Thursday, February 27, 2014

So Far I'm Loving This Flipped Classroom

I have this class.  You know, it's full of freshmen boys.  I need to be on my toes and there can not be one moment of free time or all hell breaks loose.  I decided to try my modified 'flip' with this class today and it. was. awesome.

Here's What I Did:

I call this a modified flip because I don't assign the videos for homework.  I know the most of the students won't do the work at home.  Since I'm new at this, I'm not ready to tackle what to do when the lack of homework completion places a huge gap in my students' learning.  

I had to leave work early yesterday, so Ms. H from across the hall covered my class.  Since she was forfeiting her one and only prep period of the day, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her.  I assigned a test for the students and then a video based on the next outcome for the those who finished before the end of the period.

When I came back today, Ms. H told me that some of the students weren't able to watch the video yet.  So today I wrote three things on the board that I wanted students to accomplish in class.  Two were videos (1 from yesterday) and one was a little quiz.  The atmosphere in class was peaceful.  There was no tension, no stress.  Everyone was working at their own pace.  Yes, they were working.  They were 95% on task (they are Freshmen after all).  

Why It Worked:

Normally when I attempt to deliver a new lesson, students are on all different levels. I will usually have a student ask me to wait while they finish writing something down.  Oh no, now there's down time.  And everyone else who is finished writing sees this as an opportunity to talk.  Now I have to get every one's attention again to continue with the lesson. 

But today we didn't have this.  If a student needed to pause the video, it didn't effect anyone else.  

Students didn't feel like they were interrupting me to ask questions.  I was circulating around the room answering questions the whole period.  I was able to make sure every student was on task and that's hard to do when you're standing in the front of the room all period.  

I did have one student who was absent today.  Guess what he'll be doing tomorrow.


Of course some students finished while the other didn't.   My plan is to have a Flashback day tomorrow (a day where students can reassess on previous outcomes).  Anyone who didn't finish today's work can do that tomorrow.  Or they can come to my room during homeroom.  

I have to make videos for every lesson that I do. Although this seems daunting, I feel that it might be doable.  The lessons that I made were only 5-10 minutes in length.  It takes so much longer during class because of all the interruptions.  

What the Students Thought:

At the end of the class I asked the students for some feedback.  They say they loved it.  A handful of students said they want every single lesson done this way. 

What a great way to end my work day.  I hope yours went well too.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Systems of Equations, Riddles, and Students' Attention

Before I even mentioned what a system of equation was to my students I posed the following riddles to them:

Nineteen coins are what’s in this cup.
Better believe me ‘cause that’s what’s up.

There’s no peeking or you’ll never learn.
Wait ‘til the end when it’s your turn.

A dollar thirty is the total inside.
That’s the truth, I’ve never lied.

So how many nickels and how many dimes?
Figure it out.  I’ve got no more rhymes.

Or how about this one?

Quarters and nickels, a total of sixteen.
How many of each, without being seen?

The value of two-twenty is right in this cup.
You will find the answer, a certain cheer up.

Make a table, a graph, an equation will do.
Give it a try and learn something new.

It’s a challenge I know, but don’t give up hope.
The answer is obtainable and within your scope.

I like this one...

In this cup are seventeen quarters and half-dollars.
Finding the solution will produce some hollas!

The question is how many of each coin inside,
That the creative instructor has so graciously supplied.

Five dollars fifty cents doesn’t buy much these days,
But in this cup is where that total lays.

Don’t look inside, that is called cheating
It’s with your intelligence that you are competing

And the last one...

It’s a mystery what’s inside this container.
But you won’t look, you’re not a complainer.

Seventeen coins, that is a hint from me to you.
Quarters and dimes, some old and some new.

The total inside is 3.35.
Get busy on this problem, come on look alive.

You are smarter than you think, you’ve got the knowledge
To solve problems like this and then go to college

I never claimed that I was a poet...

What I found when doing this lesson what that they were truly interested in the answer.  All the students were engaged, and what was most amazing to me what how the 'lowest' students were able to participate equally with the 'highest' students.  The look of pride on them was totally worth it.  

I set up 4 different stations around the room for students to work on.  One cup and one riddle.  Once the students believed they had an answer, they were allowed to open the cup to have a look-see. 

Here is all the information so you can give this a try too!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Somewhat Flipped Classroom

I tried my flipped classroom today in my Algebra 1B classes.  I have 2 sections of this class and they each have their own personality.

Period 3:

This class is currently down to 7 students.  I really don't want to get into why the class is so small, it's not appropriate for this blog.  Anyway, it's a small class, but the students who are in there are genuinely curious.  They are good kids who live with heads where math just doesn't come easily.  No special ed or special needs students are within these 7.  

I start class by explaining what we will be doing for the day and why we are doing it.  

"Today we are going to listen to me on the computer rather than me in the front of the room.  This way you can stop the video where you need to to write something down, rewind the video to watch something that wasn't clear the first time, or even ask the real me a question without interrupting the rest of the class.  You are to take notes as you watch the video for the first three problems.  Once you are done with the video, work with your neighbors to complete the last three problems."

For this class it worked out great, except they wanted me for the last three problems.  They were watching the videos individually and didn't make the transition to group work smoothly.  I needed to micromanage this part of the class and tell specific students to move to specific seats.  

At the end of class I asked students for feedback.  One students made her thoughts known right away.  She loved it.  She liked that she could pause the video whenever she wanted, and even rewind.  The other 6 students said they liked it, but wouldn't want it every day.  Fair enough, I can't make a video everyday anyway.

Looking over their work tonight, this class did pretty well.  Except one student, who didn't make the transition into group work.  Even with multiple suggestions to work with the people next to him, he didn't bite.  And so his work suffered.  

Period 5:

I started the class in the same manner as period 3 but there are a lot of conversations that I need to constantly stop.  And a few of the students in class have learning disabilities (7 out of 14) that makes it almost impossible to listen to a SINGLE WORD I SAY! (<--Yes, I'm yelling).  

When it came time to complete the three problems on their own, many students were very needy.  When I probed a little deeper as to why they need me so much, I found out that they only copied the notes from the video and didn't really listen to what was said.  *sigh*  Too bad, go back and watch that part of the video again.  

Looking over the work they did on their own I found that many students don't know how to solve for y correctly.  They don't understand the difference between graphing a positive and a negative slope.  

At the end of the class, I felt like crying.  The kids hate the class, I strongly dislike teaching that class, and I don't know what to do.  I also don't know what the difference is between this one class and all of my others.  I have to wonder if it's all the learning disabilities put together in one class.  

In Conclusion:

I think we have a learning curve here.  What I really like about this method is that each student can learn at their own pace (if they want to).  I need to emphasize what is expected of the students, no matter their abilities, and stick to it.  I'm not giving up, and I will keep you posted.

On a Better Note:

I've been teaching domain and range to my CP Algebra 1 classes and they are doing spectacular.  I will share all of that soon.  In the mean time, go play Domain Rangers with your students!

No More Excuses: I Can't Take the Test Today, I Was Absent Yesterday

I cannot tell you how much I love standards-based grading.  So many problems have not only been solved but ELIMINATED!  I'm so happy to report that this excuse is gone with SBG.

Don't get me wrong, I still hear it, but it no longer turns into a major battle.  Just last week and student told me he couldn't take the test because he wasn't here the day before for the review.  I have two options here.  Let me rephrase that, the student has two options here.

  1. He can take the test anyway.  This way he can at least see what it looks like and use it as his own formative assessment to see what he needs to review.  As you know with SBG he can take a different version of the test at a later time.  As many times as he likes.
  2. He can use this time to look over his notes to prepare for the test that he will take at a later time.  
I hear horror stories from other teachers who have gotten into battles with students and their parents about this issue.  Even dragging the administration in on it.  So, if you're not using SBG yet, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

BER Workshops - The Flipped Classroom

This past week I attended a workshop through BER - Bureau of Education & Research.  If you have never attended one of their workshops you are missing out.  Click on the link above to see if there's one near you, they are all over the country.  It's a full-day workshop with lunch on your own, and you leave the seminar with a resource book.  Note - eat lunch with people you don't know, you'll probably meet some rather awesome people like I did.

The workshop I attended was The Flipped Classroom:  Practical Strategies to Successfully "Flip" Your Classroom (Grades 6-12) By Corey Papastathis

I arrived at the workshop not knowing much about flipping my classroom.  I had more questions than answers.  By the end of the day I was confident enough and motivated to try something new.

What students do at home needs to be engaging.  Just going home and watching videos about math isn't going to hold any one's attention.  Of course the video can't be boring, but there needs to be more.  Are they suppose to post something to twitter when they are finished?  Is there a cliffhanger at the end of the video to keep them wanting more?  There is some software out there where the students have to interact with the video in order to keep it moving forward.

What I learned:

My time is valuable.  Have you ever tutored a person one-on-one?  If you have, then you know the price some people are willing to pay.  Think about it.  We need to stop doing things during class time that students are able to do on their own time.  For instance, we don't need to lecture or do direct instruction, the students can watch that on their own time and write their questions about the lesson.  Then you can spend your time setting up students centers and working with students rather than talking at them, and this is where your real value comes in.  

When making your videos keep it short.  You wouldn't want to watch a marathon episode of a lecture and neither do your students.  If you can break a video down into sections, make each section its own video.

Also, when making videos, don't do it alone.  The audience will find it more interesting if there is a conversation rather than one person talking.  Corey suggested using a student in the video to ask questions and to have someone to talk to, or have another teacher co-teach with you in the lesson.

Flipping your classroom, may decrease the behavior issues that I've been having.  Most seem to happen when I'm direct instructing.  I'll keep you updated on that.  

Here are some resources for us to check out:



Flipped Learning:  Here you can find examples a videos, access to conferences, and other resources.

Here is a Pinterest board to follow about flipping.

Clintondale High School:  This high school is completely flipped.  See what they have to say about it.

Jonathan Berfmann's Blog:  This post has the 10 questions you should ask before you flip your class, but his entire blog is full of flipping goodies.

Flipped Math:  This website is so that you don't need to reinvent the wheel.  They have videos, handouts, and it's all organized.  Check it out.

Video-Making Stuff:

Screencast-o-matic:  This has a free and a paid version

Educreations:  You can use the website or the app.

Here's Goes Nothing:

I'm going to give this a try on Monday.  I created a video for the students to watch, a notes guide to fill in as they watch, and then practice problems to complete with their classmates.  I know this is nothing earth shattering, heck, it's not even that interesting.  But that's okay for my first attempt.  My plan is to build from there.  To create more interesting videos Mr. Pod has already agreed to co-video with me.   

It's here for the taking for what it's worth:

Solving Systems of Equations by Graphing: