Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We all make mistakes...what I learned from mine.

Last week I finally hit my limit...I decided I was done chasing kids, done forcing the flip down some of their unwilling throats.  I blurted out in class, "You know what, maybe we need to go back to traditional for those kids who aren't doing their video homework." As soon as it came out of my mouth I realized, crap, now I really have to split the groups & I'm not sure it's what I really want.  Long story short, I ended up splitting the two 5th grades into my flippers and non-flippers.  The flippers class consisted of roughly 32 students.  The non-flippers had about 20.  Here are some observations: the good, the bad and the ugly.

#1  I now totally remember why I decided against the traditional model.
#2  The kids who did their homework before, do their homework now.  The kids who didn't do their homework before still don't do their homework.
#3  I had been having a lot of guilt about the kids who weren't watching the videos at home.  Were they still getting the material?...Was them watching videos during class helping them more than I can if I'm teaching in the front of the room?...Is that really what's best for them?  As it turns out, while I don't get as much of a chance to work one-on-one with the kids (because they're watching the video during class), my video does a better job keeping them on task than I do.  That was kind of an eye opener.
#4  A few (3 of the 20 in the traditional group), didn't like it at all & worked really hard to move into the flipped group.
#5  While I'm not a fan of the traditional model, having only 20 kids in class is pretty awesome.
#6  The kids in the traditional group just seem to want to take notes & not do any of the actual thinking involved in class...makes me wonder how much of an issue this is with my flippers too. Next year I'm hoping to use a WSQ method of video viewing (WSQ stands for Watch Summarize Question & I am completely stealing it from Crystal Kirch, a high school teacher in California...more on that in another post).

On another similar, but somewhat unrelated note:
#7  For the most part, the behavior problem & low academic students were in my traditional group.  They are now 1 full day behind the flipped group in math.  They are 2 days behind in science (the class that they switch with during our block).  Is this differentiation, or is it ability grouping?  It just doesn't seem right that my traditional group is 100% composed of "at-risk" students.  Won't this have the opposite effect that I wanted.  Now the high kids are getting farther and farther from the lower kids.  I had hoped to close the gap, not widen it.

So where do I go from here?  Well, as there are only 3 1/2 weeks of school left, I am not going to make any drastic changes.  Next year I plan on keeping with the all flipping schedule.  My hope is that while the kids who need to finish the video, finish the video, I can get to the other students.  Then once they're done I'll be available for questions.  We shall see, but one thing I love about blogging is it gives me a chance to admit my mistakes, and learn from them!


  1. I so watched Crystal Kirch flipped webinar and LOVED the WSQ too. I have not flipped yet but truly appreciate learning from your mistakes too!

  2. I was contemplating your same thoughts several times this semester, but never caved to go back to traditional (except for a one-day lesson right after spring break). I feel like it might give some students a better perspective on how much more helpful the flipped classroom is if they have to go back. I'm hoping that once my students move on to a non-flipped class next year they will realize the benefits even more.
    I saw the same "passive learning" you noticed in your traditional class in the one day I taught that way again as well. The thing I love about the flipped classroom (well, one among many) is the fact that my students really are forced to think deeply and meaningfully about the content. They can't get away with just sitting there doing nothing. They may not like it, but I know that it is good for them :)

    Glad you are thinking of trying out a "WSQ" type thing for your videos and I would LOVE to hear how you modify it for the lower grades and how it turns out :)

    3.5 weeks for me as well... we can do it!

  3. I like the math skills which you have mentioned.Online tutoring is very helpful in solving the math problems and to understand the higher section topics.It can be very helpful for beginners because it provide practice and guidance for them.So that they will not face any kind of problem in future regarding further studies.

  4. On the upside, you know that the homework issue is a problem with homework, not with flipping :). You know that a certain group of kids aren't motivated to do their homework, regardless of the format. I have no brilliant ideas as to how to get them to do it, but look forward to seeing how you tackle it.

  5. I have found some of the exact same things to be true...even in my upper level math and physics classes. No words of wisdom...just a note to let you know you're not alone! I send students into the hall upon arrival if they have not watched my video and answered the 3 questions I have left them. They really don't like that...