Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 3 reflections (+ my Unit Circle derivation activity/student blog posts AND some student reflections)

CCSS Course 1

Let's be honest, an asynchronous class is CRAZY.  However, I really think it's beneficial.  Here are some of my observations:
  • About 5 students in every class never have homework anymore because they do all their work in class
  • Setting up the room where they sit at a certain table based on their progress is motivating for many students.  They WANT to be at "Table A" or "Table B" and not at "Table E" or "Table F".  Getting to "move up" when they finish a certain activity is exciting.
  • I get to do a lot more of "just in time" instruction - for the students who need it, when they need it, covering the topic they need.
  • My lowest students, although they may not learn everything in the course, will at least master SOME content
  • Students taking quizzes when they are ready is much better than giving all students the quiz on the same day.
I do my best as I am walking around (constantly, with my "stamp" in my pocket to approve students to moving on) to have a few certain things I'm glancing at to question the students on before I stamp.  I know that some things are sliding through the cracks for some students, but I always touch base with them on at least one important thing.  I basically have my teacher workbook and then a sticky note on each page with the questions I want to ask about or look at for that lesson.  Sometimes I feel like I go over the same "lesson" five times in one class period, but it's with smaller groups of students "just in time" when they are ready to hear it.

I think I'm going to continue to work with this method of "asynchronosity" (I don't really think that's a word, but hopefully you understand what I mean).  I still don't even know what I am teaching 6 school days from now so hopefully I can get the materials prepped.  It was nice having the entire unit (one month) mapped out and all the videos/QR codes pre-linked for the students.  I may be working one week at a time for this next unit since we haven't been given the units yet.  With the new Common Core course, we are using Units of Study from our district.

Math Analysis Honors

Things are still going well.  This week students did their first "derivation" activity and derived the Unit Circle from special right triangles. Here is the activity worksheet they used.  They had to complete a blog post assignment (directions here) describing the activity and what they learned. 
Here are few blog post examples (the first 10 turned in; some are great and a few aren't so great)

It was really neat to see a concept that students mostly hated from Algebra 2 (they are exposed to the unit circle at the end of the year) turn into something that actually makes sense and really isn't that bad.  Once they realized the unit circle was just made up of 3 triangles reflected into all four quadrants, the big picture finally came together.  I'm excited to read the rest of the blog post reflections.


Many of my Math Analysis students are struggling with the freedom I've given them in terms of practice problems.  I am very torn with this.  I don't want to make all the practice problems mandatory because then it just becomes busy work for some students - they complete it because they have to, not because they want to learn and practice.  However, this means that many students (most often the ones that need it the most) don't do much practice... One or two problems from a set of 10 is "enough" - but it's clearly not come test day.  I am trying to give them this responsibility but it really is a struggle to find the right balance of "let them learn from their mistakes and figure it out" and "force them to do what they should do even though it won't be meaningful right now, at least it will help them pass the test". 

I feel like a little bit of balance is found in my requiring them to have all their notes done (there's no excuse there - even if they can't figure out the problems themselves, they can follow along with me) and participating in the WSQ chat activity where I am purposefully incorporating a certain amount of practice through a group/partner activity or peer instruction.  However, in math, sometimes you just need to practice, practice, practice until it becomes so routine even the most complex problems are as easy as 1+1=2.  I'm not sure how to teach the value of that work ethic outside of the 54 minutes I have with them. 

It reminds me of my coaching days - I would have 2 to 2 1/2 hours each day with my girls, and during that time, they were MINE. I would make them work hard, I would make them go through the drills and practice at the highest level until I was satisfied with their progress and effort.  Outside of practice I had no control over what they did, how they ate, etc... but during practice I trained them and most of them carried over that mindset and mentality into other areas of their lives.  Two hours a day with twelve girls is a lot easier than 54 minutes a day with 33-37 students.


I sent out a brief survey asking my students about my "three e's"... I always refer to my flipped class as more effective, enjoyable, and engaging than a traditional class.  In my opinion, it is.  So, I wanted to hear my student's opinions.  I've only gotten 4 responses since I just sent it out on Edmodo over the weekend, but they said some good things...

Is my (flipped) class more effective than your previous (non-flipped) math classes?

  • (Just to prove that not all students have come around...)  Traditional teaching, describing math on the board or projector, is a whole lot more enjoyable because even though we may have all the time in the classroom, being taught in the classroom and then having the homework be passed out during class makes you able to understand since you're already done taking notes.
  • (from a student who hated the classroom structure at the beginning of the year but now is finally realizing the benefit of the 24/7 support, just-in-time help, and other features of the flipped classroom) This Particular math class has proven to be more effective because the teacher doesn't just lecture and bores us, but is interactive, on top of all her students (especially the lazy ones) and is always willing to go to great lengths to help us learn. She has shown the out-most devotion to her students, even by doing things she isn't asked or required of. The learning material itself is heavily reliable because its packets focused with all the key information needed to excel in the current unit. There's no need to carry a giant text-book, or aimlessly look through boring pages, her method is clear, concise to the point, and it’s always there for review, as if it were the first time. 
  • No offense to my previous math teachers because I love them but YES. I retain information that I've learned more easily and I think one-on-one learning is definitely better than following up with the rest of the class. There are less confusions and I get to work on things on my own when I'm either ahead or behind.
  • I feel like it is. Yeah it took a while to get used to it, but I still walk around my house singing the songs we have learned. I am not forgetting the material and I feel that with the ability to take quizzes when I feel prepared and retake them is not only helping my grade, but the grades of my fellow classmates who in the past have struggled with the regular classrooms. It is a lot of work, I am not going to lie, but you give enough opportunities to get the assignments completed that it works. The flipped classroom is more efficient because when I don't understand something I have 41 people to ask for help in the class room instead of trying at home, not understanding the work and not learning because we move on to something the next day. I really do think that it is helping me understand the work, not just go through the motions. Also the blog posts, though long, help me understand what I am doing and force me to think about what we are actually doing in the class. I really do believe that the flipped classroom is the way to go in the math world. I feel like it is a better way of learning. 

Is my (flipped) class more engaging/enjoyable than your previous (non-flipped) math classes?

  • Honestly, yes, its not boring , or dead silent, its interactive, and creates a better energy flow, plus we learn all kinds of things from our peers, and the teacher just solidifies our current knowledge. Sadly, it feels class is too short, because as the math gets exciting and invigorating, you enjoy it, so time flies, and you wish there was more time. The class is definitely more enjoyable as a whole. 
  • Definitely yes, class is extremely more engaging, plus it's more serene, and the teacher is always moving around, sometimes it’s like she’s at 5 places at once.           
  • Yes because before my classes would be spent taking notes on what the teacher is lecturing us while in Kirch's class we get time to Practice on things we've learned last Night since we already know the material instead of spending each day on lecture then practice then lecture then practice then test.
  • In some ways yes. During class we do activities that get the whole class involved in learning the material. It can be singing songs or dancing or looking like birds while we do reference angles, but it all helps. Sitting in the groups helps me feel like we are classmates and that we are all there to help each other out. My group is great. We might make jokes about each other, but in the end we are like a little family and are always there to help each other out. And though we sit with one table we have the freedom to go to other tables and ask for help or help one another out and I feel like that is part of the experience of it all. Everyone is willing to help each other out, no matter what they are doing. Then the discussions at the U table for anyone who needs it and not a mandatory thing lets me move on if I understand something or go if I need help. The environment of the classroom is friendly and I am not afraid to ask a question, fearing that I will be laughed at or someone will think it is dumb. Also you have so many people to ask that someone is bound to know and help you out. The little group activities between the table and all the other tables really creates a sense of friendly competition and that just makes learning the material a little bit more fun. Overall the class time is more enjoyable.      
  • I feel like it is. Being in your class I am forced to learn the material. I cannot do nothing in class and get away with it. We are not taking notes during class which means we have to be practicing or asking questions or taking quizzes. There is constantly something to do during class and you can move at the pace you need to. There is no need to sit and wait while the others try to understand a concept. If I understand it then I can move on to practice problems, quizzes, and then the next concept. Doing the full class activities get us engaged at the beginning of the class period and then small groups keep us engaged and then independent activities hold us to our own learning.      

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