Monday, January 26, 2015

#flipclass Flash-Blog Late Work Policy

As the title suggests today's #flipclass chat is about late work and our policies for accepting/grading it.

Mine is pretty simple.  I will take all work up until about 2 days before grades are due.  However, if it is late I count it as a missing assignment which means the student gets a pink slip.  Two pink slips for missing work is a phone call home and three is a detention.  But that does not impact their grade at all. Just do it!  That is for homework assignments.

For retakes, I still let them take as long as they need, but if you read my previous post Tests, Quizzes and Grades I'm trying to make this more effective.  I want my students to learn from their mistakes and take advantage of the retakes, but they are not.
For example, grades for 2nd marking period are due Wednesday, we are in the middle of a blizzard so we had a 1/2 day today.  I gave one student the chance to retake a quiz today, she looked at it and said I need help, I don't know how to do this.  I'm like "What?" This was the second time the student attemped the retake.  Why didn't she study, ask questions or see me for extra help?  I just don't get it!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tests, Quizzes and Grades

One of the changes I made this year is I stopped giving end of unit/chapter tests.  Our school is using Achievement Network to administer benchmark exams every 6 weeks and we have arranged our curriculum so that we are teaching those standards that they will be tested on.  So I thought, these are actually the unit tests, there is no need for two.

What I do give are frequent concept checks.  These are quizzes and I've made them worth 60% of the students grade and I hoped that by now students would get the idea that since they can be retaken as many times as needed, they would look at the mistakes they are making and fix them, study more to pass the second or even third try.  I've taught them this and copied this (I think from Sarah at Math=Love or Sarah at Everybody's a Genius) bulletin board that has been up since September which I refer to constantly.

What frustrates me the most are the students who  wait until the end of the marking period to retake them and I don't think they've even given one thought to the concepts they are being retested on.  I'm not sure what to do at this point.  I've tried having them fill out a retake form and get it signed by their parents, but that resulted in a lot of paperwork to keep track of with no results to show for it.

I do want to add that since I've been running my class as a flipped classroom, my last two concept checks have only had 2-3 kids not passing!  So that makes my frustration a little more manageable!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekly Menu

For the second week I am participating in the #Flipclassflashblog!  The topic today is

What is one thing (a tool, technique, pedagogy, app) that makes your #flipclass work better?

Right now my whole mantra is Keep it SIMPLE! My videos are super simple screencasts of me modeling a problem in my notebook. When they get to class they do an "Enter Ticket" and based on those results are put into groups. I work with the students who do not get it and release the others.

My biggest challenge was how to organize classwork and classtime, since my students are really needy and look for constant direction and assurance of what they should be doing. I decided the best way for me to plan everything and keep them accountable and give them a few choices or at least make them "think" they are having some choice was to make a Weekly Menu. Below is an example of this weeks menu for 6th grade.

It is still a major work in progress.  The first box of the day tells them the lesson we are working on, next up is the required practice work.  After they do the Enter Ticket I will usually pull out a small group to work on the first set of problems and do a gradual release.  The rest of the class can just go on and get to work on the requried items.  I also give each table a set of red, yellow and green cups for students to use to communicate with me if they need help.  If the cup on top is green, they are ok and should be silently working. If its yellow, they are asking each other for help and red means they need me.   This really works well (after they got used to it!) at first they would go straight to red, or put it on yellow so that they could talk about anything.  Took some training, but now it really serves its purpose.

The next three items is where their choice comes in.  They have to complete at least 3 Coach book lessons for the week, the Tenmarks assignments that I preset, open -meaning they can work on retakes,extra practice, Versatiles or IXL.  I usually can get about 12 devices and my class size is 18.  I haven't had any issues yet with not having enough devices.

I don't grade this weekly sheet, but I do make them turn everything in on Friday and I record any quiz grades from the week and then they get them signed.  I also use a Pink Slip system for behavior issues which for me is mostly students being unprepared and having to go back to their lockers.  I attach any pink slips they recieved during the week as well.

Oh and in my classroom each student has a folder they keep all of the work in. So they don't lose their weekly sheet. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

In Love with Flipping Again!

Friday I gave my second quiz since fully flipping my classroom and I am pretty impressed and excited by the results.  This is just one class, but it was the exact same in my other 3.

There are so many positives I am seeing that just pop out to me, particulary since I have more teaching experience now,
Although I am embarrassed to show my videos, I can tell they are getting better than they were the first time I flipped, I know that when I make them I can concentrate more and present the concepts much better than when done "live".  As far as the student side of it goes, I totally see the benefits they are getting from taking the notes at their own pace without the distractions of the class.  The nice thing too is that since we use google classroom, they feel comfortable asking questions right away.  So if they are watching a video they won't think twice about popping into classroom and asking for clarification on something.  I love it!  Another thing I notice is that it seems getting the lesson the night before gives students time to let the ideas marniate before jumping in and using it.  When they come to class there is such an improved focus and they are asking wonderful questions.  I really need to blog more about the day to day observations to really document it all. 
There are tons of things I need to improve, but I am really excited to work on this more and more!  I am also super excited to see how our 3rd benchmark exams go in February!  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Flash blog!?? Getting Unstuck

Its funny how things work.  I just in the last two weeks started flipping again and decided to drop into the #flipclass chat tonight.  I have been wanting to get blogging again, but trouble starting.  So I couldn't believe it when Cheryl Morris (@guster4lovers) suggested this flash blog thingy.  Not really sure what it is, but I think I am supposed to be writing for 25 minutes about where I am stuck in my practice and what I'm doing about it.

So cool!  Since that is why I'm back to flipping again.  Not sure how I was "stuck" I was just not happy with how my classes were going and knew that I wanted more work time in my class instead of me lecturing.  I had visitors in my class today who wanted to see a lesson and so I decided to go the traditional way and although it went well, it was today that really showed me I am so much more comfortable with flipping the lesson.

Some of the reasons I think it is working for me better now than it did two years ago is that I have access to iPads and Chromebooks now that I didn't really before.  Also my students seem to have more access to the internet and technology in general.

I am keeping it super simple as well.  I just record my lessons by writing notes in my own notebook under the document camera and record the screen using the free version of Screencast-o-matic.  I upload to youtube and then post on Google Classroom.  Nothing fancy at all, the videos are about 5 minutes, and its basically me modeling a procedure.

The next day, I give a do now ticket that I use to sort the students into groups.  If they get it, they go off to do classwork, if not or they are a little shaky they stay with me and we work on it together until they are released to do the classwork.  I give another exit ticket, leveled for the two groups.

So that is where I am at, I feel like such a newbie again, but a little more comfortable newbie.

After the lesson I did today I met with the visitors to my classroom (actually it was all the math teachers in my school plus an outside coaching consultant.) I shared with them how I've been using video lessons so  this lesson didn't really represent what was happening in my classroom. We talked about it a little bit and I shared one of my videos.  Well, the consultant asked "Where did you hear about this???" He never heard of it before and I was surprised.  I thought everyone knew about it.  Later he told me he was taking notes and was going to tell every teacher he sees about it.  Then he suggested I run a session at the regional charter school convention in April.  Holy cow!