Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Time has come today

Not really sure what is meant by my title (It's the title of a song that you either love or hate - from the 60's), but it seemed apt as I have just found some TIME right now to do a bit of blog reading that I had put off, discarded or lightly scanned.

Where do all these Bloggers and Tweeters find the time and energy to maintain their public monologues? And for teachers doing flipping, cramming an extra hour or so into their days... How do they do it? But I do understand that the returns for this extra time certainly justifies it.

Okay so I'm not saying anything new here.

I finish my summer school teaching tomorrow, and then I will be able to dive right into the school scheduling. Will I get it done in my self-imposed three week time limit? Otherwise, does anyone know a good divorce lawyer? The number of times I've fallen asleep at my computer working late at night, or mornings when I wake up seemingly minutes after my head hits the pillow (thank heavens for morning showers)... I fear something's gotta give.

But I am determined to flip the classroom this upcoming year, and I know I can't just dabble in it halfway. Starting with the Kirch model of parent letter, training the kids how to watch a video, WSQing, and then figuring out how to make best use of the class time - it'll be a challenge. And as Crystal Kirch pointed out, being the pioneer in your school likely gets you dubbed as "the expert" who is expected to have all the answers. And how can you say no when you see your eager colleagues ready to take the plunge.

I quickly read something someone said about how "assigning reading homework to students so that we can discuss it in class the next day" has always been a flipped classroom idea. But now putting some structure around it, with ways to evaluate, AND FOLLOWING THROUGH should be able to make it work for ALL the class, and not just the geeky chosen few.

Making students responsible for their own learning...

Why do I get the same feeling as when I'm looking up on that scary ride at the amusement park. "Just get on it and stop thinking about it. You'll figure out the details in TIME".

Sunday, 24 June 2012

This entry is off the topic of flipping, but something I want to sort out for myself by writing. It's about Fractions.

I plan to teach an intro to grade 7 course for kids entering high school, and they come in with minimal to no skills in working with fractions. My goal is to come up with activities/examples/applications to make 'em accept that fractions MUST be included and understood in grade 7 math.

Starting with something they understand or should understand... Test results. Given a quiz: 11/20, test: 33/42 or homework: 8/10, how do we compare the results? Well you don't need fractions, you just have to change to percentage... WHICH IS SILL A FRACTION, JUST THAT IT's out of 100. Lots of fraction work there, and estimation skills. But what if you wanted to do it without fractions?

That's a stat... Then maybe a couple of historical questions, and tools for matching things up for comparing skills. Addition and Subtraction would fall out of there, but maybe I should do multiplication first. What fraction of the day is left for Mr. Powell to sleep if he burns the candles at both ends?

And then again, this may be perfect for a flipped lesson.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Today's students are not special

I think every teacher needs to see this and smile knowingly, parents need to see it and agree begrudgingly (while they worry about their kids taking care of them in their old age), and students need to see this and realize the rut they've been set in.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Setting the Flipping stage - comment I made at ChemicalSams

In my investigations, students needed guidance by teachers to break education (math in my case) into palatable morsels, with A logical sequence. The idea of factory-line learning is outdated, but the model of groups learning from an expert is going to be hard to break.

The evolution of the revolution will take a while, and ITM has been doing a great job of showing glimpses of where or how it can lead - but doesn't have to lead.

We don't need to go back to apprenticeships for learning, but anything that can nurture a student's passion for something and the learning that follows... the role of the educator is to guide the learner to and through the information required.

But what about the learner who has no passion? I like the sports/fitness/health analogy. Not every kid has a sport that he/she is passionate about, and even exercise may be low in importance. But if the person doesn't have the basic muscles, coordination, balance and stamina, those passions may never have the opportunity to develop.

Throwing this back into education, we see the need for addressing different levels of interest and student goals. While flipping offers chances for all students to build the necessary skills, the more important thing about flipping/inversion/perversion is offering the motivated student the chance to pursue his/her interests under teacher guidance, and yet allowing the unmotivated student the opportunity to follow a manageable pace that can build the foundation for when such interests may come along. And as the "shift happens" video describes, those passions may not even exist yet.

No, flipping is not the final solution, but it sure does allow the opportunity for some change to occur in this outdated education model. And unless some huge problems rear their ugly heads revealing that "flipping is detrimental to learning", we've got to Enjoy the opportunity now and see where it takes us.

Oh yeah, and along the way, let's count the number of problems with "assembly line education" that we don't have to worry about so much anymore.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Looking ahead to next year? Already?

I wanted to remember a few things for planning my flipped classes next year, and I automatically opened up Word to type it out (I guess that's better than scratching it out on a napkin), but then I realized that this blog is probably a better place for it. So here goes.

  • Put secret questions in the videos
  • Remind the viewer to press pause and attempt the example
  • Vary the videos - how about adding movie clips or cut-away photos? Speech bubbles?
  • Check very VERY carefully at the beginning of the year that students are taking notes on the videos
  • Change the whole paradigm of what goes on in the classroom. Hearing students call it a Math "lab" takes a bit of getting used to, but it's probably more accurate. Activities in class as opposed to homework is also kind of neat
  • Come up with ways to vary classroom (I mean Math Lab) activities. Cater to all the levels of learning (think "Bloom") and students' different skill levels and learning abilities
  • Rethink how evaluations can be done. How do you "flip" a test. Do you have to have tests? But they will still have exams, so how to best prepare them for that as you teach them the material. I'm already bothered by ideas on this one, because I know that we're still stuck in "cookie cutter" curricula and evaluation, but students are anything but cookie cutter kids.
  • Step away from the front of the class. There's an English teacher who arranges the room with this desk at the back... and when I saw Crystal Kirch's class video panning the room, it was student's working on the blackboard or whiteboard, and most of them didn't even seem to notice that she was filming (what an out-dated word that is, isn't it?)
  • Situational Problems: in Quebec where I teach we have to evaluate kids' abilities to take one big monster application that requires three or four different topics in its open-ended solution. I need to stop hating that and use that kind of idea as a teaching tool.
Okay, this is starting to turn way too idealistic - explains why I'm a teacher. Let's see how I feel about this next week when I'm poring over piles of exam marking.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Having Fun Teaching Math by playing student

Review is into full swing now, and I'm throwing the reins over to the students... Except for a couple of requests, I'm not doing much video-ing, but I'm getting the kids in groups based on topics of difficulty, and then having them teach each other, and then pick an example to teach the class.

The main thing that I am learning from this (slowly,... oh so slowly), is to shut up and watch. When you're not in charge, and the kids are focused, a math class can be a pretty fun place.

Then I think about how boring my teaching videos are. Yes, they need to be to the point, all business, especially if I keep to my 5-minute rule (incidentally, the idea of "hiding" a question or piece of information in the video seems like a good way to be able to check up on them and keep their interest).


If there's one thing I've learned about teaching, that I've got to incorporate in my videos... I gotta have fun with it, otherwise they won't have fun. So what can I do... free thinking ahead -->

Say random words while teaching, do questions in reverse (hey, they can play with the video), take it out doors (check out Chychochycho on YouTube), have guest lecturers, try it without a board, teach in French, have it written out and erase backwards and then show in reverse and voice over, do voice overs in a different pitch, use manipulatives, tailor the style of lesson to the topic (triangular board for teaching Pythag, scrabble tiles for algebra)...

And I suppose I should get rid of the linear thinking. If I get an idea for teaching something with a bit of a twist, why wait 'till that topic comes along, dive in now, and put it in the freezer for later... Hey, refrigerator mathematics!? Gotta be an idea there somewhere.

I wonder how many people read their own blogs?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Reality Check - After 4 weeks

I was flipping with one class of grade 9's, and the student teacher was doing traditional teaching with the other group. I gave a traditional test to both groups which I haven't yet marked. I'm anxious to find out the results, but hitting that end-of-year wall, where energy has been transferred to exam preparation and review - let's just say the sunny weather of the long weekend has slowed me down... Cheers! Maybe the second to last month of school wasn't the best time to make a change to flipping, but the enthusiasm was there, and so I had to go with my heart. I really don't know the best way to work in the classroom, I'm so used to the sage on the stage role. Guess I'll have to get some feedback from the students this week. I must be doing something wrong, since I usually have a better feel of the students' abilities when I'm up on the stage. Now that I'm in the trenches with them I feel more out of touch. Curiouser and curiouser. Meanwhile we're into review now, and though Crystal Kirch has given ideas on how to proceed with that, I think I'll have to modify the model. next week is a non-homework non-testing week, so any review I want to get them to create has to be done this week.... and it's a three-day week. I'll have to make some decisions on this... tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

After a couple of weeks...

So after reading, researching and reviewing, it looks like might work as a platform form my flipped classroom.  It looks like it does almost everything, but I'm still investigating.
I've done about five or six class periods with the flip, including one where I showed the students what they should be doing wrt taking notes and summarizing. and how we proceed at the beginning of the following class.
I did it with one of my grade nine groups (student teacher was working with the other group), and I will be testing both of them next Wednesday. I did the flipping with the weaker group, but I will be working with the stronger for two more classes before the test.  At this point, I don't care which group does better, I just hope they both do well, for various reasons.

Friday, 4 May 2012

I flipped the introduction of linear functions with a brief video - my plan is to keep them under 5 minutes - but that they'll take 10 minutes to watch as they take notes (Crystal Kirch's WSQ idea sticks in my head). I hope to join in on her Webinar next week, but it'll be tough to do on home time.

So the reactions to the video lesson were good, but I was disappointed in my classroom follow-up on it. The system needs some minor tweaking (with a bulldozer!)  I have to remember that I can still use humour in my videos... who am I to deprive the kids of their daily craving of teacher jokes?

Got a bit of a boost watching a few Ken Robinson talks tonight.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Username Problems

I tell ya, trying to keep usernames and passwords all in order... what a pain. Seems that the YouTube account I tried to start doesn't work with my school email account, so i have to use my secondary gmail account, which doesn't connect properly to Edmodo. I think I have both of them going for Blogger.

And then I got a Vodcasting account and I can't log in with either email (password no good) and they promise they'll send me a reset password, but nothing.

So now I'm still trying to do lots of reading. Let's see if i have enough time to make a Linear Relations intro video tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Martin Scorcese I'm not

Today I made a few homework solution videos for my classes. I used the iPad standing on a lectern/podium. Sound quality was poor, but it was a quick set-up

I still liked the way it worked with the canon camera on video mode. I might be able to set up a mike for that.

When the journey is long, start counting telephone poles

Reading, watching and reading, imagining... resisting the urge to curl up into the fetal position.

At this point I am absolutely intimidated by the anticipated magnitude of work needed to "do the Flip". My new mentor has been filling up my brain, and then I have to take time to breathe (and get back to traditional corrections).

I'm re-examining the title of my blog-page, and wondering whether I'm still flexible enough to do flips (double-meaning intended) in my classroom.

The longest journey begins with one stumble

So as I fumble my way along the curtains, looking for an opening, I seem to be bumping into all sorts of people and websites, apps and downs. What do I hope to accomplish here? Outdated teaching methods (education is the Amish of the business world) don't fit the dynamic possibilities of technology, and the energy and restlessness of today's kids. How can we help them to learn when they're already on information overload? Apprenticeship worked well way back when all people had was a very narrow view of life. People pursued their interests within their limited options. But now they see everything. What do they need to learn? What do they want to learn? And how do we stop education from killing that natural curiosity? You want to know what a "chenille" is? It'll take you 20 seconds to find out. But who gave you the idea to investigate "chenille". I was told that Blogging would be an important part of my Flipped Classroom efforts (thanks a lot McSquared!), so here I am, watch me run, watch me fall, watch me crawl... Like a chenille.