Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reflections on Week 9 (The Halfway Point!)
Week 9 of the Spring Semester is now over - we are now to the halfway point!  It is amazing to look back and see the growth and development of my flipped class over the last 9 weeks, both for me as the teacher and for my students as learners.  I can't wait to see what the next 9 weeks hold!

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! 

For those of you who read my weekly reflections consistently, you will notice a change this week compared to the past.  These posts will be shorter with links to more detailed external posts on specific topics.  I was finding (for myself) that it was hard for me to go back and find a previous post on a specific topic because it was hidden among a huge weekly reflection.  So, hopefully this will alleviate that problem.

I posted about several other topics this week, including:
1. Great student quotes from Math Analysis on Wednesday ("They just make me smile..."  post here)
2. Parent thoughts on the Flipped Classroom (post from Open House Thursday night here
3. #flipclass chat - Biggest Risks (thoughts from the chat archive from Monday night  since I wasn't able to participate in the live chat here)
4. Initial impressions (thoughts from 2 teachers and an administrator that visited my Flipped Classroom a week ago here)

Math Analysis
It has been another fabulous week in my Math Analysis flipped class.  I love the relationships that I am seeing my students develop with one another and the comfort level they have in working with each other and asking each other questions.  A true community is forming, and I really think that every student feels they add a valuable piece to the learning that happens every day.

I think that having the students begin creating their own content was a GREAT idea because it gave them one more level of ownership with the material.  I don't know how often/how many I want them to make them because with anything, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing".   With some continued feedback from my students over this week off of Spring Break, hopefully I'll have an idea of how to continue this throughout the year.

We tried A LOT of new things this week, including:
1. Online WSQ submissions (see new post here) I still have a lot of pros and cons with this idea - I'm not sure how to merge what I want with what I'm given under my current way of doing it.
2. My videos made using a new software on iPad (see new post here) This was basically an "epic fail" (in the words of one of my students). I'm going back to my usual way.
3. Continued student-created videos (see new post here). This turned out amazing. And, from my students' comments, they really understood the purpose and reasoning behind making them.  Definitely a keeper!
4. First "take home test" for trig identities (see new post here). Student feedback on the process was positive. I won't be grading these tests until later this week during spring break, so I'll have to post again later about that. Students liked the ability to use all available resources and having as much time as needed (some students spent 8 hours on the test!) to work through the trigonometric proofs.

I was talking with one of my students casually this week after school and they described class time as "chaotic but productive".  I would agree. It does get pretty crazy with students doing so many different things, but yet 95% of the students are on task throughout the whole period.

There were several instances this week where I wanted to take another "360" look at my classroom.  However, my iPod, cell phone, and two digital cameras were all being used by student groups to make their own videos that I couldn't.  If I could just freeze time and look around my classroom, it is seriously NOTHING like it has been in years past.  It is truly a student-centered place where learning is happening every day.

One issue I am encountering is just making sure all content is available for students in a variety of places.  So far this year, I have been uploading all videos to both YouTube and SchoolTube.  Honestly, it's a bit annoying having to upload videos to more than one place but here are my issues:
  1. YouTube streams well on all devices, especially mobile devices...but doesn't work on campus
  2. SchoolTube works on campus... but doesn't work on all mobile devices, doesn't stream as well, and is more prone to upload errors
The solution? I don't know. I wish YouTube would just be unblocked, but that is not an option (already asked about it). 
Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Algebra 1

I think I say this every week, but my Algebra 1 kids are "coming along".  I love what I am seeing from my top kids, my middle-of-the-road kids are making progress in the right direction, and I am still trying to find a way to motivate my low kids and have them at least learn SOMETHING every day.

One of my low-but-almost-middle-of-the-road students came in one morning earlier this week for some remediation and retaking, and said something to me that I immediately had to write down...
"I finally realized how lazy I was when I watched the videos. I was just wasting my time! Now I understand what you mean you say to actually watch it"
He was re-watching some videos from several weeks ago and I think it finally clicked with him that when he actually really watched the video and tried to make sense of it, he understood it!  He realized how much time he had wasted just going through the motions for most of the semester thus far.  I only hope that his epiphany lasts for the rest of the year and it rubs off on some of his classmates.  It is such an important discovery for the students to make, and I really think it is THEM that has to make it.  I can tell them over and over again the importance of watching a video and actually paying attention and learning from it, but at some point they have to realize the value of it and learn that lesson themselves.

We also tried A LOT of new things this week in Algebra 1, including:
1. up to a "3 minute WSQ"
2. Differentiation for "super-low" students (see new post here)
3. Daily Goals with Weekly Deadlines (see new post here)

I am getting happier as time goes on with the timed WSQ process in class.  I increased the time to three minutes this week without any issues - students still stayed focused and talked through the whole time period.  I feel like they are getting more comfortable with each other as well as with the process.  One of my favorite parts of these times is walking around the groups and hearing them ask questions of each other.  Normally, one of them will look up to me for the answer and before I have the chance to answer, their group member will jump in and answer it or at least begin talking about it. 

 I love the ability to NOT SPOON-FEED. If they are stuck on a problem, I do one of several things:
1) Ask them a probing question to get them thinking and try to trigger something.
If that doesn't work,
2) Ask around the room for a student who understands it or one who I remember helping with it earlier in the day or the day before.
If that still doesn't work,
3) Give them the first step or two of the problem and then set them out to work it out on their own/with their group.
 In the past, I would find myself working out the whole problem for them and showing them step-by-step how to do it.  At that point, they had the problem "done" but they hadn't done much learning. I did the amazing math, and they watched.  I don't think that is the way a student learns.

In sad/frustrating news, I had four students caught cheating this week in one class period of Algebra 1.  Two on the Chapter 9 test on Thursday (a student turned around and asked a question of the person behind him and later on the student tried to whisper the answer back), and another two today (a student took a classmate's homework assignment off her desk, erased her name, put his on it, and tried to submit it as his own).  It is so incredibly disappointing to me when those things happen.  Besides teaching my students about math, I hope I am teaching them about life and the value of responsibility, respect for themselves and others, and most of all INTEGRITY.  It takes a second to lose someone's trust, and a whole long time to earn it back once it's been lost.  Besides that, it is so sad to me that these students still think school is about "earning points" or "avoiding punishment".  The student who cheated on the test needed the answer to a simple division problem for a factor tree that was worth 2 points, but now he may have cost his entire test grade (school policy) in addition to receiving severe consequences.  The student who stole the homework assignment was trying to avoid a school-wide homework punishment, of which he is currently up to receiving a Saturday School because he has missed so many assignments in my class.  He stole an assignment that he had a week to complete on his own, but was too lazy to do so.  So now, he will be receiving a Saturday for that and another one for plagiarism.  Above all, it's just so disappointing that all four students involved are good kids.  They are kids I have seen progress in this year.  They are kids with so much potential.  They are kids who show me glimpses of greatness in both work ethic and math skill. Maybe it is good we have a week off from Spring Break and they can be ready to have a discussion about their actions when we come back.

Sharing and Collaboration

An AP Bio teacher at my school is seriously considering flipping for next school year and it is so awesome to have someone on campus to chat with about the flipped classroom.  His excitement is contagious and he has such great ideas already!  I'm hoping to have some comments from him on my blog soon, I'll link here when I do!

Speaking of connections, via my Flipped Class Survey that was sent out last Monday, I was able to get connected with a teacher about 10 minutes away from me that is also flipping Math Analysis Honors!  We are going to get together next week to chat and share ideas.  Super excited!

Lastly, I was able to have a UC Berkeley student come and observe me on Monday.  She is graduating this June and going to work with Teach for America in the fall.  It was great to be able to show her a completely different type of classroom and chat with her for quite a while on teaching methods, philosophy, and ideas.  I am hoping to get some feedback and questions from her on the flipped classroom soon, and I'll link here when I do!

If you haven't checked out my Blogroll on the right hand side of other flipping teachers, do so! It is only through sharing and community that we learn and grow!  Also, be sure to use #flipclass on twitter to join in the conversation.  If you are a "flipper" and  a "blogger" and don't see your blog on the right, please let me know. I would love to follow you and read up on your experiences!

Every Monday there is a #flipclass chat on Twitter (8pm EST).  Check it out and join in.  Connect with @bennettscience to find out more.

Other Thoughts
Plans are in place for me to be able to go to the ISTE conference this summer with a small group of teachers from my school and I REALLY hope that it goes through.  I looked through all of the presentations and sessions at the conference and there are so many that interest me, including several on the Flipped Classroom.  Thank goodness for a conference close to home!

"They just make me smile..."  post here
From their mouths... Comments and thoughts from my students for this week here.

CHARACTERISTICS AND QUALITIES OF MY FLIPPED CLASSROOM THAT I WANT TO KEEP (this list is now kept on a separate page here and is updated weekly)

1.  Online WSQ for whole class?
2.  Daily Goals with Weekly Deadlines for Algebra 1

IDEAS I'M STILL CONTEMPLATING & EXPERIMENTING WITH (running list each week with updates):

1. 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)... This will be tied in with the "Guided Summary" I will be starting to try out.  I think this is going to be put off in its entirety until this summer.

2. Begin coming up with activities students can do to apply their knowledge or practice their knowledge in different ways once they get the basics.  Again, this is something I think may just start to happen over the summer or next year since right now it's just crazy.

Thoughts, comments, ideas, your own experiences? Please share!!!

All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here. 


  1. Have you tried uploading to Edmodo? They have an app and it works on campus (for me at least :))

    Mrs. Brookshaw
    French Teacher

  2. I haven't tried direct to Edmodo for quite a while. What is the app called? I know they just started releasing them. Once videos are uploading to Edmodo, are they able to be embedded on other sites and downloaded by students to e viewed offline?


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