Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reflections on Week 11 (Crazy but More Than Satisfied...)

I think I was psychic last week when I said Crazy-Ville was coming. This week was absolutely crazy and I'm exhausted.  However, I am SO SATISFIED (I guess even more than satisfied) with what I saw from my students this week!

What I saw this week was phenomenal.  

If you walked into my Math Analysis classroom on Wednesday, you would probably wonder "what the heck is going on here?".  Out of my 37 students, I had about 15 in my classroom, 15 in the lounge behind my classroom, and the rest in the classroom next door since that teacher was on prep.  At one point, I stood in the middle of the three locations (I could stand in one place and see into both classrooms and the lounge) and just took a quick glance around and my jaw dropped.  Talk about student engagement!  Talk about students doing the learning!  Talk about a student-centered classroom!  

Several teachers did walk through during 6th period because they were on their conference period and decided to just walk by some of the partner groups and listen in.  They came by the next day and said "What your students were doing was awesome!  They were talking through the math and using math vocabulary, critiquing each other and their strategies, talking through mistakes, thinking out loud, and just plain looking excited about doing math!"

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.

Other posts from this week:
1. Brainstorming and thinking about next year/ how to present #flipclass to students and parents from Day 1 before relationships are built. Would still love your comments! Post here.
2. A Day in the Life of Students Creating Videos - a quick 360 of my classroom when all the students are creating their own content via short student-created videos of problems.  Post here.
3. Student-created videos overkill - my learning experience about going overboard in using student-created videos :) Post here.
4. Dealing with students starting to slack off and coming to class unprepared as the year winds down and gets crazy.  Post here.
5. Link to all student-created videos here.

Math Analysis

This section includes: 
1. Student Created Videos
2. Online WSQs
3. General reflections for the week

This week's big focus was on student-created videos (hence the reason most of my posts from this week were all about that!).  I think it is so great in so many ways - if you haven't tried it, you should.  Right now, my biggest use of them is as a formative assessment tool. Students still receive the initial instruction by me.  In class, they work through problems and discuss issues with their groups.  Once they understand the material, then they make the video.

For Unit S this week, I made the students come up with their own problems for the videos.  This required them to think about what constraints and information they needed to provide in order to make sure the problem would work out.  At first (or course), when I told them this, there were groans and complaints because it would make them think and work harder!!  But, it ended up turning out really well.  Here are some student comments from this week's reflection.

Question 1: The student-created videos are supposed to replace the quizzes.  Do the videos take MORE, LESS, OR ABOUT THE SAME amount of time as taking a quiz on the concept?  Compare and contrast the benefits of taking quizzes vs. making videos.  Which do you prefer, or are there times for both?
  • I think it takes the same amount of time, unless it's the last day and everyone needs a recording device, in which case it takes longer.  It requires more work however, because it makes us explain the problems, but I think it helps me understand it more.  The benefit of of the video is better understanding but the con of it is the feedback may not be instant like quizzes.  It's also harder to redo compared to quizzes.
  • The videos took about the same amount of time as taking a quiz on the concept. I like making the videos more, because on the quizzes, we don't necessarily get feedback on what we did wrong. On the videos, though, we do get feedback, since the videos are made available to all the math analysis classes. I also like making the videos, because it ensures that we understand the concepts, since we have to give a thorough explanation on how we solved it. I prefer making the videos. 
  • i think the Videos take a little bit more time than taking a quiz because we have to come up with the problem as well as solve, and a quiz we just need to solve. i think there are times for both,  i enjoyed doing the videos and felt like i remembered thinks better because we had to explain and understand how we got the answer not just mindlessly solved it. 
Question 2: The student created videos are supposed to also serve as a TOOL for other students to refer to.  How often have you watched the videos created by your classmates?  Are they helpful?  If not, why?
  • i have watched them when we are given the take home test. they are helpful but i think we should get a list that have all the problems and who did them because if we are looking for a problem with a specific set up we have to go through all of them in order to find the example we need. does it make sense? i dont know how to explain what im trying to say! 
  • I've watched the videos created by my classmates from time to time. I find that they do help, especially if they are similar to the ones on the PQ or PT. 
  • I actually haven't watched any of the student related videos because I only watch your videos.
Question 3: This unit, you had to find your own problems to make a video for.  Was this process useful or beneficial for you as a student? Explain why or why not.
  • I think it was kind of useful in that we had to make up problems but usually it was just a modification of one already solved, so it was really just more practice.
  • This process was very beneficial because we got to practice and learn from our own mistakes, especially if the problem was written incorrectly.  For example, my partner and I made a mistake with our right triangle, and this warned me to not make the same mistake again.  Writing our own problems allowed us to think ahead to see if the problem would work out the way we want it to which helped us process the steps to solve the problem in our head.  If the problem did not turn out the way we planned, we still got practice.
  • Although it was a bit more time consuming, I would say that it was beneficial for me as a student. It made us think more about the potential problems that there were, and the many ways that we could solve for it. 
In addition, this week we continued doing "Online WSQs".  Here are a few samples from Unit S and Unit T. (The WSQ is the last step in each playlist). I feel like I was able to utilize the online WSQ Google Forms spreadsheet a lot better this week.  Every day, I came into class with an idea of where the misconceptions were.  I did a little whole-class intro based on the questions that showed up over and over again before I had them get into their groups for the WSQ discussion.  One night, I even made a quick Educreations screencast trying to clarify something that I already (at 7pm at night) had almost every student asking about.  While it didn't answer every question, it allowed students one more "answer" before coming to class.

As I've mentioned before, students are given the link to view the spreadsheet after submitting their response.  My goal in this is (1) They check their answer to the "secret question" to see if they got it right - and hopefully try to correct if not! (2) Read what other questions students have and get thinking about them - and hopefully realize that everyone has confusions and it's okay to not "get it' right away! (3) Read other students' answers to the questions I posed so basically the concept is explained to them again in other students' words. 

In addition to the normal 2-4 "Guided Summary" questions I give the students, I also always ask them
#5 Finish this sentence:  The part I understood the most was...
#6 Finish this sentence:  The part I am still confused about is...

They also type their HOT question (and answer if they know it), but it gives me the chance to type in an answer to their question THAT NIGHT.  I still have concerns that not every student is viewing or utilizing the spreadsheet, and that students who may open the spreadsheet don't actually look at it after I answer their question (they look, close the link, I answer the question later that night, and they never look back). 

My biggest question for students was how they felt about the Online WSQ, if it was more useful than fully handwritten, and if they actually utilize the spreadsheet. 

How do you utilize the Online WSQ spreadsheet?  How is the Online WSQ process going in general, now that you've had a few weeks?  Any suggestions for improvement?
  • I think the online WSQ is good so far but sometimes, questions are confusing (like the question on Unit T intro about how sin/cos is positive/negative and how it applies to tangent).  Even so, I like it better because I type faster but there are more questions and is more work than a normal WSQ.
  • I love the spreadsheet!  At first I forgot to write down my hot question and answer, but usually I was able to recall what I had typed the previous night.  I especially like the color-coding system because it points out exactly what needs to be talked about.  The placement of some things were confusing, such as the key for the color-coding, but I think that's pretty much fixed now since everyone knows what it is.
  • The online WSQ spreadsheet is very helpful, because when I look at some of the other responses, it clarifies any lingering questions that I had. I would say that the online WSQ is going great, and it really helps. 
General reflections for the week. Overall, even though this week was overwhelming and stressful with the overkill of student-created videos, it was a really good week. I liked that I was still able to do a little bit of "traditional" mini-lessons (one day I went over a whole problem with the class as an intro, the other days I reviewed the Online WSQ as a whole class to guide them along), but the majority of the class period was focused on individual student needs.

Something I feel like I haven't been doing a very good job on the last few weeks is the small group teaching for students who need another "mini-lesson".  I think the student-created videos made life a little crazy for that, but I am hoping to start doing that again.  Sometimes I think some students need it, but they are still too shy to ask for it.  I need to do a better job of gauging that. 

How did this week go for you?  What was the BEST part of the flipped class?  Why? What part did you not like or enjoy as much? Why?
  • I thought this week was okay but the video making was a little hectic.  Even so, we made it through and this week turned out well so far.  I like the little homework problems, which was the best part because it didn't take so long to do.
  • This week was pretty hectic and whatnot, because we had to finish filming all the videos. But that was our fault, since we sort of waited till the last minute. The best part of the flipped classroom was learning the concepts, while spending time with Amy! The only part I didn't like was that I had to do my PQ's late because of the time spent doing the videos in class. Also, I forgot to get my WSQ chart signed off for half the week. :'(
  • this week seemed a little hectic with the whole videos and pushing everything a day. The best part of the flipped class was when you worked out i believe it was 2 problems with the class. i thought it was the best part because i miss traditional classroom and thought it was fun to learn like that.
Algebra 1

This section includes: 
1. Group interview
2. Low-low students

This week I  really focused on the "Group interviews" for Algebra 1.  Sometimes when I have them do their "5 minute WSQs", I'm not really sure (even though they are discussing the math) that they are getting the correct answers and helping each other on the right path.  I spent about 3-5 minutes with each group this week and chose a couple of key questions from their guided summary to probe them about.  I was able to check for initial understanding as well as ask probing questions and questions about how things are connected.  Depending on the group, I could differentiate the level of questions I was asking to challenge them appropriately.  All students were held accountable for answering and they could not get their charts off until their group "passed".  
What this looked like in some cases was that I asked each individual student a question and they had to answer it themselves.  If they couldn't answer it, I would go away and allow them to discuss it as a group.  But, when I came back, that same student had to be able to answer the question without the help from the group.  I found this to be very effective. A student couldn't get away with saying "I don't know" or "I don't remember" and then have a group member jump in with the right answer.  It was also fun to see other group members get excited and want to answer the question that their friend got asked, but they had to stay quiet and let their friend try to answer first.  I love seeing that excitement :). 

I continued doing "group interviews" this week before signing your WSQ charts.  How do they help you?  Are they beneficial?  How could they improve?
  • It helps me listen to the other students answers and questions that they ask.  The group interviews lets us have the chance to talk to the teacher and ask any questions that we have.      
  • I like group interviews because it gives Mrs. Kirch a chance to see if we know about the concept.  Also, she asks questions so that she could make sure we watched the video an did our homework correctly.  
  • They help me because i get to remember and actually learn it, they are beneficial because there helpful.
  • I think they are going pretty well, i can memorize the songs and chants better now.....i think they are beneficial, i think they can improve if while we were doing the "group interviews" if we could get our question answered maybe...
Last week I had a concern about what to do with my "Low-low students".  Well, this week I pulled five of them aside and we started going back to Chapter 1, working on basic algebra operations that they still have not mastered.  I created some "speed tests" where they can compete against each other to try to get the most right in a short amount of time once they have practiced a little on their own.  They seem to like the competition and it's nice to be able to reward them for little successes.  My student with a 2% (basically truant and hasn't done anything) has actually been going to school for the last 3 weeks, and he got 20/20 on an addition/subtraction speed test in LESS than one minute!  Yes, that may seem like a 3rd grade activity, but hey, he is feeling successful in a math class that he has failed everything all year.  Baby steps!

Sharing and Collaboration

I have two webinars coming up in the new few weeks - one on May 1st for a group of teachers in Sacramento and one on May 9th for anyone through  I will post the link to register for the Sophia webinar when I get it.  I hope you will be able to join in!  Both webinars will be an "intro" to the flipped classroom for teachers who are interested in learning more about it and hearing about how I run my flipped classroom.

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
I had my monthly Math Department Chair meeting this week and we had a presentation by the County Department of Education on Common Core State Standards that are going to start being implemented in the next school year.  The presenter went over the "Standards for Mathematical Practice" that we need to start considering in our teaching even now.

As we read through these, the one thing that came to mind is having a flipped classroom has enabled me to "meet" these expectations in a way that my traditional classroom never did.  

 Here they are:  (link to full website here)

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. 

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. 

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. 

4. Model with mathematics. 

5. Use appropriate tools strategically. 

6. Attend to precision. 

7. Look for and make use of structure. 

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

"So, you need to be careful not to make this mistake because it's what I always do wrong" - from a student recording herself on video

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.  Group interview for Algebra 1 (not brand new)
2.  Timer counting UP for WSQ discussions instead of down

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. Still reading your wonderfully detailed descriptions of Flipping. I have to admit, presently I am intimidated by the steepness of the learning curve for me (I imagine that students make the adjustment more easily).

    When do you find the time to do all this writing, in addition to making the videos, evaluating their work, preparing the SSS stuff?

    For 5 different classes!

    I'm exhausted just reading about it. Do you sleep?

    Don't worry I'm still planning to forge ahead... I just need to learn how to operate all of the machinery.

    1. Thanks for following... your comment made me laugh :) Most of my stuff has been a work in progress, even though this is my first year flipping.

      My SSS's are now in their 4th year of modification, so they don't require much work (just a little updating/tweaking each year).

      For the videos, I try to make them in chunks - so I will sit down one weekend and just record several hours of video, and do that about every other weekend. It is a lot for now, but I know next year it will be a little lighter because I won't have to make all the videos.

      Thankfully, my five classes are only two different preps, so the workload comes in spurts depending on what each class is doing. I don't want it to seem like it's not overwhelming, but somehow I am able to manage. Oddly, I really enjoy writing curriculum, making videos, etc, so it doesn't really seem like "work" to me. When I grade, I'm watching TV with my hubby so the time passes by. Not sure if that makes it seem less exhausting, but it's how I have found to make it work. :)

      Thanks again for following and looking forward to following your experiences as you start to forge ahead!

      P.S. As far as the writing goes, I've found that I need an outlet to get my thoughts out... my husband isn't in the field of education and loves hearing about my experiences to a certain extent...but he loves that I have found another place to get my thoughts out and I can just leave pieces of it for him :).


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