screen.  It is easy to copy notes and then say "oh yeah, I got this. That made sense."  It is a whole new level for them to watch the video and then have to condense the information into a comprehensible summary, using their own words.
  • I am pushing students to be using math vocabulary in their summaries.  In certain instances, I make them highlight all of the math vocabulary that is used in the summary (minimum of three words per summary).  I may even have them define those vocabulary words in their own phrasing in the "Answer" portion of their WSQ in class.
  • Students will complain about the summary, because it makes them think.  I like it :) 
QUESTION
  • Students have to come up with a question about something from the video.  Sometimes this is a question about something they didn't quite get, but more often than not it is a question they have to come up with that (1) someone else might have or (2) is an important piece about the concept.
  • Questions cannot be answered with a simple yes/no.  Students will be asked to re-write their question if this is the case.  See the "Algebra 1" section of my Week 3 Reflection for some details on this.
  • All questions must have a written answer after them.  This is done in class in a variety of different ways.  Sometimes I have the students write the answers to their own questions and sometimes I have them trade notebooks and write the answer down in their partner's notebook.  Either way, students are given the opportunity to ask the question, discuss the question, and make sure to get the right answer.
  • I really try to push my students (mainly Math Analysis at this point) to as HOTter questions (Higher Order Thinking) that move up Bloom's Taxonomy from basic recall and understanding to application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.  They are getting better at it, but I still often see those very basic recall or comprehension questions.  When I see those, I ask them follow-up questions and probe deeper, and then have them write the answers to all of those follow-up questions as well.  With probing, we can turn most of their "non-HOT" questions into "HOTter" ones.
IN CLASS TIME?
 I am still trying to come up with different "activities" to vary the in-class time.  My Algebra 1 class is definitely much more structured, while I am slowly letting my Math Analysis class have more freedom and take full control of their pacing and learning.  Here's what a sample day may look like:

Algebra 1:
1. Students come in and get out their WSQ's (kept in a spiral notebook), SSS packets, and WSQ sign-off charts. *Students who have not watched the video must tell me before the tardy bell rings and they start watching it on a classroom computer.  I usually only have about 4-5 kids who don't watch it, however I have had bad days where 10-11 don't watch it (I have 36-38 students per class).
2. We generally do a quick 1-2 minute review of the important pieces of the video, and if a student has a dire question they want to ask to the whole class, we go over it.
3. Students get in their WSQ groups and do one of the WSQing methods I am developing (see below).  All WSQing methods require that students get a written answer to their question.
4. While students are WSQing, I am walking around, listening in, commenting, and probing with deeper questions.  This process takes 10-15 minutes, depending on the concept and on the group's ability to stay on task.
5. Students get to work on the assigned practice problems for the remainder of the period (30-45 minutes).  I walk around and sign off on their WSQ charts.  I do not sign off on the summary if it is not complete (at least 5 sentences), and I do not sign off on the question if it is not answered.  At this time, students are allowed to work with people outside of their WSQ group and possibly move seats to work with a different group.
6. If students finish the assignment early, they may start watching the new video for that night.
7. For each concept, students must take a concept quiz.  This is a day or two after they have learned the concept.  Right now, the whole class takes the quiz on the same day at the same time, usually after the WSQ and before the practice problems.  I am hoping to modify this as my students get more used to the process (like I am currently doing in my Math Analysis classes).

Math Analysis:
1. Students come in and get out their WSQ's (kept in a spiral notebook), SSS packets, and WSQ sign-off charts. *Students who have not watched the video must tell me before the tardy bell rings and they start watching it on a classroom computer. I generally only have 1-2 students a day not prepared.
2. We generally do a quick 1-2 minute review of the important pieces of the video, and if a student has a dire question they want to ask to the whole class, we go over it.  Usually if a question is asked in Math Analysis, before giving the answer, I ask the groups to discuss the answer and then have one of them share out.  That way, they are still doing the thinking and I can just guide, support, and follow-up.
3. I go over the goals for the day, posted on a "Task List" on one of my standing whiteboards.  This includes everything the students need to try to get done, reminders about anything that needs to be turned in, etc.  Then I let them loose to work.  I try to give them more freedom than my Algebra 1's and they generally do very well with it.
4.  The WSQing process for Math Analysis is a little less structured.  My expectations for them are that they discuss their summaries in their groups and get their question answered somehow.  Some days I may give them more specific directions (today I want you to have all your math vocabulary highlighted and/or defined; today I want you to develop one "perfect" summary from your group before you get started on the problems, today I want you to pick your groups "Hottest" question and post it on the whiteboard, etc).  Much of this is done on a more small group basis rather than as a whole class.
5. Students get to work on their Task List for the day.  This includes practice problems, concept quizzes, and videos.  Some students may need to watch or re-watch a video.  Some students just need to practice a few problems and then they are ready for the quiz.  Some students need to spend the whole period practicing the problems.  I have started to let them have more and more freedom to self-monitor and self-assess.  While I have a few students work ahead, most students are still on pace with the daily expectations.
6. I walk around and listen, probe, question, and correct while signing off their WSQ charts for the day.  If I feel the need to go over something as a whole class because I am noticing common misconceptions, or if I want to do a quick check of understanding and have every group solve a problem and show me the answer (like on a group whiteboard or something), that can happen.  It all depends on what I am seeing from the students.


Ways to "WSQ" in class:
1. Whole Class
  •  Pick a WSQ to put on the screen.  Read it as a class, discuss it as a class.  Ask questions about it and have students turn to their groups to answer, and then share out as a class.  "Score" it as a class.  Have students look at their own WSQs and give it a score as well.  Answer the question on the WSQ as a whole class (again, have small groups discuss it and then share out)
2. Small Group
  •  Choose one, two, three, or all four students to read their summaries out loud with group members looking on.   Group members stop the reader, question the reader, and add to what the reader is saying as they read through their summary.  Then, reader goes over their question and the group discusses it before an answer is written down.
  • Choose one student from each group to use as the base for a "perfect" summary.  The group members all look on to the one summary and break it down and tear it apart.  They cross things off, add sentences, clarify sentences, etc to make it a truly "perfect" summary of the lesson.  They are encouraged to look for places to include specific math vocabulary words in context.  Once the summary is perfect, group members look at all four questions and do the same thing - make the questions better by phrasing them more clearly, having math vocabulary in the question, and then making sure the answers are complete, detailed, and include proper explanations and vocabulary.
3. Individual
  • Students read thru their summary individually and critique it.  They look for ways to revise it and make it better.  This would best be done near the end of a period after they have had a chance to discuss the concept and probably would have more to add to their original summary.
  • Students read through their WSQ with me.  I provide the guidance, questioning, probing, and follow-up explanations that are needed to improve their summary and answer their question.

WSQ samples from today's class.  Here are the "perfect summaries" two of my Algebra 1 classes came up with.  Notice the things crossed out, added, and highlighted.  Students discuss and work together through this exercise.  Then, they answer each other's questions.  My Algebra 1's are still struggling with coming up with good questions, but they get better once I probe them. You can click on the image to see it better to actually read what they wrote.
This answer needs much more detail that we would discuss together in class... What would a 3x3 look like?  Would the same patterns we saw in  a 2x2 and 2x3 still exist?  What were those patterns?
Same probing questions as the previous WSQ... what would it look like?  What patterns would exist?




This question required a conversation about the patterns that exist when combining like terms and what we call them (diagonals), because you can see their first answer was not correct.

This was a great extension question to the box method - what to do when we are multiplying three sets of binomials together?  I was able to draw out and explain what would happen.

Again, another example of a Q/A that needed to be discussed and probed further in class - okay, so what do you think would be the same about it?






Answer: "Depends on the degrees"... okay, so what would it depend on exactly? Can you show me an example of something you could combine and something you couldn't combine?



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