Saturday, September 8, 2012

#flipclass 2012-2013 Week 3 Reflections: continued progress

This week concluded the third week of school and all I can say is that progress is continuing to be made.  My flipped classroom is still far from what I envision and far from what I know it will come to be based on my experiences last year, but we are getting there.

I have to continually remind myself that these are NEW students and this way of teaching and learning is completely NEW to them as I have to give them time to be trained and adjust.

I had a chance to watch Graham Johnson's (@math_johnson) interactive parent video (A-mazing, definitely check it out!) and I love how he described a portion of his class as "flex time".  I never know what to call it, but I think I'm going to steal that phrase.  Sometimes the word "free time" slips out of my mouth and I say to myself, "No! It's not free time!"  Flex time seems to convey what I want my students to hear. Thanks Graham :)

  • Other Posts this week:
    • Read about how I started to see some student-driven inquiry in my WSQ chats this week here.
    • Read some initial student feedback on the flipped classroom here.

algebra 1.

Thursday and Friday of this week finally got a little better.  I was frustrated earlier in the week because I still feel like I have to give instructions for too much of class time (15-20 minutes).  We have to practice and model the same things every day and I just feel like they should have the hang of them by now, but they don't.  However, Thursday and Friday I gave them the most time to work on PQ's and quizzes, and it was much less stressful for me.

I am not really having that much of a problem with video watching, it's about 2-3 kids a day.  Now, they do have their first chapter test on Wednesday, so it will be very interesting to see if their attitudes stay positive after that.  

I will be honest and say I haven't done a very good job of several things so far, and I hope they don't come back to bite me in the butt:

1. Actually checking over their practice work in detail. I've been telling them to check their answers on the back and ask for help if they aren't getting it right... but I just don't have 100% confidence that all of them are doing that.  But, with 40 squirrely freshmen in one class, I don't feel I have time to check through it all right now.  Once they get into a routine and I have less management to do, I think I'll have more time.

2. Interviewing the groups after the WSQ chats. I'm hoping this will come this week.

3. Small group teaching, even though I've planned it a few times this week. We just have run out of time because I have to give so much instruction at the beginning of class. It amazes me how long it takes kids to do simple tasks sometimes, and how many reminders they need! I just hope that after a couple more weeks they will be in their routine and I won't have to do as much reminding.

Update on the week based on my plans and goals I wrote in Week 2

1. We have been doing a warm-up every day and I think that has been going well.  Since I change quiz versions every day,  I am able to use the results from the quiz to guide what I pick for the warm-up the next day.  So, on Thursday the students were on Version C and as I was grading, I highlighted the problems I kept seeing wrong answers to (especially common wrong answers to) and those were their warm-up problems the next day.  They have to make corrections on their quizzes anyways to retake them, so it was like hitting two birds with one stone :)

2. WSQ chats are going better since I gave them more structure with the "Today's WSQ chat" on the board.  It helps to hold them accountable as well.  I'm still not 100% happy with how they are going, but we will be changing groups on Thursday after their first test now that I know the kids better and I think that will help.

The last two days of the week this was the only structure I gave them, and I let the groups lead the chats from there. They actually did a pretty good job overall (better than what I expected) and it was nice not having to segment it into the S, Q, and SQ for them.
3. The "Task List" is still going well, although students are still struggling with the freedom that the flipped classroom gives them.  They are not self-starters and still need to be told to move on to the next task.  So, I often find groups who are just sitting there, done with the WSQ chat or another task, and not moving on to the next one.  I'm hoping to see improvement in that as well this week, especially with the change in groups.

4. Parent contact is probably at 85%+ of the ones who I need to contact, so I'm happy with that :)  I make the students do the calling in class, which frees up a little stress from my outside of class time.

algebra 1. My plans and goals for this next week:

1. Make intentional time to "interview" and talk with every group about the math.

2. Actually look through my students' work in their notebooks. Ask them questions. Have them work out the problems in front of me.

3. Ask students to solve problems on their mini-whiteboards more often for me to look at.

4. Make intentional time for "small group" instruction on whatever concepts I feel need the most focus.  I am doing this in Math Analysis at the  :30 of every hour and I think that may work in Algebra 1 as well. 

5. Continue to emphasize our daily "routine" (these kids need it!)

  1. Warm-up (to get our brains going)
  2. WSQ chat (to review last night)
  3. Flex Time (to practice what we've learned
    1. PQ's
    2. Quizzes
    3. Other activities 
  4. Work ahead

algebra 1. My continued focus for improvement: (SAME AS LAST WEEK, still need to work on these!)

1. Student responses to the online WSQ questions. I'd like to do some more critiquing of their writing (in a positive way) and show students what great, good, poor, and bad responses look like and how to improve them.

2. Modeling/Expectations for student engagement in their learning and progress.  This will begin as we start taking quizzes and they are able to monitor their progress and actually see what is going on score-wise and not just in their heads.

3. (Myself) doing a better job of engaging in conversations with students about the math and the learning and less time doing classroom management.  I know this will come with time, but I am anxious for the time when the class runs itself and I'm actually able to do what I want to do - work with the students and ask/answer questions to help and challenge their learning!

math analysis.

Update on the week based on my plans and goals I wrote in Week 2

1. WSQ chats are going AMAZINGLY, as I posted about here. I don't even feel the need to time the students because the S, Q, and SQ keep them focused! Yay!  I do want to start to add some variety to the chats to mix it up... Ideas?  I'm going to look at my WSQ page from last year and see what I did because I can't remember (thank goodness for blogging!)

2. Students are doing pretty well with working productively, although some are still struggling with the freedom. I think again that using the word "flex time" will be a good mindset to start using.

3. Students are scoring each other's WPP's and blogs are coming soon to house their work as a "digital portfolio" for the time being.  Actual blogging will come later.

4. Made most of my parent contact.  Again, students are the ones doing the calling.  They hate it, because they know they will get in trouble.  But, it gets them back to what they should be doing anyways!

math analysis. My plans and goals for this next week:

1. Mix it up - WSQ chat variations
  • Ideas - 
    • Changing up the groups (not necessarily whole seating changes, but just different groups for the chat)
    • Having unstructured chats where I just tell the students "talk about last night"
    • Having whole-class chats where I ask the questions, the groups put their heads together, and I call on one group to share out
2. More uses for the questions they come up with.
  • Ideas - 
    • Having them look back through their HOT questions from the chapter and picking the HOTTEST 5 or 6 questions from their group to put on the "class question list".  Have this serve as some sort of discussion tool. 

math analysis. My continued focus for improvement:

1. Challenging the students that need challenging and working with the struggling students (I already know exactly who they are).

2. Continuing to do small group teaching every day on the :30


  1. You mention that you'll be changing student groups after the unit test (Alg 1). Do you group heterogeneously or homogeneously, as far as progress/scores? And what size are your groups?

    In my Alg 2 classes I have an odd freshman here and there, about 25-30% sophomores, and the rest juniors and seniors (one class very senior heavy). This morning I was working on some groupings of students that were heterogeneous as far as progress/scores but tried to keep freshman/sophomores together and juniors/seniors together. I got something I was pretty happy with in two of three classes and decided to start fresh with the third tomorrow (couldn't get it to work out well).

    But I also want to have them grouped homogeneously, in that I want to work with the ones who have the similar issues at the same time. I'm thinking heterogeneous groups, but pull out for extra help from those groups (rather than using those groupings for that purpose.)

    When I've done groups, I've usually done 4's. Today I actually did 5's (with a couple 4's) based on the way my room currently is. But as I read your post, I was thinking about AVID tutorials (taught AVID last year...wasn't for me but LOVED tutorials) and I think 6's with a 5 thrown in here and there could work well too (and make logistics easier).

    1. The structured groups are heterogenous, so I have been looking at their data (CST scores, EL students, GATE, progress in class thus far) and am trying to have it as mixed as possible. They are in groups of 6, but for the chats I have them break off into "small groups" of 3 most days so everyone participates more. Some days I allow them to have their discussions in their big groups of 6, but that has only been once or twice.

      In my algebra classes, I have 6-7 sophomores in each class out of 37-39 students, so I am putting one sophomore in each group. My math analysis classes are basically all juniors (maybe 4-5 seniors in each class?) so I'm not worried about the groupings there.

      I will probably change the groups up every chapter (more often than I usually do) just because I want them discussing with other people and getting to know their classmates so they feel comfortable working with everyone. In the past, I've just changed it up once every 6 weeks.

      We are both thinking on the same wavelength of wanting homogenous as well, though. So, my plan is to keep the structured groups heterogenous but during "flex time" students will have the choice to work with people outside their group. This will happen when I do small group teaching for students who need review, or if I have a few students working ahead at the same pace.

      I have always done groups of 4 in the past as well, but decided to jump in and try 6's this year. You are so right that the logistics is just easier. I would have 9-10 groups... now I have 6-7 groups. Much easier to get around to all of them :)

      thanks for sharing!


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