Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 15 reflections - lessons learned

I was pretty frustrated at the end of last week and actually sent my students home with quite a large mandatory practice assignment to complete in order to prepare for their test on Tuesday.  This isn't something I usually do, but my students are having a hard time understanding that a certain amount of practice really is needed/required in order to make sure they master and grasp the concepts.

So, I was crossing my fingers that the results of the Unit K test would be good and I could use this as a learning experience for my students... and thankfully, they were good!  One class got double the length of assignment the other two classes did, and that class pretty much scored identically to the class that is usually 5-10% higher on class average for the tests.  That made me very proud since they were the class that has been frustrating me to no end the last couple of weeks with their effort and performance.

Other than that, it's been a pretty good week.  It was great to get some good student feedback via one of the online WSQ questions they had.  Sometimes it's hard to see that your students really are learning the non-math stuff you hope they learn in your class, and it was really encouraging to read what they had to say.

One thing I really am glad we have the time for in my flipped class is posing really tough and challenging problems to students and having them actually tackle them and work through them rather than just giving up.  On Friday, we evaluated the difference quotient of higher-powered polynomials using the binomial theorem.  (Sound fun, non-math people?  Oh, it's a blast :)).  For their WSQ the night before, I only showed them how to do it with a monomial and then a monomial with a coefficient (with powers of 4 and 5, respectively).  For their intro problem, I put up a four-termed polynomial with powers of 7,5,3,and 1 all in one problem.  I asked them how they would set up and organize that problem.  We talked through it a little, and in the later classes I gave them a little visual guidance.  Then I put up another four-term problem with high powers and had them take a crack at it as a group.   Really awesome stuff.  I figure if they can tackle the hard stuff, when it comes to their quizzes and tests, the problems will be a breeze!

Another thing I had the time for this week was to just sit down and work through some of the practice problems with about 2-4 students per period at my "U" area in the classroom.  We just wrote a problem on the small whiteboard and they talked me through how to do it, and I clarified and asked questions along the way.  It was really great and something I would never have time for in a non-flipped class.

I have a Masters-level student doing his research on aspects of the flipped classroom and he will be using one of my classes as his focus class.  He came in for the first time this last week and will be doing most of the study at the beginning of the new year.  I am excited to see what he has to say and will definitely share it as he allows in the spring.

We have a 4 1/2 day week and then 3 weeks off for Winter Break. I am SOOOOO excited for some time off to rest, relax, and enjoy the holidays.  I hope all of you are enjoying the Christmas season!

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