Saturday, May 31, 2014

#FlipCon14 - Out of this World PD - Join me onsite or virtually!

I'm getting very excited about this summer - it is the first time I will be able to attend FlipCon in person... and I'm presenting!

If you haven't yet registered, I believe TODAY is the last day (May 31st) for the regular pricing...but, you can still sign up for the virtual conference!

I'm really looking forward to meeting up with so many of my PLN face to face, many for the first time, and sharing and learning about flipped learning.

Here's my presentation schedule, for those interested in hearing me speak or connecting with me in person at the conference:

Tuesday 10:45-11:45 - Sessions by subject. I will be helping co-lead/moderate one of the two math rooms with a few others.

Wednesday 8:30-9:30 - I will be doing a session for Sophia learning on making tutorials and integrating Google Forms and quizzes.

Wednesday 11am-noon - Book Panel with Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams for Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement.  I was privileged to be a contributing author to this book which will be released in the next few weeks.

Wednesday 1-2pm - Featured Session called "WSQing your way to #flipclass success".  This will be streamed live to virtual attendees.

If you will be going to FlipCon14, please comment and let me know! I can't wait to connect, share, and learn with you!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Takeaways from #HBTechFest 2014

What a day! It's wonderful to feel so invigorated with ideas at this point in the school year.  There's only 2 weeks left so little time to implement this year, but lots of great things to think about.

Morning sessions:

From the Keynote (Amy Burvall @amyburvall)

  • The new MTV = Mobile, Transliterate, Visible
  • FOMO - Fear of Missing Out
  • Clive Thompson - Thinking out loud.  Read his book "Smarter than you think"
    • We actually write more now... it's just in shorter form 
  • Being connected leads to collaboration
  • Teachers can become co-learners in their class.  Students can become teachres.  The more we can get the students to do the teaching, the more they will learn
  • Forget about the trolls.  Be resilient, be persistent
  • Teach students to write succinctly.  Ex: Summarize in a tweet, not a paragraph
  • When are we going to move away from edtech being "special" to just being normal??
  • What to consider before posting something online:
    • Is it helpful?
    • Is it entertaining?
    • Is your Mom okay with it?
    • *Be Share-Aware* 
  • Being a participant is more important than the platform
  • The cloud is our campfire (i.e. sitting around the campfire telling students)
  • Ideas
    • Encourage students to continue using their math blogs past this year to reflect and share their work and learning.  (They can change the URL from firstnamelastinitialperiod to whatever they want)
    • Challenge WSQ summaries to be "tweet length" every so often
    • Amy sends out Question of the Week on Twitter; students have a week to answer the question.  Puts responses together in storify


  • My chapter - Process vs. Product with @mrziebarth
  • Sharing the process is scary and terrifying because it's not "perfected" and "presentable" all the time
  • We must let go of our egos and share our process.
  • There are people who are interested in the art of teaching.  Whether you are a "Dan Meyer" or  first year teacher, there is a place for you to share
  • Great idea from session - We contributed to the discussion by tagging our tweets with #hbtechprocess.  Then. when it was time for us to discuss, the facilitator had a resource of comments and ideas of which to launch the discussion.  I think this would also work well in the classroom as a way for students who have things to say but don't want to raise their hands to get their thoughts out there and then be able to expound upon them when the teacher calls on them

Lunch = amazing and great conversation with 

Afternoon sessions:

Making YouTube Videos Interactive w/ Bill Selak

  • Resources here
  • Ideas for use (teachers)
    • When I ask students to pause the video and try an example, they have to click on the answer they got which would then take them to a follow up video - either one that said "Yay you are right" or one that explains how to do it correctly.  At the end of each of those videos, it would link back to common video to continue the lesson. 
  • Lots of other ways this can be used, but that is the most transferrable to what I am doing right now.  It would be awesome when students do video projects (I don't have them do them in my class anymore, but they do lots more in other classes) for them to do a "choose your own adventure" video.  They have to decide on key points in their script where different choices or decisions could be made and explore both options.

No Sweat Warmups w/ John Stevens

Mozilla Popcorn w/ Dan Bennett

  • Didn't get to go to this one since it was the same time as me.
  • Resources here

Flip it (my session) - see Prezi here.  If you attended my session and have any further questions, please let me know by commenting here or tweeting me @crystalkirch.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kahoot! - An engaging, effective, and competitive classroom response system!

I tried out Kahoot ( for the first time today in all five of my classes and am thoroughly impressed.  Even though it's the end of the year, I highly suggest giving it a try.  In fact, it may be a great way to engage the kids who are tired and ready for summer.

I originally heard of Kahoot! from Garrett Kerr (@KerrentTech) at CUE this year and it got put on the backburner of everything else going on.  I'm glad I had time this weekend to finally check it out.  It's a game changer!

So, here's what I did... and what you can do to get started, too (it's pretty intuitive and user-friendly, but I thought it would be helpful to create a tutorial anyways):

**For some reason the images now don't show up so I have just deleted them all since I don't have the time to re-create all my screenshots.  Sorry :(**

1. Create a free account at

2. Choose between making a quiz, a survey, or a discussion.  I made both a survey and then lots of quizzes.  (I'm still not sure on the purpose of the discussion as you can only ask one question and it seems like it's just another way for students to selected pre-given answers, which could be like a survey or quiz...)

3. Give your Kahoot! a name

4. Start adding questions

5. Once you have followed the steps and edited your Kahoot! to your heart's content (which you can always go back and edit later very easily), you are ready to PLAY!

6. Launch the game and get ready for students to join in!

7. Students enter the class and join the Kahoot!

8. The game begins... Timer counts down.  Student responses come in and you see the # of students who have responded.  Once they respond, the color/shape they chose will remain on their screen until the question time is over. 

9. See the results as a class!  Students will get notified on their screen if they got it right or wrong, how many kahoots they got, and who they are behind.

10. Between every round and at the end of the game, it will show a scoreboard before moving on to the next question.

11. After the quiz, students have the opportunity to "rate" the quiz and give you feedback. 


Feedback from students:
  • At the end of the activity, I told them "this was basically just like doing your 5 practice problems for the day, what was different about it that made you enjoy it so much?"
    • It feels more fun. 
    • It's interactive. 
    • It's competitive. 
    • It's challenging.
    • It's hands on. 
    • They like being timed; it gives them the pressure and motivation to get it done
  • From a teacher perspective, they were engaged and involved.  There was excitement and passion in the room.  Students wanted to get the correct answer and wanted to get it quickly!  They liked seeing who they were right behind and trying to get on the top 5 leaderboard.
My thoughts (pros)

  • I LOVE the results that you get at the end.  You can do so much with it because you can see exactly what students answered certain problems incorrectly.  It is a great tool for true formative assessment and supporting students.  You can download them as an excel file.  They come pre-color coded, but you can do more sorting if wanted.  It sorts the students by their score, so you can easily see the top students from the bottom ones and pick out the questions with the most wrong answers.
  • I like the students have the ability to rate each Kahoot! at the end.  It gives them a sense of ownership and gives you some immediate feedback on how much they enjoyed it.  It was funny to see the difference in ratings among two different Kahoots I did in the same class - one that required less paper/pencil work (more fast/fact oriented) and the one that students actually had to do some thinking and written work.  Not surprisingly, the second one still had good ratings, but it wasn't quite as "fun" as the other one, comparatively.
  • After the correct answer is shown, students have a very clear bright green or bright orange/red screen.  If I want more feedback than just what the bar graph shows me, I had them hold up their phones so I could scan the room.  A few times, if it was about 50/50, I would have the students with "green screens" get up and find a student with an orange screen to help. This was a great modification of "peer instruction" and allowed students to collaborate and communicate with those around them.
  • I love the music.  It is fun to have the music as students are entering, and the music during each problem created a sense of urgency.  Some students said it made them "stress" a little, but I think that was a good thing because it make them work under a little bit of pressure.  You can always mute it, too. 
  • I noticed that there is an app in the Google Play store, and for Apple devices you can just add a bookmark to the home screen for easy access.  I will be doing that on my class iPods and suggesting to the students to do the same.
My thoughts (suggestions for improvements or what I would like to see changed)
  • My biggest student complaint was, "Oh crap, I accidentally touched the screen! That's not the answer I wanted!"  Or, they were trying to respond so fast they hit the wrong one.  It would be nice to have the option of allowing students one "go-back" to resubmit (like an option a teacher could either turn on or off with each quiz).   Another idea is to have a "confirm answer" button so they have to click it TWICE before it actually submits.
  • It would be nice to have more options for the timer, even just letting the user choose exactly how much time they want.  Some of the harder math problems I wanted to give my students 3 or more minutes for, so I ended up just setting it as 120 seconds, and then reading off the question for them to work on for a minute before starting the timer.
  • This may have just been my internet connection, but sometimes the image (which in my case was the actual problem) would take 5 seconds to load up. This made the students lose time working.  I solved this by always just reading the problem to them first and then starting the timer, having the image load up a few seconds later with the problem and answer choices.
  • Because of the "mathtype", I just had the answer choices within the question instead of below on the screen next to the shapes.  Students said they wish the answers were right there next to the shapes (even though they were only a few inches away).  I told them there wasn't anything I could do since typing the math answers would not be pretty or comprehensible.  It would be nice if the answer choices could also be images themselves as well, so I could put math answers in there.  I could see how this could help in other subject areas as well when a teacher wants to put up four images (four places in history, pieces of art, parts of the body, etc) and the student has to choose which one it is.
  • If the students don't touch their phone/iPod screen, it will shut off (changes I am making is suggesting to students to change their settings when they walk into class to "never" shut off the screen).  Unfortunately, this locks them out of the game and they must sign back in with the code.  Sometimes it allowed the students in right away to join in with the current question, whereas other times it locked them out and didn't let them participate until the next question.  I'm not sure why it happened different ways with different students.  This was disappointing for some students who had the right answer and then weren't able to add points to their score.
My thoughts for the future...
  • The multiple choice quizzes only allow for up to four answers.  I understand why - that is what shows up best on the student's screen.  However, I would like to be able to have an option that says "Stuck" and/or "Not enough time" (for them to click in the last 5 seconds).  That would give me better feedback rather than some students just randomly clicking a choice.  Giving only 2 multiple choice answers and then those 2 wouldn't be great (50/50 shot), so for now I will just stick with giving the 4 choices and telling the students not to answer if they didn't get one of the four choices.
  • I started this in 4th period today, but students had to turn in the associated work with the problems.  I noticed in 1st period some students basically just trying to do the work in their head and then just guessing.  By having them turn in a paper with their work (whether or not I actually look at it...), it holds them accountable for their participation and focus.
  • I am definitely going to use this with peer instruction rather than hand-raising.  The fact that students can't change their answer and if they had the wrong answer their phone shows ORANGE/RED and they can't change that helps.
  • I didn't really have any issues with students making fake or "nickname" names when signing in, except in one class.  I didn't give them any training beforehand and had them all signing in as they walked in not really knowing what was going on.  Obviously in the future, I would go over this a little more structured and wouldn't have the issue.  The nice thing is how easy it is to "remove" the students and just make them sign in again.  Once I told the few students that they had to use their real name, it wasn't an issue.

So, those are my thoughts and feedback after one day of Kahoot.  I will be using it a few more times this week and asking my students how they feel about it after getting used to it a bit more and working out some of the kinks. 

Thoughts, Suggestions, or Feedback?  Please comment.  Have you used Kahoot! in your classroom?  If so, how has it gone?

I encourage you to give it a try before summer... definitely worth it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

NEW Flipped Learning Infographic!

Check out the infographic from the latest data collected on Flipped Learning from and Flipped Learning Network.

You can find the infographic here.

Pretty Awesome Stuff!

Help fund my DonorsChoose project - a little $ goes a long way!!

Hi Friends - I need your help!

I just posted my first DonorsChoose project to help get Chromebooks into my classroom to help my students delve deeper into math and further their understanding!  Read all about my project and donate here  Even $5 can go a long way!  Thank you for helping!

AND - if you donate in the NEXT 7 DAYS, enter the code 100WOMEN and 100 Women in Hedge Funds will DOUBLE your donation!

Questions? Please ask!

Please feel free to "share" this post generously on any social media site to spread the word!

My Project:
A Flipped Classroom is about so much more than just videos - it's about an active, engaging, effective, & enjoyable learning environment that allows all students to succeed and delve deeper with the content. We love to create work and share on our blogs, and would love to have more access in class.
My students are amazing. I teach over 100 Jr/Sr and 70 frosh/Soph in two different levels of math (Math Analysis Honors & Algebra 1 CP). They work incredibly hard every day as I challenge and push their thinking, continually encouraging them to go deeper and make connections.
When they enter my class, most of them have not heard of Desmos or Geogebra, have never thought about creating a video to explain a math problem, and have never blogged before in their lives. While many are "tech-savvy" they have not utilized technology to deepen their understanding of math. It is awesome to see them make connections and get excited about what we can discover and what we can create.
Many do have access to the Internet at home; however, it usually comes from an older, slower computer, a smartphone, or a computer that has to be shared by many family members.
My school is a large school of approximately 2500 students. We are over 90% Hispanic with the majority receiving free and reduced lunch.
These Chromebooks will help my students in many ways:
1. Accessing flipped learning videos and resources in the classroom, especially for those who have limited access at home.
2. Creating their own Desmos and Geogebra graphs so they can visualize and make sense of the different functions we are exploring. Concepts seem to make so much more sense when students can interact with them on these two programs.
3. Create their own screen-casts explaining mathematical concepts to post on their blog. It's always been said that if you can teach a concept to someone else, you really understand it!
4. Create, share, and collaborate with their classmates via Google Drive (docs, spreadsheets, presentations)
5. Share their created work and mathematical writing on their student blogs.
By having constant access to this technology in the classroom, we will be able to utilize the amazing resources available on the web on a much more consistent basis, only deepening the impact on my students' learning
I've been trying to accomplish these goals with limited success because the majority of the access and creation happened outside the classroom when students worked in isolation at home. We can do so much more with a much greater impact if they are able to collaborate with each other and with me by using these Chromebooks in class.
Helping my students become deep mathematical thinkers and helping them develop their technological skills will only further their success in high school and beyond. 

Week 14 reflections - winding down

It's been a crazy two weeks.  AP testing turns our students and our school into a completely different world.  There were days in the last 2 weeks where I had 3 students, 6 students, 10 students (out of 36) in class because the rest were AP testing.  I won't say it wasn't nice some of the days just having a relaxing, casual environment and being able to work with such a few amount of students... but it's been a definite challenge trying to find a way to keep my class moving along (very slowly, but moving...) while still trying to be flexible and supporting the students with their insane schedules.

There are four weeks until summer.  Four weeks!  (Well, officially there are five, but I am missing the last week of school to attend an EdTech conference with my district.  So I only have four!).  The end of the year has just FLOWN by.

We are currently in Unit U, which is the first "calculus" unit of our Math Analysis class.  We introduce the students to discontinuities and limits.  It is one of my favorite units of the year (I even had a student ask me in the middle of class, "You really like this unit, don't you Mrs. Kirch?") and I love teaching it. There are some things I do in this unit that I want to incorporate into other units that I just haven't done quite yet.  One example is that the WSQ guided summary questions are supposed to be "automatic", meaning the students can answer them without even thinking by the end of the unit because we go over them so much.  For next year, I think I am going to go back to an Open Summary for the WSQ but have these "automatic questions" that I will still list for them to guide their summary and thinking, but not have them answer in 1,2,3 order.  Then it seems more like a summary/reflection and less like answering questions.

I also have liked reviewing the questions during class time daily.  We did these in varying ways:

1. Beginning of unit - more structured/teacher guided to make sure students had the right information. Clarified misconceptions.  Organized thoughts on whiteboard (and left up for the whole unit for students to constantly reference)

2. Middle of unit - Teacher prompted each question, answer in partners.  Class is loud and active.  If I asked a question and the partner response was fairly quiet or I wasn't overhearing the key phrases I was looking for, I would clarify before moving on.

3. End of Unit type 1 - Timer set, partners had 4-5 minutes to go over every question in the list and then we clarified any needed ones as a class.

4. End of Unit type 2 - Timer set, instead of partners going down list of questions they look at 3-5 "bigger questions" that can be answered by referring to the questions in the list.

I don't know why I still haven't done this for some other units.  It may be that this structure fits really well with the conceptual nature of limits.  However, I'm sure there are other places I can incorporate this.  At the end of this unit, the students also have a "Big Question" blog post due where they answer the three "Big Questions", all of which they have basically been talking about every single day and now just need to put into writing, find or make images to aid in their writing, and post on their blog.

I have started to use IFTTT in a few different ways.  This week I set up a SMS->GDrive "recipe" where I can send a text message to my IFTTT number from my phone and it automatically adds a new row in a spreadsheet.  I am using this to keep track of ideas for next year (and things I want to do this summer) as they come to mind.

A few things I added this week (and my more detailed comments so they make sense to you):

Add comments page to blog where students can always submit feedback--Rather than sending out requests for feedback, there will be a form students can fill out at any time always in the same location.  I will still ask for formal feedback occasionally (more towards the beginning of the year), but this will be nice to be in one place.
Apps for students to download. Qr reader. Desmos if have iPad. Algeo and the apple one. Make list and post on blog.--At the beginning of the year, I want to give my students a list of apps to have on their devices (apple or android).  If you have apps to add to this list, let me know.  I will do a blog post this summer sometime of the list I've accumulated and hopefully get some ideas from others!
Learn geogebra--It's been on my to-do list for a couple years.  I hope this summer will be the year!!
Incorporate desmos whenever possible
--I'm so excited to start using Desmos with the students (and hopefully have them make them and post them on their blogs) from day 1.  They learn piecewise graphing at the beginning of the year and I think learning it WITH desmos will be a lot more meaningful.  I want to go through the curriculum and find ways to incorporate it whenever possible.
New google forms linked to school google drive
--I'm going to revamp my online WSQ forms and relink everything to new Sophia tutorials and new Google Forms.  It will take time, but I might have some students come in and help me out for community service hours
Make wsq open summary again with key automatic questions for each concept.
--This is what I talked about above.
Qr code video reminders for when students enter class to prep for WSQ chat
--Got this idea from someone else in the blogosphere.  Not sure how I want to incorporate it, but it might even be a "part 2" video that they didn't watch the night before for students who need a little reminder to watch.  Just 2-4 minutes.  Review material, show an example, to help launch them into the lesson.
Find a way for students to electronically submit the not prepared form. Then I don't have to worry about erasures. Have a spot for a reason.
--This hasn't been a big issue, but I would like to just seamlessly integrate technology whenever possible instead of having random paper things all over the room.  They come in, they scan the QR code and fill out the form with name, id, date, lesson, and maybe reason... then they get to work.  It's all online so we can check it at any time.  Maybe even I have it linked to be able to send to parent/student email??? [need to look into that]

I am making a new blog for Math Analysis for next year. will still be available but won't be updated anymore after this school year.  I decided to make so that way students who are not in my class see it as a schoolwide Math Analysis blog and not just for mine (especially since all students do some summer review work, not just ones who enter my class).  We are also restructuring the order of units and so instead of completely revamping my old blog (and leaving former students lost when they come back to access it), I am just starting fresh.  I am also going to be linking everything from our new blog to our school's google drive.  This is good because then I can post things that students need a password to log into (that can't be public), but bad because that means it is a less accessible website to the public.  But, it's what I think is best for now.

That's all for now.  We've got a crazy weekend of freezer cooking and house cleaning.  Wahoo!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Week 12 - Self-paced failure. And some thoughts for next year.

Self-paced Failure.
Ok, so maybe not a total failure.  There were many students who thrived.  But, overall, I'm definitely not going to do it again, at least without some MAJOR tweaks.

So, here are the details:

Students had 8 school days to master the content from Units R and S.  The suggested pace was one WSQ and corresponding PQs a day for 6 days, and 2 days to work on the exam in class.  Students were encouraged to work ahead, especially with AP testing beginning Monday.  They were told that they could start the test as soon as their WSQs and PQs were done, and if they finished before Friday, May 2nd, they would have the rest of the week to just study for their other classes.  It sounded like a great deal to me!

I had 2 students show up on Monday (4/28) to take the test and spent Tues-Fri burying themselves in their AP US History notes.  About 10 others took the test on Wed and Thurs, leaving Friday to themselves.  But, all the rest waiting until the "suggested deadline" of Thurs/Fri for the test.  And, 13 students never finished the practice work and were "forced" to take the test Friday so at least they'd have something.

On the first day of self-paced work, I had probably 20 students show up having watched the video and the rest of them watched it in class.  This put them automatically a half day behind of the suggested pace from the beginning.
After the first week, I had 10-12 students who had only completed one or two WSQs, despite having four class days up to that point.  After an additional day of warning (and still not completing more), they received consequences, many with the complaint that it wasn't fair I was putting a pace on them since it was a self-paced week.  I tried to emphasize that "your self pace turned into no pace so now you are on Mrs. Kirch's pace" but that didn't make them happy.  

Ok, so how did they do come test time?

The results out of 106 students:
Unit R - 57 students with A's or B's [54%]
100% - 6, 9, 4 [total: 19]
A's but not 100% - 2, 5, 13 [total: 20]
B's - 9, 6, 3 [total: 18]
Unit S - 58 students with A's or B's [55%]
100% - 4, 6, 6 [total: 16]
A's but not 100% - 5, 9, 8 [total: 22]
B's - 4, 9, 7 [total: 20]

Okay, so the results don't seem that bad.  Over half of the students got A's or B's on the exams.  But, I haven't mentioned yet that it was a partner test (although about half the students chose to work alone, which was an option I gave them), and that it was fully open note.  Many of the problems on their test could be solved simply by looking through their PQ work and copying it down.

I've gotten frustrated over many things these last two weeks that I have little or no control over.  Things like:

  •  How can you not be motivated by knowing you could have time off from math class if you just get your work done early?  Doesn't that seem like a nice perk?  Something to strive for? A reward at the end of the tunnel?
  • How can you not be motivated knowing you could (if you wanted) spend three or four days on the test to make sure you got it right?  Especially at the end of the year, when the semester is winding down and you need to do well on the all of the remaining exams?
  • How can you not learn from your last experience with an open note/ partner test that doing your PQs neatly, organized, and correctly (meaning you actually take the time to check your answers!) will pay off?   Remember when most of the test was straight from your PQs?
  • How can you do hours and hours of math practice and NOT check your answers to make sure you were doing them right?  How do you not see that as a waste of time to just do them but not learn from them?
  • How can you spend the time typing up your WSQ summary knowing that you don't understand it and then refusing to ask for help in class even though your teacher checks in with you and asks you if you had a question about anything?
  • How can you not look at a period of time (in this case 8 days), listen to a suggested plan, make your own plan, and then actually follow through with it?  How can daily reminders of where you should be (and warnings of the consequences for falling behind) continually fall on deaf ears?
My husband's answer to all of those questions?  "They're teenagers.  That's what they do."

And, that answer may just be fairly accurate.  I just wish at this point in the year my students would have come around... would have learned some of the (life) skills I am trying to teach them in addition to the math.  I just feel like I really can't get across to some of the students, no matter how hard I try or how many different methods I use.  But, I will keep working and keep trying new things.

I want my students to take responsibility for themselves and their learning.  I want them to work hard and ask questions when they are confused.  I just feel like I am pulling teeth this year trying to get some of my students to put in that extra ounce of effort needed to truly succeed.  There have been so many days when I have walked around to each group to check for questions and discussions and every student will tell me they don't have any questions (and I purposely don't probe further just to test them).  I can make it around the entire class with no questions even though there were plenty submitted on the online WSQ the night before.  So, I will talk to the class about that, and bring up the questions I was waiting to be asked... and then it will happen again the next day.  I just don't know what to do.

When it comes down to it, a student who wants to learn and finds some sort of motivation (extrinsic or intrinsic) will.  My student who had a 30% all first semester and finally decided to start really working has been doing so well this semester and with this most recent test brought his grade up to a D for the first time all year.  He shows me that it can be done.  He is someone that probably didn't belong in this class based on his previous performance in math classes, but with hard work, focus, practice, and lots of tutoring, he is finding success.

Now the question is... how to reach the rest?

I'll end this section with another story.  I had a student four or five years ago.  He was either a freshmen or sophomore in my Algebra 1 class.  He failed everything, never did his homework, and was kicked out of school after one semester.  He came back today to say hi to a few of his teachers.  He came back to say hi to me.  I didn't remember his name, although his face was familiar (and much older than the scrawny freshman he was!).  But it gives me hope that some of these students who I just don't seem to be reaching, who seem to hate me for pushing them, holding them accountable, and not letting them slack off... that maybe I really am making a difference and that even if they don't realize it right now, they will someday.  I can live off of that hope...

From this experience (and the year in general), here are my ideas for next year:
  • More student accountability IN CLASS for completion of practice problems correctly. This may mean more peer instruction or another similar activity (peer instruction doesn't work well for all types of math problems students have to solve, especially in some of the trigonometry units).  This also may mean more time guiding the students through the PQs.  Maybe having the students in set groups where they rotate thru working with me, individually, and with their groups.  Class time just needs to be more structured to hold these students more accountable and more focused on their work.  I need to find a way to balance this with the students who thrive in the fully self-paced class, but maybe that can be taken care of in the groups that I create.
  • More modeling and training on the WSQ process and using the guided summary questions to actually guide their watching.  Finding a way to tie that into class time.  This year I went away from WSQ chats being "discuss your summary questions" and I think I went too far in the opposite direction to the point that we don't even look at them anymore.  There needs to be a balance.  I think that even though these are my honors students we really should start by watching the videos in class together, then in class in small groups, and then at home.  Slow transition and training might work better because I think I still have students who never really learned how to "Be FIT" when watching videos.
  • More clinics or boot camps for struggling students throughout the unit and for all students before a unit test.  I have done the boot camps for 3-4 units and they have been really helpful and it improves student performance on the test.
  • I love what I have been having my students do with their blogs this year but in honest evaluation, I think it was a failure.  I think for a lot of students it turned into busywork and a point of frustration or loss of hope. I would like to continue to use blogs but tweak the way that I use them.  I don't know if having partner or small group blogs might be an option.  I think it would also help to have students looking and commenting on each other's blogs more often.  If anything, I know we need to spend one day in the computer lab getting it set up together as a class because that was the point of a lot of students' frustration at the beginning of the year.  Instead of having so many different types of posts labeled with so many different things, I think they will just be called "Blog Post 1, Blog Post 2", etc and then details will be given as to what the post requires.  I need to do a lot of thinking over the summer for this.
  • The concept quizzes have also been a failure this year, but I think it ties in with this idea of self-paced.  I had so many students just never take the quizzes before the test.  Or, they would take them all the day before the test.  I need to put more structure back into the quizzes next year, even if it means taking away the self-paced part of it but still allowing retakes.  I need to think about it though, because I like the self-paced part of that... I just don't like when self-paced turns to no-pace and the students I have this year in general are way too good at the no-pace.
  • I started off the year never signing student WSQ charts or monitoring their practice work.  While that may seem small, that means their work was messy, disorganized, and crappily done.  I need to be on top of them at the beginning of the year, even just as a lesson in being organized and efficient (yes, my top in the school honors students still need to be taught this!!).  I need to find a way to balance between taking time to sign off WSQ charts and not taking away time from helping them with the content to do that.
  • Overall, in year three, I think I tried to give my students way too much FREEDOM without enough ACCOUNTABILITY and started fighting against way too many things that only got worse as the year went on.  The year was not a total failure, but it's the first year in a while that I feel very dissatisfied with myself and my classes.

We have six weeks left to go, and I know it will fly by.  The next two weeks are AP testing, so basically that leaves a month.  Student motivation is waning fast, and I only hope that my excitement for our last two units on Limits and Derivatives can help ignite a passion under my students to finish strong.

...and I'm sure several blog posts on class structure and tweaks for next year will be coming this summer.  My mind is brewing and I just need to get it organized...
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