Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three things I struggle with as a teacher

This post doesn't really have much to do with the Flipped Classroom, but I feel like what I've written below has been even more apparent since flipping my class.  Since I spend so much more time interacting with my students, these struggles have become almost tougher for me than when I just stood in the front lecturing...

Three things I struggle with as a teacher:

  • Sometimes I wonder if my expectations are too high. Is it possible to set the bar TOO high?  I believe that it's better to set the bar too high than too low, but are my expectations of excellence too much?  I expect my students to come ready to learn every day... I expect them to do their part, because I do much more than is required of me. I expect them to give their full effort - to pay attention, ask for help when they need it, and to do their best to succeed.  I understand that these are skills that do need to be taught, but it's just tough when I am sitting here 6 school days before summer break not feeling like "enough" of my kids have reached that bar.
  • Sometimes I wish I could end a year and feel like I reached every student.  I feel like the number of students I don't feel I really reached increases every year, or maybe it's just my perspective of a few more added to the pile of "didn't reach that kid" from each year.  I try to stay positive and focus on the ones that I've really reached, but it is disheartening to see those kids every day that still just don't get it (and I'm not talking about math here, I'm talking about "life" skills - integrity, organization, self-help, work ethic, listening to directions, etc). 
  • I really don't know how to teach or motivate a student who literally doesn't give an ounce of effort. I can't pull them by their earlobes if they don't want to succeed. I just graded my last Algebra 1 test (they did well, especially considering it was open notes!), but I still have a lot of F's overall.  I never thought I would say this, but I am hoping for 26 F's this year in Algebra 1 - out of 104 students. And that's only if all the students that have a chance of passing pull it together in the next 6 days.  Those 26 students are ones who don't have a chance of passing at this point. That frustrates me that I haven't been able to "make it click" with them this year.
I am almost to the conclusion of Magic Year 5 of teaching.  

I feel like I have learned a ton, but I still feel like I have so much more to learn.  

The one phrase that comes to my mind all the time, but I never really share is: "Do I care TOO much?"  Can't I just let these things go and not worry about them?  And my answer, as of right now, is NO. I can't wake up every day loving my job as a teacher and working with kids and NOT care about the three struggles I listed above.  Will that change? Do I want it to change? I have no idea.

What are your biggest struggles as a teacher?

How have you come to grips with them, or are you still struggling?

What have you learned over time to help you? (and maybe much longer than my 5 years!)

Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's on my mind right now...

1. Quote from teacher: "Teachers are wasting their time and just re-inventing the wheel by making their own videos.  There are a ton of teachers on YouTube that already have taught everything, and there are videos that come with the textbook that we have.  Why waste time and re-make them?"

I didn't speak up at the time and now it's bugging me.  But, I guess I can't expect everyone to understand the benefit of teacher-created videos and flipped classroom ideology if they aren't willing to try it themselves.  I know many teachers just don't want to try new things.

2. Students that never learn to take responsibility for themselves.  I still have quite a few F's in my Algebra 1 class - like 40%.  And it's all because of their failure to come in and retake or make-up work...even doing so during CLASS time.   There comes a point when you hope that you have modeled and taught those life skills enough and if they don't pick up on it, maybe they just aren't at the maturity level where they understand it yet.  But still, it leaves me wondering, "What more could I have done?"

3. How much freedom can I give my students in the Flipped Class?  In my honors class - a lot... in my CP class, I think I may have given them TOO much... but at the same time, it made them learn about responsibility... and if their grade doesn't show it now, does that mean they didn't learn some life skills from my class?

4. What would it look like to head towards Mastery Learning?  I don't think I'm ready for it next year yet, but it's definitely something I want to explore.  Why do we push our kids on to Chapter 2 (Solving Equations), when they haven't mastered chapter 1 (basic operations, distributive property, etc).  We are setting them up for failure in Chapter 2 if they haven't mastered Chapter 1.  This will be very big on my "thinking list" for the summer and next year.

5. Quote from teacher: "So what do we do with students who aren't tech-savvy and who can't even type a paper?"

Umm... teach them how. Expect them to learn it. It's a life skill. I sure hope they leave my math class learning something OTHER than math.  And if it's how to use a computer and be tech-savvy, then so be it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

End-of-Year Student Interviews (Part 2, Videos 5-13)

For Students #1-4, see post here.

I asked my students the following questions about the Flipped Classroom.  Here is a sneak peek from the first students to jump on the opportunity to interview :)  I will be recording the rest of the students in the next 2-3 weeks as we head into summer break and be posting more videos as they get recorded.

Eventually, I will be putting the videos all together to make a montage of my students to show at the beginning of next year.

Questions answered (in order, in case you just are interested in certain questions):

  1. What is the Flipped Classroom?
  2. What is the best part about the Flipped Classroom?
  3. What part of the Flipped Classroom this last year was most beneficial to you as a student?
  4. What is a WSQ?  What does it look like at home and what do you do with it in class?
  5. Give advice to a student on how to get the most out of the lecture videos.
  6. Give advice to a student on how to get the most out of in class time.
  7. Give advice on using the WSQ charts to a future student.
  8. Give advice on how to succeed in the Flipped Classroom in general to a future student. 
  9. Give advice to students next year on how to get along well with Mrs. Kirch and succeed in her class, flipped or not.
If something my students say really stands out to you, please comment about it by Student # and question/time in video.  Since I will be merging these all together, I will be starting to identify which portions I really want to put together in the final viewing.  I will be adding my thoughts to each video as well. 

Kirch Comments: good answers, but not sure if I will use any of hers in the final product.
Kirch Comments: good answers, but not sure if I will use any of his in the final product.
Kirch Comments: I really like her entire interview... I will probably use most of her clips.

Kirch Comments: Argh I dislike that this student defines a Flipped Classroom as "a video"... exactly what I'm trying to get AWAY from.  I hope to do a much better job of this next year!  I do like Question #6, 7, 8, and parts of 9.

Kirch Comments: I like questions 3, 5, 6, 8, 9. I love the comment about having to call her mom in the middle of the day.

Kirch Comments: Good answers, but I'm not sure I'll use any of hers in the final...

Kirch Comments: I like #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (hilarious), 9

Kirch Comments: I like parts of #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #8 (especially the "give it a chance"), #9 (take responsibility - don't rely on me for everything!)

Kirch Comments: Parts of #1, #2 (student in control of learning), #3 (learn at own pace), #4 (pieces; her response is fairly long), #5 (good tips), #6 (student responsible, organized, learn priorities), #7 (good tips), #8 (focus on group dynamic), #9 (integrity)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reflections on Week 16 (Three thoughts for a three-day weekend)
Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone!  This reflection post is going to stray from normal for this week because, well, this week was anything BUT normal.  Here are just a few thoughts and reflections.
Other posts from the week:
1. Flipped Class Webinar - Take Two! 
2. Monday's #flipclass chat - ideas to ponder 
3. Three students that struggle in my #flipclass 

  • I'm LOVING having students submit their WSQs electronically instead of handwritten.  There is more accountability for them and more feedback for me.  I am making them resubmit the WSQs until they are correct, so that motivates them to get it right the first time and really pay attention to the video.  It is a little tedious with the resubmits, but because they are all online through a Google Doc, I can do a few here and a few there and it doesn't turn into too big of a deal.  Also, I can choose which WSQs are "Mandatory Resubmissions" (or even which QUESTIONS are mandatory resubmissions) if I want to lower the amount of "re-grading" time that I have.
    • What I love best about the Online WSQs
      • More accountability for them - I can and do read every response so they can't just write "crap" down in their notebooks and hope I don't spend too much time at their group that day.  Also, they have the accountability that they have to be complete AND correct in their responses or they will be resubmitting.
      • More feedback for me - I know BEFORE they come to class exactly where the misconceptions are.  I have about 45/70 students submit the WSQ before 7:30am, and the rest submit it in the morning, during homeroom, or during lunch.  So, although I don't get to read through all of them before class time, I do get a pretty good grasp about where the tricky parts are and how they are doing.
      • It guides class instruction if needed - based on the responses, I can decide to do a 5-minute mini lecture, or do a sample problem as a class, or change up how/what I want them to focus on during their WSQ discussions.   It's great feedback as a whole.  On Monday of this week, only 7 of the students got all 7 "Secret Questions" right... and about 15 students got all of them wrong.  So, their WSQ chat actually turned into them re-working through the Secret Questions together and figuring out where they went wrong.  It was actually very helpful. I had the 7 "perfect" students still re-work through them with their groups, both as the "experts" and to make sure they really knew what they were doing and didn't guess.  In hindsight, that was a good and a bad thing.  I think it was a positive experience for them, but it did "hold them back" if they were ready to move on, which is one of my goals NOT to do with the Flipped Classroom.
    • To work on and tweak with online WSQs:
      •  Students need to handwrite their question ("Q") and bring to class. I have often forgotten to do anything with the questions now that students don't have anything written in front of them.  
      • One of the "hidden" goals of the WSQ is to have the students working on their writing skills in my class. I need to train/teach and then hold the students to a higher level of expectation in terms of typing online - I still want complete sentences and coherent thoughts, not just short, quick answers.
    • Ideas for next year with the online WSQ
      • IF we are able to use the iPad lab in my class, students could submit the WSQ online and then just open the Google Doc up to talk through their answers in class.  Then, they have access to not only THEIR answers, but EVERYONE'S answers from  Math Analysis!  I think that would be a great collaboration tool.
  • I am in the process of getting a lot of end-of-year feedback:
    • "Flipped Classroom Reflection Interview" - all of my students are answering nine questions about the flipped classroom both in typing and then on video interview.  For the students that allow me to use their video in public, the interviews will be posted here on my blog.  Four of them are already up in a previous post, and I am editing more as they get filmed (a few a day until our June 14th last day of school!). I will try to post a few more later this weekend.  Once I get all the students' videos edited, I will be putting together a "highlight reel" for each question to use in my class next year as an intro to the Flipped Classroom.
    • "Flipped Classroom Parent Survey" - I am having my parents fill out a short survey about the Flipped Classroom.  I just realized now that I never actually sent home the "letter to parents" to my Math Analysis students because we just kind of transitioned to the Flipped Classroom.  With my Algebra 1's, it was a hard and fast change, so they got a letter sent home.  I sent the letter out to my Math Analysis parents electronically via Edmodo, but I'm finding out now that several of them never accessed it at all.  But, they never asked me any questions all semester via email, edmodo, phone, etc... so I leave that on them at this point.
    • "End of Year Survey" - This is a survey I do every year (tweaked a little bit each year) to get feedback on everything we've done this year, not just the Flipped Classroom (only the last page refers to the Flipped Classroom).  Some years I do it anonymously; this year I chose not to.  I feel like I have developed an open and honest relationship with my students where they can tell me the truth even if it's not positive. [Please note: to see the whole survey, you will have to click through the questions because they are "mandatory" completion.  Go for it if you choose, just don't click "submit" on the very last page and I'll never know the difference!]
  • Sharing, sharing, sharing!
    • On Tuesday, I had a day of meetings with the rest of the Math Department Chairs in my district.  I am "officially" presenting my Flipped Classroom to them on our June 7th monthly meeting, but it got brought up and we spent lunch talking about it and sharing.  One of the other math teachers has been experimenting with "video instruction" for the last chapter or so of his Geometry class.  I shared about the WSQ, for lesson organization, MentorMob for curating content, student-created videos, and how the focus of the flipped classroom needs to be OFF the videos and more on the class environment and how that is changing.
    • On Thursday, I was honored to host about ten visitors from two different high schools (both from more than an hour away!!!).  They observed my first class (which, due to it being an assembly day, was only 37 minutes instead of 54) and then we were able to just chat for about two hours (being an assembly day and not having a homeroom = I had lots of time!).  They had a lot of questions and it was just an informal Q&A session about anything they wanted to discuss.  It was really neat because from one high school, the principal, a social science teacher, a couple science teachers, and a couple math teachers were able to come.  It was great to have a variety of subject areas all interested in how the flipped classroom could make a difference with their students.
All in all, it was an exhausting week.  Monday was the only normal day.  Tuesday, I was pulled out all day for meetings.  Wednesday, I was also pulled out all day for meetings, did 2 hours of math interviews for a new position we have open for next year, stayed after school for 3 hours for an open study session, and then presented at our School Awards night (I live 25 minutes away, so there was no point in me going home and coming back).  Thursday was an assembly day, so in addition to the kids being crazy, classes were only 37 minutes long.  Friday was a modified day, so classes were only 40 minutes long.  Short class periods tend to make the kids think it is a "joke" day and you really have to get them focused and willing to work for the time you have them.

I have found that it is hard to motivate kids when you are exhausted yourself.  On Thursday and Friday, I was EXHAUSTED.  More so than I think I have ever been.  With so much on my plate the last month above and beyond my normal teaching duties, I have worn myself out.
Luckily I have great kids who can just go with the flow and will work hard when I have an "off day".  I went home Thursday and took a nap... Friday I just had the kids working independently and silently, which they did a great job with.  We left town on Friday afternoon and am enjoying a long weekend at my parents house in the small town I grew up in.  It's quiet, calm, and peaceful...and I'm loving it!

13 more wake-ups until summer break!
Out of those school days:
-I am pulled out for meetings for two of them
-Two of them are Friday modified days (out at 12:30)
-Three of them are Finals modified days (out at 12:30)

So, I have 6 "regular" school days left until summer :)

What I am looking forward to most about Summer 2012

  • Not waking up to an alarm clock.  I have been sleep deprived this year.  It's not fun and it's not healthy. I am looking forward to getting back on a regular sleeping schedule and carrying that over to the new school year. 
  • Continuing with my weight loss - I am 10 pounds away from being back at my wedding weight, and I'd love to celebrate our 5-year anniversary back where I've been trying to get for the last four years :)  Speaking of our 5-year anniversary, hopefully we will find something fun to do to celebrate.  We were planning a big trip, but then my younger sister decided to get married in Florida with two months notice and that kind of turned into an "early" 5-year anniversary trip to DisneyWorld.  I'm not complaining :)
  • Spending more time with friends and family - I am looking forward to spending more time hanging out, going to the beach, playing tennis, going on walks/runs, reading, shopping, cooking, etc.   I want to start exercising consistently again and get my tone back.
  • I have a goal of 70 books this year, and right now I believe I'm on book 22.  I read a lot of novels, so over the summer I will probably read 2-3 a week -  they are fiction novels though and pretty easy/fun to get through.  I have (not kidding here) probably 50-60 books sitting on my bookshelf just waiting to be read... so I'm exciting to curl up with a good book :)  [I get most of my books from garage sales, thrift stores, bargain bins, or from super cheap].
  • ISTE 2012 in San Diego!  I will be driving the hour down south with 3 other ladies from my school and I am so excited for the entire conference... I wish there were three of me so I could attend all the sessions I want to
  • FlipCon12  "virtually" - can't fly to Chicago, so I'll be attending the virtual conference... some live, some I will probably watch throughout the summer.  Super excited!
  • Getting my Flipped Classroom videos recorded for the first few months of school from when I still taught traditionally.  Most of Math Analysis needs to be done in the first 2 weeks of summer because it is now a part of the "summer packet" for my incoming students. (see
  • Get my class blogs set up for next year (Math Analysis already partially set up; get Algebra 1 put together)
  • Finishing my final edits of my curriculum that has been 4 years in development.  Possibly putting it online somewhere like teacherspayteachers? (If anyone has used that, let me know your thoughts... everyone who uses my stuff tells me I need to start selling it.)
  • Go through all my posts from this year and make notes about what I want to think about, change, tweak, etc, and start getting all those thoughts put together in an organized fashion.  I am so thankful I chose to take the time to blog through this entire journey because it has been so helpful for me!
  • Update the site with all the new submissions to the survey that have been received since it was initially published on April 4th.  It's been put on the backburner for a while now :)
Thank you for joining me on my journey this semester! 

This week marked my four-month BLOGAVERSARY, and I celebrated with 50 followers and over 26,000 views!  Amazing what can happen in four short months...

It's also hard to believe there will only be two (or three, if I choose to blog on Finals week) reflection posts left... then A LOT of student/parent feedback posts once I get them all organized... then who knows?

What should I blog about next year?  

Like I've said over and over again, this blog has been indispensable to my professional development.  I'm thinking I will continue reflecting on my journey as a "flipper" because in Year 2, I am almost certain I will learn just as much if not more than year " . 5".  We'll see where this leads! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5/21/12 #flipclass chat ideas

Question for the week:
"What classroom projects/assignments are you doing with #flipclass?"

1. Exploring "Menus" as a way to increase student choice in assignments.

One of my big focuses for next year, now that I have my first .5 year of flipping under my belt, is to work on the activities I have students participate in during class. Right now, all students complete all the same assignments and activities.  And, for starting out, I think that was a good place for me.  There was enough craziness going on with me making the videos and just trying to figure this whole flipped class thing out to add one more thing to the mix.

I would like to add more student choice in the assignments they complete to show mastery of the content.  Some ways I have seen this be done is through using "Menus" or something similar.  Here are three examples that were shared on the #flipclass chat last night.  I would love to see ANY other examples that you have, especially any in math!

Dare to Differentiate - Choice Boards (thanks to for the link)

Other links to check out:

I haven't wrapped my head around this completely, and I don't know if I would have a menu for every concept, for every week, for every unit, etc.  I basically teach one new concept a day, even though they are interrelated and connect to each other.  For the most part, students have to understand Concept 1 in order to be successful at Concept 2 (rare exceptions to this; most math is very sequential and builds on each other).  Any thoughts and ideas from other teachers using Menus would be greatly appreciated!

@arnoldscience I like the menu idea even for high school. I want to explore the idea this summer #flipclass
@crystalkirch @arnoldscience I also am interested in menus; saw a series of books for each subject area on amazon. #flipclass
Seriously though, menus allow them to use their own gifts/methods, videos, podcasts, posters, art, whatever if set up right #flipclass

2. Going with this was the idea that all work assigned must be meaningful and should not be busywork.  Students are used to busy work, so it is sometimes hard to break them of the habit that "this is just another meaningless worksheet".  Here are some thoughts from the chat:

Biggest change has been -make work actually meaningful. Textbook reading & questions cannot cut it anymore-Not that it did before#flipclass
@smallbutfeisty YES! We need to redesign *everything* we assign in a #flipclass!
@smallbutfeisty agreed. also giving more freedom in assignment choices #flipclass
@smallbutfeisty Yes! All work must be meaningful. That is a shift for Ss as well as tchrs b/c they are used to "busy work" #flipclass
I STRUGGLE w/ this w/o problem sets. RT @DaretoChem:@smallbutfeisty agreed. also giving more freedom in assignment choices #flipclass
@smallbutfeisty @DaretoChem Prob. sets can be a tool, but more introductory/skill building, not end assessment. #flipclass

I still think "problem sets" are important in math, because the skills are built through practice. I do think I could do a better job providing variety in the way these problem sets are presented.  I feel like I have started to have them explore options in assessments - taking a quiz, making a video, etc... but it hasn't gotten to the point where they get to CHOOSE their option.  I would like to try that next year.

3. A question that made me think:
Has your approach to changing class work dynamics been an easy shift or difficult? #flipclass

@bennettscience it has been difficult due to the ss not wanting to switch because they have been spoon feed their entire life #flipclass
@davidfouch That's the problem I see more, not so much resistance to "new." They resist actually *learning*. #flipclass
as @chemicalsams and @jonbergmann have said, the ones that like to play the school game generally hate #flipclass

 For me, I feel like it is a roller coaster.  Some days are amazing and the kids are just on board and doing what I want them to do and class is productive and awesome and engaging.  Other days, I feel like I am pulling teeth to get them focused and on task and not just want to waste time.  At this point, most of them know that using class time well is the most beneficial for them because then they don't have to bring much home.  However, especially at this point of the year, the kids are so burnt out and ready for summer it is very hard not to just go with them.  Alas, I keep pushing and prodding and questioning and I stay with my high expectations, but it can get very hard sometimes - especially with my 1st and 6th period.  It's like 1st period can't wake up  and 6th period is exhausted.  I'm sure that's how it is in every school/class, but I was blessed my first three years of teaching to have 1st period prep and 6th period coaching, so I never got to experience it until last year.

This makes me think of the shift my students will be making from Day 1 next year.  I am hoping that presenting it with a running start from the beginning will help with their transition (nothing to compare it to), as well as just knowing a bit more myself about what I expect from my kids (and not just flying from the seat of my pants and trying stuff out all the time!).  Do I expect that the change will be easy? No way... but I am hoping that the transition will be smoother than pulling this on my students in the middle of the year.

4. Other random comments to check out in the archive if you have interest/time
  • Class sizes in California are huge. I'm flipping with class sizes of 33,34,37,37,37. There is so much more I could do with my students (flipped class or not) with class sizes even an ounce smaller.  I am constantly moving from group to group (gosh I'm exhausted at the end of every period!) and asking questions, but there is still that student or two who slips by and continues to get off task, even though they know they are just creating more work for themselves.  When will they learn?  When I was in high school, if you had a class of 32 students, it was COMPLETELY FULL and you thought it was huge.  They just get bigger every year.  I would LOVE to have class sizes of even just 30. 25 - amazing. 20? priceless. 15 - life changing :) 
  • A discussion on grades... which is more important - learning or grades?  To me - the learning.  To our students - most of them, grades.  Transitioning them to realize it's about their learning - not about "getting the work done" or "getting an A" is a hard process but I feel like I have made progress this year in at least putting that idea in my students' heads.
  • Some thoughts on #flipclass visitors and what they expect to see. I've got up to 9 more coming Thursday. Kinda stressful since I was out today and will be out tomorrow, but hopefully it will be fine.  The kids are just so burnt out at this time of the year that I hope it's a good example of a flipped classroom.  I want more teachers to start using this ideology as I think it is absolutely amazing!

I'm already counting the days until Friday :)  Summertime is almost here!  16 more days of school until summer - including finals :)

Flipped Class Webinar - take two!

I will be presenting another webinar on "My Flipped Classroom" on Tuesday, June 12th, at 4pm PST.  If you missed the last one, feel free to join in on this one!

Link to register is here:

Friday, May 18, 2012

The three students that struggle in my #flipclass

I have come to the realization that there are certain types of students that I just don't click with. 

One of the greatest benefits of the flipped classroom is the relationships you get to develop with students because you work with them one-on-one so much.  However, sometimes certain types of students just rub you the wrong way and the daily one-on-one interaction wears you thin. 

Here are the three types of students who have worn me thin this year with the Flipped Classroom.

1. The cocky "I'm always right" student

This student doesn't want to think. This student wants to get the math problems completed correctly and move it.  Understanding of what is actually going on?  This student doesn't need it.  Collaboration and conversation with peers to deepen the connections between the material? Not necessary.  This student is smarter than them anyways. Showing work? Not needed.  The right answer is all that's needed - why show the thought processes and the work behind it?  Make a mistake?  Oh, gosh, never. The teacher must be wrong, because this student would never make a mistake.  This student is satisfied sitting alone, mindlessly doing math problems, and moving on. 

2. The attitude "Give me what I want when I want it" student

This student does not want to sit in a group.  Although talented, this student chooses to work with the lowest students in the class.  Not to help them, mind you, because when they don't get it this student sighs and rolls eyes at them.  Rather, this student doesn't want to have to interact and share ideas with "same level" students because that would require more work and social interaction.  When this student has a question, the hand is raised and Mrs. Kirch is the only one who can answer the question.  When Mrs. Kirch does not arrive right away, or stops to help another student first, this student sighs, rolls eyes, and complains.  When asked to get up and ask another student the answer, the student refuses to do so and then again, sighs and rolls eyes.  When asked a challenging question that requires thought, or even when asked to just participate in class discussions, this student sits there alone and says nothing.  This student gives off the attitude to everyone around her that she is better than them, but doesn't want to help them in any way.  If this student doesn't get the answer desired immediately, some sort of attitude is given.  Conversations, conferences, and consequences only lead to more attitude.

3. The lazy "Let me cheat my way through this system" student

This student is full of excuses daily.  Excuses why the video didn't get watched.  Excuses why the homework is late.  Excuses why the homework is incomplete.  Excuses for off-task behavior.  Excuses excuses excuses.  This student writes crap down on almost every assignment and tries to get it signed off, not realizing that it's not about completion, it's about LEARNING.  This student would rather get the right answer, no matter if the steps make any sense at all, than actually understand the process.  This student claims tutoring will be attended weekly, but yet this student never shows up for the extra help.  This student fails concept quizzes again and again, but won't sit down to correct them to learn from mistakes made.  This student "completes" assignments to earn points, avoid punishment, but not to actually learn.  This student is entitled and lies to himself on a daily basis on what is actually understood, because actually realizing the understanding ISN'T there would mean that more effort (without excuses) would need to be made... and this student doesn't want this.

Do you have any of these students in your class?  How do you work with them?

Reflections on Week 15 (starting to wrap things up!)

What does this picture have to do with this post, you may ask?  Nothing, really.  Except we had a modified day today and got out at 12:30 and I went to the beach with my husband.  And this was my view. It was gorgeous.  Feet in the sand, sun on my face, book in my hand... wonderful afternoon :)

It's hard to believe there are officially 3 weeks left of school (and then finals week).  I say this every year, but this year flew by!  This is the point of the year right now that I get to every year - I am excited about finishing strong, but my mind is constantly bombarded with new ideas and what I want to change or try for next year.  I have been able to have some good conversations with some of my students about the Flipped Class and come up with some good thoughts for next year.  I am VERY excited to start a school year flipped from the beginning!  

I had three visitors from our District Office come and visit one of my class periods on Monday, and it was very exciting to share with them what I have been doing.  They were very excited and impressed with the level of engagement of the students and the focus/on-task behavior that they saw.  It is really cool to me to think "that's just normal" now for my classroom.  Students are generally engaged, focused, and on-task for the majority of the period and classroom management is not that big of a deal.  I am hoping they might do some district-wide training on the flipped classroom next school year that I will be able to be a part of!  Yay!

Also, I will get to present my flipped classroom at our next Department Chair meeting in June!  I am doing a "flipped" presentation - the other chairs will be watching my webinar before the meeting and send me questions they have.  Then, the 20 minutes I would normally have to present/discuss the flipped classroom will be spent all on discussions, questions, and ideas!  I'm excited!

Oh, and speaking of my webinar, if you missed my first one, I will be doing another one on June 12th at 4pm PST.  It will be the same presentation, but if you missed it the first time, hopefully you can join in this time live!

*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. Frustration rant about student responsibility and motivation here.
2. Some more end of year thoughts and reflections here.
3. My weekly #flipclass chat random musings post... things that stuck out to me and what I want to think about further.  This week's chat was on incorporating reading and writing strategies into every content class.  Post here.
4. A post about a speech I gave to my Frosh/Soph Algebra 1 classes about self-assessment and evaluation.  Our new phrase in class is, "Oh yeah, I get it now". Post here.
5. Round 1 of "End of Year Student Interviews".  I am having all of my students interview on video answering 9 questions about the flipped classroom.  The questions they are answering are here and the first student video is here.
6. What will you miss the most about #flipclass?  What part did you enjoy the most? Student answers here.
7. Three types of students that struggle in my #flipclass.  Do you have any of these students in your class? Post here.

Math Analysis
1. WSQ resubmissions
2. Senioritis and the Flipped Class
3. Final Exam Idea
4. Summer Excitement!

1. WSQ resubmissions
I continued to require WSQ resubmissions for incorrect and incomplete answers.  I really like how this makes the WSQ an even greater accountability tool for students.  Here is the general process.
  • Students submit their WSQ electronically.  The WSQ includes their "summary" (answering specific questions I ask), their own HOT question (with what they think the answer is if they have an idea), and their answers to the "Secret Questions" I have them answer.  I have started to ALWAYS give the students between 2-5 problems to try on their own after each video as a way to self-assess.
  • After submitting, students are given the link to the spreadsheet that will show all student responses, in addition to my "perfect" response at the top of the page.  There are also sometimes links to short video explanations of the "Secret Question" problems in case they got them wrong.
  • Students can read through their classmates responses and figure out where they might have had misconceptions or did not fully answer the question.  I am able to make comments immediately on student responses, and color code their names to let them know their "level" (Green = clear, Pink = wrong answers, Yellow = incomplete answers).
  • Students must resubmit their answers to any box that is not Green as soon as possible (by the end of the Unit is my deadline).  They can do it in two ways: in person by explaining it to me during class or by sending me a note on Edmodo.  Regardless, when they resubmit, they must also explain their answer in more detail and explain their misconception or where they went off track the time before.  This is because they basically have the right answers in front of them now so they have to do more than just copy the correct answers that are already there.   I add a column called "corrections" where their corrected answered are copied into.
2. Senioritis and the Flipped Class
This is the point of the year where my seniors in Math Analysis have major struggles with senioritis.  They have less than 3 weeks of school left and none of them need my class to graduate.  So, they would much rather slack and not watch the videos at home and then not be productive in class.  I remember how I felt my senior year when graduation was so close, so I do feel for them a bit.  But, at the same time, I wish I knew a cure for senioritis...

3. Final Exam Idea
My students already took the first part of their Final Exam before our State Testing at the beginning of this month.  So, they are just supposed to take a "mini-final" at the end of the year covering the last 6 units of the year.  Because our seniors take finals a week early, it completely throws off the schedule because my class is mixed juniors/seniors.  In the past, we have always had the seniors take the finals on their day, and the juniors do so during the real "finals week".  I really want to do something different this year and have the juniors and seniors take the final on the same day, and do something different with the juniors for the 2 hour "final exam" time period.

So, I've been running some ideas through my head for what to do for the "final", especially since it's actually the seniors last day on campus and I usually do a big "farewell, good wishes, share about your future" sendoff day.  They still need to take some sort of "final" exam though.

Any ideas for "non-traditional" final exams?  I don't have any ideas fully formulated yet to share, but I'd love to hear if you have tried anything "different"

4. Summer Excitement!
I am VERY excited for the "summer #flipclass" our incoming students will be doing.  We always give our kids summer packets for Honors/AP classes, and I never felt they were as useful as they could be because students wouldn't really do them.  So, we haven't done them the last 2 summers for Math Analysis.  But, now that we are going to incorporate the use of Videos, modified WSQs, and online support throughout the summer, I really think it will go well.  We are doing this for two reasons:
1. The first chapter of Math Analysis is actually usually skipped because it is Algebra 2 skills.  However, we normally spend a month on it.  Our students come in, think this class is a piece of cake, spend little to no time on homework, get into bad habits, and then get hit really hard come a month into school when they realize this math class is actually difficult.  We want to avoid that by starting off running.
2. There are several chapters we have actually had to skip (polar, parametric, matrix operations, vectors, 3-D graphing, conic rotation, etc) because we don't have enough time to cover them.  I would love to have the extra three weeks we would gain back to spend more time on our current content and start teaching some of the stuff we had to leave out again! 

Algebra 1

1. "Oh Yeah, I get it now"
2.  Students back to Chapter 1 and 2

1. "Oh Yeah, I get it now"
See my "speech" here.  This is one of my biggest frustrations/concerns with my Algebra 1 kids.  They seriously just lie to themselves and they don't realize it.  If there is one thing "non-math" I really want my students to learn from my class, it's how to self-evaluate correctly and how to learn.  A lot of my students really seemed to get a lot from my "speech", as they have talked to me about it every day.  However, changing their mindset and the way they've always gone about doing things is not a one-day or one-week change.  It's going to take a while. I only hope I provide a step in the right direction for them.

2.  Students back to Chapter 1 and 2
At this point, all of my students below a 40% are in a completely separate group in my classroom, working on basic operations from Chapter 1.  My goal is that they are prepared well to hopefully succeed in Algebra 1 next year.  This whole experience makes me really consider the thought of a Flipped-Mastery Model.  Why are students allowed to move on to a harder chapter when they haven't mastered the pre-requisite skills.  I'm not sure if I'm ready to try this on a large-scale for next year, but it will definitely be in the back of my mind for my struggling learners.  Having all the lessons on video will be a huge asset.  We'll see how my thoughts develop on this...

Sharing and Collaboration

I love my #flipclass and blogging community.  Have I said that lately?  You are all amazing and so valuable in my professional development as a flipping teacher!!  THANK YOU!

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
Found this on my desk Thursday after school.  Still have no idea who put it there, but it made me smile :)


From my student's weekly reflections:
  • Just want to say that you're so awesome Mrs. Kirch! You're starting a revolution!
  • XD thank you for caring and being like a chittah! :) can be rough but you do it cause you know its for our own good. thank you for a being a great teacher! ^_^
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)

nothing brand new :)

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. 

What will you miss the most? What did you enjoy the most? #flipclass student thoughts

I asked this question on my Week 15 Reflection - What part of this class do you think you will miss the most?  Which part have you enjoyed the most this year?
  • Flipped classroom and working with others it.
  • I think i will miss the songs and chants and i enjoyed the SSS and flipped classroom videos.
  • I will miss being able to see everyone. The part I enjoyed the most was the friendships I made in this class due to flipped classroom.
  • i think the part I'll miss is having those videos on youtube.
  • At first those songs were not my friends but i think about it and i actually liked them :).. catchy and they had a purpose, very educational "
  • Being able to do the homework in class, and being able to sit wherever we want as long as its with someone you know you can get your work done!
  • I love our seats. We all work together and help each other to finish our work. :) Overall, I've enjoyed that this class has been experiencing new things. We get to do stuff that other classes here at [our high school] don't normally get to do.
  • I think I will miss the open quizzes the most.
  • The part i enjoyed the most this year was learning that not everything will be easy. Also learning that "if its important to you you will find a way, if its not you will find an excuse."
  • i enjoyed being able to watch the video and understanding everything much better.
  • I think i will miss being able to actually do my homework in class rather than at home, I enjoyed being a guinea pig in your process of flipped class rooms
  • The part of the class I will miss most and the part that i enjoyed is WSQ-ing with our groups.
  • I will miss getting ahead and I enjoyed seeing my mom be proud of me for once

Thursday, May 17, 2012

END OF YEAR Student Interviews (Part 1, Videos 1-4)

For Students #5-13, see post here

I asked my students the following questions about the Flipped Classroom.  Here is a sneak peek from the first students to jump on the opportunity to interview :)  I will be recording the rest of the students in the next 3-4 weeks as we head into summer break and be posting more videos as they get recorded.

Eventually, I will be putting the videos all together to make a montage of my students to show at the beginning of next year.

Questions answered (in order, in case you just are interested in certain questions):

  1. What is the Flipped Classroom?
  2. What is the best part about the Flipped Classroom?
  3. What part of the Flipped Classroom this last year was most beneficial to you as a student?
  4. What is a WSQ?  What does it look like at home and what do you do with it in class?
  5. Give advice to a student on how to get the most out of the lecture videos.
  6. Give advice to a student on how to get the most out of in class time.
  7. Give advice on using the WSQ charts to a future student.
  8. Give advice on how to succeed in the Flipped Classroom in general to a future student. 
  9. Give advice to students next year on how to get along well with Mrs. Kirch and succeed in her class, flipped or not.

If something my students say really stands out to you, please comment about it by Student # and question/time in video.  Since I will be merging these all together, I will be starting to identify which portions I really want to put together in the final viewing.  I will be adding my thoughts to each video as well. 

KIRCH COMMENTS: This entire interview is just awesome. This kid gets it.
 "Poster child for Flipped Classroom"

KIRCH COMMENTS: #3 (one-on-one conversations!), #8 (take the wheel to your own education), #9 (I just think it's funny that she said "smile at fractions and decimals" :))

KIRCH COMMENTS: #2 (shorter lessons), #3 (take responsibility),  #5 (don't watch them all the way thru at once), #7 (work ahead, focus your work), #8 (accept the change and go with it)

KIRCH COMMENTS: #2 (videos available 24/7, can always go back), #3 (take responsibility for learning), #4 (if you can explain to someone else, you're good), #8 (take responsibility, don't cheat yourself out of anything, watch the videos early), #9 (ask a lot of questions!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oh yeah, I get it now...

I had a talk with all of my freshmen classes today; probably a talk I should have had much earlier in the year but I don't know if it would have made as good of an impact.  I feel like they are finally to the point (3 weeks before summer) where this really clicked with a lot of them and I hope it makes them think about their actions the rest of this school year and into their sophomore year.

We just finished the hardest chapter of the year on Rational Expressions, and the kids struggled on the test.  I didn't expect them to ace it, honestly, but they did really bad.  Like REALLY bad.  Like to the point that I actually worked out the test for them in warm-up Monday-Thursday, gave them the exact same questions on Friday, and they still only got a 65% class average (when 50% is the lowest any student could score for trying).

Here is the story I told them:

You are all really good at watching me do problems on a video screen.  You copy down the notes in detail and hang on to every word I say.  Then, at the end of the video, you say "Oh yeah, I get it"

I ask you to try some problems at the end of the video, but work them out for you in a second, optional, part.  You aren't quite sure how to start them, so you watch part 2 and copy what I explain.  Then, at the end of the video, you say "Oh yeah, I get it now."

You come to class and start working on some problems, but get stuck, so you ask your group members.  They pull out a whiteboard or a piece of paper and explain it to you, or show you how they solved it.  You copy down what they said or wrote, and then you say "Oh yeah, I get it now."

You keep working on problems, but your group members are busy or stuck as well, so you call me over to get help.  I guide you through a problem or to, asking you questions along the way, but in the end you basically copy down what I say.  Then you say, "Oh yeah, I get it now."

You need some more help, and I am busy on the other side of the classroom, so you get up to check out the worked out answer key and see what I did.  You see how I worked it out and copy my work down step by step.  Then you look at it and say, "Oh yeah, I get it now" and sit down to work on the next problem.

You find another problem that you need help on, but there isn't a worked out answer key for this one, just the answer.  So you get it wrong, look at the answer on the back, and find a way to make your work seem like it matches up with the answer.  It's close enough anyways.  You're happy you got the right answer even though you have no idea how you got there, so you say "Oh yeah, I get it now."

You are supposed to take concept quizzes on each type of problem to test your understanding and if you truly get it.  You either decide not to take the quizzes at all and just ignore the fact that they are there, or you take them and fail them because you actually haven't solved one problem by yourself in all of your days of practice so far.  I ask you to come to tutoring to get extra help.  I ask you to go back over and find your mistakes, letting me know if you need more help.  Some of you fix your mistakes after a classmate explains it to you and you copy down their explanation.  Then you say "Oh yeah, I get it now."  Or, you look at your failed quiz and quickly glance over the work and say that you see what you did wrong even though you don't, and say "Oh yeah, I get it now"

Then you show up on the day of the test, when you now have to show that you truly get it.  And you fail.  And you wonder why you got an F when you truly thought that you got it.

This experience was a failure on the part of the students but also a failure on the part of me as a teacher.  Through my 54 minutes each day with them, I constantly formatively assess them through interviews, questioning, and watching them work through problems.  I knew they weren't 100% ready and there were definitely some tricky problems that they struggled with.  I tried alleviate that by basically giving them the test problems, by spending some extra days reviewing, by pulling out small groups, by reviewing some tricky examples, etc.  Was there more I should have done? Yes. Were there things I should have done differently? Yes. But I really thought I did my best with the time and ideas I had this year.

However, a large part of this also falls on the students.  I believe that self-evaluating is a HUGE skill that our students must develop.  They need to know what they know and know what they don't know... and then have the motivation, confidence, and support to strive after improving their understanding of the material.  My students do an amazing job of lying to themselves by saying "Oh yeah, I get it" when they have actually never done a problem on their own.

Do students learn by watching me do problems? Yes.
Do students learn by watching their classmates do problems? Yes.
Do students learn by looking at examples? Yes.
But students learn best (and it sticks!) when they actually DO and when they actually DO IT THEMSELVES and not by watching someone else do it for them.  The modeling is key at the beginning. The support is necessary.  But eventually, they have to learn to do and think for themselves. 

My students still do a lot of "watching" and not enough "doing".  Because of this, when they were asked to fully "do" on the day of a test, they failed.

I waited a couple of days after the test to have this "talk" with the students. I didn't want it to come across in anger, and it didn't.  I really feel like it hit home with the students.  Most importantly, I want them to know that we are all learners.  I told them that even though my formal education was over, I am still learning something new every day.  I am constantly trying to figure things out, make things better, and solve problems.  Once I stop learning, I stop living.  We as humans are learners; it's in our nature.  We are all capable of learning anything (I truly believe that); it will just take some of us longer to learn some things than it will take others.  We need to realize that is true, and realize that it is okay.  We need to know that we don't fully learn by listening, by copying, or passively participating.  We learn best by doing, applying, and thinking critically about our mistakes so we can learn from them.

After the talk, we got to work.  It was actually really neat to hear the students work together or work with me, and after having something explained to them, they actually said "Oh yeah, I get it now" without realizing it.  Then they realized what they said, and they followed it up with "Well, let me try one on my own and then I'll let you know if I get it".

How can I teach this to my kids from Day 1 next year?

This is such an important tool in a Flipped Classroom for students to be able to self-evaluate and know where they are at and when they are ready to move on, as well as when they need to slow down and do some more practice.

How can I show them that it's not about getting the work "done" or getting the work "right" but actually understanding what you are doing and being able to do it completely on your own?

How can I teach them that it's not about completing the required assignments, it's about practicing enough to master the material, whether that be 2 problems or 20 problems?  My students have no problem "waiving" an assignment for acing a quiz, but I never have a had a student ask for more problems when they are done with the requirement but aren't ready for the quiz yet.

I hope I see a change in my students over the next 3 weeks.  I know a speech is not going to reach every kid, but I will say that from what I have heard from my students the rest of the day, what I said resonated with them and made them think.  I just hoping that thinking = desire to change.  Because if this truly resonates and makes sense to them, I truly believe their level of success at everything they do will increase exponentially.  (Had to throw a math visual in there:) ).

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