Saturday, May 28, 2016

That's a Wrap (...but Always Planning)

The 2015-2016 school year is finished.

It was a good one. Oh, there were tough times and struggles and frustrations, but that's part of the process.

I feel good about growth I made as a teacher and where I'm headed with my practice.

I feel good about the foundation I laid for my students and hope what they learned with me will benefit them in high school.

Here's my evaluation of what I see as the major aspects of my classroom.

Flipped Classroom
Flipped learning is in my bones. It's who I am. I recognize the teacher I was before, but I am a completely different teacher now.
I did not experience the "love fest" from this year's students that Year 1's students provided, but they were very clear in their end-of-year reflections that they liked our flipped classroom.
My flipped classroom began to change this year, and I see it continuing to transform. I see shorter videos and more discovery/exploration before content videos.
I experimented with an in-class flip for my Pre-Algebra students this year, and I would like to develop that further.

Interactive Notebooks
I use these primarily with my Pre-Algebra students. Students like having a resource to use, and I believe INBs are beneficial for my students. But I'm a bit discontent with them. I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong or how I want it to change, but as I look at how I want my classroom to be next year I have a feeling the INBs are going to change, too.

Retakes and Redos
I found this process very tiring this year. Even more so than last year, when I was developing all the variations of tests. By the end of the year I found myself wondering if this was something I wanted to continue.
But all the reasons I chose to begin retakes and redos still exist. The benefits are all still there, too.
I believe retakes are best for my students, so I will continue to offer them with the same policy until I find something I like better.

As I wrap up this school year, my brain is already working on next year. I can't decide if it's a good thing or not, but it seems my brain never quits. I seem to ALWAYS be planning. The few times a year I actually turn the teacher part of my brain off for a few days always surprise me.

Here's what my brain is chewing on right now.

Summer School
Summer School is one reason I can't turn the teacher-brain off. I stay in teacher-mode through June.
While I feel the effects of fatigue in summer school and sometimes struggle with how to reach that particular group of students, I really enjoy it. I lay foundations in summer school. I build relationships that pay off hugely during the school year.
I normally make summer school very skill-based, reteaching algorithms that students find difficult. As one would expect, not a whole lot of remediation is accomplished in 4 weeks.
I'm approaching Summer School differently this year. I'm using a 6th grade module about ratios from the EngageNY curriculum as my base. We're going to work on conceptual foundations. We're going to justify answers, practice mathematical discourse, critique the reasoning of others, and create our own problems. I plan to include activities I know my students enjoy as well as interesting, non-routine problems from resources such as Yummy Math and Mathalicious.
I'm also going to do daily number talks. I believe number sense is one of the keys to a student finding success in math.
I'm hoping both the content and the methods will help my students in the fall.

Next School Year
I want to give my students context. I want to ensure conceptual understanding. My goal this summer is to peruse my go-to sites - Mathematics Assessment Project, Yummy Math, Mathalicious (after a free trial this summer, I'm thinking about writing a grant in the fall for a subscription), Laying the Foundation - and find interesting problems and explorations to deepen my students' understanding of content. I want to start each unit with a problem, give and practice the necessary skills along the way, and end each unit with a problem.
This is really a continuation of changes I made last year, but I want to take those baby steps deeper and farther.

I've come to end of this and concluded I should not try to blog on a Saturday morning before I've had my coffee. I've rambled, and I apologize. All these thoughts about last year, summer school, and next year have been bouncing around in my head, and I wanted to get them out.

And if you've read along through the second year of my flipped classroom journey (which has become so much more), thank you. Sometimes I feel a little silly putting my little thoughts out there in cyberspace. But blogging is good for me; being able to go back and read and learn from things I've gone through previously in my classroom is extremely helpful. And maybe somebody, somewhere can get something out of my experiences.

I'll be around some through the summer. I'll have to report on how summer school went and how the plans for next year are progressing. :)

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