Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Too-Long Video

The weeks since Fall Break have been incredibly busy, and I haven't had time to blog! I try to record topics as blog titles as I think of them so I'll remember what I want to reflect on when I actually have a few minutes to reflect.

It happened.  I made a video that was too long.

When we returned from Fall Break, after taking the ACT Explore, we began our lessons on slope. Slope is completely new to these students, so I had a lot of "back story" to give.  I talked a LOT in the video. I taught how to find slope from a graph and using the slope formula. Our book doesn't really develop finding slope from a graph, but kids need to understand it when graphing lines in slope-intercept form, so I thought it important to spend some time on it.

There were only 3 Smart slides, but the video was over 20 minutes long.  Like right at 22 minutes. Most videos are between 12-15 minutes long.

I warned the kids ahead of time.  There were groans. "She said we would never have videos over 15 minutes long!" Well, I never said "Never," but that was my intention.

It was material I would have covered in one class period, so I figured the extra 5 (ok...7) minutes would be fine.

I was wrong.

The kids were frustrated with the length of the video.  They seemed confused by the material. They struggled with the practice in class the next day.

While many things have contributed to the challenging nature of the last 3 weeks (more on that in a blog post to come), the too-long video was the beginning of a shaky foray into graphing linear equations.

So...a definite revision of this video is in order.  It will be 2 videos next year: one on an introduction to slope and finding slope from a graph, and a second one on the slope formula.

In my mind, neither one of these things should really take an entire day for my 8th grade Algebra 1 students. I had 2 days of applications of slope planned.  Should slope really take 4 days? Isn't that too long? This year's experience should convince me such is not the case. I've already taken more time this year with our introduction to linear equations based on what I decided was an insufficient understanding of the topic from previous (non-flipped learning) students. One more day on a foundational concept in mathematics will not be a day wasted.

It's got me to thinking about my traditional classroom lessons.  How many times did I throw too much at students, counting on them to sort it all out - on their own - through homework? Then answer a few questions and move on to the next thing.

I've said it before, but flipped lessons have allowed me to have a much better feel for the pulse of my students. And having a better grasp of what they are and aren't understanding, I am no longer able to continue plowing through material when I know there are issues to clear up. Thankfully, flipped lessons also allow me the time to creatively reteach and not necessarily lose valuable instructional time.

The limit exists.  Fifteen minutes, max.  Some would say even that is too long for 8th graders, but my Pre-AP students seem to handle that length just fine (they definitely like it when they're shorter, though). Any longer is too much.  And will automatically become two days.

Whether my "I don't have enough days to cover everything as it is!" brain likes it or not.

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