Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 1: Getting Started!

Whew!  The first week of school is in the books, which means another summer with my baby boy is that much closer!  It's been a very rough transition being back to work, but I am very thankful that my husband works from home and is able to be the primary caretaker for Grayson.  He does such a wonderful job, and it is great to be able to Skype with them every day during lunch.

As of right now, I am only "flipping" my Math Analysis classes.  The "Algebra 1" class I am teaching (which is in quotes because it's not really Algebra 1 anymore, and I only have the curriculum for the next few weeks so I can't really plan ahead or see the big picture of things) is just too new and I am still trying to figure everything out.  I will say though, after four days of "traditional" teaching - I am SICK of it!  How did I do this for FOUR years before beginning to flip?  I don't feel like I am meeting the needs of all learners.  Even after four days, I already know who the top kids are and can already see them getting bored and frustrated.  I can tell who my really low students are but I don't have time to work with them one on one in class anymore because I have to deliver instruction to the whole class.  The students are not being held accountable for their individual work, and I can see many students just trying to hide behind the others, hoping they can just get by without having to do much work or be noticed.

I am trying a lot of new activities with them, and really trying to make this cookie cutter curriculum work for me, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't a struggle.  I need to find a way to get some of this direct instruction out of the group learning space so I can better differentiate during class time.  The other hurdle I'm trying to overcome is that we have absolutely no resources for practice activities - no textbook, no website, no nothing.  So, we have to come up with it all on our own.  Thankfully, I have a great colleague I am working with this year and we are meeting several times a week and splitting up the workload.  But still, it would be nice to have some resources!!  At least what we are making this year will (hopefully) be able to be used next year.  It's just not what I was hoping my first year teaching as a mom would turn out to be...

Ok, so let's talk about Math Analysis.  The "real" class doesn't start until this coming Friday, since we do some Algebra 2 review and assessments the first week and a half.  But, I'm using this time for "teaching and training" of what the flipped classroom is about, why we are doing it, and learning to work in their groups and collaborate.  I'm really trying to get my students to realize that a flipped classroom is not about watching video tutorials, but about the fact that class time is so much more active, engaging, and enjoyable because they don't have to listen to me the whole time, and that they can receive individual support and work at their own pace.  So far, I feel like it's coming across okay.  We will see after a couple of weeks how they adjust.  Here's what they said in a survey they took the first night of school:

Students are getting their blogs set up this weekend and posting their first WPPs using MentorMob.  I put together several instructional sites for them and basically told them to set it up and if they had trouble to ask for help.  I did NOT spend more than 5 minutes of class time going over instructions.  I figured that more than half the students could probably do it on their own no problem, another 25% could probably do it if they actually read, and the last 25% would need some help... but only after trying themselves.  So far, this has proven to be accurate.

Check out the resources below: - General tips/tricks/FAQ about student blogs in my class - Specific Setup instructions and rules/policies regarding blogging - details for the whole year

I am going to really try and focus on "You can work ahead, but you can't fall behind" this year. I don't want students staying up until 3am stressing because they didn't do a WSQ because they were up studying for APUSH all night.  I want them to take responsibility and plan ahead with their crazy schedules, but also have flexibility that comes with that responsibility.  I know students will have a hard time managing this at first but I hope that it will get better with time.

We shall see how this next week goes! I'm glad it's another 4-dayer.  Having one more day at home with Grayson has been absolutely marvelous :)


  1. I feel awful for you about the algebra course. I only flipped the 4th quarter last year and would loathe to go back. Did you consider a flip 101, perhaps using someone else's videos until you were able to put things into place in future units?

    1. I'm going to see how the year goes. I'm trying to start by understanding where this curriculum is going and then try to put some pieces together as the year goes on. I've never felt so unprepared to teach a course in my life! I'm very Type A so like to have it all organized and planned out WAY in advance.
      I considered using other videos over the summer, but the curriculum is very non-traditional and doesn't really follow any published textbook or other course at this point. If I do find some, I will definitely consider it.
      Thanks for commenting!


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