Sunday, April 29, 2012's a powerful thing

While this post doesn't entirely connect to my flipped classroom, it is about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, and since I write about what I'm experiencing in the classroom, I think it's fair game (it does tie in later, I promise).

A few weeks ago my sister called me and told me that she had been nominated as one of the top 10 females in the greater Lansing area.  The link to the article can be found here.  The women who are nominated for this honor are nominated because they excel in a field dominated by men.  My sister does just that, as the only female project manager/civil engineer for a large construction company in Lansing.  This Thursday I had the honor of attending the awards ceremony and listening to the women speak openly about working in such a male dominated field.  Okay, so this part doesn't relate to me so much, as I am actually in a highly female dominated field.  What does connect to me is that my sister, who inspires me in so many ways, told the committee that I inspire her.  This is the very tail end of her case you can't tell, I'm quite proud of her.

"What in the world does this have to do with your classroom?" you might be asking.  Well, it all comes down to inspiration, which is one of the reasons I wanted to become teacher in the first place.  When I told my students where I was going on Thursday (they wondered why I was dressed so fancy), and why, they were genuinely excited for my sister.  Then one student then raises his hand and says, "I'm confused, why aren't you nominated? You inspire us everyday."  I know, right?!?  And if you know this kid, he was totally genuine, not just trying to suck up :)

I've been thinking a lot about this year, and how different the tone has been, and I can't help but attribute it, in part, to my flipped class.  My students love being a part of something innovative and new, and they ask me, often, how many people are reading the blog.  I got to tell them this week that a principal from Nebraska contacted my principal inquiring about our class...Whoa, that totally floored them!

When I started my flipped classroom it was because I wanted a chance to better know my students abilities, and it has snowballed into so much more.  It has helped me inspire those kids, and in turn they are inspiring each other...inspiration, it's a powerful thing!

The angst of a blogger

I feel like it's been a very long time since I've posted, and for those reading this, I apologize. I've been struggling with exactly what I should post.  To my shock and awe, I now have 57 followers and am closing in on the 16,000 views mark.  While many avid bloggers out there probably scoff at my numbers, I am overwhelmingly humbled.  I started this blog purely as a place to reflect upon the process of having flipped classroom.  The fact that people are actually reading this, and even (dare I say it) inspired by what I write, has left me with a sense of responsibility I wasn't expecting.  Therein lies the reason for my absence.  I've been feeling that I need to write something motivational and inspiring at every turn. 

I was recently talking with some of the teachers I work with, and one of them said, "I don't think that's why people are reading your blog.  It's not all about the sunshine and roses, you keep it real and let them know the good, the bad and the ugly."  Ugh, head slap, she was spot on!  When I looked back through many comments I've received and e-mails I've gotten, a common trend is that they appreciate my honesty and candor. 

Therefore, I've gotten my resolve back, and look forward to updating on a consistent basis again.  I do, very much, appreciate the feedback I've received from you readers!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flipping...from the perspective of a student teacher

I recently asked my student teacher if she would be willing to write a guest post about her perspective of the flipped classroom.  Here is what she came up with...

Big Shoes to Fill

    If you were to ask me twelve weeks ago what I thought about a Flipped Classroom, my answer would have been a simple, “What?”  I entered Mrs. Bush’s 5th grade classroom not knowing how it worked or even if it worked and to be honest feeling a little skeptical.  I was groomed to only think about teaching in a traditional manner which up until now, consisted of the teacher standing in front of the students delivering instruction.  I quickly found that my comfort zone was about to be dissolved as I made my way into the realm of 21st century teaching.  
    My first couple weeks of observing the students and Mrs. Bush uncovered many interesting things.  First, the students were in the middle of MAP testing which consumed all of Alpine’s three labs.  This meant that the Flipped part of math had to be put on hold until testing was complete.  I heard the students commenting on whole group instruction during math as, “boring” and “confusing.”  I saw a lot of frustration and even heard one student say, “I miss the videos.”  This immediately sparked my curiosity as to what this whole Flipped thing really entailed.  
    After MAP testing I was finally able to see how math worked in Mrs. Bush’s classroom and let me tell you, I was so amazed!  I observed students who never did their homework during the two week MAP testing period, actually completing all of their homework once the videos were back in full swing.  But more importantly, and probably the biggest element that the Flipped Classroom brought to life for me was that Mrs. Bush and I were able to reach every single student and work with them one-on-one.  Now, that’s cool.  
    Okay, so Mrs. Bush makes it look easy.  Let me enlighten you on how my first dabbles into the Flipped Classroom went….
After becoming familiar with all of the technology involved in creating the videos, I was ready to record…or at least I thought. I sat down with my notes (which were more like a script), took a deep breath and clicked, “record” only to immediately stumble over the first line!  Five takes later I had finally gotten through the first part of the video and was ready to dive into the actual math lesson.  Luckily for me, the process of recording became much easier after my first attempt.  
Although my first video was finished, there were many more hiccups to come…like, what happens when the student teacher forgets to imbed the link for the video from Schooltube and the students can’t view the video on Edmodo? Or, what happens when the student teacher unknowingly makes the video longer than the 15 minute allotted time and does not realize this until a student raises his hand in the lab and says, “the video just stops in the middle of the last problem!” I could have panicked, but thankfully for me there are two lessons that both traditional teaching and Flipped teaching have taught me and that is to always have a plan B and improvise!
These are just a few of the curve balls that the Flipped Classroom threw my way, but as reflect upon my experiences I feel that I have gained so much.  I have gained confidence in my abilities to teach math because I was able to plan, prepare and deliver math lessons without the pressure of conducting whole group instruction which often is interrupted due to behavioral issues.  I have gained a wealth of knowledge about all of the technology available out there, and furthermore, I have seen how the use of this technology can enhance and impact learning.  Finally, I have gained an appreciation for teachers who “go out on a limb” and try something innovative.  Mrs. Bush took a risk and with hard work, dedication, and courage, transformed her classroom into a place where students can learn math in ways they never have before.  I cannot express how much this experience has impacted my life as a new teacher and as I set out on my own journey, I leave with one thought in mind, I have big shoes to fill.