Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reflection Based Planning

There are two full weeks left before I head back to school and its time to start planning.  Right now my head is swimming from all of the things I have learned this summer and I'm not sure where exactly to begin, actually I know bits and pieces but need to put it all together.  I figure that the best thing to do is look at where I've been and where I want to go.

Last summer I discovered flipping and interactive notebooks and implemented them with limited success.

My goal for flipping was to provide a resource for struggling learners to be able to go back and watch the lesson again when needed and to be able to take me home with them since most kids say they "get it in class, but forget when they are alone." I also wanted to stop spending so much time on low level work in class and have students discuss and do more higher order thinking.  What ended up happening is while students copied the notes successfully and did like going back to them, I never properly taught them how to work together in groups and to take responsibility for their learning.  So in the end, I kind of went back to a traditional class.  Moving forward:  I am still going to provide basic skill videos and have them complete the low level problems for homework assignments.  I took a Flipped Classroom online training course over the summer that I really liked, the idea is that you should make one take videos with you in them in order to build relationships.  I made about 20 or so that were "eh" now that I have my vision of paring them down to the basic skills I am going to scrap them and redo them in my classroom.  The majority of the ones I did were out in my garage and the lighting was not so great.  I plan on basically modeling the example problems from the textbook.  This way, if someone can't watch the video, they could actually read the book.  Also, this year I will be using a textbook, last year I did not have one.
As far as teaching them how to work together and take responsibility for their learning...well I am implementing this year the math workshop model and that is going to take a whole lot of teaching!  I will probably make a post about how I am going to this in detail.

My goal with the interactive notebooks was to get students to take better notes, keep their notebook (instead of losing it, having one notebook for multiple subjects, etc) I have to say that only one of my 72 students lost their notebooks last year!   The nice thing too was that she was able to update the new one she got I want to say easily (it was a lot of work to recopy) but at least she was able to do it.  The thing that didn't work for me so well was the foldables.  My students took way too long cutting and gluing and coloring that they didn't focus on the math, we ran out of time, etc.  My desks are horrible to put together so it was awkward having a basket or bucket with the supplies on them so that was a problem as well.

Moving forward:  What really helped them was being taught HOW to keep a notebook.  It wasn't the IMN that was so magical, it was just that I taught them what to do with the notebook. This year I told them to get a 1 inch binder in addition to the composition notebook.  I am still thinking about how I want them to completely use the composition notebook, however, I know that I want them to do a lot of writing/reflecting in it.  The binder will be used for notes (I will do a lot of printed guided note pages) and their work.
Speaking of writing, one of the things I want to accomplish with their journals is having them do a writing assignment-like a mini research paper.  I'm not sure if I will make it once a quarter or only one for the year, but I'm thinking I need to go all in on it using the writing standard from ELA and everything.

That is where I am at for now.  I am going to be using this blog over the next few days to really plan out everything.  I feel like I am so behind compared to last year as to my planning, however, I feel so much more prepared mathematically and as a teacher going into this year thanks to some of the pd I've done this summer!  I am really excited to get started!
Over the next two weeks I need to plan: classroom setup and first week activities!

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