Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reflections on Week 12 (Lots of Lessons Learned)
This week I feel like there were a lot of new lessons learned and and ideas to put into my "flipclass toolkit".  I say that every week, but it's true.  I love seeing growth and progress in making this classroom structure meaningful and useful for my students.

My students are finishing up a survey on their thoughts and feelings regarding the flipped class and those results will be ready next week (survey is due Monday, I have about 50% of the responses so far).  Thank you to Scott Harkness  for letting me use/modify his survey!  Algebra 1, Math Analysis

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. Letter to parents about the Flipped Classroom - I've updated the letter I sent home in January this year describing my flipped classroom and the expectations for students and parents.  Please feel free to use/modify for your own use!
2. Four reasons how Blogging has changed my life (my teaching life anyways). A reflection on how reflection has been so useful for me.
3. My Three-Month Blog-Aversary. Reflections on my "favorite posts" thus far as well as the four most important things I have learned about the Flipped Class so far.
4. What would you tell a student next year?   I asked my students: Imagine it was August 2012 and you were asked to come speak to Mrs. Kirch's classes next year about the flipped classroom.  What would you tell them?  Be as detailed as possible. Here is what they said (constantly updated post, 7 new responses at top for this week)
5. The power of using parents as a motivating tool in the #flipclass - I started having students call home to tell their parents they were unprepared for class any day they showed up without their WSQ complete.  It was pretty cool.

Math Analysis
Lots of stuff to talk about for Math Analysis this week!

This section includes: 
1. Asking HOT questions on the WSQ
2. WSQ as a management tool in class 
3. Google Docs Chat Sessions
4. Pros and Cons of Take Home Tests (and what I've learned)
5. Test results for Unit R, S, and T
6. General reflections for the week

1. Asking HOT questions on the WSQ
For the "summary" portion of the WSQ, I pose questions for students to respond to and answer.  Sometimes they are lower-level questions to check for understanding.  However, this week I added at least one really "HOT" (higher-order thinking) question to get the students thinking.  Even some of my top students didn't know how to answer them!  I really liked this because they came to class eager to learn and find out how to answer the question.  I was able to do a few different small group activities where the WSQ time was focused on that one question.  Here are the two examples from this week:

-How does the graph of tangent relate to the Unit Circle?  Explain in words but also with a visual similar to those given to you in the video for Sine and Cosine.

-Why is the "normal" tangent graph uphill, while the "normal" cotangent graph is downhill?

They were given mini-whiteboards (blank one side, graph on other side) and markers to draw, collaborate, and come up with an explanation together from the ideas they had thought through the night before.

One student said: 
What I liked most was when we were using the white boards to try and explain why the graphs were drawn as they were. I don't know if that was part of flipped or if it would be still in the traditional class but was the best thing because it shows us why and how they relate to each other and the unit circle a bit better than the website given only because we could talk.

2. WSQ as a management tool in class  
The WSQ chart, if I do say so myself, has been one of my greatest inventions :) 

If you haven't seen my WSQ chart, here are two samples for Math Analysis here and here.
A few simple reasons:
-Students don't have to spend 10 minutes on Monday copying their homework down in their agenda every week
-Absent students have no excuse for not knowing exactly what they missed and exactly what is expected of them

One of the biggest reasons, however, is the fact that it takes one more thing off of my plate.  Student assignments are no longer something I have to manage - the students manage it themselves and the WSQ chart helps keep them organized and on target.

Now I can manage helping them get it done  and no so much if they got it done

I've mentioned before that I hate spending class time checking homework, and I am horrible at keeping up with students who are absent and making sure they complete their make-up assignments.  Using the WSQ chart has completely eliminated those concerns.  Yes, now I do "check" homework daily in class, but now it is just a part of the daily routine where students ask me to sign off assignments as they complete them (fully AND correctly), with the only deadline being the end of the week.  Sometimes, honestly, I don't even check the work, I just let the students self-monitor and put a "B" (needs blue signature, fully completed on time) or "R" (needs red signature, fully completed but late).  I will spot check certain students who I know weren't fully on task, but for the most part, I see the students completing the work all period and am able to trust them.  Once that trust is lost once, I do have to check each individual assignment.
3. Google Docs Chat Sessions
I decided to hold two chat sessions this week using Google Docs as the forum.  I figured it was an easy platform that didn't make students have to sign up for something new to participate.  The only cons were that students were shown as "anonymous users" so I didn't know who I was talking with.  In a way, it was nice though, because then I didn't worry about WHO was asking it - I just answered!

Here are the archives from the chats:

I was pretty happy with the turnout (for Unit T, I had 25 students on at one time, with several more who came in and out - out of a total of 72 students).  Students seemed to find it helpful as well.  Many students logged in after the chat session was over and just read through the questions since they couldn't make it during the time frame I was available. Google Docs is not the perfect tool, but I will probably stick with it for the rest of this year since we are so near the end.  I really like how Google Docs is completely live... meaning you see letter-by-letter what the students are typing, and you don't have to wait for their whole question and for them to push "enter" to see it.

Here are their comments:
  • I participated if it meant logging in at around 10 to see what everyone else asked about. It is actually quite useful if the unit is especially hard.
  • No, i was not home while the chat was open. However, i believe this would be useful in other situations. It is pretty fun and helpful.
  • Yes, I participated in the Unit S " Chat" on Sunday night. I felt that this was quite a fun, useful device. It help me clarify on a lot of things. I think this tool would be very useful in other situations that might involve clarifying or reviewing.
  • The unit S chat was very useful because it had hints on some of the problems on the test and i that definitely helped me understand those problems and get them correct
  • I did not ask questions on the Unit S "chat" except for the one Mrs. Kirch used as a sample, but I did have the chat open in case any questions came up that I had not thought about.  I found this a very useful tool for Unit S, but the Unit T chat seemed very hectic and confusing.  We can figure it out though... :)
  • I didn't write in it but i read the comments and they helped.
  • I only logged onto the chat after it was closed. I find that most of my questions are answered because one of my fellow classmates had already asked it. Again this would be a useful tool if the majority of the class took advantage of it.
  • yes :) I liked it because i got my questions answered and it was fun seeing everyone else type. This would definitely be useful in other situations
  • I did not participate in the Unit T Test " Chat" on Wednesday night, but I did read the whole chat. I thought it could be useful and helped me see what I should know for the upcoming test the next day. I do believe this would be a useful tool in other situations.
  • I did not participate, but i think it would be useful in situations that are much bigger, such as preparing for an AP test or the finals.
  • I was more of a stalker than a participator, because any of the questions I had were already answered by student, but I was still there to see if anything else that I hadn't thought of came up. It's really cool that kinda thing is possible and I hope it continues for the next tests and the final
  • No i didn't participate, but i read the comments.
  • This was useful because I had many unanswered questions about the test that would of remained unanswered if the chat was not available. Yes, it is useful for any last minute questions. 
  • I did participate in the "chat" on Sunday night. I thought it was a great way to get last minute questions answered and it would be a useful tool in other situations, since sometimes I have last minute questions at home that I never thought of at school, plus the questions that others have may also help other people.
  • I didn't participate in the chat, however I did look over the contents of it. It is very useful. 
  • Yes, I was really confused with a problem and Mrs. Kirch answered my question as I was typing it this was really cool. 
  • I didn't ask any questions but I did go on and I read the questions and answers that others posted and that helped me in seeing what others were struggling in and seeing if I needed help on that as well but maybe having two chat sessions might help, one two days before and the other the night before so that we can still get other questions answered (just a thought).
  • Yes I did. It was EXTREMELY useful. I enjoyed it, and I'm sure Cadie Heron got a perfect explanation for her question. lol.

4. Pros and Cons of Take Home Tests (and what I've learned)
I gave my students take home tests for Units Q,R, and S.  This is what I've done the last three years because these tests are very long (even with a short amount of questions) because they deal with trigonometric identities.  I have wanted my students to have as much time as they needed to wrestle with the questions and make sure their test score showed their true understanding of the material.  Being a take home test, I allowed them to use their notes and resources to take the test.

With the flipped classroom, however, I may be going away from take home tests next year.  What I found is that students did not take the in class time as seriously as they should have because they knew they would be having a take home test.  They didn't memorize the identities because they didn't see the value, knowing that they could use their notes on the exam.  (When, in reality, it is still very important to have them memorized so you can recognize them throughout the problems).  Because of the flipped classroom videos, they had almost TOO MANY resources at their fingertips that it was not really their knowledge that was tested, but their ability to search long enough to find a problem close enough to the one on the test and then copy right along.

I am torn over this, because if students have to take these three assessments in class next year, I could see them taking two days each, and I don't like that.  Maybe I need to present the Take Home Test differently?   Maybe I should tell them it's an in-class test until the day before?

Two things stuck out to me that are making me reconsider:
1. Students have to record their times that they spend on the tests.  When I see a student spending a total of 5 hours on my take home test, the only thing that tells me is "What the heck was this student doing in class the last two weeks that they need 5 hours to take this test?".  That just tells me they aren't prepared.  Now, 2 hours would be an appropriate amount, maybe even 3 for some of my slower learners.  But, most of my students spent between 4-7 hours on each of the take home tests, which I think is ridiculous.

2. The first in class test back from these was horrible.  I ended up only grading half of them and giving the rest of the students zeroes with a forced reassessment.  I feel like the take home tests decreased my students study skills from really good to little to nothing.  They showed up unprepared (even with the use of an index card) and I was so frustrated when grading them that I just stopped and only graded those who actually got the three trig graphs correct (it was only a three question test).  In class on Friday, we had a conversation (more like a one-way conversation, but still) about my disappointment in their choices and (hopefully) my encouragement of what they should be doing.  I hope I see some improvement in the next two units and I am disappointed in myself for not anticipating this issue.

5. Test results for Unit R, S, and T 
You will notice I have not posted data for Units R, S, and T on my "flip data" tab.  That is because I changed the assessment so much from last year to this year that I don't think it would be an accurate comparison, although my students did do well on R/S (see about T above).  I am planning to keep the Unit U and V tests pretty much the same so I will be able to end the year with two more Units of Data for Math Analysis.

6. General reflections for the week
Two things I'm taking away from this week:
  • I would like to continue to work towards a more mastery-based classroom where students take assessments (including the big tests, not just the mini-quizzes like I am doing now) when they are ready and they can't move on unless they show proficiency!  I feel like this would be motivating for students to LEARN because they couldn't just BS their way through the work, do "ok" (C,D) on a test, and move on.  They would have to get an 80% (that's my proficiency rate, I might make it 75% but we'll see) or they would have to go back and work some more on it.  I really feel like all students are capable of learning even the hardest material with time, dedication, focus, hard work, and great instruction.
  • This student's comment made me think: The best part of the flipped class this week was receiving a mini lesson on how to find the "mark". The reason why I take pleasure in expressing my joy of being taught be you in person is because I believe that your teaching skills are best presented when lecturing. Your loud and clear voice project perfectly across the classroom. The only part that I disliked was how there was only one of you. I constantly needed your help the first few days working on the trig graphs but instead I was forced to rely on my trustworthy friends. :D  I do want to do a better job next year of having the small group mini-lessons in class.  I feel like that would provide a balance of some traditional instruction that some of my students still long for (a little appeasement is not bad), and it would be a great support structure as well.  It would give me that little bit of "lecturing" that I do enjoy doing, but in a much better way (groups of 5-7 students instead of 40!).  I even have ideas of how to set up my classroom next year in a way that would be more conducive to this - having areas of the classroom for students who feel they are at certain levels of understanding... but I'll keep tweaking and thinking about it.
Algebra 1

This section includes: 
1. I hate highly dislike Standardized Testing
2. General reflections from the week

1. I highly dislike Standardized Testing
This week started our CST testing... 7 days of students taking two hour exams to supposedly measure their mastery of the content from all their subjects all year.  I do like looking at CST scores as a general measure of proficiency, but I hate the "test prep machine" our school turns into the month before these exams.  I hate what my classroom turns into as we do "sample released questions" and "test prep strategies".  Why don't I just keep teaching and hopefully real student learning will come across?  Oh, the never ending debate.  Except we are going to Common Core, so I hope it will be better soon.

2. General reflections from the week
We are currently on Chapter 11: Rational Expressions.  It is the hardest chapter of the year by far, because it requires that students have mastery over the material in Chapters 1,2,7,8, and 9.  My students have been doing pretty well so far and I know from experience that it starts off really rough, but gets better with time.  I have really enjoyed being able to have the students watch 2-3 examples on video, come to class and have me work out 1-2 problems on the board traditionally, and then have them work in groups.  Them coming to class with some "previewed content" really helps the class to run more smoothly.  I would really like to do a better job of doing mini-lessons continuing from this point, whether that be with the whole class when the content is really difficult (like this chapter), or just with smaller groups when my top students are ready to move on.

Sharing and Collaboration

I have two webinars coming up in the new two 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
6 weeks until summer. This has been a wild ride, but one I am SO glad I joined!

From a Math Analysis Student.  After some of the days I had this week, I really needed to hear this in the Week 12 Reflection.
Thank you, Mrs. Kirch, for EVERYTHING that you have done for us!  I really appreciate having so many opportunities to let you know what I think about the class, and I'm glad you care so much about us (enough to sit for two hours in a "chat" to answer questions).
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.  Parent phone calls for unprepared students

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. I really like the reflective aspect of your student survey (both for you and your students). I'm planning on doing a similar survey after our final exams and grades are in and adding another survey for parents too. Are you planning on surveying parents? Would like to hear what you take away from the students input, it would be interesting to compare responses when I give my survey.

    1. I am going to do a parent survey as well, closer to the end of the year (we have 6.5 weeks left). I am really looking forward to hearing what they have to say, since I only heard from about 30 of them at Open House this year.
      I'm going to do an "end of year" survey for students as well, probably in about a month.

      I'm looking forward to getting all of the results from this survey and reflecting on them next week - it will all be posted here! When you give yours, make sure to share - it would definitely be interesting to compare responses!

      What sort of questions are you going to ask your parents?

    2. I'd like to know about how they felt about the use of technology in my class this year. In addition, I'd like to get their feedback and advice for the future on any ways I can pitch my use of technology to put parents more at ease. This is because students don't get nearly as much experience with using technology until they get into my class, so in September it can be challenging for parents and students alike. Will definitely share the results of my surveys when school is out, that will be late June here in NY.

    3. Thanks for the question ideas. I will probably do something similar, and we get out June 14th, so I will need to get on it! I'll share my results here on the blog as well. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the questions which you have mentioned in this analysis.Teachers can understand the mental state of students by asking these questions.Generally children takes homework as a burden but it is very essential for them.They need some practice and daily guidance so that they can understand the high level topic .Teachers has to jut take care of this thing that they should not give it in bulk.And parents also take care of the kids assignments and the stress related to it. icse board sample papers for science


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