Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Couple of Exciting Events!

The last week of break brought two interesting and exciting events to my flipped classroom.  First, I found out that I received $1,100 from our Kenowa Hills Education Foundation to help purchase technology for my flipped classroom.  My original intent was to purchase some i-pod touches for students without internet access at home.  I intended to download the videos as podcasts and go from there.  I am, however, open to other suggestions.  If anyone has recommendations on how to make that whole process run smoothly I would greatly appreciate your feedback (is there a different resource that would be better than i-pod touches?)  Again, my goal with this grant was to get students access to the videos if they don't have any other access available.  This is really exciting, and I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the Kenowa Hills Education Foundation for approving my grant! 

The second bit of excitement happened within hours of finding out my grant was approved.  I was in my class, when my principal & another gentleman entered.  My principal asked if he could cover my room the last 15 minutes until lunch because, as I come to find out, the gentleman with him was a reporter from our local newspaper.  He had heard about my flipped classroom and wanted to know more.  I ended up talking to him for over an hour.  As it turns out, he used to be a math teacher, so he was very well versed in what works in education.  He was very positive and excited about what I was doing.  We talked a lot about how the flipped classroom runs, but also the theory behind it, and why it works. 

As we were talking about how I found out about the flipped classroom, he brought up how lucky I am to have a supportive administration (which I am) because not every school would take a risk like this.  He then asked about how long I'd been teaching (10 years), and where I went to school (Michigan State).  Then I told him I also went to Grand Valley for my Master's Degree, and Grand Valley again for my Ed. Specialist Degree.  I'm not sure the right word for it, but he seemed surprised and pleased to hear how educated I was.  He actually referred to me as a "highly educated nerd"....I took it as a compliment!  The reason he was pleased is because he was glad that the district was taking a risk with someone who knows what they're doing, and is so well educated.  I appreciate the vote of confidence because sometimes I feel like I don't have a clue what I'm doing ;)

He will be coming back in January to take some pictures and talk some more.  I intend to post the article once he writes it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The "Talk"

After my meeting with my principal, I came into class on Monday and had "the talk" with the students.  One thing you need to know about my teaching style is that I don't sugar coat things for students.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not mean about what I say, I am just honest.  I feel that they are becoming adults, and need to start hearing the truth directly.  Anyhow, I have gotten a bit off topic :)

Our conversation Monday focused on the how I see things running right now, and how I envision them in my happy little dream world.  I also was very honest about what my goal is for our math class.  They responded pretty well to this.  I get pretty passionate about education, and I think that rubs off on the kids.

We also talked about how I envision the class running, when it is running perfectly.  I have them for about an hour, so in that hour I want to spend:
* 10 minutes going over questions from the video from the previous night
* 15 - 45 minutes of independent work (they work on the old homework, I walk around helping kids)
* 15 - 30 minutes of extensions

In addition, I came to a realization this past week.  When I reflected back on how things have been going, and I thought about why I am doing this, it comes down to student success.  My goal is for students to be successful in mathematics.  One thing that is hindering the student's success is that they aren't coming to class prepared.  Therefore, I made the decision to allow students to get a head start on their homework video if they finished (and have mastered) the previous night's lesson.  This has helped out considerably, in regards to kids getting their videos watched.

One issue I have found (it seems like there's always something, huh) is that students are completing their "homework", checking it, and turning it in.  However, when they check it, they don't seek out help if they got something wrong.  Therefore, I am starting another new procedure in my room next week.  I plan to have several problems on the board.  The students must finish their "homework", then answer a question on the board correctly before they can move on to extension projects.

One of these days (probably in May) I might actually have this whole flipped thing figured out!  Until then, I hope you readers are learning right along with me.