Saturday, June 24, 2017

Taking My Flipped Game to a New Level

Last spring I was asked to teach two classes for our local community college. I agreed (spring is a blur, so I'm not sure I can be held accountable for my actions, LOL). Only one of the classes made: Pre-Calculus Trigonometry.

The class meets one night a week for four and half hours.

That's right. Four and a half. Hours.

This flipped teacher can't stand to listen to herself for more than 10 or 15 minutes anymore.

And I'm supposed to teach for 270 minutes?

And my students. My poor students. They're supposed to listen to me (and absorb) for 4.5 hours?

I knew from the get-go I would be flipping my class.

Everything about this - the class structure, the students, the material - is completely different from my 8th Grade Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 classroom.

But I took what I know and ran with it.

I decided what I needed to cover each week - with only 9 class sessions, it's a TON - and split it into topics for videos.

I decide what to give as practice for material.

I give students a list for each class session with the videos and suggested practice. I give this list a week ahead of time so students can be watching videos throughout the week.

I told them the idea of the flipped classroom: they can watch videos to get the instruction whenever they want, and then they can practice with me so that I can help them.

It's been interesting. Time in class is mostly quiet. Not at all like a group of 20 or so 8th graders. Granted, the class is made up of 7 college males, but it's still pretty quiet. Students don't stay for the full scheduled time. Some leave after an hour; a few stay 3 hours.

The first night after a week of videos was particularly quiet.

The second time of flipped lessons was more of what I was hoping for and expecting. A couple of students worked together, everyone was working on something different, several asked me questions and I got to work one-on-one with students.

That night, students told me they liked the flipped class. They thought my videos were helpful, they liked being able to watch and rewatch and go at their own pace, they liked the class structure. They particularly like that they don't have to listen to me for 4.5 hours.

I think the students are still trying to figure out how to get the most out of the flipped environment. I think they like that they can stay with me for as long - or as little - as they feel necessary, but I'm not sure they're all staying long enough to get the help they need. That might change after they get their first test back. :)

I have learned something about videos that I think I'll implement in my middle school classroom this fall: smaller chunking of videos. One of the first videos I made for Trig was 18 minutes long. Now...these are college students and not 14-year olds, but still. I decided videos needed to be about topics, not entire lessons. That 18-minute video should have been 3 videos. Since that first week, the videos range from 7 to 10 minutes long.

It's time to rework my Algebra 1 videos this year, and I think I'm going to make videos by topic, not lesson. That will potentially mean more than one video per lesson - something I've fought against - but I think it will work nicely into self-pacing. It will also allow students to work with one thing at a time and give me more opportunities for formative assessment.

So...I've graded the first test, and students did about what I expected (there's that benefit of knowing who is where with grasping the material).

The student who obviously doesn't need me and loves the flipped format demonstrated understanding.

The student who stays and works and asks questions also demonstrated understanding.

A couple of students struggled.

Next task? Figure out how to structure a retake opportunity at this level.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Thoughts on End-of-Year Reflections school's been out over a week, and I gave my end-of-year reflection Google Form over two weeks ago, but I did want to jot a few thoughts to help me remember what I wanted to continue to work on next year.

WIN: "Mrs. Gibbs provides opportunities to work together" got 100% "agree" or "strongly agree"! Partner work/group work/working together/working with friends was probably the most-mentioned in "Things I enjoy about this class."

Flipped lessons/videos were a close runner-up, and one student said s/he would probably use my YouTube channel in the future.

Students wished we did more activities involving food (the Pythagorean Theorem activity with Cheez-Its was a favorite with my Pre-Algebra kids).

"Cheat sheets" and partner tests were a plus, according to my Algebra 1 kids. (As I blogged here, this is an area I continue to explore.)

The Pythagorean Theorem was once again the winner of "What is one thing you learned you will remember or use?" Slope-intercept form was an unexpected runner-up (Yea!).

One student said s/he learned to be patient with finding solutions (another win!).

Several students said they should have retaken more tests and would advise next year's students to do the same.

While many answers to questions were similar and not unexpected, I looked through for little nuggets of information that might be helpful.

One student marked "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree" to almost every question. I collected email addresses on the Google Form (due to some inappropriate answers to an earlier questionnaire), and I never knew that this student had an issue with me. I'm not sure if the answers were serious or not, but if the student was being serious, I wish I had known something wasn't working. This student was also NOT a fan of flipped lessons. No details or reasons were given, but it was mentioned more than once by this student.

"Punchlines" were mentioned numerous times in the reflections. Students either love them or hate them. I believe I did better in not over-using them this year, but, for some students, there were still too many.

It is important to me that students be able to self-check as they work. I want students to know as they practice if they doing things correctly or if they need help. Punchlines allow for that.

I had started giving students choices for their practice as the year went on. I would allow students to choose between a Punchline or a "normal" worksheet (with answers attached, of course) or some other form of practice.

I obviously need to work on that more. I'd like to learn how to use Formative or Quizziz or something similar to give more options for self-checking practice.

One student mentioned the need for more spiral review (I agree!).

A couple of students wanted more of the self-pacing (planning on it).

One student mentioned the need to go over tests after they were graded. This is an area I KNOW needs improvement.

In fact, I've been giving thought to - and we've discussed in our department - giving more time to the day after a test (or when it's graded) than the day before the test (review). I believe it is important for students to have time to "tie it all together," but maybe there's a better way than taking the day before the test?

I'm considering giving tests back with no grades, just problems marked that were worked incorrectly, and letting students correct their papers. I think this could lead to more student learning than a review day.

I'm not sure how that would change my retake policy (test corrections are part of the procedure). Would in-class test corrections be worth some points? Then complete the process and retake the test if you want a shot at improving your grade even more? Do in-class corrections take the place of retakes?

Lots to think about.

And all part of the process.