Friday, October 21, 2011

Flipped Classroom Project

It has been a rough week for me. Going to the ITEC conference helped me gain awesome ideas and an excitement for trying new things in the classroom. It has also given me great dissatisfaction with how some of my classes are running. I am so tired of students looking at a problem for maybe 20 seconds,- saying "I don't get it", and then looking at me. I blame myself for this immediate give up because I have always been one to jump to explaining right away. I need to work on my guided questions.

It is somewhat ironic to me that at one point in time, I considered one of my strengths of teaching as being my ability to explain things. Studies now are showing that mere coverage is not enough. My strength of explaining is not necessarily a strength at all when it comes to students learning to be independent, explorers of knowledge. I need to work on developing that confidence in trial and error. I need to build the problem-solvers I know they can be.

During my day, I have one class that is absolutely a joy to see. My Calculus class is phenomenal! They work so hard for their answers and they take joy and satisfaction in fighting through. I love it.

With the maturity and the trust relationship I have with my Calculus class, I am going to be creating a flipped classroom. In hearing about some of the other flipped classroom experiences from teachers, I truly believe this will benefit the students. I envision it will allow for a faster pace class, deeper understanding due to more one-on-one time, and more efficiency and relevance in the practice problems.

At the moment, I run the pattern of lesson day, workday, lesson day, workday. This will knock out the lesson day, and allow us to tackle more and more quickly. They can take the notes at home, and then come to class with the ability to discuss, piece together, and absorb fully the deeper concepts.

When students watch the lesson on video at home, they can rewind me if I went too fast for their note taking/understanding. Then, as they come to class to work on problems, they KNOW they are doing the problems correctly. I have felt awful to be checking over about 15 long-winded problems where all 15 problems/3 pages/many hours of work are wrong and wasted. Students will feel more secure and confident in their work.

It will also create a more differentiated classroom. The students that get it can move on, and I can work more often one-on-one to answer questions of struggling and not struggling students alike.

I talked with my very supportive administration and technology coordinator, and I quickly found myself with equally enthusiastic support and resources. In fact, all of the equipment I was thinking would be somewhat tricky to get my hands on are sitting at this very moment on my desk. I will be trying to work with Camtasia. I am downloading the free 30-day trial. I have an Interwrite Learning pad, and will be getting a microphone soon. This weekend I hope to have produced my first couple flipped movies.

Just like that, I am a movie maker. Watch for "EXTREME Minimums and Maximums" Monday, October 24 in Youtube near you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Needed Refreshment from ITEC 11

I made a goal for myself at the end of the 2010-11 school year to make a routine of blogging and Twittering during the summer in order to work on my lessons, applications, networking, and my overall professional development.

I like to tell myself I was so busy with planning a wedding, doing the getting married thing, and renovating a new house that I just did not have the time. Anyone could be nice and say, "Well of course you were busy." But we all know I had the time. So, the summer went by without me accomplishing what I thought would be a manageable goal of launching my Twitter career and keeping up with this blog. In fact, this school year is almost three months in, and still this goal goes unaccomplished.

I sit at the 2011 ITEC conference in Des Moines. I have once again been refreshed, once again been motivated, and once again feel so overwhelmed with all there is. I even contemplated quitting teaching just for a year because I felt this attack of "I need the time to learn. I need more time to get out there and learn how I can follow through with all of these ideas in my head." This was pure frenzy. I would not really quit, but I was definitly a pong ball, and ITEC was the graceful slab that hit me around all over the place today.

For example, I have a great idea for a lesson on inequalities that involves having the students program an ATM machine. I CANNOT PROGRAM.

I also want to achieve a successful flipped classroom for my Precalculus and Calculus class. I NEED TO MAKE VIDEOS!

I want my students to have professional mentors that are good with math and can help them. I NEED TO FIND PROFESSIONALS OUT THERE USING MATH ON A DAILY BASIS AND INTERESTED IN DEDICATING TIME TO COLABORATION.

I want to collaborate with other classrooms to have students form study groups across the state, maybe outside of the state, maybe outside of the country- to open up my students eyes to the universal language of math. AHHHHH!!!!

Now, I have always been one to say nothing is impossible. BUT, I need to be realistic and say there is no time to do all of these ideas this year. Even if I passed up on sleep I do not think I could do it.

Here is just one of my amazing moments today. I needed to meet someone who was a computer programmer, who was interested in working with a teacher to design programs and games for students that teach content. I needed this person to be able to connect teachers and build partnerships between schools, no matter the distance. I did not have a sign or anything that advertized this, but the person who sat down next to me at lunch was exactly that. He was a computer programming major, who was trying to build partnerships between schools. Would you believe that? He was the most perfect person to take a seat next to me at lunch today. Also, he was a vegetarian and had an allergy to wheat products. We had parmesan chicken for lunch today. Anyone who knows me knows I have a shameful appetite; I gladly took his portion of spaghetti and some chicken when he offered.. He really was the perfect person to sit by.

He and I will be in touch. It is absolute amazing how life plays out.

He mentioned that goals are 1% initiative and 99% sweat and energy. I am ready to be spending that energy. I am not looking forward to it, but I am ready and know that is the next step for me. I will be making videos to start the flipped classroom. I will be blogging in a week of my progress.