For the past 3 summers, I have attended 4 days of "Laying the Foundation" training at a Birmingham-area school. My "Year 3" training was this past week.
NMSI is the National Math and Science Initiative. From their website:
"NMSI's mission is to improve student performance in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). NMSI's programs transform teaching, transform schools and are transforming education in the United States."
"NMSI's Laying the Foundation Program is strengthening the existing teaching corps through professional training resources aligned with Common Core State Standards."
I became involved in the training when our high school began the process of offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses and my eighth grade algebra classes became Pre-AP Algebra 1 classes.
In a nutshell, each year I have been given access to and learned how to teach lessons that prepare students for their AP classes and exams when they are in high school. The lessons are in-depth, often cover multiple standards, and promote higher-order thinking skills. Most are designed for cooperative learning. Lessons introduce foundational topics for the study of calculus and statistics in grade-appropriate ways (they began developing lessons for third through fifth grades this past year).
This summer (as in the previous two) I was introduced to several lessons that I can use or adapt for use in my classroom this year. We worked through the lessons as if we were students. The level of the lessons we covered ranged from sixth grade to Algebra 2.
After six hours of math, I left with a headache each afternoon! We did a lot of thinking. I always leave these trainings identifying better with my students: how they feel sitting and working hour after hour, how they feel after lunch, how they feel on Friday afternoon.
But I also noticed how fast the time passed each day. While we were working hard, we were active. We were moving around, we were discussing with group members, we were doing some hands-on activities.
That's how I want my flipped classroom to be this year! I want the kids to look up at the end of class and say, "What? Algebra is over already?!?"
The best part of the week was the collaboration. I had been in the training with most of the other teachers for all three summers. This year the group was smaller; I think we had whittled down to the ones who really wanted to be there. Attitudes were positive. We laughed and had a good time. We shared with and learned from each other.
While the training had nothing to do with a flipped classroom, the lessons will work nicely in a flipped classroom. I can see many of them being used in an Explore, Flip, Apply model.
When I introduced myself on Tuesday, I mentioned I had been working on making videos for flipped algebra classes. No one really responded in any way; I'm not sure how many were familiar with "flipping." But one lady showed me something the next day she thought I might find useful, saying she had thought about my videos. She was my partner on Friday, and she shared how she does a type of flipped classroom without videos (students have to look up whatever topic she gives them, and they write down examples and any questions they have). She said she loves it and it lets her do activities in class (including the lessons we were learning) she wouldn't be able to do otherwise.
It was nice to have some encouragement and affirmation!