Sunday, September 25, 2011

The First Week - Struggle and Success

Today marks the one week anniversary of the start of my flipped classroom.  As mentioned in last week's post, I spent Friday's lesson showing a sample video lecture and modeling how to write and respond in our journals.  I then sent the kids home for the weekend, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.

I (being a glass-half-full kind of girl) came to school Monday hoping for my students to be super excited about how much they love the new way we are doing math.  Did I get some of that?  Yes!  However, I also (being a realistic girl) expected to run in to some issues with students who couldn't access the video because they didn't have access to the Internet.  Did I get some of that, too?  You betcha. 

My First Week Struggles
I found that almost 10 of my 30 students were unable to view the video (mostly because they couldn't get on the Internet.  I needed to do some quick problem solving & I decided to show the video on our projector screen for those who couldn't view it at home.  This worked okay but I don't want it to be a long term solution for a variety of reasons.  For starters, it limits the amount of time the students have to practice their skills with me around to help them.  In addition, part of the power of watching the videos at home is that the students can rewind and pause if necessary.  That isn't as likely to happen if a group of students are watching at the same time (it is also a lot easier to get distracted when there is a group viewing the video).

In addition to not having computer access at home, we were also limited as to how much computer lab time we could use this week.  Throughout last week and the upcoming week, our school is giving the MAP test, which is a computerized adaptive test.  I mention this only because it explains why I couldn't take my students down to the computer lab.  After next week, I will be teaching my math class from the computer lab.  I am hopeful that will help ease some of the technology issues as well.

My First Week Successes
Even though I became easily frustrated with the computer issues, my students were relatively unphased.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I had the computer lab at the end of the day, and luckily there were no MAP tests being given at that time.  Therefore, I was able to get all students an opportunity to view the videos and then work on their "homework" the next day in class.  While the technology is one of the many things that can help or hinder the success of a flipped classroom, that is not what made the biggest impression on me this week.  This week my successes were all about the feedback I was getting from students.  I took some time to write a few of those quotes and experiences down so I could be sure to share them:

"Mrs. Bush, this is awesome!  I would have totally been stuck at home, but you could help me right away and now I get it!"

"I really like this Mrs. Bush, now I don't have to worry about waiting for my parents to be home to help me."

"You know what, I totally didn't get it the first time you showed me, but I rewound it, watched again, and I think I get it now!"

Even with all those wonderful things being said, I think my biggest highlight of the week came on Thursday when the students were working in class on their homework.  I was working one-on-one with a student who was confused and I happened to look up and see a group of kids working in my side room.  I wasn't sure exactly what they were doing, so I walked quietly over and eavesdropped.  What I heard made all the issues worth it.  Two girls were working a few problems on the board & explaining how to solve them to another student (these were problems beyond the regular homework).  They were teaching him, and he was actually getting it!  It makes me feel all warm & fuzzy just thinking about it ;-)

This week the students will be taking their test on our first unit...I will hopefully have some data when I post next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 1 - Let the fun begin!

My school has two sections of 5th grade, and I have the pleasure of teaching math to both sections.  Since this is my first attempt at a flipped classroom, I would like to gather some data to show to parents who may be skeptical of the idea.  Therefore, for our first unit of study I plan on using the flipped model for my class and the traditional model for the other 5th grade class.

Friday marked my first attempt with my students.  My first section of math I used all my best teaching skills while giving direct instruction.  Side note:  I want this experiment to be a fair measurement of what works, so I absolutely will not compromise those students chances for success by giving poor direct instruction just so my flipped class will have a better showing.  The lesson went quite smoothly & the kids picked up on the content pretty well.  I'll be checking their homework on Monday to see if they were able to apply what they learned.

With my second section of math I showed the video I had posted on our classroom edmodo site.  We watched the video together (which, by the way, is very uncomfortable to do when you are sitting there listening to yourself).  I showed them how I expected them to take notes in their journal, etc.  Then I assigned the next lesson's video as homework over the weekend.

I am a pretty organized and efficient person, but I had yet to video tape the 2nd lesson (due to a number of technology issues that arose), but I told the students not to worry, it would be posted by 5:00 Friday evening.  By 5:00, when I posted the video, I had over 5 students already on our edmodo site waiting for me to post the video.  I realize that this is something totally new, and that the excitement might wear off soon, but it was quite encouraging to me.  What was even more encouraging was that a few students posted a question about the video, and other students answered it...not me!  How awesome is that!

I look forward to Monday & seeing how many students were able to complete the homework, and how many didn't.  There are a few potential issues that I can already see coming up...What happens if the student doesn't have internet access?  What happens if a student doesn't watch the video?  Will parents support this?  These are all valid issues that I hope to address with this blog.

What is a flipped classroom?

One of my passions in education is using technology to make curriculum come alive for students.  This summer my principal (knowing my interest in technology) mentioned the idea of a flipped classroom.  I hadn't heard of it, but decided to check out the video he e-mailed me on 2 teachers in Colorado who changed the way they taught.  Instead of giving direct instruction during school, and assigning practice to be done at home, they flipped it.  Now they video their direct instruction & the students watch that at home for homework.  When they come to class, they get an opportunity to practice.  Notice that the practicing happens at school, when a teacher is now readily available to help them if they get stuck.

I was hooked after watching the first video & spent the next several weeks researching flipped classrooms, joining PLN's about flipped classrooms, and trying to figure out how/if I could make it work in my 5th grade class.  This blog is going to share my journey of flipping my 5th grade math class.