Friday, May 11, 2012

Reflections on Week 14 (week 14 and I'm still trying new things?!?!)

What a week!  Can I just say I am GLAD it is Friday!  As exciting as the week has been both in and out of class, I am absolutely exhausted and definitely need a weekend.  I had the privilege of hosting Troy Stein from TechSmith Corporation on Wednesday, and am looking forward to the video story he is going to create about my flipped classroom this summer.  On Wednesday afternoon, I was able to host a webinar about the flipped classroom, hosted by  You can see my guest blog post and archive to the webinar here.

Other than that, it was just a crazy week outside of school with extra meetings and lots to do at home.  I am looking forward to sleeping in and relaxing this weekend.  We have just less than 5 weeks left of school (4 weeks and then 3 days of finals), and that just seems absolutely crazy to me.  This year has flown by, and the last few months always seem to slide by too quickly.

My students completed a mid-semester survey on their thoughts on the Flipped Classroom last week. Thank you to Scott Harkness  for letting me use/modify his survey!  Links to surveys are here:  Algebra 1, Math Analysis
Results here:
Algebra 1 Part 1 (objective-based questions)
Algebra 1 Part 2 (free response questions)
Math Analysis Part 1 (objective-based questions)
Math Analysis Part 2 (free response questions)

*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. A TON of thoughts about Monday's #flipclass chat, as always.  This week was focused on plans for the summer and next year with regard to the flipped class. Lots of ramblings and ideas floating through my head. Post here.  If you haven't joined in on the Monday twitter chats (5pm PST), join us this next week!  They are completely worth my time!
2. Latest updates on "What would you tell a student next year about the flipped classroom?"  More thoughts from my students here.
3. Starting the #flipclass at the beginning of the year - do we just jump right in, or train our students slowly?  I asked my students what they thought, and have started to formulate my thoughts as well.  Post here.
4. What is the biggest benefit of the flipped classroom for my students?  I asked them what they thought, here is what they said!
5. How would you define a flipped classroom?  I asked my students for their definition, and here is what they said!

Math Analysis
1. Starting Calculus and trying some new ideas!
2. First non-video Flipped Classroom Assignment
3. Fully online WSQ
4. Resubmitting WSQs

1. Starting Calculus and trying some new ideas!

We are finally to the point in our Math Analysis class where we get to start learning CALCULUS! I love it!  We have spent the last week talking about continuity, limits, and (the kids' favorite) when "The Limit Does Not Exist!"

I have loved the Flipped Classroom this last week because this content is so engaging, so discussion-oriented, and so hands-on.  I have done a couple different "activities" in class that I haven't tried before that have worked really well.
  • "Vocab charts" - chart paper on the walls and students have to add information to them throughout the week - descriptions, pictures, formulas, etc.  The charts stay up on the walls and we add to them daily.  A great way to get students out of their seats and writing what they know about.  The charts are organized in "Thinking Maps", so there are Circle Maps, Tree Maps, etc to organize the concepts.
  • Oral Quizzes - We had our "5 minute WSQ chats" where students went over the discussion questions I posed to them in their WSQ the previous night.  However, instead of doing individual group interviews, I did whole-class oral quizzes.  It was actually quite amazing, and I can't wait to see some of it that was caught on video on Wednesday.  Basically, I tell the students that I need to see them talking, motioning with their arms, etc during the "answer" portion and that there must be 100% engagement.  So, I ask a question, and the students start talking - to me, to themselves, to their partner, to someone across the room.  It's kind of fun because some of them get so into it they are almost shouting.  Having them motion the answers with their arms while talking about it is great as well.  It is SO easy to spot the kid that doesn't know what is going on.  Also, you can still move around to the different groups throughout the "quiz" so each group is held accountable for being heard more closely exactly what they are saying.  Oh, and the kids loved it, too :)
  • Projects - I don't really want to call this a "project", but  I can't think of what else.  Basically, at the end of teaching Concepts 1-4 (today), I had the students do an assignment that would assess their knowledge and connections of everything we had learned in a way that wasn't just "practice problems" and "worksheet problems".  They had to create, write, and graph their own four-part and five-part piecewise graphs with given specifications on what type of functions must be included in their equations.  Then, they had to write limit statements, one-sided limit statements for jump discontinuities, the value of the function at the discontinuities, the intervals of continuity, and then at least three "HOT" facts about their graph.  It was a great way to get them thinking and working that was NOT a normal/regular/boring classwork assignment.  And, THEY had to come up with everything, so they were fully creating their own content!

2. First non-video Flipped Classroom Assignment

Last week, as an "Intro to Calculus", I had my students do a "non-video" Flipped Classroom assignment (see the playlist below).  I wanted to try out other modes of delivering content besides video and see how it went.  This is also the first Flipped Classroom assignment that was fully curated (nothing created by me; everything found online).

Pros: Getting the students to do a little more reading, using great content that is already out there
Cons: Many students need to have a hard copy of reading material to highlight and mark up the text.  I printed out a few copies, but left many students to just print on their own as needed, which most of them did not.  There's nothing wrong with reading off a computer screen, but sometimes I think it's easier to rush through it.

3. Fully online WSQ

For this Unit, we have experimented with a "Fully Online WSQ", meaning the students handwrote NOTHING... they had to come to class knowing the answers to the WSQ questions by memory.  
Here are the directions I gave them: TYPE ALL ANSWERS. NOTHING HANDWRITTEN EXCEPT WORK FOR SECRET QUESTIONS! We are going to try to have our discussions for Unit U from memory, because in reality, you NEED TO KNOW THESE ANSWERS BY MEMORY! Sample here

Here is what my students said about doing the WSQ fully online:
  • I enjoy it so much more then past units. It helps me focus on the tasks at hand in class. And the reviews at the beginning are nice too (: .
  • I like fully online WSQs more because since I already typed it, I find rewriting it a bit tedious.  I remember my answers so all I really need for the discussion is the question, which is on the WSQ chart.
  • I prefer fully online.
  • I like the online WSQ, because I dislike writing in my notebook. I think the discussions were better in class, because it made sure that we actually memorized the information, as opposed to just looking at our answers in our notebook. 
  • Fully online wsq takes longer because you have to do EVERYTHING online and not in your notebook. Yet, having to do everything online forces me to do the secret questions and my whole sss part for that concept or else i wont have the answers for the wsq. I like discussing as a class it's fun :) and it educational too YAY! we all get to shout out the answers and give examples and work together while doing a live quiz
  • the discussions in class have been going well i feel that i stay on my class with who ever i am discussing the concepts with and i feel that the efficiency as well as the overall understanding of the material is much better.
  • Fulling submitting our wsq online has been an experience because now we have to memorize our answer because everyday we are asked different question. we forced to remember the question which means on test day there shouldn't be a problem because we are constantly being reminded a detailed explanation of the question 
  • It was okay for me. I was able to memorize Unit U because it was not much and the notes are in front of me. Fully writing online makes for less hassle with paper, but I enjoy having the choice between handwritten and online. Handwritten sometimes because when I watch on my phone, I can't type on my phone. So given the option to handwrite makes it easier :)
  • I don't think that it actually helped because I usually forget my answers when I get to class.
  • Having the discussions in class after the videos really cleared up small misunderstandings or helped us remember important concepts.  I felt comfortable knowing the videos are online for my reference if I needed to rewatch something as well.
With doing the WSQ online, using the students' own questions in class was kind of forgotten about.  My fault completely for just getting so caught up and forgetting to have them talk through their questions.  I want to come up with different ways to work with student questions in class. I'm thinking of next week having them write their question on a sticky note at the beginning of class and putting it up on the whiteboard.  Then, we can do a variety of activities with them:
(1) Choosing a few to answer as a whole class
(2) Having each group go up to the whiteboard for a few minutes and picking a few questions (not their own) to discuss and answer
(3) Before putting the sticky note on the board, students write their question on one side and their groups' answer on the back side.  Then, groups can go up and try to answer the questions themselves, checking the answers on the back and/or adding to or fixing the answers as needed.

4. Resubmitting WSQs

This week I also "forced" my students to resubmit their Online WSQs until they were "cleared" - meaning their answers were complete AND correct.  I really like the accountability that the Online WSQ provides for the students because they know that I will actually read everything they submit.

I color code their answers - no highlight means it's fine (and their name is then highlight in GREEN for "good"), a yellow highlight means what they have is correct, but their answer is incomplete, and a pink highlight means what they have written is incorrect.  Students had anytime throughout the week to "resubmit" either in writing, via a 30 second interview with me, etc, to make sure they understood the RIGHT answer to the questions.  Here is a sample spreadsheet of student responses.

I decided to try this because I wanted to make sure that students actually knew the CORRECT answers to the questions and didn't just BS their way through the WSQ, the WSQ chats, etc.  Every student needed to be held accountable for knowing the right answer. 

It's definitely not even close to being in its ideal form right now, as students can view the spreadsheet to see how they did, but that means they can view all the other student answers as well.  This is great in general, and many students use this to see what other students said and to clarify their thinking based on a student's explanation rather than mine.  However, when I am requiring students to resubmit correct answers, they can easily just copy from someone else and not really understand what they are resubmitting.  However, I hope that I have "trained" my students enough to know that it is about their LEARNING and they need to actually understand it themselves or they will be "screwed" when it comes to performing on an assessment.

I was actually pretty surprised by how positive my students were about the resubmissions, overall. I actually thought they would say they hated it because it was annoying and time consuming.  It just goes to show that the stuff I have been trying to teach them about learning has actually been sinking in!  (yes!!!!!).  Of course, many students mentioned my main concern about cheating.  But, in this case, the WSQ is not really a part of the students' grade and if they just cheat and BS their way through it, their learning will have gaps and misunderstandings that will show up on the assessments.

Here is what some of my students said about "resubmitting the WSQs"
  • I feel that it is helpful because us students know what we did wrong. Pros: There is more of a chance for us to get help. Cons: Students have the chance to cheat more.
  • I think that is more helpful because there are some questions I just don't know sometimes and resubmitting allows me to get the blue signature even if I don't know something, just as long as I figure it out later.
  • I don't think resubmitting is necessary. When I'm wrong i tend to realize it during the WSQ in class and I learn the correct answer.
  • I think that it is a good idea to keep resubmitting until it's perfect, because then it ensures that we actually learned the correct material, and aren't just doing it to get it done. I actually learn from it, because then I have to go back and review my mistakes. On the other hand, there might be other students in the class who choose the easy way out, but it's their grade that gets affected. The pros are that it makes sure we pay attention and that we know the correct information, and the cons are that it might be easier to cheat from others. 
  • It's kind of annoying because if we don't do it right the first time then we have to keep resubmitting it but it is helpful. I learn from it because eventually i get the correct answer. Pro: we learn our lesson to do it right the first time, we learn the right answer to questions we don't know Con: people might cheat
  • Well doing it over and over again until you understand what you are doing is a good idea because in the end there is practically no way you can't understand the concept if you are actually doing the work. i really don't think it would be worth BSing or cheating your way through a WSQ because then you get nothing out of it and then there is a gap left in your knowledge of the material which will end up biting you in the behind so personally i find it would help me expand my ideas because it motivates me to add that extra detail and to revise my work.
  • I think us submitting the wsq until its perfect is great because now we know if we are missing part of a question, for example i thought i completed the WSQ but i was missing a part and the part I missed is a big deal. If feel like i learn more because i know if I'm not explaining something correctly. Pros is that we learn from our mistake and cons would be some people can't go back but that shouldn't be an excuse.
  • The resubmission works for some things like the project [their Trig Graphing Project has to be resubmitted until it's 100%], but resubmitting everything will probably increase the likely chance of cheating/BSing. Pros are that once one understands the answer one feels accomplished and resubmitting reinforces the understanding after so many tries. Cons are that resubmission may increase the chance of cheating because of the want to finish in one go. Students may feel they should just copy to get it down once. Also, after many tries of not getting the answer, one may continue to BS or forget it.
  • I think that it is helpful because we are forced to pay attention during the videos. A pro is that we learn the concept. The con is that we might already know the information because of class time and it wastes time if we have to go back and edit our responses.
  • I think resubmitting really helps because I see that reviewing mistakes is a great way to learn.  I do not cheat or asdf my way through the work just to get it done because I understand that it's important for my education, and I know the people around me work hard to understand the material.  (I can't say anything about other classmates because I don't really pay attention to what they do...) :) Pros:  LEARNING!  learning, and learning. Cons:  possible cheating?  time (but it's worth it)"
Algebra 1

1. Students watching videos that THEY need to watch
2.  Small group lessons 
3. "Isolation Cabin" 

1. Students watching videos that THEY need to watch

This week was a "review" week, meaning we had already learned all the Chapter 11 content, but I wanted to still spend a week reviewing before testing, especially because of the CST's and crazy schedule.  So, since there were no new videos for students to watch, each night this week they had to choose ONE concept to review and take new notes on.  I really wasn't sure how this would turn out, but I thought it would be worth a try because I still wanted students to be "getting content" every night.  I also wanted students to work on the concepts they thought they needed the most help on (working on their self-evaluation here!!!)

I thought it went well overall, even though I am not sure how seriously every student took the re-watching.  We will see when I grade their tests later this weekend!  I really liked giving them control of their learning and making them think about "which concept am I most confused on?"

Student thoughts were also positive:
  • It did help, this chapter included a lot of work and it was hard work. Getting to chose the videos helped me because not all students are the same. 
  • i think picking my own videos was beneficial because it me helped think about what I actually need help on and focus on what I'm falling behind on.
  • I think it was beneficial only because we got to choose the concepts that we need more help on. 
  • For me it was beneficial because I got to review before the test and chose the parts I struggled on.
2.  Small group lessons 

I also started really focusing on "Small Group Lessons" in Algebra 1. It's something I haven't really done much yet this year because I have needed to spend a little more time out and about in the classroom keeping students on task.  However, I think these mini-lessons went really well.

Basically, I started the class with an overview of the "Task List" for the day.  I walked around for a few minutes and made sure everyone was ready to go and knew what they were doing.  Then, I asked the students who needed help starting the assignment to come up front to the whiteboard and they sat in chairs in a semi-circle around the front whiteboard.  I had anywhere from 8-12 students.  I went over the first "classwork" problem with them step by step, with them helping me on each step.  Then, I split them into groups of 4 and had them try the second classwork problem together on the whiteboard while I went back out and helped the rest of the class.  I would check in on them, but they were helping each other, comparing their work to the group next to theirs, etc.  It was great.

It was actually interesting the first day I did it because students didn't really know what was going on, and once I started going over the problem, about 5 more students in the class were just in their seats watching from afar.  I decided the next day to do a slightly different "replacement" classwork problem on the board so students who decided not to join the group couldn't just copy from afar - they had to come and join the group and participate in the solving of the problem in order to receive the credit.

The students who chose to come up were also interesting. In one class, my "top group" of students actually joined in one day, whereas in another class, it was all my "low-low" students.  I like keeping it open to whoever wants a mini-lesson that day.  Definitely a keeper!

With this use of the whiteboard came a more widespread use of my mini whiteboards in class for both this use as well as just general use.  It's amazing how much students love doing problems on the whiteboard rather than paper.  It was never a class activity, but the box of whiteboards, markers, and erasers is up front and students can use them as they want.  I even had students ask to use them on the test today to work out problems before putting them on their paper.

Here are my students' thoughts on the "Small group lessons"

  • I love this idea because it helps the students that are struggling get help.  Also, it's nice to have one on one time with the teacher and having her work out the problem in front of you.  I like having the chance to write on the board and working on the problems in groups. 
  • I haven't been in one but i think they're good; it looked like it was helpful.
  • i think the small group sessions helped me understand some concepts a little clearer than i had before.
  • It's very helpful. 
  • I think it helps other students to get it more and how to do it. I think you should show us step by step on every problem. Today we took almost the whole period trying to solve the problem and now I'm going to get a red signature -____- [clarification on this comment: this is one of my 30% students and she was basically asking me to do every problem for her step by step.  So, she wants me to do every problem for her in video step by step, and then come to class and do every problem for her in class step by step.  It took less than 5 minutes for me to do the problem with them as a group, but once they tried #2 in their group, they literally spent the next 30 minutes of class working on it.  Class time is to support students, but to a certain extent it is to have them learn how to do the problems independently and without hand-holding help] 
  • I like it a lot because we basically get to understand a problem that we didn't understand "more" and it's really helpful to me because we can help each other in groups for the same problems we need help on.
  • I think that it helps because you explain step by step, and you can join only if you feel like you need more examples. 
  • well its a good idea that it would make us to get a good head start that we need help on and that we all have to work on it as a team
  • I like the small group lessons because I can  ask  anyone in  my group on a question I don't understand.
3. "Isolation Cabin" - 

This week I started something new with my Algebra 1 students.  A lot of them are really struggling with staying on task when working on a group.  So, I got inspired by the movie "The Parent Trap" (which I haven't seen in years, and Isolation Cabin in the movie has more to do with the twins not getting along rather than getting along TOO well they talk too much, but just go with it :)).  

Students who did not stay focused on their work in groups were basically forced to move a desk and face the wall, working in Isolation.  Some students were in Isolation Cabin for just a day, others have been there all week and will probably continue like that.  

It has actually been a great classroom management idea because the students are so much more focused on working, learning, and discussing the math rather than getting distracted.  And, the students in isolation are realizing that they don't like to work alone, but that if they work in groups they do have to follow expectations.

I actually have two students who have "earned" their way out of "Isolation Cabin" this week, but have asked me to STAY in "Isolation Cabin" because they focus better and get more work done.  SELF-EVALUATING at it's best!

  • This is a good idea because it tells the student that they are not on task.  When a student is not on task Mrs. Kirch gives them a warning not to get off task. If they do not listen, they will be isolated from everyone else. [Great to mention that students do get warnings before being sent to Isolation...they have a chance to change their behavior]
  • I think its really good because I honestly think that people take advantage of all the time you give us and this makes them have no choice but to get in check. [Agreed - many students don't finish the classwork I give them, not because it's too long, but because they aren't on task.  I'm thinking of having classwork assignments due by the end of the period much more often next year.]
  • I think it's kinda funny to see people stare at a wall but i like it because the room is quieter and its a better working environment
  • My opinion is good so kids can learn how to keep up and do their work at school instead of at home. 
  • I think it's a good method because that way the people who can't focus can focus more better because the people that didn't want to focus are quiet now. [Funny, but true... the students that don't want to focus sometimes sit in the corner doing nothing - yes I still have those students, the flipped classroom hasn't solve all!  But, at least they aren't distracting others.]
  • My opinion is that its a good thing. because I realize that I do not want to be by myself, and it keeps me more concentrated because I'm away from my friends and get distracted much less. 
  • Well isolation cabin is a great idea because we don't need to get distracted with the crazy students. [lol. I love how this student describes them as "the crazy students"]

Sharing and Collaboration

As I mentioned above, I hosted a webinar on Wednesday and was able to share about why I flipped my classroom, the benefits of flipping for teachers and students, and gave examples of what my flipped classroom looks like and how I've made it work wonders in my classroom.  I hope were able to make it; if not, enjoy the archive.

There were a lot of questions asked in the webinar that I wasn't able to get answered in our time allotment, so I wanted to answer them at some point.  I will be doing a post in the near future with some more thoughts/answers on the questions posed.

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 am getting more and more excited to start a flipped classroom from day 1 next year.  A few conversations I had with students about the general perspective of the flipped classroom on campus just encouraged me:

1. A student who has another math teacher but has been coming to me for tutoring during lunch the last few weeks: "Mrs. ____ is thinking about flipping next year, and I think it is such a great idea.  That way we can get the lesson at our own pace and get all of our questions answered in class.  I would love it!"

2. My student who doesn't love the flipped classroom, but goes along with it, said this to me: "You're known across the campus for being the teacher who uses "flipped classroom"".  I asked him if that was a good thing or a bad thing, and what students "on the outside" think about it right now.  He replied:  "It is actually a good thing because other teachers are using your methods to teach their classes. It is quite useful in many cases such as AP chemistry because we were able to get a second lecture after returning home, though other students think otherwise."


Student quotes:
"Can my friends request  to have you as a teacher next yearr because they want to have a "
"My friends in [other teacher's] class always watch your videos to get help"

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. Fully online WSQ for Math Analysis (must have answers memorized)
2. Isolation Cabin for Algebra 1

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

1. Coming up with a list of "key questions" myself for each concept to have handy to ask students, to have students discuss in groups, and to show students what "good, HOT questions" look like and sound like (modeling)... This will be tied in with the "Guided Summary" I will be starting to try out.  I think this is going to be put off in its entirety until this summer.

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

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

All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here. 

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