Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 3: Finally getting started!

This was our first full week of actually learning new content in the flipped classroom.  Routines are slowly being put into place and students are coming along at different paces.

Every day when students come in, I have an agenda for the day that looks something like this.  I edit the HOT questions right before class based on what I saw in the online WSQ.

We also review the WSQ expectations.  They were given to them in detail here, and summarized on this slide:

My big focus for this year is having variety in the WSQ chats.  Here is what we did this week:

Mon - Students had a WPP for this concept, so their WSQ chat was to partner up with someone in class and to go over their problem, work with each other to make sure they solved it correctly.  They then had to post it on their blogs.  Below are links to the MentorMob playlist that they embedded on their blogs.
SAMPLES OF FINISHED WPP'S (I just picked 3 random ones of varying performance) 

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Tues - Another WPP
SAMPLES OF FINISHED WPP'S (I just picked 3 random ones of varying performance) 

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Wed - We had the "Polynomial End Behavior Dance" (I'll have to post a video sometime, but I am still waiting to get it from my student) and then students were given 16 polynomials that they had to categorize, describe the categorization on a sticky note header, and then answer some questions when I came around to them. (Gosh why didn't I take pictures!!).  I'll just say the dance was to Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and it was pretty hilarious.

Thurs - We did a form of "Peer Instruction".  I picked two problems and gave students time to solve the first one.  Then I had them vote on answers A-E (A-D were real answers, E was chosen if they didn't yet have any of the answers.  In two of the classes, 90% of the students got the correct answer to the first one within the time frame.  So, the students who didn't were told to come to the U after the WSQ chat time (which they did and we went over it together).  In the third class, it was still split about half and half so the students who chose the correct answer were told to get out of their seat and go help an "E".  It was awesome!  Students were up and moving around and found someone to help and they were explaining it.  (Again, I should have taken pictures!)
The second problem I purposely chose to be tough and require something I didn't go over explicitly the night before.  I gave the students two minutes and then purposely had them vote.  100% of the students were at answer E, which gave me the opportunity to explain that imaginary and irrational zeroes have to come in conjugate pairs.  Then I gave them a few more minutes to finish the problem and had them vote again.  Students who had it right moved on to the practice work, and students who were still struggling got help on finishing it correctly.
PEER INSTRUCTION PROBLEMS (I chose several in advance and then based on their WSQ responses chose the two - one from each concept - that I knew would be most beneficial to students.

Fri - We did a whole class activity on sketching polynomials based simply on their zeroes/multiplicities and end behavior.  I put up a problem and students worked in groups to draw it.  For the first problem, I purposely left out the end behavior and let students struggle for about a minute until a few raised their hands and told me I needed to give them more information.
Then, students had to create their own 4th degree polynomial by starting with the zeroes and working backwards.  They were guided through the beginning and then in their groups had to work together to discuss and finish figuring it out.
(it's due Tuesday, so only 1 has been turned in so far)
Example 1

On Monday, they are going to do a card chain activity with polynomials.  You can see that activity here.

I am having students submit their HOT questions both on the google form and write it on their SSS.  So, in the morning I skim through and pick out 2-3 questions that are repeated often to decide on what needs to be focused on that day.  Because they have them also written on their SSS, as I walk around that day, I can glance at the questions and make sure we have discussed them and students don't have any further questions.  Many students are still not writing it on their SSS, but I keep emphasizing it so hopefully they will get in the habit soon.

If there are a few questions that stand out, we will go over them as a whole class before beginning the small group WSQ chat.

Their online WSQ form says this:
The part I’m most confused about is... - use this space to write your HOT question. OPTION 1: If there is something you are confused about, phrase it in the form of a question and write it here. OPTION 2: If there is nothing you are confused about, write a good discussion question for class tomorrow and write out a detailed answer to it. OPTION 3: A final option is to write your own example problem from this concept and solve it verbally step by step.

I've asked students to label their question as either "CONFUSION", "DISCUSSION" OR "EXAMPLE", and then I have some automatic color-coding going on so I can quickly and easily see how many of each I have and which questions are really the "confusing" ones I need to focus on.
For students who don't come prepared, I have a roster tacked to the wall called the "not prepared" list.  If students are not prepared, they simply put today's date next to their name and get on a computer.  If they do that without asking, no worries, no consequence.  If they wait until I find out they didn't do it, then there is a consequence.  I have told students as long as it doesn't become a habit, it isn't a problem.  Out of my 107 students, I have one who has been on the list 4 out of the 6 days and another 3 out of the 6 days.  I've had individual conversations with those kids and hopefully they will figure it out soon that it's more beneficial to them to come to class prepared.  We will see how the next week goes.

Many students have figured out they can finish their work and start the next video in class with the iPods if they manage their time well.  Hopefully more and more students will realize this.
In terms of adjusting to the flipped classroom, students are coming along.  The biggest struggle they have is with the technology... not the WSQ part, since they did that over the summer for their review work, but in terms of creating their blog, uploading pictures, creating MentorMob playlists, etc.  For some students, this is overwhelming.  I don't know how I am going to adjust it for next year, but I need to.  50-60% of the students did it without any help beyond my instructions (see and for the instructions they are given).  So, I don't think it's a good use of time to have the whole class go to the computer lab to learn how.  I had a few days after school and mornings where I was available with computers in my room to help, and that put us up to about 80%.  The remaining 20% (approximately) aren't really coming in for help and are complaining and then staying up hours upon hours at night trying to figure it out.  I have tried to be explicitly clear in class that they are NOT to stay up struggling with the technology; if they can't figure it out then wait until the next day to do it together in class, but some students are refusing to do so and continue to stay up hours working on it.  I'm not sure how to alleviate this issue, but I'm still working on it!

I ran into two of my students last year who are now in AP Calc and asked them about the blog stuff.  They agreed that the first couple weeks is really hard but then it gets easy and it's not an issue for the rest of the year.  I was glad to hear that from students who have actually experienced it because that is my perspective; it's just hard to get the current students to understand that.
I have really tried to amp up my Parent Communication this year.  I am sending out a weekly newsletter update.  I don't know how many parents are reading at this point, but at least I am trying to keep them informed.  You can see my parent newsletters so far here.
I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks as students get used to the way things work in my classroom!

1 comment:

  1. Although I am not a math teacher (science), I wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work in putting this together. It has given me some great ideas AND an opportunity to share some great info to our math dept who is struggling with making math authentic to the students. Love the MentorMob creations - clever!


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