Saturday, November 26, 2011

Parent Feedback

Like I mentioned in my last post, I had parents fill out a survey in regards to how they think math is going for their child.  I decided to dedicate a whole post with their short answer responses.  These are direct quotes from the surveys I had the families fill out.

What positives are you noticing about the flipped classroom?
~ I think it is a great program.  It informs parents as well as gives you time to help those that don't understand.
~ She seems to learn more.
~ Math has always been a subject my daughter struggled in, but this year she has done 100% better with it.  I think the flipped classroom has given her the time and help she needed to understand the assignments.
~ My son has really improved in math as compared to last year.
~ I believe it's a great idea because the kids can pause and rewind the explanation of how to do their homework.  I even watch it with my son sometimes to keep myself up to date.
~ I think that having the homework on the computer actually gets my daughter excited to do it.  I usually don't have to ask her to get her math homework done.
~ My son seems more interested and is taking the responsibility to watch/do the work.
~ It is easier for him to do the homework.
~ She is getting a lot better at math and responsibility.
~ I'm noticing a better attitude towards math, as opposed to the overwhelming feeling she had before.
~ Students really enjoy doing their homework on the computer.
~ She goes right to her computer after school to do her homework.
~ She just seems to be understanding it more.
~ He is excited to do his homework!
~ It allows teachers to help with math homework (parents don't always know how to) and it allows parents to watch the instructions.

What concerns do you have about the flipped classroom?
~ None of this is worth anything if a family is struggling and can't provide computer access.
~ She is in a hurry sometimes.
~ He doesn't have access to the internet when he goes to his dad's house.
~ We only have one computer in our household and many times in the evening all of us (4) need to get on-line and it can get too busy!
~ Is there enough time in the classroom to review assignments and check for understanding?
~ She spends too much time doing homework, and doesn't get much time for other things.
~ Students can't ask the teacher questions as they work through the problems on the video.
~ The kids who are not strong in math, and don't have the support at home may not get the questions asked on videos.  Some kids might not post questions if they are confused.
~ It is a middle class practice.  No ideal for poverty level families.

Do you have any changes you would recommend to make things run more smoothly?
~ Do you know of programs that help low income families get computers and low cost internet?
~ Potentially have homework time right after school for students.
~ Possibly have some DVD demonstrations for parents.

As you can see, lots of positives, and some legitimate concerns as well.  It was great to hear back from so many parents, and to know that they are supportive of what we're working so hard to do in the classroom!

The Survey Says....

I spent a lot of time this week talking to anyone who would listen to me about how to make the flipped classroom more successful.  I heard, on more than one occasion: "Why not just scrap it.  It sounds like a ton of work, and the kids aren't responding positively."  My response...I can't do that.  I know (and have the data to back it) that this is working.  I think my problem stems from the fact that I want everyone to be happy, and to be as exciting about flipped math as I am...I think this may be an unrealistic expectation.

So I decided to survey the students and parents to see what they had to say.  I expected that I would get  negative comments by some the students, as they seem awfully vocal when it comes to things they don't like.  I also put forth every effort to make the survey as anonymous as possible.  When it came to the parents, I really wasn't sure what to expect.  So without further ado, the survey said...

Student Survey Results
I feel like I understand math better in the flipped classroom.
Yes --> 35
No --> 9

I feel like I am performing better in math this year, compared to last year.
Better --> 29
Worse --> 4
Same as last year --> 10

Do you feel like the amount of homework being assigned is fair.
Yes --> 30
No --> 12

I also did some short answer responses, but almost all were overwhelmingly positive.  A few recommendations that I plan to implement are: keeping the videos below 10 minutes and giving optional extension projects once the students are finished in class. 

Parent Survey Results
I feel like my child understands math better in the flipped classroom (rather than traditional).
Yes --> 17
No --> 2

How is your child performing (in math) this year, compared to last year.
Better --> 12
Worse --> 0
Same as last year --> 7

Do you feel like the amount of homework being assigned is fair.
Yes --> 20
No --> 0

I also asked some short answer questions that I will feature in my next post...this one is getting lengthy :)  The parent results were even more positive to me than the student results. 

So now what?  What can I do to get kids to do their homework?  I'm going to try a couple of things.  First, I plan to put up a homework sheet in our lab that shows when kids have turned in their work.  Some claim they had no idea it wasn't done...hopefully this will clear it up (plus a little peer pressure never hurt anyone).  Also, on Friday we spend the last 30 minutes having "Fun Friday".  This is a treat for anyone who has all their homework/classwork done.  What has happened in the past is that students would spend every little second on Friday trying to get caught up, in order to get to participate.  From here on out, if a student had late homework, Fun Friday won't be an option...even if it's done.  I don't think it's fair to the students who bring their work in consistently to reward those last second procrastinators.

I also have a few other ideas up my sleeve if this doesn't work.  I'll leave you with a question many asked me through my ramblings this past week: "Do you think there are more kids not doing their homework now, than if they had traditional homework?"  My way.  If anything, I would probably have more students not turning in their homework if I went back to traditional teaching, and that makes me feel a little sense of satisfaction :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wow...that's not surprising at all!

Our third math unit has come and gone, and with it I have noticed a few things:

First, some of the excitement that first accompanied the flipped experience has fizzled out a bit.  I'm sad to say that only half my students are watching the videos at home, and coming to class prepared.  While some of that is due to the fact that the students don't have a computer at home, there are also many who don't have that as an excuse.

Second, the relationship between student and teacher is very very powerful.  I teach two sections of math: my class, and the other 5th grade teacher's class.  We each have 25 students.  Of my 25 students, about 16 of them consistently watch the videos at home.  Of my co-teacher's class, about 9 of her 25 students return to class prepared.  What's interesting is that she sees the opposite when it comes to turning in homework to her (my class turns in far less than hers).  The only real difference here is that my students have a strong relationship with me, whereas hers have a relationship with her.

Third, when the students don't watch the homework videos at home, and therefore have to watch them in class, they don't perform as well on the unit assessment.  I know...duh, right?  What proof do I have, you ask?  That brings me to our unit 3 scores.  Instead of comparing class to class, I decided to compare the students who watched the videos on time (90% of the time) to those that watched the videos less than 90% of the time (usually using class time to view them).  Prepare to be amazed (heavy, heavy sarcasm):
Students who came to class prepared: 93.5% average
Students who came to class having not viewed the videos:  77.5%

Wow, that's not surprising at all.  I haven't totally decided what to do about it.  I have scheduled a time to be "cognitively coached" by my principal on options.  Next week, I hope to post about my plan.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What's a typical day look like? (part 2)

First off, I apologize for not posting last week.  It is my intent to post weekly, but circumstances arose (report cards and parent teacher conferences) that made it difficult for me to find any free time to blog.  Now, moving on to my weekly post ;-)

As I mentioned in my last post, the students watch the video of my lecture as homework.  When math class begins, I always check to see if there were any questions about the previous night's video.  After answering questions, the students work on their worksheet.  The worksheet is what formerly would have been taken home for homework.

At this point of class, I have 5-10 students who are finishing/watching the video (as hard as I try, there are still kids who don't do the homework...I think I could dedicate a whole post to that frustration later).  The rest of the class is working on the worksheet.  I am busy walking around & checking students worksheets. Of all the components of a flipped classroom, I have found this part to be the most beneficial.  The time I spend checking/helping students one-on-one is something I could never seem to get to in a traditional classroom.  I have been able to see mistakes kids are making before they become ingrained in their heads.

Once a child has finished their worksheet, they log on to Khan Academy and begin working on extensions (I plan to feature Khan Academy in a future post, but it plays a major role in managing the students as they finish).  For those students who do not have access to internet at home, they are allowed to start their video for the following evening during class.

At the end of math class I talk very briefly about the expectations for the evening's work, and then we do it all over again the next day ;-)