Monday, August 5, 2013

Warning: Challenges Ahead!

I have about two weeks until I head back into my classroom, so it's time to try and get back into the swing of things.  It would be much easier to spend all my time with this cutie (2 months old today!), but duty calls...

This year is going to bring on its own set of new and exciting, yet scary, challenges.  Our district is going full force into implementing Common Core math classes, and have chosen the Integrated rather than Traditional pathway.  What this means is that "Algebra 1" is no longer really a class, it is what we are currently calling "Course 1", and includes a mix of standards from the three traditional courses of Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.

What this means is that the majority of the work I have dedicated my time to the last 5 years, which is posted on, is now obselete and I am starting from scratch for this coming year.  (Thankfully my Math Analysis course will be staying status quo for at least this year, so is still good to go!)  Curriculum writing teams have been hard at work creating units of study for these new courses and we should be able to see them by about a week before school begins this year.  Due to my joyful interruption this year, I was not a part of these writing teams as I would have liked and greatly enjoyed.

While I am very excited about the deeper level of learning the Common Core can bring, my Type-A planner self is basically freaking out.  My mindset of teaching and learning has shifted so drastically in the last 2 years, that I don't know how I will do with a cookie cutter curriculum that I haven't had time to tweak and modify to fit my style.  I keep telling myself that it will all work out and everything will fall into place... but I'm one of those people that likes to have everything organized and planned for the first 3-4 months of the school year before the year even begins!  I like to see the big picture and figure out how to structure it best to meet student needs.  This year, I will be teaching what has been handed to me with little to no time to plan ahead in the way that I always have.

One of the biggest questions I have for all of you, especially math teachers but all subject areas are welcome to chime in, is how you structure a flipped classroom in math with little to no video instruction.

Now, let me clarify, I am 100% on board with the fact that a flipped classroom is not about the video, but about what you do in class, the face to face time you have with students, the higher order thinking that is able to occur, etc.  The activities and lessons that are embedded within the curriculum should be really great and support my mindset of what I want to be happening in my class (again, I have yet to see most of it, so I'm kind of hanging in limbo here but have confidence in what is coming).

However, there is still a level of direct instruction that must occur at this level for the students to be successful.  I don't believe direct instruction should occur in the group learning space, but rather in the individual learning space where students can learn at their own pace, in their own time, and in their own place.  The easiest way for this to happen is for direct instruction to be placed on a video.  (Please note that I do not consider direct instruction to HAVE to occur before the lesson is introduced; in fact, many lessons for this year from what I've seen I can see an exploration phase in class, direct instruction coming afterwards, and then more application and practice in class... similar to the Explore-Flip-Apply model).  To put it bluntly, I simply will not have the time or energy to dedicate to making videos like I have the last two school years, and I cannot see myself sacrificing the time with my little one to run a flipped classroom in my new "Algebra 1/Course 1" in the same way as I have the last two years.  

And, on a random note...I feel like I want to have this figured out before the school year begins and not change my mind midway through because this level of students has a tough time adjusting to major changes.  If they are going to be doing anything similar to my previous two years with videos, WSQs, online work, etc, I want to start it from Day 1.

Okay, I hope that made sense :)  I have been on Mommy brain for the last several months, so it's time to try and get back in the groove!

So, please share your experiences, your thoughts, and your ideas.


  1. I can only think of three options.
    1) Borrow Geometry videos from another teacher and match those with your Algebra 1 resources and keep doing what you are doing. It might be worth looking around on youtube or schooltube for a bit to see if you like anything.

    My channel with Geometry videos is but it might not be up to your standards. is another that I think is really good.

    2) Making short videos to supplement student reading (if there is a textbook) or direct instruction in your in class.

    3) Let your students know from the first day that some units (Algebra) will be flipped and other units (Geometry) will not be flipped.

    1. Hi Ben,

      Thanks for commenting. Great ideas.
      I will definitely check out your channel and see what Geometry concepts match up with what I will be teaching. Thanks for offering!
      I also like your idea of a short reading or something. At FlipCon, Jon and Aaron referred to them as "Learning Objects", which could be videos, readings, applets, etc. I just don't have a ton of resources already found/made, so maybe that is my challenge this year!

      I think I will still present the class as "flipped" and it may even be better because then the students won't associate "flipped" with "videos" because there won't always be videos!

      We shall see.. :)

  2. Crystal,
    I flipped HS GEO for a whole year (all but proofs) with just reading from our text. Students would go through guided notes, read examples, do the "check it out" problems as out of class work. In class groups would discuss answers to their notes. You could easily add the WSQ here. Then in class there would be a one page in-class notes for lessons that needed more direct instruction. There was "I do, We do, and You do" problems on one page. I expected all students to,stay focused with me for the I do part and then they could tune out and go at their own pace, checking answers posted in the back of the room. I was able to get a lot of the "goods" into this model of a flipped classroom because I could help more one on one and fit in more constructions, activities, etc. I would also give explorations that came with out textbook as out of class work as well. ... The only videos I recorded that year were quick 2-3 minute ones recapping and algebra skill they would need and might not remember.
    Hope that helps a little. It's doable, but won't be as smooth as you'd like it. BUT, you have the greatest gift to come home to, a smiling little guy that will be SO happy to see you.
    Good luck,
    Tara Maynard

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thanks for commenting. I'm definitely going to look into that. The only downside is that "Course 1" students are receiving an "Algebra 1" textbook, but not all of the content is Algebra 1. So, they may not even have a textbook that has the content in it! Crazy, I know.
      I think I could definitely see the WSQ still working, with the "direct instruction" coming from a reading if needed, so class time could still be what I envision. I'm glad to hear that you have tried it out and had success.
      And, at the end of the day, if it's much rougher than my perfectionist self wants, you are right that I have some very happy boys to come home to :)

  3. Have you seen this website?
    I've always been a believer in making your own videos but these are pretty good!

    1. Hi Robin,

      Thanks for the comment. I've heard of it but haven't checked it out. I will add it to my list of possibilities! Thanks again :)


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