Making Math Better

I found this draft on my iPad as I started writing a few thoughts. this should have gone out a month ago.

Ijust finished reading an article on "Think/Pair/Square/Share" and I need to incorporate that into my math time. I wrote about scheduling my math time so I can work with students more in small groups and one-on-one. At the beginning of my class I will have a single problem for students to work on that the homework video talked about, or a concept that we went over the previous day. Within that problem I will decide who needs the small group interventions and practice with me or the resource teacher and which will work as partners to practice the concept.

As I read the article above, I have decided to use the Think/Pair/Square/Share"information to identify students that me help. As they think on their own and do their work on their whiteboard, I will monitor those that need help and what they need help with on that problem. Then as they pair with their partner, I can hear what how they explain how they did the problem on their own and what they might have missed. This will help me know if they understand the piece they are missing as it is explained by their partner. The next piece is when they share with the square, or team, to see how they each did the problem. They will be able to learn from each other and listen to someone else explain the problem and how to do it. The final step will be the share with the class as I go over the problem with students from the group sharing each thing they did with the class.

I feel this will be a big benefit for me when identifying who needs the help. I was using the Pair/Share method, but adding the Think and Square will make the lesson even better.

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Making More Resolutions

It is that time again. Time to make a few resolutions and see what we can do to right the path we are on in the new year. I have a few resolutions for myself that I have made. Lose a few pounds by eating less chips and other treats. Change my snacks to fruits and vegetables... well... more fruits. Walk and bike a little more when I can. Being a little nicer to those around me. I do not think I am a mean person, but I think I can do better. A little more patience with my own children. I can give a more breaks to my students at school. I can always have more fun. Now I have not yet decided if I want to cut Coke out of my diet yet. It is my wooby, I guess. Maybe next year.
These are not monster goals like losing 20 lbs. or exercising daily, these are little goals that will get me to the bigger goal of feeling better and being a little more healthy. I hope that I can feel a little better and live a little longer. Whether these little things will do that, I hope so, but at least I am doing a little more. I also want to take more time each day to work in my yard and play with the kids. I do have a few bigger goals. I want to take more time to work on my lessons at school and rewrite the curriculum to add more time for my students at school to have more fun each day. I am also setting a goal to visit as many historical sites in New England during my family reunion in June. I will also ride my bike to school at least 2/5 of the school year. I figure that is a good goal.
I have read a few articles about writing resolutions and if they work or how long we can go before they fall by the wayside. Personally I do not think it is about whether we keep the resolutions, it is the insight we find when we look back on the previous year. What things do we need to change? What can we do a little better in our lives that will make ourselves a little better? What can we do so people will want to be our friend? Shouldn’t we be looking at what we can do to make ourselves a little kinder and gentler? A little more healthy? More helpful to those around us? Making our lives less about us and more about those we see each morning and work with each day? Will we ever become this person we hope to be? I am not sure, but the journey is the reward. I have a small poster in my classroom that we use to tell students that if they fail, it is the First Attempt In Learning. I stole that from someone (I need to work on that also, but I am a teacher) and I think it applies here with resolutions. So a resolution falls by the wayside. Try it again. One day, it will stick if it is that important.
Write a few resolutions. Make some that are really out there that are going to be hard to reach. Make sure you write a few that you know you can reach and do your best to make them part of your daily life. Make a few goals for your family, your work, and for you personally. Change is good. Change is needed. When writing resolutions I always think of the ABBA song, “The Day Before You Came” and I hope that by the end of the year I will be looking back saying those very words. I used to be this way, but now things are different and hopefully I feel better and people around me are better because of what I have changed.


All Means All

It has been an terrible couple weeks. Not because of school, but because I have been sick and I just cannot get over it. I am uncomfortable, a bit ornery, an really tired. My class has not suffered because of a wonderful program called student teaching. My student teacher took over about three weeks ago and has done a wonderful job adjusting to our flipped model.
I bring this up because I have been doing everything I can to get over this sickness. I took a day off and slept the whole day, I have been pounding the Vitamin C like there is no tomorrow. I have taken different forms of medicine to try them all out. The one thing I have not done is slow down much. I have college classes I am taking, an endorsement class, a student teacher (I still need to do the planning and lesson building with him), and I still have this habit of learning more about what to do in class. So I guess I have not been doing everything. I need to take some time off and relax. That just might help me get over this sickness.
Which brings me to my main point. If we look at learning as being healthy and not learning as a sickness, why are we not always trying to do everything possible to get our students to learn? I was reading the book "Simplifying Response to Intervention" and there was a part that said, "All students can learn, except the ones we decide cannot." It goes on to say that we say that all students can learn ann yet we pick out a couple in our classes that we feel will never learn. They are the ones that tend to cause all the problems. They are the ones that we tired off telling the same thing to over and over. The authors go on to say that, "all students mean all students that will someday be financially responsible adults.“ So if they are not learning, we need to treat that situation as a sickness and try everything possible to get that student to learn. Programs, interventions, differentiation, before school programs, after school programs, and even those things that are out of the ordinary.
There is a sickness in some our classrooms that needs to be taken care of. It makes us uncomfortable and the first solution we think of is to not worry about it. That does not take care of the problem, it only keeps it hanging on and transfers it to another teacher. Don't give up or forget any student in the class, or any class. I think of the show Phineas and Ferb. Dr. Doofenschirtz is a problem, and yet all the stories he eludes to when talking about why he is doing something evil tell about something bad that happened to him when he was young. He is looking for love and acceptance.
So what do we do? Keep working and finding solutions. If there is a kid that is making us uncomfortable because of the problems they are causing, find a solution. Do not put those kids off and let them by without finding a solution that works for them. All students can learn, means ALL students can learn. They deserve it.
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Completing the Math Flip

The next piece of our Flipped Classroom has started. We set up the homework for students to complete each night. Most of the students are seeing the need for the homework. We have a couple students that are not completing the work, but they get to complete it at school. That is where the next piece is coming in.

In Math class I have previously been doing the normal schedule where I have students practice their times tables as they come in to help with that skill. After a few minutes I get the students started on the notes for the math topic we are learning that day. After taking a few notes we work on a few problem and practice as a whole group and then do a few practice problems as I roam the room helping students that need a little help. Before I send them to their Language class, we review some concepts from previous lessons and then they head out.

That has all changed. It has taken me a few weeks to set up the way I wanted to work the class. The homework is Sal Khan teaching about the concept and the student taking notes and looking for specific vocabulary. We only have video homework 2-3 times a week. The rest of the time, we expect students to practice skills they need help with (times tables, subtraction, Carrying, borrowing). They can also work on the IXL math site for practice of specific skills we are working on that week. If they do not understand what is happening in the video or a specific piece, they write down a question on the bottom of the page that we can answer or go over the following day.

The next day I start with a question that goes with the homework so I can see what parts the students understand and what they need help on. I let the students work as partners and then explain what they did and how they ended up with their answer. I like to use whiteboards for this part of class. I walk around watching, listening, finding those that need a little help. After about 10 minutes I have them show me their work by holding up their boards (I hope to use the Educreations App soon  so I can play back what students did). I look to see their explanations and decide on four that need a little extra help and four that need basic skills help. This is also where I pull back students that did not complete their homework so they can show that they understand the concept. If they do not, they will watch the homework video so they will understand what we did.

After the question we work on the skills students showed from their practice and review steps to help us in finding the answers as a whole group. We practice a few problems going over the steps and answering questions about the topic. We have a discussion about missteps that might have happened and what to look for when we come upon a problem

We split the group into a couple small groups and a large group. Our resource teacher take the students that need basic skills and she works with them on the one concept I need them to learn that day while working on basic skills. I take the other small group and go step by step the help them understand what piece they are missing so they get the concept and can do a few problems on their own. The large group works on a math page to reinforce the lesson as partners, helping each other using a Tip, TIp, Tell format. If a student is unsure how to do a problem, the partner gives them a  tip to get them started. If they get stuck, the partner gives them a different tip. Finally, if they do not know what to do, the partner helps them through the process of getting the answer by telling them each step and letting the student figure out the problem. If they get finished with the practice page (not drill and kill, busy work) they are able to work on IXL to go into harder problems or review problems they need help on.

The last 10 minutes is spent as a large group reviewing past skills as partners using Kagan Strategies of pairing students. We use the Tip, Tip, Tell strategy as the students use one book, one pencil, one dry erase marker. They complete one problem and pass it to the partner to complete. The student with the book has to explain to their partner what they are doing and thinking as they work on the problem. The partner listens and tips them, if needed. The final minutes are spent as a class having students show how they arrived at their answers and the class cheering their successes.

This is what I imagine a flipped class being. 10 minutes of lecturing, 65 minutes of partnerships working together, small group work, differentiating and discussing skills and strategies. So much better than the 45 minutes of lecturing and 30 minutes of drill and kill. At least the students think so.


If I Knew Then...

I am taking a Technology Endorsement class offered by my school district. I have decided it is time for me to find it what else is out thee that I am not using and see what I can learn from the research done by the teachers.

The first assignment I did was to put together a plan to show what I think represents a 21st Century Classroom. I did a little reading and thinking about this topic. If I had control, what would I make my classroom look like? What technology would I have? What would I need to make sure I can reach each child in my class? So I started to write and this is what I came up with.
My vision of the 21st Century Classroom is less about the classroom and more about the ideas that need to be incorporated into the classroom setting. Moving the teacher from the front of the classroom to the side so the students can present more information as they organize their learning. The teachers becomes a guide to help students find the information. In elementary school there will be more teaching and guiding students as they learn the strategies and tools to help them organize the information. in this way, there is no schedule for students to follow, they are given a set of instructional guides and they pursue them in the best way they can, by making choices.The teacher then becomes the guide to help students learn to make the right choices to get the information they need.
The classroom itself needs to be able to be moved into groups of different sizes, depending on the projects and learning going on. Students become the focus of the classroom, not the schedules that teachers set for them. Students are encouraged to work within fluid groups. As they need a piece of information or help from one students, they learn with them and then move back to their project. There are no seating arrangements. There is just constant learning.
This classroom uses technology to further the lessons and help students learn. Technology does not need to become the center of the classroom. It becomes a support system, supporting the learning and work going on. There should be more than just a computer to find content and to deliver content. There should be many different ways to produce and disseminate information.
Curriculum and content is a resource of where learning comes from and not the starting point. Students make decisions, collaborate with each other in and outside the classroom, succeed, fail, and redesign in a supportive learning environment. Which comes to the assessment. The 21st century classroom provides opportunities for students to learn many different things and there should be a core of ideas that they learn, but they should be given different ways to show they have learned the concept and not just by a set of multiple choice questions.

I turned it in after a couple days and then started looking around my classroom a little closer. The first thing I noticed was my Smart Board. It cost quite a bit and I use it everyday, but when I have the students do most of the work and show it on the board, the board seems to be a large computer mouse. The younger grades in our school use it in amazing ways, but for what we use it for, I think I could use a Mimio Board instead. It would be a lot cheaper. I think I would not stop there. I would get rid of the whiteboard completely. In it's place, I would paint the front of the classroom with Magic Wall Magnetic Paint. Over that I would paint it with Whiteboard Paint. Can you imagine a hope wall dedicated to writing on? Add a a projector and a MimioTeach Interactive Whiteboard System. I could still use the wall as a mouse, but I could also capture and record writing, write notes everywhere, have many students work on problems at once.

The classroom should be a place students can come to put ideas together and make sense of the world. we can still teach them the basics they will need to help their ideas. Reading, writing, math, history, and science are important to learn and explore. I cannot wait to see what the next assignment is to help me explore what else is out there for me to use and explore.

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Student Interviews & Project Doodling

I made it through the first week of school and the students are fine and so am I. Are all on talking terms and they left on Friday with a smile on their faces. It I'll be a great year. We (my team) have started a few new things in our classes and getting through the first week with a whole new schedule is not easy. Change is hard, but we made it. A couple more weeks and it will be the new normal in our classes. I can't wait for that. Bet there are more changes I want to try out. Small changes that I will try out for a while and see what I can do to improve it or get rid of it and revisit it at a later time.
This summer I was taking a couple classes and one of them I heard about was making time to talk with each student and do a short interview with them. Find out how they a doing and what they feel they need. So I have been thinking about this idea. We are supposed to do a short reading assessment at the beginning, middle and end of each year. I figure, what a great time to do a short interview with each student. So I will take 5-10 minutes with three students a day, four days a week, I figure I should be able to have a short meeting with each student as I have them read. I will put together a few questions that will help me understand some of the things they need. A few of the questions I was thinking of are;
- How is school going?
- Who are your friends that you are playing with right now?
- What is your favorite subject?
- What subject do you feel is the one you need to work the hardest in?
There are a few more questions I am thinking of, but I will only ask couple questions so the students can give me a few ideas what I need to look for with them. I am also thinking that I can answer any questions that the students might have for me. Sometimes students are unable to ask questions to the teacher without feeling the will be chastised or embarrassed. Taking a second to let the students know that they have my undivided attention and will answer any questions they have will be good. Tat will also help me understand what I need to look for. 5-10 minutes every month with each child will, hopefully, give me some great information work with.
Another idea I came across last year was an article called "Creating a Culture of Innovation". In it I read about Google using 20% of their employees work time to have them work on whatever they want, as long as it has to do with Google. New ideas, changes to old ideas, looking at someone else's work, whatever. I am not sure I can give my students a full day each week. I think my administrators would show me the curriculum and district pacing guides and remind me that I have work to do each day. But I can take an hour each week out of my class time and give students that hour to work on something that they can teach us, show us, help them learn, or have me help them understand something better.
So my plan is that once a week I will give them the hour and within a months they need to produce something they can show or teach the class. It can be anything, it just hs to have a purpose and it needs to be something they can show or teach. If it has something to do with our curriculum and subjects, that is great. If it doesn't, we will work that out. What is important is that each student will have the opportunity to work on something of their choice and teach others or show a finished product to everyone. I think I am going to call it "Project Doodling". That's what is going into my planner.
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Booting Up The Classroom

I love having a lot of technology in my classroom, but, with that technology comes  more work, especially at the beginning of the year. So here is the checklist of all that we do in our classrooms each year.
  • Check for updates on the mini laptops. 
    • Check for system updates
    • Flash updates
    • Virus protection
    • Java, and other software programs.
  • Update iPads
    • Add new apps we will use for the next few months.
    • Reset Restrictions
  • Check for updates on teacher computers
    • Electronic whiteboard software
    • Browser updates
    • Other software updates
  • Input student information (usernames and passwords) into programs we use in the classroom
    • Google Apps
    • Utahwrite (state online writing program)
    • Class wiki
    • Online testing program
    • District online reading program
The updating for the computers is usually done with the students in the first week. This lets me show the students how to update them and what to look for when a dialog box pops up. The students can then help some of the other teachers throughout the school.

The iPads get updated every three months to add or take off new apps we want to use. We have a core of apps that we use every week, but have a few that we try out for different subjects. 

Setting up the classroom has now included much of the technology upkeep in our rooms. What that has ultimately done is simplify what our rooms look like and what we actually do in our rooms. We do not run off much paper anymore. We try to put our worksheets on the computer or on a presentation for th students work off of on their iPads, computers or in a composition book. We have even taken some of the paperwork and put it on Goggle Docs to share with students.

Inputting student information has taken us the longest time. Thank goodness most programs allow us to import student info from a spreadsheet. That makes it easier.

There is a lot of set up in the beginning, but the payoff with what we can do with the technology is worth it.

A Little More Flip in the Classroom

School has started and we have moved another subject into the flipped universe. It is going to be an exciting year.

Last year as my team discovered and researched the flipped classroom, we decided to jump in with one subject, vocabulary. What an immediate impact in the classroom. We filmed a few videos a week for half the year and had the students watch them and work on the vocabulary at home. The students preferred it over the homework we had them do before. The parents commented on the attitude of the students and how it improved when we made the switch. The parents enjoyed watching the videos with the students and they learned a little also.

One thing we did not notice was improved scores on their tests. They moved a little, but not as much as we thought. We did notice that we moved faster in the classroom as we discussed the words and went a little farther into a discussion about the words. Our days became less hurried during the language time. We found more time to add in a few activities. Test scores increased a little, but the discussions became deeper and our class time was used in a different way. That is a bonus.

Seeing the success of the vocabulary, we flipped spelling towards the end of the year. A short lessons about the words each week cut down our talk time and moved us into a more vocabulary and pattern based activity with the words each day. Students started to understand the parts of the words, see the patterns, and not complain each night about doing their word sorts. We saw a little increase in their spelling scores, but the biggest increase was our time to work with the words in class. Another success.

So now we head into this year. Vocabulary and spelling are short subjects that make up a piece of our language in a day. We have decided to go with flipping our math program this year. That will be big. We sat down and planned out our days and the home learning we will be having the students do. Each night the students will watch a short math video while taking notes from the video. Students will look for key words and concepts and in the end write any questions they might have. If there are no questions we want the students to write something about where they would use or find the concept in their lives. When they come into math class we will start with a short assessment question about the concept in their video. They will collaborate with their team to come up with the answers. After our discussion we will review the vocabulary and questions students wrote down from the video. we will them move into the work or activity portion of the day. Students will take the lessons further, find answers, work on activities and play games. If needed, students will also be able to practice within a small group or individually with a teacher to improve their understanding of the concept. At the end of the class we will all come back together and review some of the concepts we have worked on previously. Students will work collaboratively on all assignments.

This is a big step into the flipped classroom. We are looking forward to the extra time to discuss and practice the concepts with students. We are excited at the possibilities of what we will be able to do. And so here we are in the first week. The hardest part of the whole thing is the change for the teachers. Changing our schedule and rearranging how we teach has been tiring. We are moving into new territory. We have been so excited to do more flipping in our classroom. It is worth the extra work and change.


New Thoughts for Next Year

The year is coming to a close and we are wrapping up our final projects with the students. Now is the time to reflect and look to a couple ideas we have written down to try out next year.

Have had a successful time with the flipping and video lessons in our classroom. We have made it easier for students to learn and understand through the use of short videos to watch outside school and discussions and activities in school. We will keep working on the flip and how we will work the nightly home learning. The biggest change for us will come as we work on our investigations and activities during the day. It was such a successful change for us, that we had a tough time keeping up with new activities to fill in the time at school. A piece at a time is what kept us on track. W learned quite a lot. The students helped give suggestions and giving us feedback on the home learning videos and class work.

One idea that we have been toying with has been letting the students stand at their desks. We have students that seem to need to stand while they are working and we need to give them a place to stand and work. A couple of years ago we did some research on using exercise balls in the rooms instead of chairs. That has been successful. Most of the students enjoy using the balls as chairs. Some use them during class work, but change to a chair when it comes down to a test. Interesting. Using little things like this have really helped students be able to move a little. We are looking at raising a couple desks in the class about a foot higher. If students need to stand they can take their work to the standing desks and keep working. Giving a few different ads and ways to work will, hopefully, help students focus better.

I have been using a 40" tall table this year to hold my computer and document camera. No drawers and less table top to pile stuff on. I prefer to stand at the desk and not sit. It keeps me up and I move around the room even more than I had before. Getting rid of my desk and gong to a table has forced me to clear items into the correct places quicker and deal with items sooner.

One idea we used this year that was not as successful as we thought it would be was using email to keep in contact with the students. We used the messaging system on our wiki in the past and that was successful. The email was not as easy and successful. The students did not use it as much as we thought they would. We used Google Docs for our writing and that was a great change. The email, not good at all. W I'll head back to the wiki messaging next year. It also kept us from using the wiki like we had in the past. By not visiting our wikis we seemed to lose some of our timing. With the things that work come the things that do not. But we keep on trying.

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Just Step Away

It is the end of the year and there always seems to be more to be done than originally thought. I am not sure how this happens every year, but it does. No amount of planning will ever take care of the craziness of he last few weeks of school.

In this time of panic and need to wrap up assignments, tests, forgotten activities, and missed lessons is the student. They are also having intense feelings of getting things done, school ending, anticipation of summer, and warm weather. This is not always a good mix. Teacher panic and student anticipation of the end. It is time to step back and bring our old friend patience in. I always have to remind myself to take an extra breath with the same questions being asked at the end of the year. Taking an extra second before I ask where their assignment is. Deciding whether the conversation about what they did is worth the time or effort from me or them. Do I give up? No. They still need consistency, but this is the time of year that could be the difference between them hating me for a long time or coming back next year and wishing they were back in elementary school. More kindness and patience and less frustration from either of us.

Taking a step back will help the sanity for all of us in the class and wrap up the year with food memories and not one ugly blow-up. Step back, Glen. Choose your battles even more wisely. You will miss them. Really, you will.
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The hardest thing for me today was to not get in the way. My friends were working on a Model A flatbed and it was not starting. I had to just listen and do as I was told. I held the lamp and made a few short comments. I did what I could with my limited knowledge of cars, especially old cars.
While I stood there enjoying the collaboration of the group trying to fix the car, I thought it might be fun to buy an old car and rebuild it. I would look great driving an old car around town. It would be fun to go the all the car shows and get into a car club and hang out. After reading "The Dip" by Seth Godin, I feel I need to quit the idea that I should get a car and rebuild it. I am pretty good with doing something's, but cars is not one of them.
Quitting something that is not our "thing" looks a little different to me after reading "The Dip". I know we want everyone to do their best. We want all students to do their best and never give up, but I see now that there are students that do better at certain subjects and activities than others. Do we give up on the ones they are not good at? No. Should we encourage and find activities that will play to their strengths? Yes. Sound like I have a little work to do.
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Second Chances

I had a good friend get remarried a few days ago. He needed a second chance to be happy. Everyone needs a chance. As the year comes to a close we want to let other teachers know what is coming to their classrooms. I think this is a mistake. Every person needs to be able to start a new year with a clean slate. Students need the chance to be able to change. Starting with a strike against them is hard for a child to change. They live up to what they are told and act how they are expected to act. This year we need to resist the need to warn the next grade about the students moving on.


Need to Know

We had a big language program introduced to us last school year. We are now in the second year of using the program. As it was handed to us to take to our rooms, we were told we would be trained on it soon. We grabbed our boxes, papers, books, and other things and headed back to our rooms. What do we do with all this stuff? That was the whisper as we hauled our back to our rooms. The training came right before school started and we were wide eyed and wondering if we would ever get the whole program down.

About half way though the year I came to the realization that the program didn't matter. The program matters, but what really mattered was the teacher. No matter what program we have or what we are told to teach, the teacher is the person that disseminates the information and helps the student to learn. As the teacher, I need to know what I am teaching. I discussed it with my team and we started to learn the program and what it wanted us to do.

What we found was that the program had some great information in it. I had no doubt that the research was done and the information was correct and the activities we were to do had been tried out before, but I want to see it for myself. But there is no way to find it out if I do not use it. If I just teach the lessons by reading the things I need to read and look for the answers that are printed in the book, I will never really know if it is working. I want to know what it is they want me to teach. I need to know the reasons they are having me teach these lessons and do the activities. What is it that they want from my students? What do I need to look for? What do I tell the student that asks why we need to learn this stuff? Learning the overall theme and looking how it was all put together and how I can work with it helped me in my lessons.

If I just go through the motions, I will never be the teacher I wanted to be the day I graduated from college. So out goes the fluff and in goes the real learning. These big programs. Our districts buy for us do have a lot of great information in them. I am finding that our program is pretty good. I enjoy teaching most of it. The are a few parts that seem to be added in as a second thought, but we work with it. The best thing is that as a teacher, I get to choose what to improve. I get to choose to differentiate with my students. I use the program. I like the program. I know what most of the program wants from me and what it wants from the students. I am still learning. So are the students. Thank goodness.

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How Much do We Flip?

My fifth grade team flipped our vocabulary lessons about six weeks ago and they went great. The students did their lessons each night or early before class. More homework was completed and the students loved watching the videos. Discussion about the vocabulary words were better because we were able to hear if the students knew the words and could use them properly in the sentences they were producing instead of just looking at whether they found the definitions. It is fantastic. It has changed our whole thought process of homework. Instead of having students practice or review problems, we will have them watch the lessons and do all the practice at school. Investigate the work. Learn.

So we are on to spelling. We will hand out words on Monday and have our students take the words home and watch the lesson at home. They will also sort the words as they watch the lesson. W tried one lessons with a small ground students last week and they cam to school knowing more about the words than normal. I do a short lessons bout the pattern that week and how words use patterns to help us understand what they mean and how to spell them. Every week I teach these lessons and they catch on to a couple words, but after watching the video, they knew so much more and remembered more about the words. Their tests seemed to be about the same, but their knowledge bout the words was greater. Since we differentiate spelling, we have about six groups, so the lessons will take a little longer to film. We will start with a few groups and move into filming all of them as we get better.

After spelling we will be working on Math. This is the subject that will have the biggest change. We are thinking that our key lessons will be the video. With that students I'll take notes, work out problems and write down questions. When hey get back to class we will have a couple problems for them to work out as a partnership and then we will discuss the problems and answer questions in our class discussions. We will work on what would normally be homework. In the middle of the class we will switch gears and do a review of past concepts and work through a few of those problems. That is the concept we have. This will totally change what we a doing now. We have students first review past concepts and then go into the key lesson we are working on. Once done with the key lesson we work on some problems and hand out homework.

Once we started the vocabulary we started to think about how much are we going to flip each night. In elementary school we teach a minimum of five subjects a day with a few subjects alternating very few weeks. This can become a big issue with flipping. What do we flip and which nights are we going to assign for lessons? How are we going to make that many videos each week and what can we do to make them more meaningful for the kids when we do them? Can the same lessons be used next year? Wow. This can get big. The one thing I worry about is the work at home. How much are we going to require each night for each student and are they going to have the time on the computer or DVD player to be able to get all the lessons done. I would hope they would have enough, but at my house, each child wants the computer to do work on and it can become a scheduling nightmare. I have more than one computer in my house and it still becomes a problem, but most people only have one. We might have to look at sending devices home. What would that look like and how would it be managed?

My team is going to the Flipped Conference 2012 this summer and we hope to have some of these answers worked about before the end of the conference. Being with people that have been doing this for a while will help. Gathering information and ideas will also help us in our own situation.one thing I know for sure, flipping has been great for me and my students. It will be fun to see what else we can do and what they can do because of it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


When I'm Healthy, I'm Happy

My school district have started to host health classes each month the help keep our health costs down. I have gone to a couple and I like them. I am glad we are given the opportunity to learn more about keeping ourselves fit mentally and physically. I learned about something I have always known, but I seem to need to be reminded about. Exercise. Get up and move. Stop sitting so much and move around the classroom.
I decided years ago to get rid on my desk. I am now seeing the benefits of that decision. I stopped stacking so much on my little table, but I also stopped sitting so much. After that exercise reminder, I decided to get rid of my chair. I raised my dear and now I lean a little, but I try not to sit. I also bought a wood stool so it is uncomfortable to sit on for extended periods of time.
I also learned about stress-management. Thinking about anything will creat more of that thing. If I don't want to get sick, I should think about being healthy, not how to not get sick. I think the flipped classroom will help the relaxing as we do more activities and less lecturing. I am finding that most of the lessons are being learned from our videos. The one vocabulary word or th understanding of a single concept on that lesson is being found and I am concentrating on what counts instead of the whole lesson. That is less stressful for me. and more fun for the students.
Being a healthier and happier teacher makes for healthier and happier and more intelligent students.


Oh, Flip. Here We Go

The time has come to flip the classroom. We have decided to take our classrooms to another level. During our team meeting before we went to Christmas break, we talked about having more simulations in our classrooms. We loved giving students tasks and becoming someone from history to teach about the Native Americans or the Revolution. Having time to play games with words and showing how fun math has become an afterthought in our planning and not at the forefront. After discussing the things we would like to do in our classrooms, my team decided we need to flip our classroom. We did a little looking around and found information from innovators like Karl Fisch and Jon Bergman/Aaron Sams. After some research we started setting up our plan.
Flipping a classroom is not an easy thing to do. Just thinking about it gave one of our team a headache. So let me start with what our flipped classroom looks like. We found a great infographic to explain what we are looking at doing. Our idea of what we will be doing is having students learn short lessons on video at home and we reinforce and investigate the concept with activities at school. Simulations, activities, games, and discussions. Sounds good to me. It will create a little more work, but as we do it more, it will get easier.
So we decided to start small and take it a bite at a time. We will start with our vocabulary lessons that are part of our homework each week. Instead of teaching a lesson about the weeks vocabulary words each Monday, we will have the lesson done at home with a short video. Having students write out the words, meanings, and examples on Monday takes time. Writing takes time. So changing it up by having students write at home will give us time to do a reading activity with students on Monday. The stories will use the Vocab words in the reading so we will be introducing the vocabulary words in the reading. Students will watch and work on a 5 minute video on Monday and one on Tuesday night to complete the lesson. On Wednesday we will have an activity using the vocabulary words instead of finding out if they have the information correct on the paper. The questions they anew will let us know if they understand the word or not.
Starting out with a small flip will help us find the bugs and problems we need to work out. The teachers are pretty excited about the flip. The students were pretty excited about the flip. There were a few negative comments, but mostly for students that look for the negative. We did discuss each comment that came up to make sure we thought about the different issues. We hope to be adding more subjects in the next.


A Flip with a Twist

Just read an article in the New York Times about a forced flip of classrooms in Idaho. I am not sure the Idaho legislature gets the idea behind technology and what can be done with it. The idea of having teachers lecture less and have more time to help students in the classroom is right on. For everything? I am not sure that will happen. There is too much for students to learn in the classroom and we do not want students to burn out using the computer. Flipping a classroom and having students learn a little at home instead of doing their "homework" with their parents will have the students digging deeper at school in their subjects. Parents will be less frustrated and can listen to the lessons to see what we a talking about at school. But having students do all or most of their work on computers may look great on paper, but the tech companies are not teachers. A living breathing teacher needs to help students find and get more out of a lesson. I found out a long time ago that technology is great, but it will never be able to take the place of a good ol' teacher. Computers have to be programmed to have a teaching moment, but teachers are programmed to use teaching moments when they are needed and at any time. One computer idea does not fit all classrooms. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad