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) http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/Choice+Boards

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 :)

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