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! :)


  1. I can completely understand your exhaustion, I'm out of breath just reading about your week.

    I think I'm going to have to look up MentorMob... I'm not really sure what is meant by "curating content", but I'm sure I'll figure it out when I get there.

    Following a "new at flipping"thread at Vodcasting and their comments about working through the summer (the opportunity, and the dangers). We're in a weird profession that tends to define "who we are", but time off from it is important(yet tough to do for some).

    Enjoy your few remaining teaching/interacting days,


  2. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks for your comment. I am going to have to find that thread on the vodcasting Ning...

    Curating content (to me, at least) is finding stuff from all over the Internet to put together in a playlist.this may be videos, articles, images, etc. mentor mob has a super easy way to put it all together, and with a google chrome extension, you can just be anywhere, click a button, and it will add that to a certain playlist. I am hoping to find more web resources for my students next year (or have them find it!) and use mentormob as the host.


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