Friday, February 14, 2014

Week 2 reflections (sem 2) - Course 1 (CCSS)

Whew.  Trying to figure everything out with a brand new curriculum and a brand new type of flipping is exhausting.  However, I really think it's worth it.

This is what I have given my students: (don't you love how it's "clickable"!! I was so excited and so were they!).  AND, all the QR codes they need are in one place!

I've had to start enforcing deadlines on the students and assigning consequences if these students fall too far behind.  For example, if today is Friday, hopefully they are on Friday's activities.  If they are on Thursday's activities, they are just reminded they need to catch up.  However, if they are still on Wednesday's activities, they get a 30 minute "detention" to come in and get extra help to get caught up.  I'm still trying to come up with a different name for it, because my "detention" is really just "tutoring", but if the students are told to come to "tutoring" they think it's optional, and "mandatory tutoring" just doesn't have the ring to it that "detention" does.  I'll keep thinking...

One thing I have noticed is class size is a HUGE factor in the success of an asynchronous flipped class.  I have 34 students in one class and 27 in the other class.  Those 7 students make a world of difference.  Just being able to get around to all of them multiple times throughout the class period (I'm just constantly making rounds around the classroom) and having them work in smaller groups (I have basically 7 work areas in the classroom - 6 groups and then the rows) makes a huge difference.  With 27 students, it's 3-4 students per group, whereas with 34 it's 5-6.

I'm also really trying to figure out how to tweak and work with this method I am developing to make it more effective.

In the first (larger) class, I feel like classroom management is the biggest issue day in and day out.  I have about 15-20 students who will work, focus, help each other, and stay on task.  I can check in with them every 5 minutes or so and they will be fine.  Then, there are the other 15 students who just will not focus!  If I'm not watching over them, they will get nothing done, even if it is just copying an example from me and then trying one on their own.  They will get all the "right answers" and then not be able to explain any of it because someone else just told them the answers.

I have two students who should be on the "top side" of class (students sit in flexible homogenous groups based on what activity they are working on), but instead have been on the lowest end of the class all week and just sit there laughing at each other's antics.  I've had two individual meetings with them and have already called their parents multiple times throughout the semester with no change in behavior, so am at a loss as to what to do next.

I have another student who has been instructed that she must stay in her seat and work with the aide assigned to her so she can focus and get the support she needs.  Every day without fail, if I turn my back on her, she will be out of her seat to "get help from" the boy she has a crush on who also doesn't do much work.

Every day I go back and forth between being completely annoyed with this behavior or just trying to ignore it and focus on the students who are working.  But, both of those responses just are cutting it for me because I want and need to find a solution and way to make it better, but just haven't been able to find it.

Then, I see the student who has gone back and forth between struggling and understanding all year and today he was passionately defending his answer and fighting for being right amongst his group members.  He called me over to see who was right (both of them actually ended up being right, going about the problem in different ways) and the smile on his face when I affirmed his thinking was priceless.

Then, I see the three boys who are already done with the day's work in the first 20 minutes since they were ahead and are able to be "assigned" to a group of students to help them through the activities.  They willingly help out and support their classmates.

In the second (smaller) class, things just seem to be a lot easier.  Having an extra aide in the class is helpful (I have 7 special ed students), but it just seems like the students are more willing to work and be engaged. (This is surprising, since it's the very last class of the day and that's usually one of the worst classes of the day because the students are burnt out and want to go home).

I LOVE seeing the students engaged in their work as they are finally understanding stuff even though they failed first semester.  I had to get on one of my students a lot on Tuesday because she was falling behind and not focusing... today she was at the top table, took her quiz a day early, and got to help her classmates. (So much pride and joy in her face!).

I had a student who honestly I suspected just copied the work for a problem from my answer key (she has struggled all year and usually doesn't understand much), so I sat down and had her explain to me what she did... and she did  so confidently and clearly - she knew what she was doing!

If you know me even just a little, you know I'm all about structure even in a somewhat "unstructured" method of teaching.  So, here's the structure I've been playing with this week:

Entrance - students see the board and find their seat according to their hw chart. I want to see packets open and hw charts out right away so I can make sure students are placed correctly (this is still not happening 100% of the time yet)

5 minutes - review of key ideas as a class.  I just started this the last 2-3 days because I feel it's necessary to touch base with all the students at once and get their minds on the same page.

40-45 minutes - work on individual activities. Every box on the stamp sheet has to get marked off and is supposed to get stamped before students are allowed to move on (some are stamped in groups).  If a student finishes one section, sometimes they "move up" to the next table to be with other people working on the same stuff.

5 minutes - review and next steps. I think of this like a "quick quiz" before they leave class.  I've just done it as a whole class, but I'm thinking of some way to have students all submit an answer.  I have devices for about 1 for every 2 students, so I guess I could just make a simple google form w/ QR code where they put their name and answer, and then pass it to their partner to do the same.  Hmmm... that might work!


Thoughts on Common Core - this is definitely a lot more discovery and conceptual learning than anything in the past.  However, I am liking a lot of the activities that are planned for us in our Units of Study.
I'm really liking how my "flipping" is merging with the common core as I figure all of this out.  The in-class video watching I think is key in supporting and helping scaffold the discovery activities.

-The activities require critical thinking, it usually has some hands-on aspect, it requires discussion and collaboration.
-With flipped instruction, students can work through these discovery activities at their own pace and aren't "forced" to move on before figuring it out themselves just because the class is moving on.
-Students are held individually accountable for their participation in the activities and their understanding of the concepts.  They can't just sit through class and watch someone else do it - they actually have to do it themselves
-I am able to "force" students to do it right before moving on, making sure they actually understand what they are doing.

-It's almost too much discovery for some students, especially since most of them have never experienced this type of learning before.  Where do I draw the line and just say, "here's how you do it, move on".
-Students aren't used to having to actually try and work and be held accountable so it is a constant battle with some of them...


So, we will see how this continues to shape out.  I totally came up with the QR code exit ticket thing as I was blogging, so that really shows the value of reflection - it helps me to think through, process, and come up with more ideas.

Hoping for a week of discoveries next week to alleviate some of the struggles!


  1. Hey there! I am presenting in a conference this summer and I wanted to list you as a source that I used to help me start flipping our math curriculum. Would you mind if I shared your blog? Thanks so much! Theresa

    1. Hi Theresa,
      Of course! Thank you for wanting to share! What conference are you presenting at?

    2. I will be presenting a section on Flipped Learning - Singapore Math (more like a "how to") for K-5 for SDE in Las Vegas. I mention you on my "Personal Learning Network". I really appreciate it!

  2. I am so glad I found your blog...I've been struggling with the structure of my flipped classroom this year and this is so helpful. I love the homework chart, but I want to make sure I understand it. Are they doing everything that is marked for a certain day at home or do they do it all in class? If they do it at home, what do you do with them in class?

    1. Hi Cristina,
      Thanks for commenting - I'm glad you have found my site to be a resource. I just did a presentation called "structuring flipped learning for student success" that is linked on the right hand side if you want to check it out as well.

      The homework chart really depends on the student... I have probably 5 students in each class who have NO homework b/c they finish it all in class. Another 15 students who bring home the last one or two things marked for the day. The last 10 are consistently a day behind schedule, but are still working and learning, just a little behind pace.

      This class is mainly freshmen who don't do much at home, so my goal by doing this is to give them that incentive of working hard in class so they don't have as much to do at home.

      Let me know if you have any follow up questions!


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