Monthly Archives: January 2016

Rational Expressions – Set Apart

156 SetApart

Rational Expressions – 101101

155 101101

Blue Shirt Khaki Pants Day – January 8, 2016

It was once again a surprise when I came to school on Friday, the day before my birthday, and saw a sea of blue shirts and khaki pants, as my students decided to dress up like me for my birthday. Not only that, but I was further surprised when alumni showed up in similar colors! What a great day! As ever, I am honored and humbled by such a show of appreciation. My students are the best, and they make teaching so worthwhile. Thank you so much!!

BeFunky Collage

Flipped Classroom – Progress Report on my On-Level Algebra 2 classes

What a difference! I have now been flipping my classroom for three weeks, and the changes have been quite remarkable. Before I explain, let me share the process that I’ve developed to make sure students can easily keep up with the pace of the class:


Step 1: Make a Keynote presentation – I use my snipping tool to cut and paste directly from the notes. These notes had already been created by my incredible teammate, Michelle Bellish, with solutions worked out in detail by my equally incredible teammate, Penny Martin. On Keynote, I work each problem, adding text on top of the notes as I go. I use varying animations and transitions to make it look more appealing to the viewers.



camtasiaStep 2: Create a Camtasia project – I record myself going through the animated Keynote, explaining each step as it shows up on the screen. (I’ve tried writing out the steps by hand during the recording process, but that makes the videos longer.)

Step 3: Convert the project to a video that is uploaded to YouTube – This allows anyone to view the lesson on my YouTube channel. The expectation is that my students will watch the video and take notes while watching. In order to receive their assignment the next day, they must show me their completed notes.


zaptionStep 4: Create a lesson in Zaption – This allows me to insert multiple-choice questions directly into the video that students must answer in order to continue watching. I get a copy of their answers and use this to see who watched the video as instructed, and how well those students understood what they watched. Thank you to Stacey Roshan for recommending Zaption!

Step 5: Update the notes used in Step 1 – I copy and paste the video link from Zaption at the top of the page in the Word document. That way, when I give them the notes at the end of class, they know where to find the video that evening.


schoologyStep 6: Create a new page in my Schoology classes – Schoology is our school’s mandatory platform for teachers to share notes, assignments, important dates, etc. Each of my pages on Schoology contains the embedded video, a PDF of the notes, and another PDF of the assignment. This is for any student who is absent for any reason, so that they do not get behind. It is also for any student who lost the notes that I had given them.

Step 7: Keep a printed roster during class – I use this to keep track of who has watched the video (by checking Zaption analytics), and shown me their completed notes. Those students are given a copy of the assignment. Any student who cannot show me the completed notes for any reason must watch (or re-watch) the video and complete the notes before receiving the assignment. Once students complete the assignment, they receive a copy of the notes for the next lesson. When the end of class gets close, I give a set of notes to anyone who has not yet received them, so that everyone has a chance to watch the video for that night.

Step 8: Alternate between walking around the room and working with a small group that still struggles with the material – With the small group, I can give more individual attention, and I make sure they do not feel embarrassed about needing it. I openly communicate my belief that, rather than compare themselves to their classmates, all students should embrace how strong or weak they are in mathematics, and at the same time, strive to get a little better each day.

I have been supported throughout this entire process by my campus leaders, Mike Jasso and Kayla Parker. Mr. Jasso has even shared my blog posts with counselors and department chairs on campus. (I was quite honored and humbled by that.)

While tweaking this process, I wanted to do everything I could to make it foolproof. The video is on Schoology (which they should be checking for all of their classes anyway), and a link to that same video is at the top of the notes that I hand them personally at the end of class. The questions are embedded in the video so that they can’t keep watching until they’ve given an answer. The video is an exact replica of the notes so that, at the very least, they can copy what they see, even if they don’t completely understand it, and then ask questions the next day.

Here’s how things are progressing: For the most part, students are watching the videos and answering the questions correctly. They are taking excellent notes, and can work on the assignment either by themselves or with others at the same table. There are still a few students that want me to teach the lesson in front of the class, even after watching the video, but this number is slowly decreasing, and I honestly don’t mind doing that for those that still need the live lecture. I am also noticing a growing number of students teaching each other, which is truly wonderful to watch.

Admittedly, there are, and always will be, those that will not do what is asked, for one reason or another. But I do not rescue them. I hold them to the same standards as everyone else, and the date of the end goal (i.e., the test) is the same for everyone, regardless of how they get there. If they didn’t watch the video, they need to do that before I will help them. The reason for not watching is not important. Ultimately, they were given a responsibility, and they still needs to do the work. Otherwise, it sends a message that my expectations vary depending on the student, and if you don’t do the work, I will eventually do it for you. This is definitely not the message I want to send.

At some point, students need to take ownership of their own learning, rather than just doing what they’re told. In my classes, I’ve noticed more students exhibiting this level of responsibility than there were before the flip. I can’t wait to see what happens as the second semester begins!

Rational Expressions – Pushing My Buttons

154 PushingMyButtons


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