Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GUEST POST: Going Forward with GoFormative and Desmos (Hanalee Chung)

This is in a series of posts by teachers in the TUSD Connect Fellowship for the 2015-2016 school year. I hope you enjoy reading their reflections on the impact of technology in their classroom, specific tools and strategies that have made a positive impact on teaching and learning, and their goals moving forward.

Technology has streamlined the teaching process and has made it easier to demonstrate concepts that were once too abstract to explain in the traditional manner (verbally and visually on a PPT or whiteboard). Technology has put the learning into the hands of the students as manipulatives, examples, and exploratory tools (GoFormative, Desmos, Socrative, and Quizalize) -- providing students of different learning styles and preferences the opportunity to see mathematics in a different manner.

In GoFormative, students are able to move at their own pace, and many of them enjoy receiving instant feedback; however, what was traditionally done on paper and needed time to grade and return, we can do it instantaneously on GoFormative. For instance, I uploaded a graph onto GF and had students graph their lines on the program. From there, I would grade their work using the colorful bar on the bottom of the screen. This can all be done simultaneously as the students are working.  You can check out the assignment shown below with the Teacher Share Code: KDXH246

  In Desmos, students were allowed to go at their own pace, and many students who were able to finish independently were given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge/skill in a creative task that applied their new knowledge/skill. (student names have been changed to be anonymous)
  In this activity, students were taken through a series of slides that helped students “discover” the equation of a circle by guiding them and allowing them to experience the functions of the different parts of the equation -- facilitating their understanding of the different parts as well as the equation as a whole. Activity can be found here:

Next year, I want to start incorporating more resources on Haiku (OfficeMix PPTs, videos from Sphere, which is our document camera recording software) that students can access before, during, and after the unit -- in a way, it would be great to start gradually flipping my classroom so that the instructional time can be used for in-depth, creative, and higher-order-thinking activities (rather than the distribution of information).

The Tech Fellowship provided me with the safety and confidence to try various technological tools and devices that I would not have normally explored on my own. In addition, because the fellowship was based on collaboration, it was great to receive input and learn about new tools online that I would have never come across. For instance, I would have not known about Quizizz, GoFormative, Quizalize, and OfficeMix if it had not been for the Tech Fellowship.

My name is Hanalee Chung.
I was born and raised in Guam for 14 years before moving to Rancho Cucamonga, California before my freshman year in high school.
I obtained my undergraduate degree at University of California, San Diego in Psychology.
I became interested in becoming a teacher when I volunteered as a math tutor for a research study that mapped brain waves of young learners. In order to explore my interest further, I interned as a Teaching Assistant at The Preuss School, a charter school located inside UCSD's campus.
I then went on to get my Secondary Teaching Credential in Math at University of California, Irvine.  I love coming to work everyday, and I have enjoyed improving my practice by being a fellow this year!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Reflections on Recent Readings (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reflections from reading my own book...

My first book, Flipping with Kirch: The Ups and Downs from Inside my Flipped Classroom was released just a few weeks ago.  It is such an honor and privilege to be able to share my journey and experiences with all of you and to facilitate conversations that will ultimately improve teaching and learning for all students.

What better way to spend part of my two-ish weeks of maternity leave than to actually read through it... on paper (not digitally)!  I've read through it so many times on the computer in the process of publishing that my brain just gets a little muddled sometimes.  However, there is such a difference in reading a physical book that you can hold in your hand!

While everything in the book obviously comes from the lens of a high school math teacher, I was reminded of how much #flipclass really is a pedagogical approach, a mindset shift, and a way of doing things differently with your time.  I am excited to begin the Book Chat in mid-July on Slack (join in here) and share even more ideas with teachers from multiple subject areas and even further refine the ideas I share in the book.

No matter your experience or interest level in #flipclass, I encourage you to check out the book ( to order straight from me!) if you haven't already and join in the summer reading journey with other passionate educators.  
  • I know I always had more to learn, so even if you are an experienced flipper, I hope my book gives you an ignited passion for what you are doing and a few new ideas.  
  • If you are a newbie flipper, I hope that my book gives you the proper mindset and strategies and ideas for successfully starting out.  
  • If you aren't really interested in flipping right now, I hope that my book helps you to reflect on your practices and take some strategies that can even be implemented into a "traditional" classroom to improve and deepen student learning.
I'll end today by sharing the last two paragraphs of the book with you:

In the end, it’s not about flipping your classroom – it’s about constantly growing and reflecting on our practice as educators, striving to facilitate a classroom that is more student-centered, focused on active learning, and where students are given higher-order thinking opportunities and challenged appropriately. My journey led me to the flipped classroom, where I was able to use video as an instructional tool to remove direct instruction, content delivery, vocabulary, and background information outside of the group learning space. This allowed class time to be more effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable, where I was able to construct learning experiences for my students that allowed them to collaborate, communicate, and engage in critical thinking and creativity.
My version of the flipped classroom, as I’ve outlined in detail in this book, allowed the goals I had set for my classroom to be accomplished. There is definitely not one “right” way to flip a class, but there are definitely best practices and experiences from other educators that we can all glean from in order to support our own journeys. My hope as you read through my journey is that you were able to take the pieces that apply to you, tweak them to fit your teaching style and to meet your students’ needs, and continue reflecting and growing in your own journey. (pp196-197, Flipping with Kirch: The Ups and Downs from Inside my Flipped Classroom)

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback as you read through the book via Twitter (use #FWKirch and #flipclass), your own blog post about what you've learned (share it with me!), and reviews.


Purchase my new book today!  Click here for more details and to place an order!  Also on at

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

GUEST POST: Improving Student Interaction Through Technology (Chris Veitch)

This is in a series of posts by teachers in the TUSD Connect Fellowship for the 2015-2016 school year. I hope you enjoy reading their reflections on the impact of technology in their classroom, specific tools and strategies that have made a positive impact on teaching and learning, and their goals moving forward.

Entering into this fellowship, my goal was to see how the use of technology can improve my student’s learning. As someone who is relatively proficient in tech and can navigate my way around most software I know the importance of being “tech literate” in the 21st century, however as a new teacher I question where to efficiently incorporate that technology into my teaching.

Being a fellow this year and exposing my students to the opportunities that technology can bring to a learning setting, I am convinced of its importance and will be planning my future instruction through the lens of how technology can enhance my lesson. This praise should also come with a qualifier. Technology is not a band-aid that can “fix” poor instruction or take over for a human teacher. Technology is simply an ingredient that should be a part of  the “dough” of education, in that technology provides tools to enhance a lesson and force students to take control of their own education.

Through technology students can collaborate in ways not possible before, students can become “historians” whereas before they were simply note takers, and students can challenge the material where before they simply had to take the information provided to them on face value. As a history teacher, one of the most important aspects of my teaching is that students are historians in my class. And by analyzing multiple sources, students begin to pick out of the nuances of a topic and discover that the issue is not simply “black or white” or “right and wrong”. One of my favorite sites to gather these multiple historical documents is the Stanford History Education Group. (Featured on this site)

This site follows the current Common Core standards of multiple text analysis and finding the many perspectives that are inherent in this types of lessons. In addition, this site provides for guiding questions and pre-built lessons that educators can use or modify as they see fit. One of the most convenient aspects of this site is that the the primary sources can either be used modified (to fit the learning styles of all readers) as well as the full documents themselves. This allows for differentiation among classes. This is important for me as a CP U.S. History teachers as students enter into my classroom with all different skill levels. As such, it is important to challenge all students to rise to their own ability level and this site provides several helpful tools in order to accomplish this goal.

Another powerful tool that I have been able to utilize this year has been Google Classroom. My students and I have all been well versed in the multiple Google Drive suite of applications and their wonderful collaborative uses. However, there was never a centralized hub in which to properly distribute those lessons and activities out to the students. This problem has been solved with the use of Classroom. Google Classroom allows teachers to set up their classes similar to the Haiku platform and make use of the already existing knowledge students have of
Google Drive.
This classroom is then used by your students as their resource hub. Classroom contains all activities and additional material you would wish to use for your classroom. Students also turn in all material that you assign them through classroom no the need for huge stacks of paper and the question of “What did I miss yesterday” becomes a thing of the past as students know where to locate their material as each assignment is dated and appears in a list-like format.

This application has made life easier because it already utilizes everything I had done last year in terms of assignments and Google drive, but now it all exists in a centralized and organized location. Adding announcements and additional links are as simple as hitting the plus button on the lower right of the screen and pasting your announcement or link and documents can be uploaded from either your Google Drive folder (recommended) or uploading documents off of your desktop. Overall this tool, while simple, has made the biggest impact in my teaching this year.

Additionally, I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak during the TECHstravaganza where I was able to introduce the collective power of the Verso discussion app and the collaborative power of the Google Drive suite of applications, specifically utilizing Google Docs. As mentioned above, I have pushed this year for my students to think more like historians and through the interaction of primary source documents (from the SHEG group mentioned above) I wanted my students to interact with history as historians. By utilizing Google Docs and SHEG i have allowed students to interact with these documents in a group setting, using Google Docs, and address essential questions on their own. Normally this is where the lesson would end and the students would turn in their material. 

However, I have also wanted to push my students to interact critically with each other’s writing and this is where Verso comes into the picture. Verso allows for anonymous interaction between students with only the teacher being aware of any one commenter's identity. I found this to be important because students tend to interact with people they know and often choose not to step outside their comfort zone. With Verso students do not know who they are interacting with, which produces more meaningful interactions. Students are tasked with posting their essential question responses on Verso and other are randomly assigned to engage with the question and determine where there can be improvements. After receiving this feedback students then revise their questions and repost their responses. This allows for students to assess their own writing style and get a chance to review others at the same time. Slides from the presentation are provided here.

I knew going into this year that being a tech fellow would provide a challenging and meaningful opportunity for me as I would be exposed to more technology and classroom training. As mentioned above, this is my second year in the teaching profession and new teachers are always looking for some simple ways to make their lives easier. Being a tech fellow has improved my teaching confidence by giving me the tools to succeed. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my coach, Crystal Kirch, and know that while there is no real proper way to thank her for all that she has given me, I can show my appreciation by using all the tools she has given me to be the best teacher that I can.

Chris Veitch is a second year Social Science teacher at Beckman High School teaching U.S. History and AP Human Geography. He received his bachelor's degree from U.C. Santa Barbara in the field of Law and Society. Chris sees technology as not simply a component of education but a tools that needs to be in every teacher’s toolbox.  
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