Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 8 - I love Peer Instruction!

Seriously, I do!  It really has made the WSQ chat time of class so much more valuable and focused than anything I've done in years past.  (I posted about it a few weeks ago here).  The students really seem to enjoy it as well, and find it very beneficial.

One thing I tried out this week (we did Peer Instruction on Thursday and Friday this week) was purposely picking problems that went one step beyond what I taught on the video.  This helped to challenge every student and provided for some great conversation both as a class and in groups.

I also feel it provides a little bit of that teacher-instruction that some of my students are still craving as I'm weaning them off the traditional classroom.  (Even though in peer instruction, I am really not doing any instruction myself, I'm simply putting the problem on the screen, timing them, and asking for votes... but for some reason just having me lead the activity makes them feel like "old times")  Keep them happy = they work harder for you!

When I put a problem up on the screen, I always give between 2-3 minutes for students to answer them individually.  When I ask for answers, there are several options, and what I do with each option.  The second part of this peer instruction time takes another 2-4 minutes, depending on the problem.
  • All the students (or all but 2-3) get it right - I tell the students who still don't quite get it to put a * by it, and when the WSQ chat is over they will come to the U and I will go over it with them.
  • 10 or so kids don't get it right - We review the problem orally as a class, which provides those kids a little more time to finish (sometimes they don't have it right because they need more time), and gives them that hint they need.  If they still don't quite get it, they will come to the U after the WSQ chat time.
  • 1/2 the class doesn't get it right - All the students who get it right stand up, and go help somebody who is sitting.  Once that student understands, they also stand up and go find somebody to help.  Once everyone, or all but 2-3 students, are standing, I ask them to return to their seats. Same as before, if a student still doesn't quite get it, they are asked to put a * and come to the U.
  • Only 6-10 kids get it right - The students who got it right stand up and each of them go to a table or 1/2 of a table and work with a small group of students.  Once students get the right answer, they stand up and join in on the helping.
  • Nobody gets it right - I begin the problem on the board and clarify some misunderstandings or misconceptions that I sense they are having.  I don't solve it all the way, but give them another minute or two after I've done the first few steps.  We then "vote" again and see where we are at.

  • I did have a student who wanted to try the "flipped" "flipped classroom".  Meaning, because of her schedule, she wanted to watch the videos in class and do the practice at home.  I was more than willing to have her try it out if she thought it would help.  She did for a couple of days and then I noticed her working back with the group.  She said that she found it to actually be more time consuming and would rather do it the "real" flipped classroom way.  I'm glad she had the opportunity to experience that, sometimes I think our students need to experience both ways so they can see the benefits of the flipped classroom.
  • I took one of my class periods to the Mac Lab this week to do some guided instruction on watching videos.  Yes, we are over 2 months into the school year, but this class period still seems to be struggling.  I have half the class with A's and B's, and the other half with D's and F's.  Never had a Math Analysis class like this before, but I needed to find a way to help support them.  After a conversation with our principal, I thought a day in the lab might help them with some of their struggles.  Thankfully, Wednesday was the PSAT day and a "catchup" day in class so they didn't actually miss out on a day of something new.
  • I projected the video on the big screen and had all the students open up the Sophia tutorial and WSQ form on their computer.  We talked about a few things:
    • Be "FIT" when watching videos (see my FAQ page for details on that)
    • Preview the WSQ questions before watching the video.  The guiding questions I choose are supposed to be the "Big Idea" behind the lesson.  I was greatly surprised to find only about 5 of my 36 students actually look at the questions before watching, which means they spend a great deal of time after the video trying to think back through what they learned and don't watch with a purpose.
    • With that, answering the questions/writing the summary throughout watching the lesson as they pull together key ideas and see the "Big Idea"
    • How to appropriately pause, rewind, and take notes.  I have structured times for them to pause, "Just Pause It" comes on, but there are also times when a big callout comes on the screen, or when I say a key phrase from one of the guiding WSQ questions... again, I was surprised to find so many of my students did not actively pay attention or pause during those times.
    • How to attempt the secret questions.  The WSQ we did together had two parts, so we watch the first part together, and then they watched the second part on their own computers.  In between, they were to attempt one of the secret questions.  I was surprised to find a student working on the first secret question TWENTY  MINUTES after we ended the video!!  I reminded the students that the secret questions were to measure their progress and let them know what sort of questions they needed to ask the next day.  If they don't understand it, they are to write how far they got, where they got stuck, etc (NOT "IDK" THOUGH!!).  Then, they are to MOVE ON!  Again, I was surprised that even though I've mentioned this many times, students were making their lives harder by  not following my instructions.
  • Students responded well to the activity.  Here is what they said:
    • The lab idea was awesome but I doubt we will be doing that often. I still liked doing my homework there, I didn't need the extra help but I'm sure the other kids appreciated it.
    • Hello Mrs. Kirch :) Today went good. I liked being in the computer lab and it was beneficial because I saw if the way I watched the wsq's was correct or not.
    • Hi, Mrs. Kirch. I think today's class was actually very helpful. Before, i would just watch the videos without knowing what the summary questions were. So, i would often have to refer back to the videos while doing my summary questions. This will save me some time. :) Also, I think being in the computer lab is good every now and then because we can go over the material together.
    • I liked it! It felt really productive, and it helped me notice the "important" things in the videos the first time watching them.
    • i thought today's class was pretty decent but i still prefer to going at my pace (sorry children) in class. Being in the computer lab once in a while is fine though to get people caught up (???) in how to understand WSQ's and how to watch your videos. 
  • I did find it interesting that two students directly told me in person that they liked the lab activity better because they like it when I teach them myself in person.  I was really confused because I purposely DID NOT do any teaching beyond the video that day.  I was just there to pause it, remind them to write things down, rewind the video, and model good viewing habits for them.  But somehow, just my presence in the room seems to make it feel different for some students. I talked about that with them, and told them that when they are watching it on their own, they just need to act like I am there with them in the room telling them when to pause it and think about things.  I'm not sure what else to say though...
  • Since the PSAT took all the juniors outside of class, my 1st period class had ten students (seniors and sophomores).  They just had a work day, and then I chatted with them for about 10 minutes about how the class is going.  I mainly asked them the big question: "Am I asking too much of you?  Am I making this class too difficult for you?".  That is the complaint I hear the most because I require the students to do concept quizzes, blog posts, use technology, etc - all things the other Math Analysis classes don't have to do.  But, I do them because I feel that they help students to learn and master the material, and to go deeper with it in terms of understanding the content and seeing the connections among the material throughout the year.
  • The answer that those students overwhelmingly had was that yes, my class is tough - but it helps them to learn and they've gotten used to it now.  That was encouraging to hear on my end :)
  • I asked them what they most time consuming part was, and they said it was typing up the WSQ after watching the lesson.  This led me to talk about guided summaries vs. open summaries and why I made the change to mostly guided summaries.  They agreed that the guided summaries help them to focus on what the important ideas are.
  • One change I made based on that conversation was for their blog posts, they usually have to write 2 paragraphs - "What is this problem about" and "What is the trickiest part of this problem?".  I took away the first paragraph because they basically answer that question in the course of solving the problem on video or in their picture worked out step by step, so it was just one extra task for them to do.  I figure, if it's not hugely important to me and it relieves a little stress on their side, I don't mind modifying or adjusting it.

  • Reflection and feedback from this week (I send out this weekly survey, and get about 4-5 responses a week)
    • I am now more used to the flipped classroom and not as frustrated as I was in the beginning of the year.
    • It's better, but I'm still bad at the material even when I give my effort. It gets frustrating, but it's definitely easier to get used to even though I tend to fall behind in retaining all the concepts.
    • The Mac room. It was mostly simply because most of us had already been finished with one of the concepts and as a student I know most people don't like watching educational videos at home but correct me if I'm wrong. It was interesting and a good day. I just love it when a teacher just explains everything to us orally and as a group like a regular class would.
    • Thank you Mrs. Kirch for all the patience and understanding you demonstrate towards us cheesebuckets. I think this kind of classroom and atmosphere is just what I needed this year.  
    • Material is extremely easy for me and I easily learn it. The computer lab activity helped me greatly by allowing me more fun time at my house. 
    • On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say 7. The peer learning? I think it's called helps me best because it provides that one-on-one teaching and if you don't understand how to work out a problem, there are usually several others who also don't understand it and it isn't as embarrassing to admit. And then the U sessions right after if you still don't completely understand are very helpful. 
    • It's still hard for me, but I like doing the WSQ chats because I know on the spot what I'm doing wrong or right

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