Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Flipped Classroom Prezi with pics & vid!

I'm presenting the flipped classroom to the teacher leaders at my school tomorrow, and here is the (hopefully) finished Prezi!

I was able to take some pics of my class in action today, so I've added that since when I originally posted it on Twitter/Edmodo. I got some video footage from today, but it's going to take me a bit to edit and put it together before I can post it. That will be coming in the next week or so. I want to try to get some more footage rather than just one day before I take the time to put it together.

Note: All students are approved to have their pictures/video taken and forms are on file at the school.

Until then, enjoy!
(This Prezi is under an educator license and cannot be saved/downloaded to your account or edited at this time)

I will blog about the presentation later this week!

Monday, January 30, 2012

3 most important things to think about when considering "flipping"

Today was our "Duty Day" between semesters to get our grades submitted and get ready for the second half of the year. We had a couple of meetings and short trainings where I got to have some GREAT conversations with others teachers that I don't see very often about flipping my classroom. Most of them only know about it because I sent out a pre-survey to the leadership team about what they knew about the flip so when I present on Wednesday I know where my audience is coming from. I guess they just couldn't wait to hear about it! This makes me even more excited to present on Wednesday!

I spoke with two English teachers and two Science teachers who all think flipping the classroom is a great idea. None of them have tried it themselves extensively, although two of them have tried it in one-time or modified situations and didn't necessarily know where to go with it.

I believe that "flipping" can be done well, and I also believe it can be done very poorly. I hope to be able to express on Wednesday how "flipping" can be done well and hope to see more teachers at my school trying it!

Here is my list of the most important things about "Flipping your Classroom" that need to be conveyed when talking with a newbie. This is my list as of now, a teacher who has about four months of experience and still has a lot of learning to go...

A lot of these thoughts are not necessarily my own original thought, as I have done a lot of reading and research on flipping and don't know where I originally read most of this :)

1. It's not just about the videos. While I believe the videos/podcasts/vodcasts/whatever you use are a VITAL part of the flipped classroom, using this instructional model is MORE ABOUT what it allows your actual classroom student interaction time to be like. If in-class time does not change drastically, that's a problem. Read about "5 reasons why flipped instruction is more than video" here.

2. In order for "flipping" to be beneficial, the focus of class time must shift from the teacher to the student. This goes along with #1. It is very easy as teachers to be used to being the center of attention. If flipping is going to work, we've got to get over that. Let students be the talkers and thinkers, with you right by their side to steer them in the right direction them, correct them to stay on the right path, and to support them in their learning.

3. It will take time to figure out how the flipped classroom works with you, your teaching style, and your students. I have my method (the WSQ) that works really well for me so far with these students. I don't know if that is what my flipped classroom will look like three years from now or ten years from now (I'm sure I will continue to modify and adjust as I figure things out, I'm still a newbie!). I read about what other teachers are doing and take pieces of their ideas to add and make better what I am doing in my classroom. It's constantly being refined, just like any good teaching practice. The same goes for any teacher starting the flip. Most likely you won't figure the perfect way of doing it right away.

The best advice I can give to a teacher considering the flip is summed up in these three points above - focus on using the video to help shift your class time to focus more on the students and their interactions, learning, thinking, and questioning...and realize that it won't always be perfect but you'll figure it out along the way - didn't someone say that learning was supposed to be messy? :)

What would YOU add to this list?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Student's thoughts on the "WSQ" for homework (Part 2 of 2 - Math Analysis 11th and 12th graders)

This is the second in a series of two posts about my students thoughts and responses to the first 2 1/2 weeks of using the "WSQ" for homework in our flipped class. Part 1 focused on the responses of my Algebra 1 students (Freshmen and Sophomores). This part will focus on the responses of my Math Analysis Honors students (Juniors & Seniors).

This is finals week at my school, so at the end of their final I had the students write their answers to a few questions. The first two questions were:

1. How is the WSQ process helpful to you as a student?
2. What would make the WSQ process MORE helpful to you as a student?

If you haven't read my post on what a WSQ is, be sure to check it out - "My Favorite WSQ"

I was very interested to read what my Math Analysis students had to say since we have been using an ever-changing model of the flipped classroom since about October. From October-December, their flipped classroom experience consisted simply of them watching the videos and taking the notes. There was no reflection, no deeper thinking, and no questioning. They would come back to class the next day and we would review the video before they got to work on practice problems. If students didn't watch the video, there was no really way to check, because they could have copied the notes and not really understood anything. In addition, the class time was very unstructured and unguided. I let students do pretty much whatever they wanted in terms of working individually, in partners, in groups, etc.

Now the WSQ model (in place for the last 2 1/2 weeks) provides more structure and accountability for the students. Not only is the WSQ a way to check their own understanding, but a way for me to check for understanding at the beginning of every class period. Lastly, in-class time is more structured with students having "WSQ groups" that they work with every day so they start really working well together. I make them turn their chairs around and work in groups because I want the conversation happening. If I see a student working by themselves, I ask them to join their group and get in with the conversations.

In addition, in Math Analysis, I have been focusing on "HOT" (Higher Order Thinking) questions based on Bloom's Taxonomy. The first few WSQs we did were full of very fact-based and recall questions that were pretty easy to answer. I showed the students Bloom's Taxonomy and the levels of questioning. I provided them with question starters for the different levels of "HOTness" (yes the kids find it funny to be talking about questions being HOT!). This helps our discussions to be more meaningful and the depth of my students' thinking to increase.

So, with that... here is what my Math Analysis students said was "MOST HELPFUL" about the WSQ process.

Period 5
-I get to organize my thoughts, and review what I understand
-It makes you think about the concept and how you can explain it
-It helps me recollect the lessons that I've learned before
-It helps me think about the lesson I just learned. Writing it down again makes it more understandable for me.
-It helps because I figure out ways to teach the material
-It makes me think about what I learned and put it in my own words so I understand it
-It helps me recap on the information I've learned and it helps me put the information into perspective
-Instead of just watching the video it makes us think about it by having us put it into words
-It has allowed me to further process the information as well as create a summary which allows me to quickly review the material for any reason
-Helps me keep track and lets me know I did learn
-It ensures that I watched the videos and that I understand it
-It reassures me that I know and understand how to do the concept
-It tests if we actually understood what was in the video

Period 6
-Being able to put what I learned in words. Also if someone asked me to explain to them a concept I would be able to
-I am able to explain a concept myself
-It keeps me on track to watch AND know what I'm learning
-I can go back to the WSQ and read it if I don't understand something
-It makes me think about the concept more
-It helps me organize my ideas
-It helps me memorize the steps involved in each concept
-You do more than just listen you have to understand what you saw
-It makes us ask questions and helps to see other views
-Instead of mindlessly doing the math I can actually think about it and understand it more in words not just numbers
-It forces us to pay attention when otherwise we would not focus as much
-Communicating more with my partners and understanding the concept more.
-It gets me thinking about what I just watched instead of just blowing it off
-Allows students to share their ideas in class
-Makes me pay more attention to the videos

Overall, the students really think the WSQ's are very helpful. I love that so many of them said it made them think (hence why I kept bolding that word!). Most of their answers to question #2 (What would make the WSQ's MORE HELPFUL to you as a student) said something to the sort of "they are already very helpful, I can't think of anything to change". This was nice to hear that the students are getting something from doing the assignment and that even though I hear some of these kids complain on a daily basis about having to write, they do feel it benefits them.

It could be more helpful if we could do some extra problems; Leave one blank from the video so we could do an example or talk about how to solve it Great idea, similar to what my Algebra 1 students requested. I am starting to do that, but still working out that problem at the end of the video. (I tell the students to pause the video, try it, and then check back in with me). I know that this method means some students won't really try it on their own and will just copy the answer again, but I am trying to put the learning in their hands and hopefully they will soon realize how to act in a way that benefits them the most and helps them understand more.

Have longer discussions on our WSQs with our group and If we could share our WSQ to more people Another great idea and one of my goals as we head into the 2nd semester. I would only like to have whole-class discussions once a week or even once a unit (2-3 weeks). Yes, there will always be things we need to clarify or review as a whole class, but the whole WSQ discussion I want to happen in small groups so there is more student-talking and less teacher-talking.

If we could be offered to use WSQs on tests Interesting thought and one I might consider for certain units, but definitely not all. There are just some things I feel students should understand to the point of automaticity and they shouldn't need notes to know it.

If we added an answer portion after the question We always do answer the questions, we just don't have students write the answers down. That's a great idea and I think I would like to see it happening in class as groups are discussing it.

If you gave us specific questions as well Earlier in the year, I would have "guiding questions" that went along with several concepts or units that I would want students to be able to answer without even having to think. That is something that is under development but would be a good resource to have. I don't want to add one more thing to the WSQ because I think the process right now is very student-driven and everything comes from their mind and their understanding of the concept rather than me telling them exactly what to take from it. I can do that in class - I want to see what they come up with first. I do think I will start working on the "guiding questions" for each unit, though.

Start letting us grade each other's WSQs
Another great idea. Right now, we have graded a few each day as a class and then students have self-evaluated their own WSQs. Adding in the change of grading each others would add another dimension to it and could easily happen in groups as they are discussing.

Questions for YOU (let's discuss in the comments!)
1. Based on what you have read about the WSQ process, what do you think seems to be the MOST HELPFUL part?

2. Based on what you have read about the WSQ process, what ideas do you have to make it MORE HELPFUL to our students.

3. Have you used something similar to the WSQ in your classroom? If so, what does it look like for you and how has it been working?

4. What do you do to keep students motivated and on track in your flipped classroom, as well as how do you hold them accountable for their work?

To end, a couple of Math Analysis WSQs as examples...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Student's thoughts on the "WSQ" for homework (Part 1 of 2 - Algebra 1 9th & 10th graders)

This is the first in a series of two posts about my students thoughts and responses to the first 2 1/2 weeks of using the "WSQ" for homework in our flipped class. This post will focus on the responses of my Algebra 1 students (Freshmen and Sophomores). Part 2 will focus on the responses of my Math Analysis Honors students (Juniors & Seniors).

This is finals week at my school, so at the end of their final I had the students write their answers to a few questions. The first two questions were:

1. How is the WSQ process helpful to you as a student?
2. What would make the WSQ process MORE helpful to you as a student?

If you haven't read my post on what a WSQ is, be sure to check it out - "My Favorite WSQ"

Students had very positive things to say about the WSQ process as well as just a few suggestions with how to make it more helpful.

For the purpose of this blog as a reflective tool, I am posting all of the responses so I have them for when I look back at the end of the year. However, I am bolding the ones that really stood out to me as "Yes! That is what I am looking for and the reason I am doing the flipped classroom!!!" Some comments may be repeated. Comments are straight from the students' papers and in their words.

Period 1:
-This way I can pause her
-We don't waste time in class
-Helps me keep track of time, Hw, and helps me to study
-When I have to write the summary in my own words it helps me process it better
-As you watch the video you write the summary, and it determines if you need more help. If you don't know how to explain your summary you just watch it again
-I can watch it over and over again
-If I don't get something on the video I ask the question that I have on my paper and the class or my group can help me answer it
-If I don't understand something I can either ask the teacher or my partner
-Helps me take responsibility
-When you're watching the video you can pause or rewind the video when you don't get the step or problem
-I have to write down what I just learned and it makes me remember it more
-It's like another tutoring session
-It allows me to see if I know the concept well. It helps know that I'm ready for class tomorrow to answer questions and help my fellow classmates if they need any help with the practice quiz
-I am more focused and not distracted by all the people in the room.
-When my parents sign the summary, they know that I watched it
-It helps me concentrate more and there are less distractions
-I learn at my own speed
-Writing a summary after watching the video helps you understand
-Answering the questions in class with your group is very helpful
-I'm able to go to bed earlier, I'm more focused at home, and I understand the concept better especially when I can pause it
-It helps me make sure I fully understand the topic. It gives us an objective to focus on
-We can rewatch it, which you can't do in class
-Yeah we complain about the summarizing part, but it helps me understand it.
-I get more help while I'm practicing and I understand things better
-If I don't understand or forgot how to do a concept I can look back at my summary, read it, and then understand it again
-We improve our writing and also helps us learn better
-It helps me because I had a lot of problems with finishing homework and with this I can do it in class while friends help me with it.
-It goes at my own pace

Period 3:
-It makes me understand more about the subject that we're learning above
-If we don't get something, we can watch it over and over until we do
-I like how we work together as a group and learn together. I love it very much
-It gives me a quiet way to learn the lesson
-It helps me understand what i learned by making me put everything in my own words.
-At home there is no distractions, also if I don't get it I can always look in my notes or watch the video again.
-It helps me concentrate more because I could do it in my alone time where its not loud or distractive
-It helps me understand the concepts more than I do in class because I can rewind the video if I don't get what Mrs. Kirch was explaining and in class I don't do that.
-I can prove to myself that I know the concept by writing summaries and questions
-I could finally stop and listen and rewind to know what i didn't get.
-It helps me learn at my own pace of work
-When we watch it and don't understand we can stop it and rewatch it again, until you get it.
-It helps me understand it better, writing down what I learned
-It is like being in class but at home
-It makes us take better notes and with better notes comes better test grades
-We didn't have to wait for rude students and just came to class to ask for help.
-It helps me learn at my own pace, and if I didn't understand something I could rewatch the video again. When I write my summary it helps me remember what I learned.
-I can help other people by showing them my WSQ
-It was easier to understand the work with the video because instead of just hearing it once in class, you could listen to it multiple times.
-It's helpful to me as a student because for me it takes time to get the full lesson through my head. Sometimes in class you think you understand it and then you get home and you wish your teacher was there to help you, and that's where the WSQ comes in
-It makes me want to pay more attention to the video and write a better summary every time
-Being able to stop it and watching it any time I need to
-I summarize and ask questions I don't understand
-When you don't get something in class you could always just got and watch a video about the concept that you didn't get

Period 4:
-We learn at home and it is more concentrating [sic]
-Helps me to have a better understanding of the concept
-I remember when I used to do homework at home and I was stuck on a problem, I had nobody to help me, but now my teacher is here when I need her.
-I can stop it if I'm behind, basically I can keep it at my own pace; I can rewatch
-After I'm done watching the video it [the WSQ] refreshes my memory and when I'm at school it also helps me remember what the video was about.
-Helps me get the lesson more and learn at my own pace.
-When I come into class the next day I already know and have an idea of what we're going to do. It also helps me because when we're doing our homework in class, you're here to help us if we get stuck or need help.
-It lets me learn at my own pace
-It helps me learn by being more responsible for myself and explaining what I just learned
-It has helped me understand the work better and helps me clarify how to do it on my own with the summary
-The videos really do help. Even though there might be 1 or 2 days where someone doesn't watch the video, we still catch up.
-I get more examples done and there's no distraction with my friends trying to talk to me or somebody being off task.
-It helps me review and understand the lesson more. It also helps me take it more seriously.
-I learn more at home and know what I am to do the next day in class.
-You get to repeat it over and over and you practice with English with the summary.
-I write my summary and just by reading it, it reminds me of what I had learned.
-We get to work in groups and do homework in class
-I don't have to worry about my homework at home because I know that when I don't understand something I can ask my group the next day without worrying about the Homework Cards
-It makes me realize if I really understood the concept and it answers all my questions
-When I'm doing my work I go back to my summary and check how to do it. Also at home I can take my time to go through the steps then later on ask the teacher at school.

Here are the suggestions students made to make it more helpful along with my thoughts for each. Most of them were very good!

-Ask more questions about what I learned

-I want to continually improve this as we all get used to the process. I generally do talk to every student in the class every day, but I would like to have it be more "question and conversation" and less "checking to make sure they got their work done". With time...

-Put more examples in the video

-Oh, the never-ending battle between the number of examples and video length. Most of my videos are between 10-15 minutes long and I feel once I hit 15 minutes it needs to be DONE. With the pausing and rewinding I'm asking my students to do, a 15 minute video is really a 25-30 minute video. I have worked with this a bit by creating a "Part 2" to every lesson that includes extra examples students can watch by choice.

-Summarize the lesson at the end of the video

-Great idea! I actually started doing this with the videos I made this afternoon for lessons in a couple of weeks. I think this will help tie it all together for some students and guide them into starting their summary. It will also give them a chance to think about everything I talked about and realize if they need to watch it again.

-Instead of you helping us through most of the practice questions on the SSS you could let us answer one by ourselves.

-Another great idea, similar to the one above! I did this as well in the videos I made today. The last example of the video I tell the students to pause the video and try it on their own. Then, after a couple of seconds, I say "welcome back" and review it quickly to see if they got it right. This will also help students in coming up with the Question part of their WSQ because they will really know if there is something they don't get on their own.

-Start the video by having the students try a problem first, then go over it

-Interesting idea, but I think I like having them try one at the end of the video instead of the beginning. I don't think most of my students would know where to start without a little bit of guided instruction.

-We were required to watch Part 2 of the video after working on it in class that day.

-Right now part 2 is optional (except one day I required it for a tough concept it was clear my students needed more help on). Ideally, I would like to see it be: (1) Part 1 at home with a WSQ (2) Practice in class (3) Part 2 at home to review (4) Part 1 of the next lesson's video. However, that does increase the amount of video minutes students are required to watch, so I need to think about that. I could also choose which students were required to watch Part 2; for example, students who have a C or lower need to watch it... don't know how I feel about that quite yet, but it's an idea.

-Go over the lesson a little bit during class to make sure we understood it right before getting into groups

-Another great idea! At the beginning of class, we do the "WSQ" together, but it would probably be helpful to start the first practice problem as a class to get everyone started. I'll definitely try this.

And, what would a post on WSQ's be without a few more student samples? These are all varying samples from students in these Algebra 1 classes

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My THREE biggest concerns about fully flipping...

We are just finishing up finals week for the first semester, and even though I've been "doing" a flipped classroom for most of the year, next week launches my true "vision" that I've been blogging about in full force. I am really excited but there are also a few areas I'm nervous about.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and ideas in relation to these questions. Please comment with your thoughts!

1. Really, what do we do when the kids don't watch the videos?

I have three computers right now in class so students can catch up then, but that just ruins the whole point of the flipped classroom when they don't come prepared. I want to make a big deal about the fact that the students MUST have the video watched before class because there is before school, our homeroom period, and lunch where they can watch it if something happened last night. But still, I know there will be kids who show up not prepared.

At our school, we have a school-wide progressive discipline policy where students will receive increasing "punishments" for each homework assignment they miss throughout the semester, eventually culminating in meetings with the principals, SST's, etc. I don't want the avoidance of punishment to be the reason my students do their homework. I want them to feel like it is beneficial to their learning, like it is "do-able" (unlike some regular math homework where they go home and can't remember anything), and like it is worth the time they are spending watching and re-watching explanations and examples. If students don't buy in to those three things, I don't know how to make sure they show up every day prepared.

2. How do we teach our students to be aware of their own learning, knowing when they need to pause, rewind, and re-watch videos...and being committed enough to their learning that they will do it?

My worries do not lie so much in them not realizing what they need to do, but just in doing it! I talk with students every day who will talk the talk and tell me exactly what they know they need to do but will go home and do none of it.

I already see struggles with some of my top students who think they are "too smart" to watch the videos, and their most recent test score from the unit from the two weeks between winter break and finals definitely showed it. They didn't fail, but they got B's and C's when they normally get A's. They think they can figure it out on their own and don't want to commit the time it takes to learn it.

I feel like one of my strengths as a teacher is getting students to realize that hard work and dedication pays off. I have a really great track record with reaching those kids and continuing to push them when other people would just give up on them. I guess I am just concerned if some of my students don't come around then they are really not even receiving any math instruction. What I mean is that when I teach in class and they are "present", they at least absorb some of the information. When they are required to receive that information on their own time and don't do it, they may "participate" in class but they are missing the crucial information and background knowledge needed to make the content accessible and to be successful.

3. Besides my observational data, how do I know my students are succeeding at higher levels with the video pre-instruction and WSQ model in class than without?

I received my Master's Degree in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) in May of 2010. I conducted an Action Research study on Daily Assessment and did a semester's worth of data collection, followed by a detailed analysis. I like the numbers that prove a point. I won't have that this semester and I feel like that would give me more confidence that this is the way to go.

What do you do to "collect data" on how the Flipped Classroom is working in your classroom?

So, my questions for all of you are:

1. Do you have similar concerns? If so, what are you thoughts?

2. What are YOU most concerned about with your Flipped Classroom?

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Favorite WSQ

Please see the "revisited" version of this post, published in July of 2016, by clicking here.

*Please read my WSQing page for more details, descriptions, and workflow*

A "WSQ" (pronounced wisk) in my class is what we call "homework" in my flipped classroom. It stands for this:

[read an update on the WSQ after using it for several weeks in my classroom here]

W - Watch

Students must watch the video for the assigned lesson and take notes in their SSS packets (this stands for "Student Success Sheets" and I have them for each unit/chapter) I have created for them. I check to see that these notes are complete and thorough and that everything I wrote down the students have. Because they can pause and rewind, there is no exception for these notes not being well done and complete.

Some of my very high achieving students have asked "Do I have to watch the video" and under certain circumstances, I say "no", but you still have to complete the notes on the SSS packet. A lot of times these students know how to figure out the problems without my explanation and I have no problem with them completing the notes that way. They have to check their SSS page versus the finished SSS page on Edmodo to make sure their notation and answers are correct.

A few issues I am already noticing with this is that there are still important things that I say about the concepts that students miss if they don't watch the video. This includes details about how/why we do something, details about notation, etc. Some thoughts that have come to my mind to alleviate this is to divide the videos into sections (whether this becomes separate videos or just a heading on the video). The first portion of the video must be watched by all students of all levels and will cover the basics, vocabulary, notation, purpose, etc. Then, the second half will cover the few examples I go over for the students before their first class day. I'll still have to think about this. Thoughts?

For my Algebra 1 students, I already have been making an additional "part 2" of most videos that has even more extra examples than in the main video for students to watch or go back to later. I like that setup because the main video covers 2-3 examples, depending on the length of the problem. However, in my SSS packet I have at least twice as many examples for students to work through. I still want those to be explained to the students; I figure the more the better! Then they have no excuses!

S - Summary

Students have to write a summary of what they watched in the video. This is supposed to be completed immediately after watching to pretty much judge "Did you understand what you just watched?" I tell the students that their summary tells me if they understood the video or not. If I can't make sense of their summary, then they probably didn't understand it well enough because they couldn't verbalize it. I tell them that if they can't summarize it, they need to re-watch it because they didn't get it.

In class, we talk about the summaries. Since I just started this, we are doing this mostly as a whole-class activity to train the students on what I expect to see. We put a "WSQ" on the screen and read through it. Then, I have all the students vote if they think it was a "Great" "Good" or "Bad" summary of what we watched. Yes, I have had all three levels of summaries and students have realized that if their summary is bad we will say so and talk about it. I ask the student whose notebook is on the screen what they would vote for themselves and then we talk as a class or in their small groups about what is missing, or what pieces that are in there are the REALLY IMPORTANT pieces that should definitely be included. I have students look at their individual WSQ's, give themselves a grade, and add anything they were missing.

My ultimate goal is that we only have to do the whole-class "norming" process once a week or even once a unit. The rest of the time, the students will be sharing and discussing their summaries in their small "WSQ groups" of four students. That way every student has a chance to talk every day and they are all held more accountable. I want students to be okay talking about what is both good and bad about their summary and realizing what important pieces need to be added.

In my Algebra 1 class, I actually wrote an entire summary with the class all the way through one day. It was a pretty complex lesson on Graphing Systems of Linear Inequalities and I wasn't really happy with the WSQ that was put on the screen. I realized that my students might need a better model of what I am truly looking for, rather than always calling their summaries "bad" or "good minus" (I let them grade themselves as Great +, Great, Great -, Good +, Good, Good -, Bad +, Bad, or Bad -). I think it was one of the most beneficial times for my students to realize what a good and complete and DETAILED summary should look like. That also may be something I need to model once a unit or so to get my students back on track.

Most of all, the purpose of the summary is to get my students Thinking & Writing (at home), and Reading, Speaking, and Listening (at school) - it all comes down to TWRLS... we need to support our students' language development at all grade levels and in all subjects.

Q - Question

At the end of the WSQ, all students must ask a question. The first few days I did this, I had a lot of students respond with "I don't have any questions". They quickly learned that is not an acceptable answer. The question must be related to the content and can be:

(1) A specific question about an example that was worked out and where they got stuck or confused
(2) A general question about the concept and something that was said or explained
or (most of the time)
(3) A question that could be asked and expected to be answered after watching the video. This may be a question you think your classmates might have, or just a good question you think I (the teacher) would ask and expect you to know.

In class, we look at a few questions as a group, and I always ask the writer "Is this a question you know the answer to or don't know the answer to?". Then, I have the students answer the question in their small groups and then we share out to the class.

The purpose of this is two-fold:
(1) I want my students comfortable asking and answering questions of each other, especially when they are confused.
(2) I just want my students asking questions, period! That is where discussion and deeper thought come from!

Every day, students ask their questions in their groups of four before getting to work on the problem set. That way, students who have a question they DON'T know the answer to can get it answered, and students who asked a question they already know can see if their group members also know it. I am there to help if the group gets stuck on answering a question.

With my Math Analysis Honors students, we go a step further... I challenge them to make their questions "HOT" and move up Bloom's Taxonomy past the basic Knowledge and Comprehension level. I have them tell me what level they think their question is at. I have given them the question starters for each level of questioning (see link on top right) and I think that helps them. The better their questions, the deeper we can probe, and the better discussions we can have.


When I came up with this WSQ idea at the start of the new year, I really didn't have a clear vision of what it would look like. What I described above came out of random thought, to be honest. Every day though, I was able to think about what I liked and didn't like about the process, and the students got used to what I expect.

I am already SOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY with what I have been seeing and we have only done this for 9 or 10 class days! I really hope my students continue to develop their TWRLS, which ultimately I hope leads to them not only understanding the math BETTER but DEEPER!!!

I asked my students to submit a picture of what they thought their "best" WSQ was from the last two weeks. Here are some samples for today's post.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I was able to go to a three-day SIOP training this past summer and took A LOT from it. One of the biggest points was getting our students to do "TWRLS". I had an epiphany earlier this week that my flipped classroom is finally allowing my students to do so.


My students have to think about the content individually before coming to class. They have to try to make connections and ask HOT questions (see link on right) about the material.

My students have to write a summary at the end of each video lesson. We talk in class about what a "great", "good", and "bad" summary are and have them self-evaluate their summaries daily. They add information in that they realize they missed and challenge themselves to put their learning in their own words in writing.

My students have to read about math on a daily basis. They read their summaries and they read their group members summaries, offering critiques, questions, and additions to what they wrote.

Listening and Speaking
My students have to listen and speak to each other on a daily basis. They work in small groups of 3-4 students and are forced to work together and talk about the material. Oftentimes, if a student calls me over to ask a question, I ask the group what they think about it first and we are able to have a discussion.

Previously, I would be the one doing most of the Thinking, Writing, Reading, Speaking, and Listening, while my students would be passive participants in my daily display of knowledge. Now it is in their hands, and I love the conversations, thinking, and growth that I have seen!!!

I have this vision...

It has only been 2 weeks since I started the WSQ version (see previous posts) of my Flipped Classroom (last 2 weeks of the first semester), and I am already beginning to see a vision of what I want my classroom to be. I am seeing students hunched over working together, explaining problems in their own words to each other. I am seeing students of multiple achievement levels working together. I am seeing myself walking around and getting asked a question, but before I am able to answer it, someone in the group does. I am seeing students re-watching videos when they need it explained again, freeing up my time to work with more students.

I hope to continue to see this vision become fuller as the students get used to the different type of classroom. I have a lot of goals and visions, but I think this one is a big one:


I'm kind of sick of being the teacher standing up front teaching for 40 minutes and only giving my students 10 minutes to actually work on it before they are sent home to do it on their own.

So far, having a "flipped classroom" is helping me to accomplish that vision.

What does my Flipped Classroom look like? (letter to parents)

I have updated the letter I will be sending home to parents at the beginning of the next school year about what my flipped classroom looks like.  It is edited from an earlier version (January 2012) and is still under construction until I hand it out next August!
 Updated letter link here:

January 2012 letter below:

Dear Parents,
Starting in 2012, things will be a little different in your student’s math class than you may be used to. We will be fully implementing a teaching model known widely as the “flipped classroom”. What is a “flipped classroom”? Please take a few moments to watch the presentation I have put together for you, which can be found at http://prezi.com/8wuzpv14scke/flipped-classroom-instructions/ .

In short, a “flipped classroom” switches around the traditional order of teaching with the purpose of creating a more in depth and supportive environment in the classroom when the teacher is present and able to help students. It allows for students to receive a more individualized math education, thus resulting in them understanding the content at a higher and deeper level than before. In addition, it challenges students to learn how to take charge of their learning, becoming resourceful learners. Lastly, it provides time for more discussion and questioning during class time, helping students to become reflective communicators and to think more deeply about the subject.

What does homework look like now?

For homework, students will be required to watch video lectures created by me, where I will teach them the lesson and give examples in the same way they would receive it in class. However, because the students are watching the lessons on video, they can pause, rewind, or re-watch any segments of the video at any time. This allows students to learn at their own pace and become more self-directed, having to know when they need to go back over a certain concept they did not fully grasp the first time it was explained. Each lesson is specifically designed to be around 8 to 15 minutes long.
These videos can be accessed at www.youtube.com/crystalkirch for home viewing, on SchoolTube for school viewing, or students can get the videos on a flash drive in order to watch them without internet access. All direct links are also accessible at the class website, www.edmodo.com . Because the videos are online, they can be accessed on any internet-capable device, such as a cell phone. Videos can also be uploaded to iTunes from a flash drive and synced with a student’s iPod to watch offline. Other options are also available by request, such as getting the videos on DVD to watch on a TV instead of a computer.

While watching the videos, students are taking copious notes of important concepts and examples in their SSS packets that are provided for them. When they are done watching the video, they write a summary of the concept they learned about. The quality and depth of their summary informs me of how much they truly understood what they watched and what misconceptions they may have that need to be further explained. After the summary, students write at least one question regarding the content. This may be a question that they do not know how to answer and need explained, or it may be a question that they do know the answer to, but is an important piece of the concept from the video. Students are challenged to make their questions “HOT” questions (“Higher Order Thinking” questions) and have been provided with question starters on Edmodo to help deepen their thinking. This process is called a “WSQ” (pronounced wisk), and stands for “Watch – Summary – Question”. Underclassmen (9th-10th graders) are also required to add a “V”erification portion to their “WSQ” (making it a “WSQV”, pronounced wis-quiv) where a parent or guardian signs their summary and question, along with the time frame in which the student watched the video. Upperclassmen (11th-12th graders) parents can request that their students be put on a required “WSQV” contract if their students need more monitoring in finishing the homework.

There will still be a few nights where homework will look like regular “homework”... students will be doing review worksheets and practice problems. This generally occurs the few nights before a test. However, now students have access to the lesson online and can re-watch it if they don’t remember how to do the problems assigned in the homework.

What does classwork look like now?

When students come into class, we begin by reviewing their “WSQ’s” in a variety of ways. We may go over a few sample summaries as a class, or students may discuss their summaries either in partners or in small groups. This time allows the class to refresh their memory on what was watched last night as well as to clarify anything that was not clear during the video lesson. We also go over the questions that students have asked. Similarly, we may go over a few questions as a class, but most often students work in their small groups to ask and answer each others’ questions, whether they know the answer or not. If no student in the group can answer the question, or the group needs more clarification, I am there to be able to answer the question and explain anything that needs further clarification.

After the “WSQ” portion of class is over, students work in small groups on a set of practice problems or activities to help them practice and develop full understanding of the concept. Students are encouraged to work with each other and help each other out and are constantly reminded that one of the ways they can really find out if they understand a concept is by explaining it to someone else. I am constantly walking around from group to group, helping explain things and clarifying confusing parts.
In the “flipped classroom” model, we still take short quizzes on each concept a few times a week and still practice learning concepts by using the songs and chants I have developed. In addition, there is still the opportunity for whole-class teaching and review if the large group needs to go back over a concept. However, most of the teaching is now focused on smaller groups of students who need help on certain concepts, leading to fully differentiated instruction and support.

What does a “flipped classroom” require of you as a parent?

The “flipped classroom” enables you as a parent to be more involved in your student’s math education. Most parents tend to agree that they do not remember much from their high school math classes and do not feel they can support or help their student at all when they are home doing homework. However, with the “flipped classroom”, there are several very easy ways you can help your student:

(1) Provide your student with a quiet place to watch the lecture video (preferably with headphones to limit distractions) each night. If internet access is not available at your house, provide your student with the time to stay after school to watch the video in the school library or my classroom.
(2) Ask your student questions about what they watched and have them read their summary out loud to you.
(3) Read their summary yourself to make sure it sounds complete and makes sense.
(4) Read the question they asked and see if they can answer it.
(5) Encourage them to take their time while watching the videos, which means they pause, rewind, or re-watch portions of the video when the teaching is going too fast or when students need a minute to
make sense of what was taught.
(6) Watch the videos with them so you can learn along with them and help them when it comes to doing regular practice at home the night before the test!

What does a “flipped classroom” require of your student?

In reality, a “flipped classroom” does not change the fact that students are expected to go home and do “math homework” for 30-45 minutes a night. The only thing that is different is the type of “math homework” that they are doing. Instead of doing mindless practice problems where they can do the problems without really thinking about them, get stuck on the problems or do them incorrectly, or simply not do the problems at all because they think the problems are too difficult, students simply have to watch a video, take notes, and reflect in a summary and question. Students are expected to come prepared to class each day with the background knowledge of each concept, ready to learn it better, deeper, and faster. Students are not expected to have full mastery of the content before they arrive in class, although many students will be at that level.

The “flipped classroom” requires your student to take responsibility for their learning in several ways:
(1) Students must plan time to watch the video when they are still fully awake and able to make connections between content. (Before 10pm is highly suggested).
(2) Students must take initiative to re-watch videos they need to see again.
(3) Students must make sure that if they are absent, they still watch the required videos and come to class prepared.
(4) Students must make sure that they take initiative to communicate with me either online or in person if there are issues with watching the videos. This includes coming and seeing me before school, during seminar, or during lunch to watch the videos before class begins as often as possible.

What if your student watches the videos every night but still does not understand the content?

Individualized or small group tutoring and support is still available for students before, during, and after the school day. During that time, I can sit down with them and go over more examples and try to explain it in a different way. Students can contact me anytime via www.edmodo.com to ask when I am available, although I generally have a consistent schedule that is posted in the classroom.

How does the “flipped classroom” work with the Fundamental Structures at [our high school]?

Students will still be held accountable for completing the “WSQ” on a nightly basis, just like a regular homework assignment. Failure to do so will result in the progress discipline policies of the Missed Assignment Cards (“Homework Cards”). The policies listed below are subject to change.
• “WSQ” charts (see sample at end of letter) will be collected on a weekly basis, and students must have a minimum of 60% of the available points to not receive a homework card. Students will receive differing amount of points based on if the assignments are completed on time.
• If a student does not have the video watched before class begins twice in one week, they will receive a homework card automatically.
• The assignments that correspond with the WSQ’s must be fully completed by the next class day. Students are given plenty of class time to finish these assignments working with me and other classmates; however, if they are off task or absent they will have to make it up on their own time and make sure it is fully completed before entering class the next day.

Students will receive points in the HW/CW category of their grade for each week based on the percentage they have completed, so it is very important that students strive to reach 100% of the boxes filled with two points each.

STUDENT NAME: ___________________________________________ PERIOD: _________

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We have internet access at home and watching the videos nightly should not be a problem.

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We do have a computer at home; however, we do not have consistent internet access at home, so please make accommodations for my student.

[ ] I understand the changes that will be taking place and the expectations for my student. We do not have a computer at home, so please make accommodations for my student.

Parent/Guardian Name: ________________________ Relationship to Student: ____________

Parent Signature: ___________________________________________

Best way to contact me from 8am-2pm during the week
[ ] Email: ____________________________________________________________
[ ] Phone: ____________________________________________________________
Questions, comments, or concerns:

Letter to Admin and Counselors about the change

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to make sure you were informed on some changes that will be taking place in my classroom next semester that will affect the students you will be seeing from my class. (Which will hopefully be a lot less than last semester!)

After struggling last semester with a lot of students not completing homework, I began thinking of what I could do differently to help support them at home. After much research and trial during 1st semester, I have adopted a flipped classroom approach that I will be keeping in place for the 2nd semester. My goal is that we see a huge decrease in the number of students receiving homework cards because their homework will now entail (1) watching a video lesson created by me, (2) writing a summary and question, and (3) coming prepared to discuss, ask questions, get help, and work on the problems that formerly would have been "homework" in class where there is support available. I found that a lot of my students would not do homework because they would go home and have no idea how to start even though they thought they understood it in class.

If you would take a minute to read through the letter I have put together so you are informed of what is going on and the purposes of utilizing this teaching method, that would be great. The end of the letter indicates how this method will integrate with the homework card system we have in place at school. ("FLIPPED CLASSROOM LETTER updated"). If you would like any more information or details on the Flipped Classroom, please ask as I have a plethora of resources (blogs, articles, videos, etc) that I have collected during my research period.

A letter has already been sent home to all of my Algebra 1 students and has been returned signed by their parent/guardian indicating their access to technology at home (all but a few have computer and internet access at home). Accommodations have been made for all students without full access to technology. The shortened version of that letter is also attached. (this is the one just titled "FLIPPED CLASSROOM LETTER" and does not include as many details).

Thank you for your support - I really appreciate all that you do! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the new method that will be used next semester. I am excited to see positive changes by the end of the semester that will inform me if I should continue using this method of teaching.


Why I am Flipping my Classroom.

I'm not sure when the decision was made. I'm not even sure when I first read about it. All I remember is that one night during the 2010-2011 school year, a student contacted me on our class website www.edmodo.com and said "I'm so confused about how to find our scale for the trig graphs, can you explain it again?". It was hard to explain in words, so I took my digital camera, and holding it above a paper, worked out a quick example and sent it his way. That led to me working out more and more homework problems for students as the year went on and posting them online. The quality of all the videos, honestly, was horrible, as I was holding the camera and trying not to shake too bad as I went over the problem.

I had a solid set of videos for tricky concepts to begin the 2011-2012 school year with. About a month into the school year, I tried a new teaching approach called "Expert Teacher" that pretty much sucked. My students went home completely confused about what they were supposed to learn, so I took a poll on Edmodo and asked "Who would watch a video of Concepts 2 and 3 worked out for you on video?" and got an almost unanimous response. By this time, I had an AverVision Document Camera in my classroom that recorded straight to my Mac, so I recorded the explanations and sent them out to my students.

It must have been at that point that I stumbled across the phrase known widely as "flipped classroom" and proposed to my Math Analysis Honors class if they were interested in trying it out. I would say about 75-80% of the students were excited about it at first. We began by having videos 2-4 days a week (between 8-15 minutes long). However, class time was very unguided and sometimes was not that beneficial. I kept trying to do all these "fun activities" with the students that ended up wasting a lot of class time. I continued to get feedback from the students on how they were feeling - most of them still enjoyed it, but there were a few students who were getting a little tired of it. Several students really had trouble with the fact that it was "different" and struggled to adjust to the change in how their math class was compared to the last 10 years of their educational career.

Another month or so went by and I was very happy with what I was seeing. I saw slightly higher test percentages for several units compared to my previous years' classes. What struck me the most, however, was the students "in the middle" succeeding at such higher levels. I came to the realization that the top students are going to succeed with my videos or not. The lower, unmotivated students are going to show up to class unprepared whether the homework is a problem set or a video. But, the students in the middle (which I would say is 70% of my class) really succeed when they are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace, pause/rewind/re-watch parts of the lesson, and to ask questions in class.

I was so happy with what I was seeing that I proposed the idea to my Algebra 1 class (9th-10th graders), not really knowing what their thoughts would be. They really struggle with completing regular homework and I was to the point of major frustration. Surprisingly, they were actually very excited about it and we did a "test chapter" to see how it would work. While some students still did not watch the video before class, there was definitely a higher rate of "homework" completion.

So, starting second semester 2012 (Jan 31st is the first day), I am fully flipping all of my classes - 3 sections of Algebra 1 and 2 sections of Math Analysis Honors. I have come up with a better idea of what I am looking for and what to do. The purpose of this blog is to have a place to reflect so in June I can look back and decide if this is a change I want to continue to do, and how I can continue to improve it to help my students succeed.
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