Thursday, August 30, 2012

Initial thoughts on "Take the test when you're ready..."

Today was the first day of my Math Analysis students' "Summer Packet Exam".  I have already instituted the "test when you are ready" policy, meaning that if a student doesn't feel ready for the test, then I don't want them to take it. However, if they don't take it on "test day", then they have to take it on their OWN time outside of class.  While the rest of the class is taking the test, they are sitting off to the side studying and reviewing.

Today I had a total of 32 students (out of 95) choose to NOT take day 1 of the exam.  Out of those 32, 11 weren't allowed to yet anyways (they hadn't finished the summer work so they weren't approved).  However, that means 21 students chose to say "I'm not ready" and didn't take the exam.

Now, we will see when this "ordeal" is over if the test results make it worth it, but here are a few of my initial concerns:

1. I will have to make many more versions of the test (with answer keys) than years past.  Making the different versions isn't too difficult with the generator I have (Kuta Software), but making the answer keys for certain problems not from the generator (namely graphs with multiple parts, word problems, etc) is time consuming.   I suppose I could have rotating versions, but I would feel much better about having a completely different version every day.

2. Many students didn't communicate with me and showed up to class saying "I'm not going to take the test today." I'm not sure if they heard through the rumor mill that they could, or what.  My issue with this is:
-Students have had 6 class days to review and 6 school days to come in before school, at lunch, or after school to get help on the concepts they were struggling with.  No new content, just review.
-Many students did not ask a lot of questions during the review days even though (obviously) they had stuff they needed to ask about
-Several students really didn't think it was a big deal they weren't prepared and weren't focused during class.  I finally told one group, "If I showed up on the day of a test unprepared and chose not to take it, I would be working my butt off to practice, ask questions, and get ready.  I wouldn't want to fall behind."  I reminded them that they are going to be working double time doing the make-up work and the current work, and that I know what this class entails.. and "trust me, you don't want to fall behind, you will be stressed!"

3. What will I do with those students who just aren't "ever ready"?  Whether that be honestly, truly, they don't feel ready or they are just lazy and don't want to work at it?  I know I chose to this for this school year as a total experiment and really have no idea how it will all turn out, but I am concerned about that.


On another note, several students did not finish all the problems on the test in the given time.  I make my tests tough, but I truly believe that if a student is well-prepared, they should definitely finish the test.  I make the answer key and multiply that amount of time by 4.  If that is less than 54 minutes, then the students should have plenty of time.

So, for this exam, I allowed them to come back after school, or even tomorrow, to finish the test . However, when they continue to work on the test, they will be doing the remaining problems with "Version 2" instead of version 1.  (I just realized I had students come in after school to take version 2. Does that mean I need to give version 3 tomorrow morning and a version 4 tomorrow during class?!?! argh!)

So, one issue occurred that concerned me:
-Students circled problems they wanted to come back to work on that they actually tried halfway and got stuck on... assuming that what I said meant "It's okay go study and ask your friends, cram the info in, and then come back and finish the test."
I even had a student who left the difference quotient problems blank and was coming up after school to finish and I hear him right outside my door asking a student who is there what the difference quotient is and how to simplify it!

I had a student come after school and stayed for a full hour staring at four problems (all the same type) with no idea how to do them.  These problems were simple function transformations and should have taken him less than a minute apiece.  What do I tell that kid?  Take the low score and come back and retake it when you are ready?  Or, do I just not grade those problems and let him come redo those ones the next day?  Or ....?  I feel like this "test when you are ready" thing is making me re-consider and think through how I've done re-assessments in the past.  (My ultimate goal is that there won't need to be as many re-assessments!!)

I keep thinking in my head that "I just want you to prove it to me that you understand it", but since these kids are so well trained that it's all about the grade and it's all about the points, it's tough.  It's really about the learning, and the deep understanding.  All of these problems will show up again, either scaffolded into later material or just brought back up for review.  If they just cram it in now, they will have to re-learn it later.

Ok, so what's my take-away from Day 1?   I'm very interested to see how the kids that took the exam did.  I'm even more interested to see how these students who "don't feel ready today" do, and how soon they take it... and if they are going to be a problem in terms of internal motivation of getting the stuff completed.

I'm also wondering if I'm going to have to implement some sort of boundaries or guidelines for students who can't handle this type of freedom...

Have you instituted something similar to this?  If so, what has been your experience? What have you learned? What's worked? What hasn't?  What tips or advice would you give?

Idea from a colleague on Edmodo - thank you for the great idea, Mr. Szybisty!: 

Mr. Szybisty - Awesome idea! Here's one idea that could possibly help to answer some of your concerns. Have the students write an "action plan" while the other students take the test. The action plan would help the students reflect. Why am I not ready today? What will I do to get ready? Then, have the students set the date when they will retake it and have you approve it. This would help students to be more insightful, communicate better with you, and take responsibility because they set the test date. Let me know how you solve this problem!

Ms. Dieter - You could also have a certain deadline that they have to have completed the test and require that they give you the action plan before the day of the test. For example, if the test is Friday they have to give you their action plan on Thursday and then bring something to study on Friday while everyone else is taking the test.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First day of Flippin' with Math Analysis and I'm lovin' it!

Tomorrow and Friday students will take their "Summer" exam.  Meanwhile, we started our first "flipping" day with Unit E today.


1. Unit E Concept 1 was actually 15 minutes of video - a 6 min clip and a 9 min clip.  But, because students were so used to watching video over the summer in longer spurts (because they did it all at once), most of them felt like this was JUST RIGHT or VERY SHORT!  And - 15 minutes is about the longest it will ever be! LOVED HEARING THAT!

2.  WSQ chats went so well!  Here are my "guidelines"

-Ask the questions
-Keep the group focused
-Make sure the whole group participates

We S, we Q, and we SQ! (I love acronyms!)
-First, review your summary/summary questions by going through your SSS and looking at the questions on the bottom of your WSQ chart.
-Then, review and answer all the questions that your group members had.  Write the answers down in the spiral notebooks.  Ask me/other classmates as needed.
-Lastly, review the Secret Question(s) that you tried on your own and make sure you got it right and understand it... and if you don't, then figure it out!

3. Students are enjoying writing/creating their own problems. And, they realize it takes thinking. And, they are actually thinking about it! yay!

4. Students were on task 98% of the period, and this was the first day! I was able to make it around to every table and chat with the students and make sure they didn't have any unanswered questions. Yay!

5. I already started signing off their WSQ charts and there is no red or blue for me this year.  It doesn't matter what color it is signed off in. What matters is that it is done and it is done well.  If students are falling behind they will receive a warning with a deadline, a second warning, and then a support card.

1. I had between 3-6 kids in each class not submit the WSQ.  Some watched the video but didn't turn it in, some didn't watch the video at all (these are mainly ones who are still behind on summer work).  I had the same "friendly conversation" with them that I did with Algebra 1, but much shorter.

2. umm nothing else :)

Making headway through obstacle #1 (algebra 1)

I was incredibly frustrated last night.  I thought I had been making so much progress with my Algebra 1's and was so excited to have them watch their first video at home and the online WSQ submissions were just pitiful.  You can read my frustrations post here, if interested.

Now, my problems are not all solved, but I feel like today was a really good day.

I started off my Algebra 1 classes by reviewing a couple of things and then divided the class into two groups by calling names off who had completed the WSQ and who hadn't.  In both classes it was about 8-12 completions and about 25 incompletes.  I gave directions to the 8-12 students who did what they were supposed to with a "task list" on the board and told them to move to work with each other and get to work.  The rest of the group went to the side of the classroom.

I started off by telling the students, "Today we are going to have a friendly conversation.  But if I have to have this conversation with you again, it will NOT be a friendly conversation."  

I told them there was no talking, and there was NO talking.  I was actually pretty impressed.

Important thing #1 - Homework is not optional.  If I assign it, I expect it to be done
Important thing #2 - You must communicate with me.  If something happens where you can't complete your homework, you must send me a note or GVoice text and let me know, taking responsibility for yourself.

I explained WHY it is important that they come to class prepared and how the plans I had for today, our "first real flipped class" had to be scrapped because so many of them didn't come prepared.

I mentioned the two important things probably 5 times and had them repeat them back to me.

Then, I moved the whole group (yes, 25 kids!) up front where they could see the WSQ completion chart (yay VLookup, finally just inputted my ID numbers by hand this morning!).  I went through them name by name and had them look at me when I called their name (part of this is learning their names, too!) and I told them everything they were missing.  For some kids, it was as simple as "You have turned in NOTHING all week."

Also, I found out that about 5-7 of the students from each class in this group genuinely misunderstood the homework.  Some of them completed concept 3 WSQ but not concept 4 (they had to do the WSQ for concept 3 from the video we watched in class, watch concept 4, and then do the WSQ for concept 4).  Some of them watched the Concept 4 video but didn't quite get that the WSQ comes right afterwards.

So, I told them that today was their WARNING.  Tomorrow if they do not come to class prepared they will receive a consequence (15 minute detention) and a phone call home (in class either Thurs or Fri, depending on how many students there are).  After this second warning, they will receive their first "support card" (that is what I am calling our homework cards now, because students only get them when they beg for them and are saying "please help me I need support" - aka they aren't doing their work).

As of right now (8:30pm), my Chapter 1 Concept 5 WSQ already has 36 responses (almost 50%).  That's more than all of what was received yesterday, and students will probably still (sadly) be up for another 4 hours on their sleep schedule!

Hoping for a better day tomorrow.  Perfection? Nope, don't want to expect that because I don't want to be frustrated.  But, improvement.

One thing I learned today was that I felt much better about myself and my students still felt positive after having the type of talk I had with them instead of getting mad at them.  In addition, instead of getting mad at the whole class like I did sometimes last year, I pulled the kids that needed to talk aside and let the kids that came prepared get on with their day.  MUCH BETTER way to deal with it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week 2 frustrations.

Wide awake and frustrated. My freshmen overall just don't seem to be getting it and I need to figure out what to do.

1. We have gone over directions daily. Read them out loud. Explained what it means when something asks for 3-5 sentences. Broken down a question to analyze what it is asking. And yet I am still, on the fourth online wsq, getting five word answers. It makes me almost not want to do online wsqs because if they did them in their notebook I wouldn't likely get around to reading them and I wouldn't see all this crap!  In all seriousness, I am doing it online because I want to read it. And I know it can only get better. But I am frustrated that it is the fourth one and it still sucks. I like to see improvement.

2. I still have about 20 kids who have submitted nothing all year. But, our school system is still down one week into the school year and I don't have access to their IDs unless I want to look them up one by one, which I don't have time for, so I can do my vlookup that tells me who has turned in what. Sadly, I may it my TA on the annoying task of looking up ID numbers one by one tomorrow. Ugh. I hate assigning tasks simply because I don't want to do them.

3. We are supposed to have our first real flipped classroom day in algebra 1 tomorrow, but I know I am going to only have half the students who watched the video and did the WSQ even though they were all BEGGING me today to be done with "training" and do it on their own. So, I have to decide what I am going to do with those students who didn't watch. I can't have them all call home if there are too many of them. I suppose I could assign detention. I am definitely NOT going to reteach. I definitely WILL have individual talks with them and go over the expectations. I am just frustrated because the lack of responsibility is SO INCREDIBLY APPARENT that it just reminds me what I am fighting against with these younger kids with this new way of teaching and learning. I can't hold their hand and make sure they do it at home. And, when they are used to doing ZERO homework in intermediate school, asking them to do the smallest things seem to be the biggest deal.

4. I spent the weekend making DVDs. I told the students if they needed them they needed to come by after school to pick them up. One girl came by. And she wasn't even the one who asked for them last week. Lack of responsibility again.

5. I don't want to jump right in to homework cards and punishments like detention, but at the same time I don't know what else to do to hold them accountable. I have modeled, I have shown them how, I had them write it in their agendas, I've reminded daily...if they aren't going to do it, I am eventually just going to have to resort to the accountability system our school has in place because these kids are going to fall behind and they need more support.

6. I really wanted to try and have the first parent contact be positive, but at this rate I am going to have to tell a lot of parents that their students are unprepared for class and not doing what they should be. Not exactly the
Best foot to start off on, but I know it needs to be done early so we can nip this in the butt.

7. Ok plans for tomorrow, at
Least in my head. Get students who did watch video started on their practice assignment. Pull students who didn't aside and chat. Get whole class back together and talk about wsqs together and have a whole class wsq chat. Students who didn't watch video will be assigned Thursday after school Detention for 15 minutes and we will Call home at some point on Wed or thurs.
Students will be assigned Concept 5 for hw on we'd nite. Goal is that Thurs in class we can have whole Class wsq chat and then get to work on problems and practice. We will Call home again, but the group Will Be Much Smaller (thinking positive thoughts)

Maybe this Is Too much all At once for my kiddos who are still getting used to high school??

Oh I hope my next post is
More positive ...

PS sorry for all the typos, I am on my iPad!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 4: Algebra 1 and Math Analysis

It's Day 4 and here's what I'm seeing:

Algebra 1

  • Students getting frustrated that they have to learn at the pace of the class instead of moving on when they get it
    • Comment - I'm having individual/small group conversations with them about why we are "training" and how nice it will be when they can learn at their own pace.  And that I still expect them to engage, participate, and be respectful even when they understand the math.
  • Students understanding why we are going through this "training" process
    • Comment - Besides those outliers mentioned above, most students understand why we are doing what we are doing.
  • Students following along, highlighting, and taking good notes from the video.
  • Students spacing out and not writing any video notes down, needing to pause and rewind but since we are watching as a class, they can't.

Math Analysis
  • Students engaging with each other in discussions much more naturally
  • Students asking good questions and then looking to each other to explain the answer before me
  • Students creating their own videos and explaining their thought processes (see WPP tabs on for the first few!)

Overall, this in no way feels like the fourth day of school. I'm excited to see how this week turns out :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

#flipclass 2012-2013 Week 1 Reflections: Off to a good start!

I blogged a lot this week because I needed a place to process and reflect on everything that was happening.  The first few weeks are always crazy and hard to remember with everything going on.  It was actually really helpful for me to review and talk through what I did and my thoughts on it... so, if you are interested, enjoy :)

Pictures of my classroom on the first day!

Reflections and thoughts from the week:
Day 1 - Algebra 1
Day 1 - Math Analysis Honors
Day 2 - Algebra 1 and Math Analysis Honors
Day 3 - Algebra 1
Day 3 - Math Analysis Honors

Initial thoughts from my students on Wednesday night (first day of school)

So, after week 1, let's briefly talk about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good:

  • Overall it seems like most students are positive towards the change.  None of them have had to do the full video/WSQ at home on their own yet, so we will see how that goes later next week.  I really enjoy my schedule and the flow of classes, which always makes things nice :)
  • Several students who watched my videos for the summer work but ended up not in my class have already come and asked me if they will still have access to my videos this year even though they aren't my student.  That made me feel great and encouraged.
  • Student discussions in Math Analysis have been pretty good for the first couple days and are showing improvement. I'm excited to see where this leads!

The Bad:

  • Freshmen irresponsibility and immaturity, but that's to be expected... they'll grow out of it (I hope). I blogged earlier in the week that I don't think many of them are actually used to having to complete homework nightly... so hopefully the routine will come!

The Ugly:

  • I can't think of anything that has been ugly this first week...I'm actually fairly satisfied with how it's coming along.  I just hope the transition to modeling/training to actually having the students do it on their own goes smoothly... that's what I most nervous about!

Day 3: Math Analysis Honors

Today was Day 2 of "WSQ chats" and my kids did a really good job! I was overall very happy and impressed.  They may have the "freedom" to choose who they work with a little sooner than I may  have thought.  I have to learn all their names first... then they have to show me they are able to make good choices :)

I gave them two tasks for their second "summer review day".  
#1: In their "small groups", discuss the WSQ questions.  When they are discussing (since they submitted their actual answers online), have out their SSS and PQ problems to go over it.

Note 1: Yesterday we did large groups (of 6) and today was small groups (of 3).  I liked the focus much more.  While they still interacted a little bit cross-group (6 of them were at a table but they were split in half), everyone was much more involved.  I think I may keep the WSQ chats that way.

Note 2: I was also able to do some small group teaching on Piecewise functions.  I love the ability to just say "who needs to go over this?" and have the 8-10 kids that need it to come to the side and then re-teach.  It was really great and I really feel like they learned and understood afterwards.

#2: Work on whatever they need to from Unit A or B or the PT.  Most of them, of course, chose the PT.  I am nervous/anxious/excited to see the results of the test on Wed/Thurs of next week from their summer assignments.  It will be a huge eye-opener to where everyone is at and who I need to focus on more.

My students also have their first WPP assignment this weekend on MentorMob.  I will be posting them to the student work blog.  I am going to have them make their own blogs in about 2-3 weeks once things slow down a bit with the beginning of year learning curve.  Then they will do all the embedding and posting there and I will keep track of it via a Google Reader folder.  With this, they will also be doing their first student-created video... so it should be fun!

Day 3: Algebra 1

Whew. They are coming along. I do have to say I love my schedule so far this year.  2 classes of Algebra 1, seminar, prep, lunch, and 3 classes of Math Analysis.  It gives my day good spacing and a nice break.

I am learning even more every day with my freshmen that MODELING IS KEY!  Like more than what I even think is needed.  Also, I am not sure if they really don't know what to do, if they didn't listen to hear what to do, if they are just lazy and don't do it, or if they just don't realize that this is high school and when your teacher asks you to do something she expects it to be done.

Today we continued watching a video together in class.  Instead of being the "bad model", I was the "good model" and paused it often, thought about what I was hearing to myself (out loud of course), and took some time to process before moving on.  I had the kids do most of that in groups and then share out so they understood that every single student is accountable for every assignment and they can't just depend on their group members to do all the work. We had a few students learn this the hard way.  After each group had 30-60 seconds to talk about a certain question, I went around and had each group share out.  However, instead of a random person speaking up, I specifically pointed at a student in the group and that student had to answer the question.  There was one group where the boy I called on said, "I don't know, they were talking about it". So, we got to have a nice discussion about participation and accountability.  The classmate next to him wasn't listening either.  Of course, being freshmen, they thought it was funny, but we used it as a learning experience.  We did it again near the end of class and I called on the same first boy and he was able to answer, so I felt that was a nice way to "redeem himself" from being somewhat embarrased in class.

The overall attitudes I am sensing right now in Algebra 1 are about half and half.  First of all, my 1st and 2nd period are completely different and I have a feeling once our CST scores come in I'm going to see much higher scores in 2nd period.  They just seem to be a bit brighter.  Regardless of that, some students are having a hard time understanding that it is expected they are active and engaged in their learning because they are so not used to having to do anything but sit there, lean back, and chill out. Some students didn't even take notes during the video as we were watching it together and pausing it, so I had to have a few conversations with those students.  Some responded very positively and seemed to "get it", whereas I still have a few ones who don't seem to want to do any learning or give any effort.  I hope it improves as time goes on.

The most frustrating thing for me right now is I know there are students who are so annoyed that we have to spend time in "training" because they are ready to move on.  However, I know that if I don't spend this time now, I am setting myself up for a year of frustration.  So, I keep reminding them of the goal: Think about how you will be able to learn at your own pace once our "training" is done! Won't it be nice to not have to wait for others, or to go slower if you want?

I also showed them how to complete an online WSQ and their first one is due on Monday.  We actually went over all the questions together, so all they have to do is actually type in the answers.  This will be the first assignment submitted electronically for all students so I will have a better idea who is turning stuff in.  All the other papers I am trying to get recorded but there are so many of them it is hard to keep up the first week of school.

Also, I am going to have to burn some DVDs for a few students who don't even have computers at home. I didn't have to do this at all last year, and I was hoping flash drives would do.  However, I guess in a way I was expecting this.  So now, I need to figure out what is the easiest way to do this - ideas are welcome!

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend and an improved second week. I'm hoping by the end of next week we will be ready to watch videos at home and actually spend our class time the way I want - students demonstrating TWIRLS rather than me doing most of the instruction, getting that one-on-one help, and making progress towards proficiency in Algebra 1.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 2 - Algebra 1 and Math Analysis

Now I know why I blogged on my prep yesterday. I seriously can't remember what happened this morning!  Maybe I can gather up some of it.  I really want to document the first few weeks in detail so I can look back for next year.

Algebra 1 (to the best of my ability!)
In 1st period, hardly any students watched the intro video but it was kind of my fault - in the craziness of the first day, I didn't do a great job of showing them where it was at and where to find it.  In 2nd period (which I taught a little differently yesterday), about 75% of the students watched it.  I decided to postpone our "Flipped Classroom WSQ" until tomorrow when all the students are supposed to have watched it.  At this point, students who don't have it watched (after 2 days and a friendly "reminder" today) will probably receive a consequence.

Instead, I focused the first part of class on my KIRCH strategies for success and really talked about why they are important and tried to have a little discussion.  Overall, I think it went really well.  I think it is actually better for me to do that in person and just have the video I had made as a resource to send students and parents to throughout the year as needed.  One of the biggest thinks I emphasized was the "I" - Initiate Communication.  I really wanted my students to understand that they need to communicate with me in all circumstances, whether they are having trouble with the technology, with the class, or with the content.  I hope with all the ways they can communicate with me (with the addition of GoogleVoice this year) it will open up those doors even more.

We also did our first "model lesson" today where I acted like a student watching Chapter 1 Concept 1. They were also taking some notes as if they were watching it, but I basically talked out loud and whatever I was thinking, I said out loud.  I left the video playing while I "went to the bathroom", I texted my friend about the "cute boy I saw at lunch", I didn't pause it when the video said to pause and just copied down the right answers, etc.  It was actually pretty funny.  First period just went along with it, but in second period, when I said "Oh I have to pee!" and walked away, I actually had students yelling at me to pause the video! I loved it! (and ignored them).

We only got about halfway through so we will continue that tomorrow and start the next one.  We will also have our first WSQ chats.  I think I am definitely going to have them do "small groups" for their discussions.  They are in groups of 6, but can be easily broken into groups of 3.  They  need to start small so everyone is involved.

We're a little behind where I planned, but I very happy with how far we've come in two days.

Math Analysis

I only had a total of less than 15 of 100 students NOT watch the video last night, so we were able to have our first WSQ chat today.

I explained what a WSQ chat was (a structured discussion) and explained the role of the group leader:

1. To read the questions out loud
2. To make sure that everyone participates
3. To make sure the group stays on task

I also guided them as to what they need to talk about:

1. Discuss the questions provided from the WSQ
2. Follow along in your SSS packets and add questions, comments, or notes to the discussion that apply to the conversation.
3. Look through the problems you tried on your own and make sure any misconceptions were clarified.

Lastly, it was important to clarify what a discussion was.  

In one class, the group leader just had everyone go around the circle and share their answer.  That was not a discussion.  I mentioned that a discussion means that yes, someone starts, but then someone else jumps in, comments, asks a question, bounces an idea around, etc.  Everyone is involved and joining in at random moments and it's not just "I'll talk when it's my turn"

Tonight, they are watching my "Technology in the Flipped Classroom" video, which will introduce them to the websites we'll be using, including the Blogspot/Sophia, Edmodo, GoogleForms, ThinkBinder, MentorMob, and Student Blogs.  We'll have a short discussion on that tomorrow and then another review day from their Summer work.  I think I will have them work in "small groups" tomorrow just to see the change.  It is nice only have 5-7 groups of 6 students (much easier to walk around to all the groups), but I want to see how the discussion goes in smaller groups.

We shall see! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"How are you feeling about the flipped classroom?"

I asked a one-question survey of my students after they watched my intro video.  So, at this point, they have about 10-15 minutes of me talking about it in class, and a 10 minute video explaining it with comments from former students.  Here is what they have to say.  I am publishing it with only 13 responses, but it should auto-update as they come in... right now they are VERY positive (and I'm very happy).  I'm putting myself out on a limb here publishing it before I know how it will turn out, but I guess that is a part of being transparent!

Day 1 - Math Analysis

My afternoon classes went great. I modified a bit of what I did in the morning so I was able to go over everything in time.  Then again, I think it may have just been that they are junior and senior level honors students and I just don't have to wait as long for them to get things done.

Overall, they seemed to react positively to the flipped classroom. I was big on explaining WHY as well as the basic WHAT'S to get them off the ground.  I'm hoping the transition is smooth.  I can already tell that several students will have trouble with the transition, but I hope they will come around.

Tomorrow we start discussing our summer work and so we will be having our first "WSQ chats".  I'm planning on:

1. Having a "group leader" to guide the discussion
2. Having the groups fill out a "group evaluation" at the end of the period to rate how they did as a group.

I'm excited to see how the discussions will go. That will show me a lot as far as how much teaching and modeling I need to do for them.  I still need to think through how much structure I am going to put in place tomorrow since it's such a huge amount of material we are reviewing and not just a normal flip class lesson.

Wow, it doesn't feel like the first day is already over!  Did I have a summer?

Day 1: Algebra 1

I just finished my first 2 sections of Algebra 1. They were okay :).  It's my prep now and I need to debrief for myself and make plans for tomorrow, so I thought - why not blog about it?

First of all, my Algebra 1 classes are the largest ones I have at 38 apiece.  Quite a lot of freshman in one room!  I realized I planned a little too much for the first day and didn't account for how long it might take them to do simple tasks.  I'm in my 6th year of teaching, you would think I would know that by now... but I really thought I planned it out well!

I started the day by introducing myself with pictures and stories to get them engaged.  It took about five minutes and I warned them "they might want to pay attention".  Then, I had them introduce each other to their group members and put their names on the seating chart.  I know absolutely NO names after today... usually I know at least one or two.  It was just crazy, I guess!

Then I gave them their first quiz.  It was a 3-minute, 20 question quiz on me - all of which I answered in my little intro.  I had one "writer" per group, but the paper had to rotate every 30 seconds or so, that way all the students were involved.  I definitely have some students who stick out to me as disengaged, but hopefully we can get them off on the right foot!

Then I asked them one question: "Wouldn't it be nice to rewind me and listen to me again?"  First, they asked, "Does this count for points?" (of course), but I asked them to think just in general in terms of if it was a math test.  I would say 75% of them raised their hands and said YES.

Then I told them that my classroom was going to be different than any they had had before.  I said that at first it's going to seem strange and they may not like it, but they will get used to it and it will really help them.  I explained the basics of the Flipped Classroom to them (just the basic flip of what they would recognize in terms of CW/HW flipping for right now - the other stuff is over their heads for the time being).  I could see some kids eyes light up as I explained the "traditional" way of teaching and how they wouldn't have to feel bored, lost, or overwhelmed anymore.  I really think the first impression was pretty positive (we'll see once they actually have to work and think!!!).

I briefly explained what a WSQ was and then they watched the KIRCH Strategies for Success video (6 min).  In 1st period, I had the students split into their 7 groups with 7 computers (5-6 per computer) and honestly, it was a bad idea.  It took the kids so long to figure out how to open the internet, and then six kids crowding around a computer just didn't work.  So, in 2nd period we just put it on the projector and I was in control of the video.  Either way, I did it as a learning experience for how frustrating it is for someone else to be in charge of your learning and they seemed to get it.  We didn't make it through the whole video, so we will continue to review it tomorrow. I wanted them to write their first WSQ as well, and that didn't happen.

Tonight they are watching their ten minute "intro to flipclass" video and taking notes. They are supposed to complete a WSQ (option for handwritten or online) and ask at least one question.

Tomorrow's plans:
1. Go back over their "hw" for the week, the supplies they need to get, have them put the Google Voice # in their phone, show them quickly how to sign up for Edmodo, etc.

2. Review the FC intro video and answer any big questions.  Discuss expectations for the flipped classroom for students, parents, and teachers.  Talk about how to watch a video for education and not entertainment.  For both of those, I have a live Google Doc I will be adding to every period and it will update on the Sophia tutorial.   Students can turn this in today or go back home and watch it again and turn it in the next day.

3. Review the KIRCH strategies for success (maybe re-watch)?  Have students complete summary individually and ask one question.  Turn this in.

4. Emphasize some important things:
-You must READ
-You must COMMUNICATE if you have questions

5. Watch first "math" video together (5 minutes) on Linear Translations.  Model as a class

Write a WSQ together (handwritten)
Start PQ1 together

Most likely:
Show how to do WSQ online; have them do at home (already planned)
Do PQ1 at beginning of class on Friday.

Whew! I've got 3 classes of Math Analysis all afternoon.  Most of those kids will already know what is going on because of their summer work but I still need to make sure I cover what I want and get them ready to go.

Anyone else feel like Day 1 just goes way too quick?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL...Here's my classroom!

All ready to FLIP from day 1!  Welcome to my classroom!

Students are in groups to facilitate discussion and collaboration

Huge whiteboard used to have screen in front of it (notice where screen is in previous picture).  Now the whole board can be used!)

Desks in rows on side for quiz retaking!

My new front "table" - using the old table as student desks, and took a bunch of random cards to put together for my "stuff"

Flipped Learning Network Podcast

Last week, I was honored to be interviewed by Troy Cockrum for the Flipped Learning Network Podcast.  Check it out here!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Flipped Classroom "Flow Chart"

One of my goals today was to make a "flow chart" of how my flipped class works to help students understand the expectations and what they are supposed to be doing.  Here's what I've come up with so far!

If you go to the live document, most of the boxes have links to external docs that describe the step in more detail.

Link to live document: 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Year 2 begins in T minus 5 days

Wednesday, August 22nd. That's the date that has been at the front of my mind ever since school ended on June 14th.  It's the date that I get to start a school year "flipped" from Day 1.  I'm so excited.

Big changes I am making:

  • Starting from day 1. That's a pretty big change!
    • My plans for Math Analysis.  All week we are also reviewing Units A-D, the four summer mini-units of Algebra 2 they reviewed (with videos, online WSQs, etc to get them ready)
      • Wednesday Day 1 - introducing myself, getting to know each other in groups, introducing KIRCH strategies for success, introducing WSQ and the basics of the flipped classroom
        • At home: Watch Intro to flipped class video and take guided notes/ complete WSQ
      • Thursday Day 2 - Q/A about flipped classroom from intro video, coming up together w/ expectations for students, teachers, and parents in the flipped class, coming up together with out to watch a video for education and not entertainment
        • At home: review a classmate's summer MM playlist (notes to fill out).  Explore website, online WSQ, spreadsheet, Thinkbinder, etc (still haven't put this together yet)
      • Friday Day 3 - Q/A about completing WSQs in general + online and using ThinkBinder study group
        • At home: review a classmate's summer MM playlist (notes to fill out), complete WPP #1
      • Monday Day 4 - Q/A on completing MentorMob WPP
        • At home: review a classmate's summer MM playlist (notes to fill out)
      • Tuesday Day 5 - How to watch a video model lesson
        • At home: Prepare for Units A-D Test from summer work.
    • My plans for Algebra 1
      • Wednesday Day 1 - introducing myself, getting to know each other in groups, introducing KIRCH strategies for success, introducing WSQ and the basics of the flipped classroom
        • At home: Watch Intro to flipped class video and take guided notes/ complete WSQ
      • Thursday Day 2 - Q/A about flipped classroom from intro video, coming up together w/ expectations for students, teachers, and parents in the flipped class, coming up together with out to watch a video for education and not entertainment
        • At home: tbd
      • Friday Day 3 - Q/A about completing WSQs in general + online and using ThinkBinder study group
        • At home: tbd
      • Monday Day 4 - Q/A on completing MentorMob WPP
        • At home: tbd
      • Tuesday Day 5 - How to watch a video model lesson
        • At home: tbd
  • WSQ charts by unit instead of by week
    • Students will be given all their assignments and expectations for the whole unit.  See samples for Algebra 1 here and Math Analysis here
    • Students will still need to get all grey boxes signed off, but they have until the test to complete everything.  I'm not going to sign off in red and blue this year, as I don't want to penalize for late work - I'd rather it get done well than rushed through just to get a blue signature.
    • If students do not stay on track (discussion dates are their "deadlines" to be on track) they will receive a "warning" and that will be noted on their WSQ chart.  The warning will include a date they need to be caught up by. If they don't meet that deadline, they will receive a second warning.  After that, they will receive the "homework card" for our school.
  • Flexible testing days in class
    • Each WSQ chart includes a date for "testing day in class".  That is the day students can take the exam in class, like a "normal" exam day.  If students want to take it earlier or later for whatever reason (within reason), they can.
    • This is the biggest experiment I am doing this year and I have no idea how it will turn out. My goal in doing this has many faces:
      • Students don't waste their time taking a test they aren't ready for
      • I don't waste my time grading F tests (they take SO much longer!)
      • Students feel more confident when taking tests
      • Students learn to metacognitively self-evaluate their learning and understanding of the material
      • Assessment is not a "gotcha", but a "let me prove to you I know this!"
  • WSQ charts as "ticket to the test" 
    • Another experiment...
    • Students will not be able to participate in "testing day in class" if their WSQ charts are not complete.  If they show up not complete, they will work on those assignments in class while their classmates take the test . They will have to come in on their own time to take a different version of the test once they show they are ready.
  • Online WSQs for everyone
    • Even my freshmen :).  I was a little nervous about this, but after talking with 3-4 of last year's freshmen this week while they were in for community service, they seem to think it is an amazing idea and will really help hold students more accountable.
    • I really feel the online WSQ makes the WSQ what I want it to be:
      • Organization - students can re-access their responses at any time...and they are all legible!!  I don't have to waste time in class signing off this part of their WSQ chart in class because it's kept track of online via my awesome VLOOKUP and IMPORTRANGE spreadsheets!
      • Accountability - because I can (if I want to and have time) read every single response, and their classmates will be reading their responses... that just increases the level of accountability.
      • Processing - Again, because of the increased accountability I think students will do a better job with this leading to a higher degree of processing.
      • Discussion - Students will have to discuss the material without their answers directly in front of them, which means they will have to take good notes (and add to them as needed) and actually really remember what they wrote down!
  • Google Voice number
    • "What if your students don't have internet? How can you require them to submit something online every night?"  Welcome to the beauty of Google Voice sent directly to voicemail!  Students can submit their WSQs via a phone call!!! woo-hoo!
    • I will also be using this for student accountability.  No student should show up without watching the video and me not knowing about it.  If for some reason they can't watch the video (computer broke down, family emergency, etc), they must call and leave a voicemail.  Everyone has a phone!
  • "Regions" of room for group work, quizzing, small group work, and video watching.
    • I'm very excited about my new classroom setup.  It's still a mess (see the pictures in previous posts), but once it is put together and cleaned up I will post more pictures.  I'm getting my screen moved from the side of the room covering the big whiteboard to cover up a bulletin board when pulled down.  That means I can still have instructions on the screen and students can still be using the whiteboards for work.  
    • I've transitioned my 3 supply tables into student desks (6 per table) and used student desks for smaller supply tables. This also leaves me with 10 extra desks to have in rows on one side of the room for quizzes!
    • I currently have 3 extra laptops and just talked to our tech guy about getting 2-3 more in the next 2-3 weeks. I'm crossing my fingers!
  • Students creating and curating own content
    • My math analysis students did a little video creation last year, but this year my algebra 1 kids will be doing it as well.  One major change is that all videos students make will also include the problem itself being created by the student.  All problems will be posted publicly.
    • Students will be responsible for finding their own resources and putting them in a playlist, which will be embedded on the class blog (at this point)
  • Student Blogging
    • I hope. District still hasn't gotten back to me. argh.
    • I may not be able to do "beginning of year" blog posts like I wanted to. I suppose I could have them do it and just not post it anywhere.
    • Blogging topics to include:
      • Unit Reflections (pre and post test)
      • Curated content playlist
      • Created content playlist
      • "Math Mistakes" blog analysis
      • Solve a problem and explain their solution
      • Special Posts - if I find an interesting article, post, video, etc that I want my students to reflect and respond to.
      • School-Wide Writing - we do this 4x a year and I could have my students post their essays online instead of turning them in on paper. I would want to provide a way for students to submit it privately as well if it is a prompt that might be somewhat personal.
      • Creating FAQ pages on curriculum topics
      • Beginning of the year blog
        • Students write about their expectations for the year
        • Goals and dreams for the year (September; revisit in January and June) 

Important things I'm keeping the same:

  • WSQ chats synchronously
    • I feel that this is a huge part of my flipped class - structured time to demonstrate TWIRLS daily.  I will start with 3-5 minutes for Math Analysis and 2 minutes for Algebra 1 and work my way up as the year goes on.
    • I would like each chat to have a "leader" - one group member who guides the discussion and makes sure all the questions get covered.  This leader would rotate (probably daily)
  • Quizzing when they are ready
    • Quizzes will be taken whenever students feel they are ready, but they do have to have them all taken before they take the test.
    • Different versions of the quiz every day
    • Still record progress in quiz packet (bar graph)
    • Same grading scale of 2-8, with 6,7,8 passing scores.
  • Waiving PQ assignments if they show mastery on the concept quiz
    • Students don't have to finish a PQ assignment if they get an 8 on the concept quiz.  They can do this at any time (after trying most, some, or none of the problems), although I will always suggest/remind that they should at least try one all the way through first.

Quotes and thoughts I really want to emphasize this year:

  • HOT - I want students to know what that means and how to challenge themselves

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

8/14/12 #flipclass Webinar archive!

For those of you who missed my webinar on Tuesday and want the archive, here are the details, along with some other great info from Sophia!


Thank you for attending the Flipped Class Webinar!  Here’s a link to yesterday’s presentation along with a few helpful links. 
  • Join the SOPHIA learning community, it’s free!
  • Become Flipped Classroom Certified! A free professional development program that is endorsed by Capella University and was created in collaboration withSchool of Education Faculty. You may also apply the certificate towards continuing education units and professional development by submitting the certificate to the appropriate personnel at your school.
  • Read Crystal Kirch's blog post WSQing into TWIRLS
  • Continue your professional development and inspire students to succeed.  Earn a graduate degree from our partner, Capella University. Click here to learn more about Capella’s NCATE – Accredited School of Education and their programs for K-12 teachers at the graduate level. 
  • Watch the August 14, 2012 Flipped Class Webinar
Thank you again and see you at!
- The SOPHIA Team 

Putting students to work...and getting feedback on #flipclass!

Today was day 2 of classroom set-up (aka do whatever Mrs. Kirch needs done).  Mostly, I needed students to help me set up all my online stuff, like the tutorials, online wsqs, etc.  Lots of copying and pasting, renaming, and putting in the correct folder.  I had another huge group of students come to help out and had about 9-10 laptops going at once.

At some points, I felt like my room was a factory of workers just plugging away! It was quite funny.  But, by the end of today (2pm) ALL of my online stuff is set up for the ENTIRE YEAR! I am so amazed, so grateful, and so excited to have that one piece of stress off my shoulders!

Here are a few pics of my students working away on all the computers!

In other news, I showed my former students the intro video and stuff I will be doing with my new students on the first day/first week and they all thought it was great!  They thought the intro video was engaging, informational, and started the year off on the right foot! Woo-hoo!!!

One week from today I will be done with the first day of the new year and I am so excited.  Can't wait to keep sharing!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Whew! Setting up my classroom for #flipclass!

What a day. I love what I do, but boy am I exhausted!

6 hours of classroom setup
1 hour webinar (will post archive in a new post as soon as I get it)
1 hour podcast interview (will post link when it comes out sometime in the next few weeks!)
Amazing dinner made by the husband!
Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies cooling on the oven :)

Today was my first day back in my classroom and I have 14 student volunteers helping me all day from 8am-2pm.  I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in (okay, jaw-dropping happy surprised!) that my desks were arranged by our night crew of custodians in the way I had drawn it out on my board yesterday as a brainstorming session.  I LOVE the setup.  So much space!  I have 3 tables and then 4 sets of 6 desks for students to be working. Space to move around, work together, have small groups, take quizzes off to the side, watch videos, etc.

I wanted to take before and after pics but I forgot.  So here are the "after" pictures. My room is a mess with stuff to put places, but you can kind of see the setup of my desks.

Welcome to my crazy life :)  Gotta get organized!

P.S. Student volunteers are amazing!  They made all of my Google Form WSQs for the year (make a copy, rename, embed) as well as my Sohpia Playlists for 3/4 of the year already.  So much time saved on my end!

Monday, August 13, 2012

#flipclass chat 8/13/12 - Engaging Students

Okay, seriously one of the best #flipclass chats in a while!  Not only was it full of my favorite tweeps (welcome back everyone!!), but the ideas, sharing, collaboration, and encouragement was at an all time high.  Well stated here: 

The easiest way to blog and reflect about the #flipclass chat is to just put some screenshots of my favorite tweets... so here we go!

This is how I try to make my videos engaging for students.  I try to have times for them to participate with me, to say things with me (and many of them tell me they do, with weird looks from those around them!), etc.  I think giving them guided notes via my SSS packets is ESSENTIAL.  It helps them to organize their learning and follow along... which means they can stay focused for longer!  I have several times in each video when I ask them to pause it and try it.  I took a clip from "Beat it" by Michael Jackson (like 2 seconds) and have it play "Beat it, Just Beat it!" while an annotation comes up saying "Pause it! Just Try it!".   Processing activity afterwards is super important in keeping the students engaged with the content.  I do this via my WSQ.

This is on my wish list.  When time decides to arrive in my life again. :/

I would like to do this more often this year as well... get them "excited" for what they will be watching that night!

Intrigue + Interest = automatic engagement. Not forced. True learning.

My last comment (tweet right above) summarizes my thoughts on this. I really hope I do a good job of making this point this next year. 
Shameless Plug :)

I love the question WHY. I care so much less about the right answer and so much more about the process and WHY.  Which, as I learn more about common core, seems to be where we are heading as a whole.  It isn't easy to get students to do it automatically at first, but I'm finding that students come along, as long as you keep your expectations for what you want from them consistent.

I start school a week from Wednesday and I need to remember this every day!!! I must model. I must teach them HOW to watch a video for learning and not entertainment.  I think I have said that in the last 5 blog posts (exaggeration), but I can't emphasize it enough and I hope it sticks at the top of my brain :)

I really think it is our job to teach our students how to be learners.  "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime". Same thing applies to learning. 

I think many teachers these days still think that entertaining = engaging.  It is SO NOT TRUE! I have a chart right next to my computer at school (well it was last year, now it is in a box. but i will find it soon :)) that describes the difference between an engaged student and an entertained student.  When I find it I will post it here.

edit/side note: My comment was a generalization, and I know it doesn't apply to everyone...  Even before I flipped my class, I was not a fan of games. It's just not my style because I don't feel like entertaining the kids is the best use of their time with me (when learning doesn't really happen).  Do I want them to enjoy class? Yes. But i want that enjoyment to come because they are engaged in the learning and not because they are sitting back, relaxing, playing BINGO.

(If you want to see KIRCH, see the previous blog post/video). I'm very happy with what I've put together in the last few years as far as expectations goes.

I think this is an important point to make.  Some students can't handle the high expectations (or the thought of them).  But if you emphasize the high level of support, they can feel like they can succeed... and you keep the bar high as that occurs.

So here's the blog post :)

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