Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week 18 Reflections - Lessons Learned + Continuing to Tweak

Course 1 - Learning lessons with the "internal flip"

I've made a few tweaks to my "internal flip" class as I'm trying to figure out how this will work.  Originally, I had the students seated homogeneously by current grade in class so the kids could work at the same pace as those around them.  As the last couple of weeks have gone on though, there was definitely students at different locations even at the same tables.  Two things that added to this were:

1)  if a student was absent, they came back behind, and
2) the fact that this unit they had to use compasses to do triangle constructions and most students didn't have one at home (and we can't "require" them to buy that $1-2 supply), so they can only do that part of the work at school.

So, the last 3 days I have just made a list on the board for each table and put a range of assignment #'s for that table.  So, for example, it would look like this:

Table A - #31 and higher
Table B -  #28-30
Table C -  #25-27
Table D -  #22-24
Table E -  #19-21
Table F & Rows  - less than #19

Then, the students would go to the appropriate tables and all be working on the same assignment. They would move "up" to the next table as they moved on.

This change made things a lot better.

A few other things I learned:

  • For these two weeks after break, I made a new formatted assignment chart for them where a space fits perfectly for my "stamp" to mark them off.  I just kept the stamp with me and marked them off as I came around.
  • After EVERY video assignment there was another assignment called "Call Mrs. Kirch over to discuss".  This helped to alleviate the issue we had before winter break where students would never check in with me.  Now, they were forced to.
  • Even though I thought I formatted it easily, I still had many students who didn't understand that #1 came first, #2 came after, etc.   They wanted to work on #8 because their friends were even though they hadn't finished #5.  We had to have many many many talks (probably every day the first week) about going in order.  Some students still didn't get it even at the end of this second week. 
  • I put a single QR code on the back of the assignment chart that sent students to a single Sophia tutorial.  With all 40 assignments for the 11 class days (keeping in mind that probably 15 of the 40 assignments were simply "Call Mrs. Kirch over to discuss"). Bad idea. It took forever for the pages to load on the iPods (all working off one network at the same time) since there were so many things to load.  Even though it takes more work to do the different QR codes for each assignment, just do it :)

Things I'm still not too sure about

  • By the end of two weeks, I had half of each of my classes not "on target" by at least 1 day, if not 2-3. Now, this unit was more difficult in terms of the supplies needed (so students couldn't really do work at home unless they bought a compass).  However, I chatted with those students every single day in class and told them they needed to come to my tutoring hour the next day to get caught up.  And not a single one of them showed up. Any day. All week.  Structuring class like this, where they have to finish one assignment before moving on, will no doubt lead to students who are "behind".  But, is it helping them to actually master the assignments they do cover?  Where is the cutoff?  I finally gave those students an assignment # to get to by Monday class time (with 2 opportunities - Friday lunch and Monday morning - to come in for help getting caught up)... and if they don't, it will be detention for every assignment they are behind, to basically "force" them to come in.  Not my ideal solution, but we'll see if it works for these students.

Going forward from here

  • I just got our next unit on Friday (that I start teaching in a week, but that's another story).  So, I'm going to do my best to get everything ready.  I'm going to get some feedback from my students this week on the new assignment chart format, the new class setup (where you sit based on what as'g you are on), as well as discuss consequences with them for not staying on track when we start the next unit.  Based on their feedback, I'll tweak things.  However, I've informally discussed it with several students already and they seem to really like it.

Math Analysis - Refocusing with some structure 

We started "2nd semester" material this week, and are at the awkward place where we are learning new stuff but now have to take a week break for final exams.  I am excited about a few of the changes I am making for 2nd semester, and was planning on waiting until true 2nd semester started to go over them (in case I get any transfers at semester).  But, after day 1 of starting our new Unit, I had to lay the law down.  I've been very flexible and way too nice in giving the students more freedom than they can handle, like I mentioned in my last post.  I am going to start requiring certain assignments from the WSQ chart and assigning consequences if they are completely.  Most notably is the notes from the WSQ in their packets - I now will be walking around to check them every day at the beginning of class.  I don't know how some students think they are going to be successful if they don't have any examples to refer back to.  I likened it to showing up to a traditional class and sitting there staring at the ceiling, ignoring the teacher the whole time, and expecting to learn.  I told them that showing up to class without being prepared (doing the WSQ) and then sitting in class (rather than going off to the side to get the WSQ done) is disrespectful to me (the teacher), hurtful to them (they are missing key information), and disrespectful to their peers who came prepared and want to deepen their understanding and not just have lazy classmates leech off of them.  So, I hate to feel like I'm babying them, but I have to check and if the notes aren't complete, off to the side they go to get caught up before joining class again.

I'm also thinking through how to support students more with the quizzes.  I feel like I have done something similar to this every year at this point of the year, and can't remember why I don't start it sooner.  Every day after the WSQ chat, I tell all the kids that did not get 8's (perfect scores) on any quizzes they took the previous day to come see me at the U to check in with me.  Sometimes it is just a quick look, they find a stupid mistake, and they move on.  Other times I will sit down and work out the problem correctly with them so they can find their mistake.  I think it's important and definitely worth the time to do it.  Since the students take the quizzes on their own time, there's only been max 5 students who have had to come.

I'm looking forward to sharing the results of my end of 1st semester survey soon.  Maybe with finals week I can find some time to blog during the school day.  Lots of great feedback, comments/suggestions, and ideas.

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