Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My favorite things from 6 months of blogging

I spent some time over the last few weeks reading back through my blog. Yes, all 200 something posts. Gosh I wrote a lot.  

But it was very good to reflect during, and definitely after, my first year of flipping.  

As I went through, I picked out some posts that struck a cord with me still, and here they are:

  1. 3 most important things to think about when considering "flipping"

  2. Conversations and Observations - Every Single Student

  3. Truly differentiated instruction...

  4. 9 reasons why I'm a flipping convert

  5. John Wooden and the Flipped Classroom

  6. Why I Flip My Class (Student Quote)

  7. What would you tell a student next year?

  8. 3 month blog-aversary... What I have learned thus far

  9. A different type of final exam...

  10. Reflections on Week 19... It's finally summertime and I survived!

  11. 7/2/12 #flipclass chat: How will you start next year's #flipclass differently?

  12. Today in my flipped class (Pictures and Video!)

  13. Reflections on Week 5 (Freedom...a good or bad thing?)

  14. What would YOU say? (part 1) - MY ANSWERS

  15. Presenting the Flipped Classroom (part 3 - answers to teacher questions)

I also copied some quotes that stuck out to me that I wanted to remember as I start this next year.  Most of them represent "key moments" to me in my year of flipping.  They are all from different posts, so I apologize if it's hard to follow:


  • more "question and conversation" and less "checking to make sure they got their work done".

  • More interaction with WSQs online and reading each others!

  • When I presented the remediation, I gave the analogy of running a marathon (finishing the marathon is like passing the test).  I told them that if your goal is to run a marathon (pass the test), you have to prepare.  You have to train your body and your mind, or you will show up, try to run it, and puke all over everyone (fail the test miserably).  I told them we will be in training for the next 7 school days so we can successfully finish the marathon (pass the test).   The training will not always be easy.  Sometimes they won't want to come because they would rather relax, hang out with friends, etc.  But in the back of their mind, they need to remember that if they don't train, they will show up on the day of the marathon (the day of the retake) and it won't be a pretty picture.  I challenged them to think about that when their alarm goes off in the mornings (is it worth it to push snooze or will it pay off if I wake up now and get to school for the 'training' session) and after school (is it worth it to hang out with friends and socialize or will it just pay off to go to Mrs. Kirch's room and go to 'training'?).  

  • I want students to realize that if they do a good job on their WSQs and don't just write crap down (which right now, most of their summaries are simply crap - two sentences that come straight from the first few things I say on the video with little or no thought beyond that), the WSQs can be very helpful for them in many ways.


  • before you take a concept quiz, you need to have (1) watched the video because I do convey more important information than basic rote mathematical operations and examples - the stuff I describe and talk about, the connections I explain, etc are all important to the overall understanding of the material, (2) completed the full WSQ to really cement the information in the student's head in their own words instead of mine, (3) tried at least a few of the homework problems on their own to make sure they can do it without my help on the video.

  • I made a few important adjustments in the flipped classroom this week in terms of the expectations I have for students and their WSQ's: 1. Students cannot ask "yes/no" questions.  I was getting far too many of them and students were not thinking deeply about the concept.  So, I took a lot of my class time this week spending at least a few minutes at each group's table reading their questions and answers, probing them to think deeper, asking them follow-up questions, and then having them write their new answers down in their own words.  I wouldn't sign off their "Q" until this was done.   Students must use at least three math vocabulary words (mine are bolded below) in the "Summary" part of their WSQ and also in their answer to the questions.  This would change the previous question and answer to look like this:

  • I told them that I understood that things come up and they may not always have the video watched, but they need to show some sort of concern or care for their education and take responsibility for that action by letting me know in person before the tardy bell rings that they are not prepared.  I told them it was unacceptable to come into class not having watched the video and to then just sit there and not say anything about it.

  • One of my top students in Algebra 1 stayed after class on Wednesday to talk to me.  He was frustrated that I had to take class time out every day to lecture the students who weren't prepared and didn't think the "flipped classroom" was working because I just had to get mad every day.  He didn't think it was fair to him that I waste class time getting "mad" at the students who didn't care. I appreciated him feeling open enough to come and talk to me about it and offered some guidance and solutions.  First, I made him aware that I do look at the clock and no more than five minutes of class is spent on getting the class started and "kicking out" the kids who need to be talked to.  Second, I reminded him that the beauty of the flipped classroom is that you can work at your own pace - whether that be slower or faster than the students around you.  I told him that he is more than welcome to be working ahead and starting the assignments before I actually tell the class to get started.  He needs to participate in the whole class portions (activities, group discussions, etc), but otherwise he can be working on his assignments.  I told him that he can even choose to watch all the videos in one night if he wants and then just work by himself on the problems if he chooses.  He was (somewhat surprisingly) very happy and satisfied with my responses and very grateful that he sensed that the flipped classroom could really help him.  All in a 5 minute conversation!  I am hoping to see him start to stretch and push himself next week; we will see!

  • I get to spend about 4-5 minutes with each group (I have 9 groups total in my class, 54 minute periods) basically grilling them about the content.  I use their summary as a guide, but mainly focus on their math vocabulary words.  I ask them everything about them and have them go deep into the content.  I ask follow-up questions and continue to probe deeper.  The funny thing is, students think they can just carelessly highlight random math vocabulary words, but with this, they actually have to KNOW them, and know them WELL.

  • With that whole responsibility thing, I have found it very helpful to keep a visible "task list" on the standing whiteboard in my room to guide my students.  It lists out everything the students have to work on (in order by what I feel should be priorities).  Students constantly have things to do, and when they are done with one task, they move on to the next one.  It is a visible reminder to them of what needs to get done and what they can work on in case they don't feel like doing a certain task at that moment.  I am trying to give them as much ownership as possible, but still feel they need to be guided, and this allows them that freedom within my expectations and boundaries.

  • On a final note, on Thursday I did something new with Math Analysis.  Normally, the classwork assignment for Thursday would not be signed off until Friday, because if a few students didn't finish it for whatever reason, they would have to finish it at home in addition to the videos. However, on Thursday I told the students that they had to finish the classwork and get it signed off before 4pm that day or they would receive a "red line" (late credit) for the assignment.  I did this because I really felt a lot of students were not making good use of their time with the excuse "Oh, I'll just do it at home". (Then, of course, they complain that they have too much to do at home and I give too much homework!!).  They don't all know how to manage their time or realize that it is more beneficial to get it done now than to have to do it later.  Anyways, it went well and I don't think it is something I will do every day, because it did make several students feel very pressured and rushed, but every so often, I think it's good to throw it in there to keep them on their toes and focused.

  • I notice that I still have several groups of students in my Math Analysis classes:
1. The kids who are doing really well, get their work done, and keep moving forward to the next lesson/concept.
-I feel these students are fully taking advantage of the Flipped Classroom and it is so exciting to see them working hard and striving to be their best.  I am also able to have these students work as peer tutors and help their classmates if they are done with the work they want to complete that day.  It's like having a second me to help in class!
2. The kids who are doing really well, get their work done, and then just feel like sitting there doing nothing (and in my opinion, distracting the students who are still trying to work)
-While I'm glad the students are doing well and getting their daily work done, it does frustrate me that they are okay with "getting their work done so they can be lazy".  They could easily work ahead and never haveanything to do at home because they could get it all done in class, but they choose not to.  At some points, I have to ignore it.  However, this week I had three guys who I had to keep after class and talk with because they started to be a huge distraction to the other students.  That was Thursday, and today (Friday), they did much better of continuing to work the whole period.  I hope this continues.
3. The kids who are working really hard to understand the material and work the whole period, asking questions when needed.
These are the students I feel the Flipped Classroom helps the most.  These are the ones who normally got lost in a normal lecture because the pace was too fast or they needed more examples to understand.
4.  The kids who are struggling but don't really get it, and will only ask for help if you ask them directly if they need it.
I check in with these students often, and I hope that as we continue this semester, they grow more confident in asking for help themselves, taking full charge and responsibility for their learning.
5.  The kids who are greatly struggling, won't ask for help, and will say they are fine when you ask them if they need help.
I really don't know what to do with these kids.  I hope they come around by the end of the year...

  • 1. Should I require a certain amount of Practice be done before the "waiver" can be taken even if the students feel they get it?  This could be as simple as one problem they have to complete correctly on their own before taking the quiz.  Today, I did that for Unit O Concepts 7-8 - I put 3 specific problems everyone had to complete.  Then, there was the rest of the assignment for those who needed practice, but those who "got it" could take the quiz.

  • I still have concerns about how to teach my Algebra 1 students to watch a video to actually learn the material and not just copy the notes.  I honestly think only 20% of my students really know how to do this, but how do I teach them this skill??? I talk often about pausing and rewinding (and even fast forwardingafter trying a problem on their own that I work out for them), but how do you teach them to learn material on their own and actually pause it long enough to think about it and actually understand it rather than just copying the notes down.  I really think this is the root of many of my students' problems - they don't get the quality lesson I plan for them because they aren't willing to take the time to process and think about it.  They don't know how to tough it out and really learn something if it isn't easy.

  • My goals for my Algebra 1 students is that they learn that practice and homework is for THEIR OWN GOOD.  Their goal is to practice enough so they "get it", then test out and make sure they get it by taking the quiz (which they can retake if they don't pass), all to be ready for the big chapter test.  I think that even after just a few days, this is becoming clear to several of my students and I hope I continue to see progress.  

  • 2. "Ask 3 then me". Emphasize to students the importance of collaborating with each other before going straight to me to answer their questions.

  • I tried to make the connection for them between sitting in a traditional class mindlessly taking notes and sitting in front of a video mindlessly taking notes.  There is NO DIFFERENCE if that is what they are doing!  I find many of my Algebra 1 students will do whatever possible to just "get through" the video but not really think about it, ponder it, try to make it make sense, etc.  because that is what they are used to doing in all their years of education.  So, I tried my best to describe to them what the purpose of a flipped class is and how the emphasis should be on the fact that we can use class time more efficiently and effectively for their learning than in a traditional classroom.  If they don't process the information and do their best to receive and make meaning of the content in the video, our class time can not be used as well as it could.

  • Our students these days need so much more than knowledge of the subject.  They have to be taught time management, goal-setting, strong work ethic, value in education, motivation, how to focus, how to ask questions and advocate for themselves...

  • I don't feel like I can require every student to submit their WSQ online every night, because many students watch it offline.  However, if I don't REQUIRE that the WSQ been done online, I can see many students taking the easy way out and just staying with the written WSQ.  The only way I can counteract this is by requiring the WSQs be turned in, so those that handwrite them are still held accountable to the same standards.  I have heard some teachers (can't remember who, so if it's you, please tell me :)!!) talking about having students submit their WSQ orally like through a Google Voice number or something they could do with a cell phone call instead of needing internet access. I will need to look into that.
  • (2) Flipped Classroom Resources
This week I took the opportunity to present additional "Flipped Classroom" resources to my students.  After my "I'm sick of the videos" post last week that has been incredibly popular, I decided to look into additional resources I could provide my students and ways I could encourage them to look for resources for themselves.  I found several additional online resources (more videos, online step-by-step quizzes, etc) provided by our textbook publisher as well as a few other teachers' YouTube Channels that have great videos for Math Analysis.
Next year I will be putting together a list at the beginning of the year of all these resources so students know from the start where they should be looking for help.  There's really no excuse for them not to learn, and there are so many different ways they can learn that they don't have to ever get stuck in a rut and get "sick" of one method or another.

  • Also, since my Math Analysis classes have been flipped for a little over 3 months now, there has been a development in what class time looks like.  At the beginning the students need a lot more guidance and structure of expectations and good work habits.  Over time, I have found out ways to give them more freedom but still have them be on task.  I have definitely tried some things that haven't worked, so I am just continually trying to find more "keepers" to add to my list of what is working.

    • 27/03/2012 00:10:48 sundayfunday34 big mistake for me was not transitioning students well enough, didn't follow gradual release formula well enough. #flipclass
    • 27/03/2012 00:11:16 DeliaBush @sundayfunday34 start by watching the videos with them to model how to view them correctly #flipclass
    • 27/03/2012 00:11:41 Smacclintic @sundayfunday34 need to spend time on front end explaining reasons to Ss and being clear with their responsibilities #flipclass
    • 27/03/2012 00:12:20 runfardvs @sundayfunday34 I call it "potty training". #flipclass students need help getting used to expectations.             
    • My thoughts: 100% going to be one of my most important focuses for next year and I start with a brand new class.  I often tell myself "oh they'll just pick it up as they go through the year".  To a certain extent that is true.  However, I think I will alleviate some unneeded stress off of my plate by just taking the time to do that in the beginning.

  • Class time is becoming more useful as the weeks go by because at first I think (not just me but) everyone was happy because they would have "free time" to talk to friends but I have then began to take advantage of that time and do some problems so that way if I have any questions about it I can just ask the teacher and also it gives me a head start on math homework for that day. The point is that I've begun to take responsibility and been productive during math class. I really like the flipped classroom for that reason that I'll have help while doing my math homework during class. In addition to taking responsibility, it definitely has changed me as a student in a good way because I have begun to think differently about education and taking the responsibility to learn the material for yourself.


  1. Okay Mrs. Kirch, your are absolutely amazing with all the work you do, your organization, and your willingness to share with whomever wishes to accept.
    How you find the time to do all of this is a complete mystery. I hope you get some quality time off this summer.
    Deepest thanks for all your hard work!

  2. Mrs. Kirch,
    I like the idea of the task board. What items do you put on that task board to help kids focus?

    The "Ask 3, then me" concept is an excellent one. It leads toward developing independent learners.

    I think this quote really gets to the crux of independent learning - value for learning something new and making it understandable to themselves.

    Our students these days need so much more than knowledge of the subject. They have to be taught time management, goal-setting, strong work ethic, value in education, motivation, how to focus, how to ask questions and advocate for themselves...

    I think I have talked about Google voice for completing some items. Having the option to do a WSQ via google form or google voice depending on the internet access at home would be great. I have a Google voice account where I was receiving text messages and voice messages of questions for the next day, and it worked out great last year. Google voice actually would ring all my phones if someone was calling and I could answer without giving someone my home phone number.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about the resources that may be available online for the Precalculus with Limits: A Graphing Approach. I have the sixth edition and it looks like there are some great resources, including videos to go with it.

    1. Hi Mrs. Belyea,
      The task board basically includes what is on their WSQ chart (activities/assignments) in an organized/orderly fashion to give them some structure and goals. So, a normal day may say:

      1. 5 minute WSQ (with some notes about the focus for today or how I want them to structure their chat)
      2. PQ3 #1-4 (practice problems)
      3. other activities related to concept
      4. Quiz 3
      5. Watch Video for Concept 4

      Google voice is a great idea. I will look into setting it up for students who want to complete WSQs offline. :) Sounds like a great idea!


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