Sunday, October 7, 2012

That was chaotic...and pretty cool too!

This week was a week of firsts.  We had our first assessment, our first front-loaded inquiry project, our first chance at watching videos & completing WSQ's independently, and our first chance to quiz out of a learning goal to prove mastery.

Let's take these firsts one at a time:

This week my students took their first assessment of the year.  Last year (my first year of flipping), my class average on test 1 was a 90% (after the students had a chance to take the retest).  This year my class average was an 83% (no retest yet).  While this is not as high as last year, I also need to consider how my classes compare in their baseline scores.  Last year's class averaged a 206 on the NWEA MAP test.  This year's class averaged a 204.  Slightly lower, but not a significant amount.  What I'm finding is that so far this year's class is performing close (or slightly lower) than last year's class.  So what was different?  One major difference was that I didn't let the kids do any of the videos independently during the first unit (last year I did).  While I find this necessary, I do believe that had they had a chance to watch them independently they probably would have done better.  Secondly, these are different kids.  I always find it difficult to compare one group of kids to another when personalities can vary so much.

After their first test, we attempted our first inquiry project.  You can find more information about it here.  During the inquiry project I had a chance to walk around and look at the students misconceptions that they already have.  As I asked them question after question, it was clear (even to them) that they didn't know how to solve the problem correctly.  That being said, I did have one group that were definitely headed in the right direction.

Upon completion of our attempted inquiry, the students were then assigned the first video in unit 2.  This was the first time that they were able to watch the video & complete the WSQ on their own.  There are definitely some kinks to work through, but overall it went pretty well.  When they came to class the next day I found that most (definitely not all) students had done the work & were ready to have a discussion.  That's when I ran into the problem of there being only one of me & a lot of them that needed to talk.  We developed a sign up sheet & I got around as quickly as possible.  One thing I found that helped speed up the process was letting the first person read their summary completely, then having the rest answer the guiding questions that were supposed to be in the summary.  My student's summaries must include the following:
  • Introduction sentence - what was the learning goal
  • Vocabulary sentence(s) - in your own words, define the key vocabulary
  • Main points (5-7 sentences) - answer the guiding questions (these are HOTS questions)
  • Example - come up with your own example of a question that is like what we learned about
I'm not sure what I expected out of the discussions, but I was able to clear up some misconceptions as we talked (mostly confusion about perimeter and area).  

One thing I want to adjust next week is finding a better way to manage the quizzing procedure.  I spent a lot of time giving/checking quizzes for students because they wanted to move on to the next lesson.  What I found was that barely any of time was spent actually working through problems with kids, it was all talking with them about math.  I feel that was beneficial, but I still need to find a way to get around and check in on the kids as they're solving their practice problems.

I also am noticing a potential problem brewing.  I have a few students who have a lack of motivation to do anything at home.  This could be solved if they use their class time wisely because I'm not requiring a video every night.  However, they also are the students who accomplish very little during class.  With me doing mastery teaching, they are going to HAVE to take some responsibility in their work or they will not get very far.  I'd love some advice on that particular issue from anyone who has had the problem in the past.

After math that day (because we only had one day of that this week) I felt many things:  energized AND exhausted, excited AND's amazing how one person can feel so many emotions in the span of an hour!  Luckily it was much more energized and exciting than the latter."

Our final first of the week was the students being able to quiz out of certain learning goals.  As I mentioned in my post last week, I had the students take a pretest and mentioned that if they did well, they could potentially "quiz out" of certain learning goals (because they already know how to do them).  This week those students had a chance to take those quizzes, and many of them did, in fact, quiz out of certain aspects of the unit.  So as of now, I have 60 total students who are doing a variety of different things that span four of the five learning goals in our 2nd unit.  It is exciting to see the students excited about the fact that they can learn at their pace.  While this benefits everyone, I think this really benefits the "high" kids who (in my humble opinion) are often left to fend for themselves because they "already get it".  I could write an entire blog post on that topic, but this is not the time or place for me to get open up that particular can of worms!

That being said, the week was full of exciting, organized chaos...and I loved it!  


  1. I'm flipping Alg 2 but not Geom or Geom Honors. I started the year trying to do a version of mastery learning with all for key concepts. I quickly learned that I bit off too much all at once (at least without having something like moodle for them to test on and with no tech in my class besides my own). I was also twarted by the fact that we lost a teacher at about wk 4 or 5 and I got about 20-25 new students across my classes. The only one not affected was Honors.

    Alg 2, I'm still going to make them make up those concept quizzes, but there wasn't time all at once before the grading period ended, so I'm having them do it as there's time. I'm not doing a 'can't move on without mastery'. So they just need to get it eventually. I try to steer them to clean up the ones that have the most bearing on what we're doing immediately first, then others as time allows.

    Geometry - I just ditched it. Due to various issues, it's an odd class this year. I've just been muddling through. Today will be devoted to coming up with a plan for the rest of the semester because I really don't like how it's gone so far.

    AFA students in Alg 2 not watching at home, not taking the opportunity to watch during's ugly. It's only one of my three periods that has a few different clumps of students that are making these poor decisions. I tried rearranging groups to break up the flounderers, hoping the ones who are excelling would influence them. I found the 'good kids' were being influenced down, rather than the other way. So I've let them take some ownership of the groups again to see how it goes. The good ones are back to good. The strugglers are (mostly) still struggling. I have two or three groups that are struggling. I'm going to leave the good groups in tact and mix up the flounderers. I'm thinking of making some kind of contracts too, but I have a ton on my plate this Sunday and probably won't get to it today, but hopefully soon.

    More 'me too'ing than offering solutions, but you're definitely not alone in both the triumphs and tribulations.

    1. Well, it's good to know I'm not alone! Time is definitely an issue for me, especially since I'm trying to make videos with a teacher who's not in my building. Good luck, and let me know if you come up with some miraculous cures for student apathy ;)