Monthly Archives: July 2014
This will be my third year using the Flipped Classroom model, and I finally feel like I’m getting into a groove. If new videos need to be made, it’s easily done – recording, editing, posting – all in a short amount of time. The in-class discussions are more natural, and the relationships are getting stronger quicker.
And the proof is in the proverbial pudding. The scores on the IB math tests were higher than ever! Almost a 90% pass rate overall! And throughout the year, I read incredible essays and explorations, and had many impromptu deep mathematical discussions with several students.
All of this makes me excited for this year. Just like last year, there are things I am going to keep, and things I am going to remove from my day-to-day activities.
THINGS I WON’T CHANGE
- Room Layout – This has been so successful, even moreso this year – the groupings, the seemingly absent teacher desk, the empty walls at the beginning. To make things better, my class sizes have gone down to a maximum of 21, so I can move some of my tables and chairs into the hall as workstations for those who need to get caught up on videos or other work.
- Raw Hundo Club – The kids still love this! Sure, it leads to a competitive environment, somewhat, and sure it goes against my philosophy that “perfection is not a reasonable goal,” but there’s just something about seeing their faces mounted on a wall that gives kids a sense of confidence.
- Overview Day – This was very successful, and I think it fits very well with our campus’s Understanding by Design pedagogy. It gives me a chance to talk about each unit in a very general sense so that students can see why we are studying it, and how it fits into the concepts they studied before and the ones they will study after. They can ask very broad questions and I can teach the concept by itself without getting into the mechanics at all.
- Recap at the Start of Class – This is a great opportunity to address questions that students had after watching the video from the night before, especially if a lot of them had the same questions. It creates immediate focus because everyone who watched the video now knows what everyone is talking about.
- iTunes U – There are so many websites on which to post videos, and many of them are more customizable than iTunes U, and more versatile. But then there are district and campus restrictions. Our campus decided that all content would be posted to a Blackboard site or an iTunes U, and those were the only two options. I have tried voicing my opinion, especially after spending three years creating a fantastic Google Site, but to no avail. And my stuff was copied to iTunes U last year, so at least I don’t have to start from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I love iTunes U, especially after their most recent update. I was just hoping to give the students more options as far as watching the videos in a format that they liked. So I do have my videos posted on YouTube and CrazyForEducation, and I will continue to do so, but only as a secondary resource for students who can’t access iTunes U.
THINGS I WILL ADD
- Worksheets as Practice – I know last year I said no worksheets. But then later I posted that I had changed my mind, and worksheets as an end goal was meaningless, but if it led up to something, then it would be valuable. The point is that while everyone needs a minimum amount of practice in order for a concept or process to be internalized, some people need more than that. So worksheet will be viewed as ungraded practice that I will monitor, and when students feel they have had enough practice, I will offer them two or three questions at a higher level. If they master them, then they have finished for the day. If not, they can keep practicing until they want to try again.
- Flexible Assessment – I will have two test days. If students are ready on the first day, they can take the test as normal. If they are not ready, they can take the test on the retest day and receive a maximum of 90%, just like the retesters would get. Alternatively, as I know that some students are not good test takers, I will give them the opportunity to come up with an alternate assessment – a report, a project, etc. – and the rubric with which it will be graded, both of which will have to meet with my approval. I don’t foresee a lot of students exercising this option, since it is a lot more work, but I’d be curious to see the ideas they have.
My theme this year is not just “learner-centered,” but “learner-driven.” The students will lead and contribute to discussions, and they will take responsibility for their own learning. Even though I am there as a support when they need me, I will encourage them to use me less and less, so that their success is truly their own.