Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrapping up 2012 - Wow, what a year!

I've been contemplating what I want to write in my 2012 year-end post.  (can you believe it's almost 2013??? Wow, time flies...)

I'm coming up on a year of blogging, reflecting, and sharing my journey with the flipped classroom (and nearing 100,000 views - wow!).  In all honesty, I am trying to look back at where I was a year ago and it's truly amazing to see how much I've grown as a person and as an educator in this short amount of time.

Winter break of last year was spent trying to make sense of this "thing" I had started doing in my classroom with having my students take notes, watch examples, and be exposed to content at home before class so I could work with them in groups during class time, answering their questions and supporting them with what they needed when they needed it.  I knew that what I had started in October with Math Analysis and just for a short two weeks with Algebra 1 was different, but I could already sense it was better than what I had been doing the last 5 years.  I think what I loved the most is that I could connect with and engage with students on their level in a way I couldn't before, and challenge them at different levels based on how they were doing.  I no longer gave a lesson to a class of forty students where I was engaging as many as I could, but I was definitely losing a lot of them, boring others, and not really making the best use of my time with them.

However, I also knew there were some things I needed to change after my first few months of "experimentation", and starting fresh after Winter Break with some new ideas was the best time for this.  It wasn't until the end of Winter Break that I came up with the idea of the WSQ, a way to help my students process the information presented to them, hold them accountable to watching/taking notes/being prepared for class, keeping them (and me) organized with what was expected of them with the WSQ chart, and re-structuring the discussion time so it was more beneficial for both the students and for me as a teacher to see how they were doing and where they needed support, guidance, or re-teaching.  The WSQ has continued to grow, evolve, and mold to fit the needs of my students and surprisingly, the needs of many teachers and students across the country.  I'm an acronym queen (WSQ, FITCH, TWIRLS, HOT, SSS... when will it end?) and thought I was just coming up with something cool and easy to remember for my students...little did I know it would impact so many flipped classrooms around the world over the course of this year.

Then came the decision to blog, and become active on twitter. Wow.  The ideas that have been shared and, most importantly, the connections that have been made have been life-changing.

I still remember the morning I woke up in January after posting one of my first posts, "My Favorite WSQ" and I got on twitter while I was getting ready for work.  Jon Bergmann, who at the time to me was the "pioneer of the flipped classroom" (and who I now consider a friend and colleague) had retweeted my blog post.  I ran into the other room and was so excited telling my husband about it that he posted about it on Facebook.  I don't think at the time that I would have thought less than a year later, I would have the privilege of meeting, working with, and presenting with so many of these "superstars" I was following and learning from.  It's almost humorous now to think back to how excited I was that people were actually reading what I was writing - when in reality I started this blog solely to make sense of things for myself.

The spring semester of 2012 was full of ups and downs, trial and error, and lots of learning and growing.  I'm so glad I took a few hours each weekend to blog about what I was trying and how it was going.  You can see my journey on the Weekly Reflections ('11-'12) page as well as the completely incomplete and unscientific achievement data I collected on my students during the spring semester here.  I also continually gathered student feedback, quotes, thoughts, opinions, etc via formal surveys and informal conversations.  I blogged about most of those here. I was given the opportunity to share with a lot of people, including my school leadership team, my entire school staff, local teachers and admin who came to visit, with Troy Stein and Techsmith who made a video story of my students, and with hundreds of people online who attended the webinars I did through (see all of the archives here).  Things were crazy.  I barely had my head wrapped around this whole shift yet I was being asked to share with so many others. 

Summer of 2012 was a time of major planning, but also a time of great professional development.  I had the opportunity to go to ISTE in San Diego with three other teachers from my school and by far my favorite part was being able to connect with in person all of those people I had only been tweeting with over the last 6 months (see this blog post to see more about how to connect with these amazing educators!).  Carolyn, Graham, Jon, Aaron, Brian, Kristin, Troy, Stacey, Ramsey, Dan, Chris, Taylor & the Sophia Team, Eric & the MentorMob team... and many more.  In addition to making these personal connections (and proving that yes, I really do have brown hair), I was able to learn more and think about not only my flipped classroom, but using blogging in the math classroom, tons of amazing web tools and apps to both aid in student learning and engagement (and in time management for me as a teacher!), and lots more. You can check out all my ISTE posts here.  I never did go back and watch some of the sessions I wanted to online (life got busy!), but I still learned a ton.

I was also able to participate in FlipCon12 virtually since I wasn't able to fly out to Chicago.  It was still pretty awesome and I caught as many sessions as I could.  Here's the first in a series of posts about Flipcon (click on "newer post" to go to the next newest one, or check out the June 2012 blog archive).  One of the best parts of the virtual conference was connecting with others on Twitter, namely what has now become known as the "Cheesebucket Posse" (don't ask where the name came from, it's a really long story).  Thanks to the great timing of my husband taking a weeklong guys' camping trip, thus leaving me with a lot of time to sit around late at night lonely and bored (and spend on G+ Hangout), I was blessed with three of the most amazing friends ever.  Cheryl, Andrew, and Karl have become my closest confidants, my trustworthy PLN, and have challenged me, encouraged me, and supported me through this roller coaster of a year.

The online community created through the #flipclass hashtag on twitter as well as the FlipShare group on Edmodo has been such an amazing place to share ideas, ask questions, receive support, and just simply build relationships with like-minded educators - ones who want to support their students, engage their students, and inspire their students (whether they choose to flip their class or not).  Most Monday nights at 5pm PST there has been a twitter chat that has been so good in facilitating that discussion.  I wish I would have done a better job of tagging my blog posts (all 281 of them!) over the last year, but since I didn't, all of the amazing chat summary posts are kind of lost in the mix - but the learning that happened is amazing!  I've stepped away from social media in general for a while (hence my first and only post in December coming today!), but I will be jumping back in soon enough.

Because of all the connections I made over the summer, I was asked to participate in presenting at the CUE Flip Tour in both NorCal and SoCal.  It was a blast getting to work with Jon, Lisa, Will, and Danny and share my story with both new people and those I had connected with only virtually.  The resources from my presentations at those one-day workshops can be found here.

Starting off Year 2 was exciting and scary.  I had so many ideas and so many plans.  Many of them have come to fruition, but just as many have been put on the backburner, needing to be tweaked or just simply being "too much at once" for my students to handle.

I did a lot of thinking and planning about how I wanted to introduce the new way of teaching and learning to my students.  I also completely re-arranged my classroom seating, acquired some new tables, technology for students to use (thank you to our admin, school tech guy, and district tech specialist!!!), and made much better use of the space that I have.

 I have been very happy with this semester so far and feel much better about everything since I'm not trying out so many new things and making my students continually adjust to things.  I am still tweaking and changing things as needed and based on feedback and my students' needs, but it's dramatically less than last year.

I haven't been blogging as much this semester for several reasons.  One of which is what I just mentioned, I'm not trying out as much new stuff so there isn't as much to blog about.  I also just needed a mental break from the crazy Jan-June of teaching and then the even crazier Jun-Aug of PD.  But, my body was also starting to tell me that sleep and rest was going to become more and more important and essential (as many of you already know) as my husband and I are expecting our first little one at the beginning of June!  This shift in priorities (and energy, oh a lot of energy!!!) led me to take a break from most things online and focus on others... and oh we are so excited!

I am very excited to see how 2013 turns out.  I have two weeks of vacation left (lucky us, we get three weeks) and my goal is to have as much of my work done (packets edited and printed, videos edited, etc)  before heading back so I can enjoy the time both with my students and most importantly, with my husband and family before our little one comes.  I'll probably be taking off the last 6 weeks of school after state testing, so it's hard to believe my school year is very quickly winding down.  I am interested and intrigued to see how the flipped classroom runs the last 6 weeks with the long term sub, but I am confident that the self-directed, interactive learners I have been "training" my students to become will be in full swing by that point.  It will be a learning experience for all of us!

Thank you to everyone for joining me on this journey in 2012!  

I have loved meeting you, interacting with you, sharing with you, and growing together as we work towards our common goal of helping and supporting our students in the best ways we know how.  

I look forward to continuing to expand my PLN and to try new methods and ways to interact with and engage my students in their learning.

To conclude this very long post (congratulations if you made it through!)

Over the course of the year, I've put together a lot of resources to help teachers who are just starting out flipping or want some new ideas.  While putting them together, it was almost more helpful for me because I was able to wrap my head around exactly what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what exactly it was that was working/not working/needed tweaking.  Here are some of the most requested resources:

  • My FAQ page - What do all those acronyms mean? Can you give me a picture of what your Flipped Class looks like?  After receiving hundreds of emails with similar questions, I made a FAQ page that I point people towards as the first stop.
  • FlipClass Intro Letters and Videos - How do you introduce the flipped classroom to students and parents?  Over the summer we collected lots of letters and videos that educators across the world are using in their classes.  The document is still live to add your own if you wish.
  • "Links I think you should check out" - to the right you'll see a screenshot of the right side of my blog.  There are a ton of often-requested resources linked there.
    • The intro video I created for students to watch the first week of school
    • The video I created about my classroom that was used by MentorMob at the FlipCon12 Meet&Greet
    • Two Prezi's I created that have been used for multiple presentations and webinars
    • Two recent Webinar archives of the presentations I have done with (all archives can be found on the Presentations and Publicity pages, these are just the most recent archive for each of the two presentations)
    • The "Flipped Class Flow Chart" I created to explain the process that my students go through on a daily basis
    • The letter I created for parents about the flipped classroom, including a link to the short video I made for them.
    • Information on HOT questions, how I use Songs and Chants in my math classes, and the two student sites that host all of my materials, videos, resources, and content.
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