Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Year 3 of Flipping - 1st semester student reflections

I'm interspersing survey responses with free response answers, so enjoy!


I would say these are pretty good results overall.  The students feel like the video is an effective way of learning.  They definitely like the shorter videos (who wouldn't?), but even on "longer" days (15-17 minutes total), they appreciate the videos split into shorter segments.


The students' biggest complaint this year (besides learning the technology behind the blogs) has been the summary... But, it's interesting how not a lot of students liked it, but most of them admitted it helped them a little bit or a lot. I still am struggling with the balance between open summaries and guided summaries.  Right now, I am just mixing it up (guided summaries come more often).  However, students are so used to answering mindless questions in their other classes that they haven't quite grasped the point that they are supposed to be the "big ideas".  I think the day I brought my 5th period class to the computer lab and went through a WSQ together with them and explained how to use the summary questions to guide them towards focusing on the big idea of the lesson was helpful - and definitely something I need to make the time for next year.


I still always get the "why do I have to ask a question if I don't have one?"  I still am not happy with finding a way to integrate this more into class time (except for answering the questions for students who actually have real questions).  I do require the students to type their question on the Google Form, and they are supposed to label it as a "Confusion", "Discussion" or "Example".  Then I use conditional formatting for the words "Confusion" "Confuse", and "Confused" and so all of the "real" questions are highlighted in red.  They are also supposed to jot the question down on their SSS packets for reference in class the next day.  So, the GForm is for me (feedback before class), and the SSS packet is for them (so they remember where they were stuck or confused).  We'll see how a few tweaks go second semester. 


I actually didn't realize how much the students liked the secret questions. Now I just need to remember to have the "U small group" each day for students who didn't get them right.  I have it on my "Daily Agenda" now so I've done a better job of that.  I want it to be a positive thing - like if you didn't get it, that's totally cool - now let's just go over it again, in a different way and more one-on-one, to see if it makes sense.


SECTION 2: Best (or most memorable) moments this year
  • Probably when I got my first A on a test.-. A couple of my friends failed that test and I saw my A and I thought to myself "if I actually study I can pass the tests" 
  • The day I got my first club 95.
  • When i got a B on the Unit E test i thought may this class won't be so bad after all
  • i think it would be a day where i took about 3 quizzes and had a group discussion, i felt really productive. (:
  • The day that we had to sing all those Disney songs to memorize the formulas because you were so excited to teach them
  • The first day stand out the most because I was very excited to meet my new teacher and experience the new flip classroom
  • The first day of school when I got my schedule and saw I got Mrs.Kirch, I totally FLIPPED out! (Do you get my joke?)  
  • The last day before winter break stands out to me most because those videos of Mrs. Kirch's son were really cute.
  • The day that stands out the most was the beauty ratio day because the activity was really fun and the fibonacci haiku that Mrs. Kirch made was funny "Turkey is Dead" LOL.  
  • I think the day when everyone had to dance to "odd positive, odd negative, even positive, even negative."
  • The day that stood out was the day that we got assigned all the practice test and how frustrated I was but then after the test I was pretty happy that I did all the work.  
  • The most memorable one was the day after we learned the aysmpotoes, etc. song. I remember watching your husband dance to it and then watching you do it the next day. The entire class recited the song so many times!
  • The day that I realized I needed help and you weren't scary like most people would tell me that was like the 2nd week of school
  • The day you talked to me and almost made me start crying in the middle of class. It really is something that I will cherish because you are only the second or third teacher in high school to really talk to me about it. Thank you very much Mrs. Kirch you really have made an impact on me.  
  • the moment i broke down and realized that i was actually struggling and had to work harder and get my act together
  • It's still going to be that day that I teared up over my first club 95 (my first A) and my table, the best table I've sat with in that class, that just gave me so much support and were also proud of me and that one A. It was the best day of this first semester for sure.

I blogged at the end of last year that one of my goals for this year was designing better WSQ chat experiences, and I think I've been pretty successful with that.  My go-to's are Peer Instruction, Card Sort/Categorization activities, Challenge Problems (putting a problem on the screen a level harder than anything they saw the night before and having them work thru it in their group), and then (I don't have a name for it) I will give every group member a different, but similar problem, to work thru.  The problems are similar enough they can discuss and help each other, but different so each student is held responsible for doing it on their own.

I asked specifically about Peer Instruction since we have used it so much.  I don't really have a consistent method to it - it really depends on the type of problems, if they can be written as multiple choice answers, and how the students are responding to the problems.

This response makes me smile... The students don't really enjoy doing the practice, but they realize it helps them learn.  It's like the athlete who doesn't always enjoy the hours of practice and work, but they realize it will pay off.
This is the first year I've made PQ problems "optional" or "student discretion" for completion.  It's my way of giving students some freedom and self-responsibility for doing the amount of practice that they need to master the content.  My students are definitely not the best at this yet, and don't always do the practice they need, but they are working on it and are realizing things about themselves.

I've tried to improve upon this as well this year.  For this new semester I have small groups for the daily concept quizzes every day - today I actually didn't even let the students pick up the quizzes on their way in; they picked them up from me after meeting with me at the U... I think that's a good move because then they can't avoid it or say they don't need to go over it with me when they don't pass it :)
I also have a structured small group right after each of the WSQ chats for students who were still confused after the Peer Instruction or whatever problems they did.  This is just for whoever decides to come over.  That helps catch a lot of the students who need the help.
I also have a few random students who, when they need help, will just come sit at the U as a sign to me that they need more focused help.  I haven't really made that the norm, but I really like that...

We had an incident a few months ago where the Practice Test was assigned as a mandatory assignment because I wasn't happy with the students' effort in class. It ended up being a very long Practice Test (usually it has about 2 examples for every problem on the test... this one had quite a few more).  However, the students learned from that experience that it's valuable to put the time in the few days before the test to complete the practice test.  So much so, for this new semester it is mandatory every unit (it's the only mandatory practice assignment before a test).

I didn't realize this until a few students commented on the survey... The first few days of school when I explain the flipped classroom I mention that I will hardly be up front during class and I won't really be giving instruction in class.  I think for next year I will definitely rephrase this, because there are certain times when whole-class clarifications are needed and they have been very valuable (as seen in the responses above).  The students who mentioned that actually said it gave them a very scared/worried attitude towards the flipped classroom because they took it as me saying I wouldn't be there for them to support them in class (even though I meant it as the exact opposite).  Definitely a good thing to think about...

SECTION 4: How did you feel about the Flipped Classroom at the beginning of the year?  How have you transitioned?
  • I felt really excited at the beginning of the year about the flipped classroom because of the whole concept of "working at your own pace". And I still do. I learn the material pretty quickly and I have a ton of resources to help me.  
  • At the beginning of the year, I didn't think I would like the flipped classroom. I would hear all these stories from other students about the class. Now, I actually like the flipped classroom over the traditional system. Obviously, there's always room for improvement, but the flipped classroom has proved to be a fun experience.
  • At the beginning of the year i was not a fan of the flipped classroom as we had spent hours watching videos over the summer. Over the course of the semester, i started to enjoy the flipped classroom more because of the on demand aspect. Being able to do my homework in different places without a textbook was really helpful throughout the year as well as being able to watch old lessons for review.
  • Hated it, I honestly did. I would complain and whine about to non-Kirch kids. Boy has that definitely changed. The flipped classroom has helped me so much, I don't know how I'm going to do it next year going back to a regular math class. I just appreciate the time it saves us in the classroom and how we're able to do other things because we've already learned the concepts for the most part.  
  • I felt at the beginning of the year that the flipped classroom was going to be really hard with lots of work. However, my feelings have change because I realized that it's simpler than I thought and the work isn't so hard.
  • I was really scared and loathing the flipped classroom at the beginning of the year. So many people were telling me how horrible it was and I was already going into lots of other difficult courses--so nothing was helping me there! However, I have grown to love the flipped classroom because I find myself understanding the material more without it having to be repeated 5023947309 more times because 2 other people don't understand the concept. I also love flex time in class because it keeps me busy with what I need to do, not what benefits 5 other people in class.  
  • At first I thought it was something new, then it got easier over time and it seems like it's a more efficient style of teaching than some of my other classes 
  • I was a bit hesitant mainly because mainly of my classmates have complained about the flipped classroom. However, as I got into the curriculum, I found that it was best for me and that I really liked the flipped classroom concept. It wasn't terrible or difficult to learn from and it had helped me learn more efficiently.  
  • At first I thought it was really hard and weird. But, now I kind of find it beneficial. Such as the videos at home, it MAKES me have to watch the videos or I wont be prepared in class
  • I didn't hate it, but it really stressed me out thinking I wouldn't be taught anything because things were so fast. It has changed because even though the videos may have been confusing to me still, I was able to come to class and ask questions without worrying that Mrs. Kirch would get mad reteaching it.
  • I felt it was all very new and overwhelming. It has gotten better since the beginning as I have managed to get use to some things. I think all that was given with the technology was hard to deal with in the beginning because I was expected to learn it so fast and It was hard for me. I still don't feel one hundred percent sure about the flipped class but I'm managing to work with it.
  • I thought it was somewhat awkward watching you speak from your kitchen (?) Now I am used to it and I actually do not mind as long as I am learning. After all, I do not pay attention to the background as much, but mainly to the lesson and the songs, since I can play them all the time.
  • In the beginning of the year I hated the flipped class room. I thought i was going to not learn as well without the teaching in class. Over the sememster by feelings changed. I learned to like it more! One time i needed to review a lession for the practice test at home and the videos let me review the problem i needed. The flipped classroom became very useful with the videos and i enjoy them.  
  • At the beginning of the year I didn't really liked flipped classroom because I had one my previous year and the teacher didn't teach at all. However, Mrs. Kirch definition of flipped classroom is very helpful and I learned a lot out of it. My feelings changed over the course of this semester. A specific time that help me change my opinion is when I actually listen to the video carefully and got an A.
  • I thought that it was a silly thing, something that was preached about for its revolutionary nature in education. I'm not too sure about what I thought back then now, but I know that it works (because I'm passing the class).
  • At the beginning of the year I was very hesitant but then I learned to like it because I was actually learning and my grade reflected that.  
  • I felt that the flipped classroom was going to be confusing for me. My feelings have changed and now I think it makes math more fun and less boring in class. As a student, we have more time to talk to our teacher and get any help needed in class.
  • As I've said before, at the beginning of the year I thought the flipped classroom wasn't going to be very effective. However, this particular class is in fact effective. Specifically, the organization of the WSQ sheets and the video playlists have helped change my opinion to be more positive.
  • I was flipping out cause people had told me that it was hard. and I was like oh no Jesssuuuussss, HELP ME. But I honestly love the class! I love how its structured. Would I love all my classes like this? No. I think because of the work I think I would only be able to handle one. But I honestly enjoy this class very much.  
  • At first, i thought it was interesting, then i found it overwhelming, but now i feel fine about it. I've adjusted to it some, and i'm still adjusting. Having my peers to talk with and when we all earn as a class; i found that those moments really clicked for me, having someone to help me and always be available. 
  • In the beginning of the year, I thought the flipped classroom was going to be very difficult. However, as I adjusted, I thought the flipped classroom was actually easier than a regular classroom. For instance, I enjoyed the group discussions in class and how we could take quizzes in our own time.  
  • OMG I was EXTREMLY scared when I heard I got Mrs.Kirch. I heard that she was a really difficult teacher and that I would stress out. The only view I have different is that Mrs.kirch isn't a horrible teacher the student just really needs to be on top of their stuff. I have been very dependent on my teachers for my whole life and this hit me like a big yellow school bus. The student becomes independent of their work, the teacher is there to SUPPORT you, not to SPOON FEED you the work(although I perfer being spoon-fed).
  • Honestly, i did not like the idea of the flipped classroom, i wasnt really open to new things. my feelings have definitely changed because math used to be my worst subject and now i enjoy it because i know whats going on.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    SECTION 5: FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT/BLOGGING ACTIVITIES

Student problems are basically when students make up their own problem with given requirements.  The amount of learning that a student gets from these blog assignments really depends on the amount of effort and focus that they put into it . This has been a struggle this year - I think starting the year with everything new and then the blogs and technology made some students just see it as one more assignment for them to have and not as the valuable learning experience that it is designed to be.

More students disliked the student created videos for several reasons - uploading takes time and it's awkward to be talking on video (even though their faces aren't on them).  But with all the complaining they give me, 80% of them say it helps them learn... So, it is definitely something to keep and tweak.
We've had 5 student-created video assignments so far this year, so I don't really think it's that overwhelming - 5 videos in 18 weeks.

The big comments on the WPP's were all the extra steps they took in making as compared to the other blog posts.  They had to created them on MentorMob and then embed them on their blog.  While some students quickly adjusted and figured out how easy it was, I have decided to change them to be more like student problems, which the student's appreciated.

This has always been something that's been "okay"... and I've never really found a way to make it better. I've tweaked it this year from how I did it last year, and already have some ideas of how to change it for next year... but I might wait until then to change everything up.  The purpose is to be a valuable learning experience where students can think critically about the problems and evaluate the process, but then also learn from their classmates explanations and way they organize the problems.  Unfortunately, for most students, this activity has just become "another assignment" to do and they just rush thru it, turn in crap, and usually turn it in AFTER the unit test, which complete nullifies the purpose of learning from it in order to help them on the test. Argh! This is something I want to figure out.

Just like PQ problems... students don't love them because they require work and thinking - but they realize how much it helps them!
SECTION 6: What life skills do you feel you've learned from this class?
  • The life skills that I have learned have definitely shaped me for the future because I have seen a difference in how I began the year and who I am today in terms of better communication, taking more responsibility, becoming more engaged over the material, and having sharper organizational skills.  
  • This class has taught me the importance of being honest and being responsible for the actions you do. 
  • I'm responsible for my actions and own education, I can't have everything handed to me  
  • I learned to have more personal responsibility without the guidance of teachers or adults.
  • In terms of life skills learned, I learned that even though it's really hard at first, if you give it your best and try hard, the results will show.
  • I learned that even if you don't get caught cheating, you cheat yourself. That's worst then getting caught in my opinion.  
  • Its teaching me that i have to be WAY more responsible for myself and my learning. If i want to succeed i have to take charge in what im doing.
  • I learned that integrity and honesty is an important trait to have because it helps me become a good person.
  • I learned to be more independent on my work and to have more trust and security over my own decisions and that i am responsible for what i do and learn. I can be in charge of my own learning rate.
  • Wow, well...what can I say? This class has definitely taught me that everything I do is my responsibility, and if I want to succeed, only I can do it. No one else is going to be asking me to re take tests is the real world. If I want to succeed and reach med school (which is my goal), then I must do everything to the full extent of my abilities. And even then, I have to give it my 110%
  • I've definitely seen a change in myself because of this class. I've learned to take responsibility in the things I do. I know I have to take the initiative to better my education by doing things ahead, and review things on my own, and asking for help myself. It really has made me into a stronger student and person and I know that will pay off in the future. Also, after that nasty WSQ chart incident in the beginning of the year, I know and understand what integrity is and what it means in terms of your life, may it be in your relationships, school, career, etc.  
  • Oh goodness, this class has taught me so much in this one area. With FITCH and KIRCH, I mean one thing I learned the most is to be honest, you're only cheating yourself with cheating (copying other's homework, letting others copy, not understanding the value of your signature <- that one is a biggie) so thank you especially for this Mrs. Kirch. 


  1. Hi. I really enjoyed reading through the survey results and the free responses. I'm currently writing down things using a sticky note programme! I wondered if you wouldn't mind sharing some more information, as this is my first semester flipping the classroom and have some questions based on the survey results and feedback.

    1 - I find the WSQ chat experiences challenging, for social studies, especially as my students rarely have questions about the material and quite basic 'non-googleable' questions. It's turned into more of a 'discuss in your tables the questions that you had' which isn't really structured or focused.
    2 - Summaries: I struggle with these too. Some students do great ones and really pay attention, others are very basic and you can tell have done it quickly just to get it finished. I think, being 12-13 year olds, they need much more structure (and thank you for the help with the SSS as I definitely need to use these!)
    3 - Peer instruction? What do you do here?
    4- Flex time, what is this?

    OK less questions than I thought but a very large sticky note! Reading through the results and feedback has really helped me see how I can flip my Psych class too, which is the next step that I really want to take :) Thank you so much for being so honest and putting your true thoughts and feelings out there. It is incredibly helpful.

    1. Hi Victoria, thanks for reading!
      1 - It's been a challenge for me as well, and finally in year 3 I'm getting a grasp on what I want my students doing. I'm not an expert in social studies so I don't know what you would want your students discussing but keep thinking and trying things - you'll figure it out. It might even have to be you coming up with a HOT question that ties into the previous night's lesson but requires some discussion, thought, and synthesis to put an answer together.
      2 - Yep, don't have an answer to that problem yet! :)
      3 - See my posts here: http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-method-of-using-peer-instruction-for.html and http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/2013/10/week-8-i-love-peer-instruction.html
      4 - Flex time is just the time AFTER the WSQ chat where students have a list of possible assignments they can work on and must choose what to spend their time doing. So it's flexible, focused time. Got it from Graham Johnson (math teacher from Canada). Much better than saying "Ok kids, you have free time to get what you want done" - they think of that as play time.

      Happy Friday!

    2. Hi! Thank you for your reply, lots of helpful hints :) I'm too much of a perfectionist and I just want everything to be spot-on, which obviously it won't be...challenging my own traits and characteristics as well as my teaching!
      Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the help, hope that you are having a great week!


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