Last night I was reading my PLN's tweets and after a rabbit trail of clicks I stumbled upon a school in Hong Kong tech page. I am always on the hunt for new technology resources and ways to effectively integrate it into learning and being the technology integration specialists I've been looking for an easy to use method of sharing. In walks Symbaloo. It's basically a bookmarking system, but it is aesthetically pleasing and can be categorized. My Type A personality was in love at first click.
I then spent hours creating a webmix to share with my colleagues. I hope they like it and use it. It has different resources for collaborating, publishing, assessing, class discussion, researching, and favorites for sites teachers use on a daily basis. I'm thinking of taking the teaching part of this one out and sharing it with my students as well.
Without further ado...
On Thursday we had our first Mystery Skype of the year with a class we will work with on the Global Read Aloud. On Tuesday I assigned the students their roles and we went over all the responsibilities, the set up, rules and goals for the Mystery Skype. The kiddos were so excited, I forgot how much students love this activity.
Eager and excited students entered the classroom of 5A on Thursday morning and had a hard time focusing during our Morning Meeting and Readers Workshop time. Pretty soon it was time to set up and we were all ready. As soon as the call came in something that had never happened in the 15 Mystery Skypes I have done happened.
One of my students used his critical thinking and search skills. He saw the teacher's name on the Skype call and quickly Googled her name. Within a matter of seconds he had her school and class website pulled up. I was facing a dilemma, what he did was awesome and was the fastest way to find the answer, however it wasn't within the parameters of the game we had discussed.
I pulled him aside and explained just that, within this "game" it wasn't fair, but it was good search skills. He then worked with the old school atlas and globe to help his group, the think tank, for the remaining time. I probably made the wrong decision, but I didn't want him to ruin the game for a classmate or the other class. It's four days after and I still feel bad about banishing him to the atlas and globe for doing something that no one else thought of.
We did have a class discussion after to reflect and we talked about how what he did was very clever, but didn't fit with our purpose and goal of the game--to use our critical thinking, collaborate, and solve the problem using the other class' clues.
What would you have done?
One of my favorite things about being a teacher is watching my students grow. In our first unit of Writers Workshop we worked on personal narratives. Students had to brainstorm seed ideas they wanted to write about. Over the past four weeks we had lots of mini lessons on what good writers do and wrote, wrote, and wrote some more.
After starting 7-9 seed stories students had to pick the story they could grow into a published piece. For a week we worked on revising our writing to improve it and make it more interesting for the reader. Students self-revised and edited, worked with their peer partner to revise and edit, and conferenced with me.
Our final pieces were ready to published, but good writers have choices when they publish. They need to think about the medium they use, the effect of the font, spacing, and if illustrations will add to the piece. Students used their creative juices to choose improve their writing and make it more powerful. I was overwhelmed with the little details and reasons they choose certain choices in their publishing. One student writing a scary story picked a scarier font and created a paper frame in the shape of a tombstone. Another student changed the font, color, and size of certain words to make them more powerful.
On Friday we a Publishing Party with the other fifth grade classes and it was amazing. I loved watching students read their writing like gold and parents beam with proudness. Their stories turned out phenomenal and their personalities showed through the voices of their writing. I just sat back and smiled while watching them shine in their spotlight.
I wasn't as consistent with blogging about flipping/blending my classroom as I wanted to be, but that is a goal of mine in the future. Well we did it! My students and I flipped/blended our math class this year and it was amazing. There were learning curves, adjustments, lots of discussions, and tons of student responsibility, but it was a success. Not just in the culture of our learning and classroom, but also in data.
My students blew the MAP test out of the water. 100% of students met and exceeded their goals, a bunch improving by more than 20 points. I have never in all my 6 years of teaching had students do so well. My low students improved to "on level" and my higher students soared above and improved their scores just as much as their peers.
I've had a couple colleagues come and ask me what I did. Honestly, I can't point to one thing. It was a combination of a lot of things: the students and parents buying into this change, a more active class, challenge problems, group work, individual time with students, student engagement, and lots more.
Flipping the class was so much work, but it was worth every second I spent making the videos, planning the lessons, and reflecting on the process. I've already starting thinking about next year and how I can blend my class a little more. Rumor has it we will have a BYOD in the elementary, which will lend itself to more dynamic learning and lessons. I'm so pumped to start planning, tweaking, and working on stuff for next year.
How can I flip/blend learning in other subjects?
How can I have students more involved in the planning of lessons?
What are other ways to assess students' understanding?
What should my classroom layout look like to foster engagement, group work, and movement?
How can I get parents more involved in the process?
Could I incorporate "jobs" into the learning?
Are there more efficient ways of checking students' understanding?
How do I bring in more problems students will face in their life (student input)?
This journey has been long and tiresome. I'm glad I stuck with it. Hopefully next year some of my colleagues will want to join me on this journey. :)
When I first started flipping my focus was on creating great interactive videos. And while I still focus on the videos, I realize that most of my time needs to be spent on planning the class activities. My students need structure. Flipped learning allows for student choice, and I didn't do a good job of guiding my students to the correct choice in the beginning. I made the mistake of assuming (yes, I know never assume it makes an @$$ out of you and me) that my students would be able to pick their choice and work throughout the entire class period. Not the case.
I have tweaked things a little and things are going better. What did I do? I gave my students limited choices and implemented a daily reflection piece. Now students are no longer picking activities based on what their friends are doing, but truly on interest or readiness level. Also, students are now held more accountable to what they are doing during the class through a recording sheet for both individual and group work.
Before students were picking any choice from the daily "Your Choice" menu, but now students pick from a certain group of colors based on their responses to the Google Form. We will discuss the options at the beginning of class and then students make their choice. For example, a student that understood everything and got all the Quick Check questions right can choose any except the Blue (which is the easiest activity and will not challenge her), whereas a student that was confused and missed some questions will can choose Blue, Green, or Yellow (all foundational activities).
My students love working with peers, doing activities and projects, and playing games to reinforce their learning; but they were switching activities like a Kim Kardashian switches men, so I needed to hold them accountable to their choices. I didn't want to dictate their decisions and wanted to see what would help them so I brought it up in a class meeting. The class agreed that having recording sheets would help, and they could look back and see all they learned throughout the unit (be still my heart!). Below are two examples of their recording pieces, one for their Math Circle group and one for their individual work.
Students individually complete this recording sheet during Processing Time. Most days it is their ticket out the door.
I'm still learning, and I guess that's the beauty of this whole flipped classroom. My students know this and are patient with me . I'm sure in another month things will evolve into something else...and I can't wait to see.
While my students and I both love flipped learning I was curious to see if it was making an impact. I took data on my classes pre and post tests from last year and this year and compared it. I actually did lots of math for this since it was used for my masters research course, but I won't bore you with all the process. The main thing I found out was there was a significant difference in scores.
Now, what does that tell me? Something is working, but is it the flipping? I personally think it is. From my point of view I have never seen students so engaged and motivated during class time as I do when we do flipped learning. I think that's what is difficult about flipped learning, you can't draw a line to see where it stops. To me the model of flipped learning allows for better teaching because it allows more one on one time, differentiation at its best, group work, problem solving, and hands on activities that focus on problems students see in their real life. How can I say what it is that is improving students' scores? Is it the videos that allow them to go at their own pace? The dynamic classroom experience? The opportunity to choose whom they work with and what they work on? Is it having me more readily available to answer questions? I think it is all of this things and more.
Another benefit that I have seen since flipping my math instruction is kids are excited about coming to school. They arrive in the morning and get right to work. I have not flipped all my units because I did not see it the best fit for the content we were working with, and on those units students were literally begging to bring back the flipped class.
So, what makes students improve using this model of teaching? I don't know. But I can say that it makes every day more meaningful, exciting, and connected than before.
My class has now officially been flipped for three units. The students are familiar with the structure, both at home and in school, and I am adjusting our class activities daily. Which is the way it should be in my mind. I create a blanket plan of what I think we can do, but after checking students' responses on the google doc I adjust as needed.
One of the most powerful things during our math flipped class is student math circles. Students can ask questions, solve problems together, discuss how they arrived at their solutions, and take the skill to the next level together. The students benefit from the open ended conversation and are learning from each other. Rarely does a student approach me first when he is faced with a challenging question. They feel comfortable with their group and confide in them.
Another thing that has grown through flipped learning is our higher level thinking. Students are actively choosing enrichment tasks and problems. It is the "cool" thing to do. Students are more engaged and work together to solve these challenges, which allows me time to work one-on-one with struggling students.
Students just took their unit test and I am going to compare pre-test and post-test scores to get some real data on if flipping our class truly improved student learning. I understand this will be hard to determine because it is hard to separate out the flipped learning--it impacts so much more. It may active learning or math circles that had a significant impact, but since it is all grouped in with flipped it is hard to differentiate.
We are almost finished with a full unit of flipped learning. I am still seeing a big impact in students' engagement levels and understanding of content.
A couple things I have learned and modified since starting...
- changed the Math Circles grouping for better mix
-Google forms-I embed them and share them with students (some students were having trouble filling in the embedded form)
-"Your Choice" -students can choose what to work on during class (enrichment/challenge activities, extra practice, different learning style projects, and small group work, one-on-one with me)
-Mrs. K (similar to Writers Workshop) -students put their name on the board if they have questions or want help. They continue working until their turn.
I had to smile at a conversation I heard two students having. They were bragging about about the amount of notes they took on a video. It made my giggle and so happy because these two students weren't the most engaged before we started flipping. :)
One last thing, I gave a flipped PD presentation for my colleagues yesterday. I put it on with my husband, who is also flipping all of his upper school math classes. We structured the workshop like we do our flipped classes and teachers were able to work through videos we created at their own pace while we were available for questions. It went really well and we received great feedback to help us make some tweaks before we present for a chance to go to AASSA conference.
I've officially flipped math lessons for a week. I am loving it and my students are too! Here are some of their comments about what they like most about flipping:
5A Students say...
"What I like more of the flipped learning videos is that is very flexible because you can do it every time and everywhere you want to remember something of the last lesson or you can study too so that is what I like more from the flipped learning videos."
"I really like looking at the videos you make with the Prezi because it is more fun than just hearing you. Also because I can go back and check the meaning of words. For example, magnitude."
"I like flipped learning because we can watch the video how much times we want."
"My favorite part of flipped learning is that you could just go at your pace and not make other people wait and start talking and you could just go on if you understood everything. Also, I like the fact that you could just see the part you did not understand as many times as you want."
"The thing that I like the most is that we see things that we are going to learn in the next day of school, just to warm up."
"My favorite thing in flipped learning is that we don't just get a worksheet for homework and just doing it, instead its more easy to see the video and learn new staff."
"I like that we do our homework in class and we do our work at home."
"I like the idea of flipping schoolwork and homework, and watching a video instead of actually listening to the teacher, because when you don't understand, you would have to ask your teacher about it, and it would disturb the class. With flipped learning, we can just go back to the part we didn't understand and just watch it again!"
"My favorite thing about flipped learning is that you can view the videos as many times as you want, and that if somebody does not get it, and you got it you don't have to listen to the teacher saying the same thing."
"I´m loving everything in flipped learning because I don´t like writing because my hand hurts and I don´t forget sheets of homework, so for my that's better and that's what I like about Flipped learning."
Now here's what I am loving about flipping our class...
-All students are engaged
-Easy to differentiate and meet kids where they are
-Students questions about the lesson and quick check questions recorded for documentation
-I can work individually with students without leaving other students hanging
-Students have choice
-My lessons are more focused and concise
-Absent students don't have to ask me what they missed
-Students are gaining knowledge about their learning styles, who they work well with, and how to reflect on what they truly understand
-Immediate feedback for me through the Google form
-Students are responsible and working collaboratively to check and teach each other
My set up for students accessing the video lessons is simple and familiar to the students. I figured start out small and grow. Currently students go to our class weebly site and go to the "Information for Students" page. Once there they scroll down to "Flipped Learning". From there I hope to organize it by units. It is pretty easy right now because we are in the first unit.
As far as each lesson they are basic, without many bells and whistles. I didn't want to distract my students with extra stuff and I know myself, I could spend hours upon hours creating a five minute video. So I created basic Prezis and decided to walk my students through them. I used Screenr to record my voice and screen through the Prezi. Here is an example:
After my students watch the video they answer some formative questions for me on a Google form (example below). There is a space to ask questions or write what they are confused about. I check this before our next class so I know who had difficulties and who needs to be pushed/challenged.
In class the students come in and begin working on what used to be their homework. When they finish they get into their Math Circles. I put the students into groups with differing levels of readiness based on their MAP tests. I plan for the groups to change depending on which skill band we are working on. Each Math Circle has four jobs, a discussion director, referee, calculator, and spokespearson. I introduced the jobs and role expectations today and students practiced checking their understanding of the video and assigned work together. We reflected on what went well and what we can improve. One student suggested we add a timer to a job description, while another student said we need to monitor our voices so we can all focus. Don't you love it when students suggest ideas you have?! It brings much more meaning to the class.
That's it for now. So far so good. Flipping my class has been a lot of work, but I can already see some benefits. I am just trying to make sure I keep my video lessons simple, yet powerful. One of flaws is being a perfectionist and comparing myself to others, so I'm trying to just do what is needed and put my focus into created authentic activities and projects to reinforce skills and expand my students' understanding.
Does anyone have any suggestions? I would love to hear them!
Mrs. K has been teaching for eight years. She has taught in three different countries and loves each one for its uniqueness.