Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spreading the Flipclass Love!

It seems like recently I've been asked to participate in a lot of flipped classroom trainings.  I don't want to lose track of the different activities I've participated in, so I wanted to write it down.  I also haven't had a chance to talk much about them, so I'm going to dedicate this posting to spreading the love (of flipclass, that is).  Already this year I've participated in the following trainings:

Flipped Classroom Podcast - Troy Cockrum hosts podcasts on the Flipped Learning Network, and I had the privilege of being his "guest" on the 15th episode.  You can listen to it here.  You might have to search for my name, or episode 15.

MiFlip - This was the first flipped learning conference for teachers in Michigan.  I helped plan this conference with some well known flipped classroom masters: Dan Spencer (@runfardvs), David Prindle (@dprindle), Karl Lindgren-Streicher (@LS_Karl), Doug Ragan (@dragan39), David Fouch (@davidfouch) and Anne Thorp (@athorp).  In addition to planning the conference, I also presented a session with Brian Bennett on Flip 101 and a session on Elementary Flipping.  I wrote about my take-aways here.

Fire Up - This conference is for student teachers within the Grand Rapids area.  Teachers, principals, etc. present at this conference on a variety of topics.  I spoke about Flipclass (obviously), to two full sessions.  If you are interested in the information I presented during that time, there is a link to it all on the upper right corner of my blog.

Monday night #flipclass chat - I participate in the Monday night #flipclass chat on twitter as often as I an (usually 2-3 times a month).  Last week we tried something a little bit different.  Rather than the normal chat, we had google hangouts that were broadcast live that were based on content.  People could either join us in our Google hangout, or watch the live feed.  I got to help run the elementary session, with the help of Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill).  I have no idea how many people were actually watching the live feed, but it was really nice to get a chance to talk to Lisa & Todd about what they're doing and and how #flipclass works in their classroom.  If you missed the chat, the links to ALL subject areas are posted here.

I have the following trainings coming up, yet this year.

Flipped Learning Network Podcast - I will be part of the team who is doing the "elementary flipping" webinar from the series "The Many Faces of Flipped Learning".  We are the last of the series, but all other webinars are archived for your viewing pleasure :) Go here and you will be able to sign up for any content that interests you.  I will be one of the hosts, along with Lisa Highfill and Amber Mueller.  Our webinar will be hel on May 8th at 4:00 EST.

Flipped Learning Workshop - I was asked to be a member of a panel of educators who will be presenting to a group of administrators on #flipclass.  This training will be on May 8th (the same day as my FLN podcast !?!).  As far as I can tell it is already sold out, which is a beautiful thing!  I look forward to talking to them about how it's working in my classroom, as well as how it has made me a better teacher.

Looking back, I'm pretty amazed at how many opportunities I've had to share what I do.  It makes me proud to be a part of something that is so important.  Flipclass is so successful because it is a movement started by teachers...not administrators.  Administrators are crucial to making it successful by being supportive of something new and innovative, but the power of the flipped classroom comes from the teachers.  So I end with this, please share what you're doing in your rooms, we can all learn from each other.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Math update

So I started our math circles with my class yesterday and I was really excited about how it went.  If you missed that post, click here.  The kids were engaged when we were talking about the different jobs, and they liked that they all got to pick their jobs.  We also got an opportunity to begin the night's homework, so everyone had a head start.  I was nervously anticipating the next day when we would be able to put our math circles into action.

Today was that day.  We did a very guided type of math circle, where the students all did their responsibilities in their group, but I led them through the discussion steps.

I wanted to share a few really cool things that happened during this time:

1) All students (even the ones who quizzed out of this learning goal) participated in the discussions.
2) Almost all students did their homework.
3) Many of the students had to step up and become a leader, or their group went down the drain...and they did (become leaders, I mean).
4) After the discussions were done, the students got a chance to work on their practice problems.

Here's where things got really interesting.  I had a large amount of students who didn't need to do the practice problems because they already quizzed out of the next unit.  I know students do best when you give them choices, so they had a whole bunch of choices.
  • Do the back side of the practice problems (review problems)...surprisingly, I did have a few that wanted to do this.
  • Make a short example video of how to solve problems that are the same as our learning goal

  • Work out of the 6th grade book (similar topic, slightly harder).

  • Help other students if they were stuck.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many different students chose different things.  I will continue to keep you updated on all this as I learn...

On a final note, I also had a student who was absent today.  Her group attempted to record their entire discussion because they didn't want her to miss out...unfortunately, they hit stop, not record, and the lesson didn't work :(  However, I love the idea, and I'll work with the next group with an absent kid so that we don't have that problem again.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Math Circles...Discussion Groups...Collaboration...You get the idea

UPDATE (4/9/13): For an update to my math circles, click here.

As you can see by the title of this post I am a bit conflicted on what I want to title my new math project...for now I'm going with Math Circles because the idea stemmed from Literature Circles.

So here was/is my dilemma.  I spend the majority of my time during math class having discussions about the videos the students watched the previous night.  I do think this is valuable, but I want my students to take more ownership in this part of their learning.  That being said, if I just told my 5th graders to go off & start sharing, they would either:
A - look at me like I'm nuts
B - head off to discuss many things (very few being math related)

Since I want neither of those things, I needed to find a way to make their group work both meaningful and spelled out for them.

What I came up with was Math Circles.  I have had success in the past using Literature Circles in my classroom.  Each student had a job, and they held each other accountable.  That is exactly what I want for my math kiddos as well, so why not take the idea of Lit. Circles and mold it into something that works for math.  After talking to my co-teacher, we came up with the following "jobs" for our math groups:

Discussion Director - Leads the discussion and keeps everyone on track.

Calculator - Makes sure that the groups answers to the questions from the video are actually correct.

Spokesperson - Is the voice of the group.  This person summarizes the groups guiding questions (HOT question at the end of the video) and shares them with the teacher.

Task Master - Keeps track of who did/didn't come prepared, and how often people within their group share.

I have a list of procedures spelled out for the groups.

I plan on beginning this after spring break with the students.  I hope they get as excited as I am (although that's unlikely because I'm pretty dang excited about it).

I'm not one to pimp my own stuff, but if you'd like a copy of my Math Circles information, you can get it here.