Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014-15 Reflection #1: Flipping Out...

So...I'm a 2.5 weeks into the school year and my flipped classes are taking their first tests today while I reflect.  This year is my first foray into the world of flipping and I'm totally in love.  For those who aren't familiar with the flipped classroom, it's a method of teaching where the students watch a video lecture and take notes at home and the majority of their practice and application is done at school with the support of the teacher and their peers.  After doing tons of research over the summer, I asked Crystal Kirch if I could use her format and she graciously agreed.  You can find all of her info here.  I've loved the structure and foundation that it's provided me to get started since I'd never done anything like this before.  I'll be tweaking it to fit my personal style as I go and realize what works for me and what doesn't.

Things I'm crazy about:

- Quizlet.  The students LOVE racing each other and practice over and over and over.  It's been fun to watch them ENJOY their math practice.

- Having the MAP problems numbered continuously makes it easy to "grade" their homework for completion.  Ch 1a had 200 points - 1 for each problem (190) and then 2 pts per concept for notes.  They had to really leave a lot blank to lower their grade.  A couple of them did get a B or a C on this for their weekly homework grade, but I still felt that it was appropriate for them.  Most got As, even if their packet wasn't perfect.  I like that it's a grade for how much they practiced, which is exactly what a homework grade should be.

- Every. Single. Student. Passed the first test!  I'm so stoked about this.  I want them to be confident and really feel in their soul that they CAN do this stuff so starting out with such a great overall performance is exciting.  The class average grade for the first test was 79.9% which I think is really great.  WAY better than my tests from last year which were a bit all over the place.

- A couple of students had a hard time getting started with the homework.  Checking it each day (on a checklist, not for a grade) helped me to know who needed a phone call to home, but I didn't hold them accountable until test day.  I had a few students who really worked hard to get caught up after faltering initially.  I was very proud of them and I think they were quite proud of themselves which is even better.

- My tests last year took FOREVER.  This year, they were done with the test in 30-ish minutes!  This means I can either give them a test on a regular (non-block) day, or I can give them longer tests with more questions which means their grade will be even more accurate.  I love that I have options.

Things I'm not crazy about:

- I'm not really sure where to put their summary and HOT question grades in.  I'm thinking I can check these 2 things each day and then give them as a participation grade since that's largely what our work the next day in class is built around.  What are your thoughts?

-  Alg 1b seems to be struggling a bit more with the material than 1a.  I wonder if it's tough for them to change from what we did last year for Chapters 1-6.  They are much more consistent with the homework and are prepared and ready for class, but their discussions aren't as deep as 1a for some reason.  Maybe they're afraid of taking risks?  This is such a different way of thinking about math for them.  They are a great group and really want to do what I ask and make me proud so having open-ended conversations about concepts is throwing them for a loop a bit.  Hopefully this will improve over time.

- I wish that the starting out had been smoother.  We did a lot of WSQ-ing in class and then we gradually transitioned to where they were supposed to do it at home, but the number of students who'd done it was inconsistent so there were a few days where it was clunky in class trying to get everyone working in a way that was appropriate for what they'd done the night before.  I DID love that everyone was ALWAYS working - never any down time.  Some were WSQ-ing in class, some where discussing HOT questions, some were practicing with Quizlet.  I think this was just a result of me not knowing what to expect.  Next year, I'll have a poster or something where the students can see what they should be working on based on where they are in the process. 

Ideas for next year:

This will be a running list of things I want to remember as I go along...

- "What should I be doing?" poster for the first few weeks.  As students learn what to do with this method, there will be hurdles and excuses in the beginning.  No matter what happened the night before, I want them to feel confident coming in to class that they can begin working right away even if I can't hold their hand to get them started.

So there you have it.  There are more things rattling around in my brain...more reflections to come.  Please, whether you are an experienced flipper or not, let me know what your thoughts are.  Questions, comments, ideas are so totally welcomed.  

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