Sunday, September 6, 2015

First Student Reflections

I like to get students' thoughts about the flipped classroom after they've a had a few weeks with it. Last year, I wrote a question by hand at the bottom of their first test, asking them to share any thoughts they had about the process. This year, I used a Google Form and asked them to complete it after their first test.

The Google Form had four questions:

  1. What do you consider the best part of our flipped classroom?
  2. What could be improved about our flipped classroom?
  3. What do you consider the best part of using Google Classroom?
  4. What could be improved about Google Classroom?
I was a little concerned when at least two students asked me what a flipped classroom was. Maybe that's a good sign, and they just see it as what we do and not something different or special? Who knows....

Students see many positives about flipping instruction. A few aspects that were mentioned by multiple students:
  • Being able to watch videos ahead of time (I try to give a week's worth on Friday or Monday)
  • The ability to stop and rewind and re-watch a video as needed and not hold other students back
  • Watching videos without class distractions
  • Learning more (and better) than with "normal" homework
  • Doing practice problems together in class
  • Manageable homework load
A couple of my favorite quotes:
  • "The best part of the flipped classroom is that instead of going home and having questions about homework that my dad can't answer, it is explained in-depth to me in the videos."
  • "We don't have as much homework, so we can actually go to bed at a decent time."
One student mentioned parents watching the videos to be able to help. Yea!

The most popular answer to what could be improved was "I can't think of anything." I appreciate that, but I am honestly looking for ways to make my classroom better. Most suggestions centered around the types of practice problems in the videos. A few students mentioned more practice problems and varying the types of problems. One suggested I not give answers to the problems I give them to try on their own. Another suggested they make up their own problems. One student asked for more detail in the videos, one suggested I go a little faster. A few students mentioned making sure the videos weren't too long. One student asked for a "fun" question in each video that could be discussed in class.

I will continue to look at the amount and types of practice I offer in the videos. I changed that part of the videos last year due to student suggestions, and it is apparently an aspect of videos that is particularly important to the students.

Since we are using Google Classroom for the first time, I included the two questions related to Classroom in the Google Form. It is important to me that what we are using is working for students. Students overwhelmingly said they prefer Google Classroom to Edmodo (as a school we "officially" use Edmodo, but a few teachers are "piloting" Classroom, so some students are using both platforms). They like how Classroom is organized and how they can keep up with what's due in each class. More than one said they liked being able to communicate with teachers through Classroom. From my end, I particularly enjoy being able to converse with students in this manner. I am giving more feedback than before, and I believe it is being paid attention to more than before.

The one suggestion that was made the most was the addition of a planner/calendar to Google Classroom. Google just released that an integrated calendar was coming in about a month, so my students and I are excited about that.

I like asking my students questions. I like knowing what they think (well, most of the time, LOL) and what's working for them and what's not. The reflection process is good for them, and it's good for me. While I love hearing what I want to hear or expect, I am also ready to hear constructive criticism and willing to make improvements when necessary.

The next step is to send a similar sort of reflection questionnaire home to parents. I just need to figure out how to do it digitally. 

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