Tuesday, October 21, 2014
We've completed the first grading period of the school year. I have 9 weeks of flipped lessons under my belt. I recorded (and students watched) 25 videos. Over 4 hours of direct instruction moved to students' control.
So, what's the verdict? The good, the bad, the ugly?
Well, there is no ugly. And really nothing bad.
I'm a believer.
I've blogged about a couple of the aspects that have made me a flipclass convert. The flipped classroom is the most efficient use of my and my students' time. In-class activities are so much more enjoyable than in my traditional classroom.
Student reviews have been very positive. They like their more manageable homework load. I give them all their guided notes for the week and have the videos uploaded and ready to go the Friday before the week they're needed; students like being able to watch the videos when it is most convenient for them. They like that the videos are always there to refer to if/when needed. They like the structure of class time.
I've heard from a couple of parents, and they like the flipped lessons. A retired teacher tutors a few of my students; she came to school to tell me in person how much she thinks of the videos. She also relayed that the parents of those students are very appreciative of the videos.
My administration has been super-supportive. My principal asks students from time to time what they think of the flipped classroom, and he says they all have positive comments. Our tech coordinator is "on my side" and has helped whenever I've needed him.
Are the kids learning anything? Historically, I haven't kept exact records of grades on each assignment or grading term (in a former life, I used to make copies of my gradebook at the end of each year), but I do know my grades at the end of this first grading term are higher than they've ever been. I'm amazed as I grade things that I know are usually challenging for students; this year's students really seem to have a better and deeper understanding of material.
Challenges? A few, but not many.
I'm still learning how to deal with students when a video does not get watched. There are some days where the planned activities can be completed - with a little guidance - but there are days when a student won't have any clue how to participate in class if they haven't watched the video. On those days, I have the students watch the video in class. They have to complete any class activities they miss after that. I have used school consequences (before-school detention) for students who try to make a habit out of not watching the videos.
It is NOT a huge problem. One or two students in each of my three classes. Once I started implementing school consequences, several of those shaped up.
There have been a few tech issues. I created a course in iTunesU; students can download the videos to their iPads and watch without wifi. I put YouTube links to the videos on Edmodo. Most of the students prefer iTunesU, as Edmodo can "sit and spin" when trying to load a video. A few students - again, not many - are having pesky issues. They will download the videos from iTunesU, and then the videos disappear. For the kids without wifi at home, this is a problem. Most students are having no problems at all. Our tech coordinator has been in touch with Apple to see if we can find out what is causing the "disappearing videos" and fix it.
Where do I go from here?
Right now, I'm going to keep on keeping on. Things are working, I'm getting comfortable, my students are getting comfortable. No big changes, yet.
I do want to start having students write a short summary of each video. I would like it to be paperless. Something they could submit on Edmodo. I'm trying to figure out the logistics in my head before I begin, though.
With the end of the grading term, Fall Break, and the administration of ACT's Explore Test, it has been awhile since our last flipped lessons. And I miss them. I am real excited about the in-class activities I have planned for the next couple of weeks. I am excited to see the depth of understanding my students are able to achieve in our work with linear functions.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
The short answer: all the activities I've never been able to do with my students.
My Pre-AP Algebra 1 students have always been shortchanged when it came to variety in the types of activities they were able to do in class. There were exceptions, but most days were a seemingly endless cycle of lecture+notes and working problems in the book. Direct instruction took most of the class period, so the only option for practice was book work or worksheets.
Now, the sky's the limit. Foldables, scavenger hunts, task cards with QR codes, sorts, cut-n-paste, relays, group work, partner work, and lots and lots of problem-solving. There are still times of problems out of the book, but I am often able to chunk it into manageable, not-too-boring, small sections of time.
Class is usually broken into three 15-minute parts, give or take a few minutes. Depending on the activity, we may only do two activities. There is something on the board for the kids to do when they enter the room. It may be prep for the day, or it may be some problems allowing students to demonstrate their understanding of the lesson video. There is usually a "main" activity where students practice and/or apply the day's material. I like to wrap up the day with some sort of exit slip.
Here are a few pictures of some of the activities we've done over the last several weeks.