Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our new metaphor

Over the weekend I was vacuuming, which I find cathartic but that's another story, and was thinking about school.  An old saying popped into my mind: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."  This quote is by a Jewish Spanish philosopher named Maimonides.

I wrote the quote on my white board; however, I wrote give, a day, teach, and lifetime in another color.  At the beginning of each period I had the class read the quote and I asked them what it means.  Each student was correct in their interpretation.

I then asked them why I chose to write those specific words in color.  I got, "You wanted them to stand out." or "They are important."  Well, yes, that is correct but I wanted more information.  I had to prompt them more.  From each class I finally got that they saw the quote as a metaphor for our new PBL class.  SCORE!

My next question was: is it easier to be given a fish to eat or fish for it, reel it in, clean it and then prepare it?  Every time I was told that getting a fish is easier.  I then asked them which class is easier: the old way of me talking and assigning work or the new way.  I got, "I like this way better".  I had to remind students that this is not what I asked.  I then repeated the question, "Which class set up is easier."  That is when I saw the lightbulbs go off: yes students, this way is harder and you are going to have to dig in to get the "fish".  However, when you work for something you are going to retain that information much longer.

I'll keep the quote up.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Test Day

Here I am on an unusually beautiful late February afternoon grading papers.  I have finished grading the multiple choice section of the test and putting the grades in my gradebook.  I wanted to share my data with you.

Overall, there was no major change in the test class averages.  One class did not change at all.  Two classes' averages changed only a point or two in either direction.  Then two of my classes changed by four points: one class went up and the other went down.

I had some individual successes as well.  I had some student's test scores jump by ten to twelve points.  These students are typically the quieter, more reserved students who I think got more information in the small groups.

However, I had two students drop by thirty (YIKES!) points.  One is a social butterfly and I have a feeling was not on task like they should have been.  The other student is not as self-confident as I would like and does not ask for help even though I ask if everything is okay.

I am overall satisfied with my first flip.  I think, in the long run, students will get more out of this type of classroom.  I finished my lessons last night and will be diving the group into a different groups for their Renaissance chapter.  The two major changes I have this chapter are no group project and students will listen to the notes in a station in the classroom.

On to the Renaissance!

Happy Teaching-

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Classification of Information

We are wrapping up our Middle Ages unit.  Yesterday, one of the stations involved classifying different people or important events in the four nation-states of England, France, Russia and Spain.  The index cards were divided among the group so each student had something to determine.  Students first sorted the event or person index cards by nation-state.  Then some of the nation-states had more information that could be further classified.  Once the students had the proper information together they were to to write the information down on a piece of notebook paper.  
Classification Thinking Map

We test tomorrow.  The test is 35 multiple choice questions and one writing prompt.  I am both anxious and nervous to see how the students do tomorrow.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Students and iPads

I have been deliberating the pros and cons of using iPads in the flipped class.  I personally, would like a device that allow students to create output much more easily.  I do like the portability and ease of use of the iPads.  However, I do not like all of the apps that students had at their fingertips that had NOTHING to do with what their task was that day.

So, as I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed this afternoon I stumbled upon this article.  The writer of the article went to a school where students and teachers use iPads for all instruction- regardless if the class is traditional or flipped.  The article asked students what they liked and did not like about using iPads in class.  Some things the students liked was the fact that they could submit papers electronically and had no text or notes to keep up with.   One issue that students did not like was I.T. support to help with downloading of apps.  I personally like that that stop gap because my students were mesmerized by the stacks and stacks of apps they had on the iPads (as I mentioned above).

So, that begs the question: what does the best device look like?  What are our options?  I have had a class this year that has used a Chromebook.  I blogged about it at earlier: click here to read the post.  I like a few things about the Chromebook.  First, I like that you can create output with it since it has a full keyboard and apps to word process (although it is not MSWord).  I like that it has a USB drive for flash drive use as well.  I do not like how fragile they are though.  We have had a handful of broken Chromebooks this school year in that one class.

Okay- what about a full blown laptop computer?  Maybe, but the cost would be prohibitive for students to have one each.  The creation and saving ability would be nice on a computer.

Someone has mentioned to me that student should bring their own device.  I don't know how I feel about that, especially when the students have their own phone out.  I see texting, Snap Chatting and unapproved recording nightmares.  But maybe not- I am a worrier.  The benefit would be students provide their own device so there is no cost to the school.  However, if all a student has is a smart phone, those are small screens and creation of output would be minimal.  Additionally, not all students have a smartphone, Kindle, Nook or iPad.  I would need something for those students to use.

So, the eternal question of a flipping teacher goes on..what device to use?

Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Talk Drawings and Peer Review

One of the talking drawings. 
On Friday students created a talking drawing about Charlemagne.  If you are not up on your World History, Charlemagne was a Frankish King who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 800.  He was big into converting pagans into Roman Catholics and uniting Europe as it was under the Roman Empire.  So the students had to sum up two assignments about him.

I created the "drawing" as I figured it would cut down on the time students spent  on the assignment. They were supposed to write the following items: What Charlemagne was thinking about, what he was actually seeing, what he was feeling, what a strength he would possess, what would his feet be moving towards, and then his Achilles' heel or his weakness.  Most groups did a great job.

Today in study hall, or Connections, I had three students peer review the fifteen total drawings and condensed them down to eight.  Then the students put the eight best on a large poster and then hung it on the wall for me.  At first, I was utilizing the students to choose the best but then I, as I was listening to their conversations, they were really critiquing their work.  I heard things like, "this makes no sense", or "their grammar is all wrong", or "what are they trying to say...I don't get it!"  I was really impressed that they took the task so seriously!

Three of my students peer reviewing.
After the students picked their  top eight, they arranged them on butcher paper and hung it up in the classroom.  One of them added a 3-D crown to represent Charlemagne's reign.

The finished product!

I really liked the talking drawing because it allowed the students to write their thoughts in an unconventional way and made the student critically think about what they have learned about Charlemagne.  Additionally, I enjoyed stumbling upon the peer review.  I wonder what else I could use it for!? 

Happy Teaching!

Friday, February 7, 2014

First Week Post Mortum

Done with week one and it's been a long week.  Not necessarily due to the flipping, I think it is related to the fact that this is our first full week in three weeks.  PHEW!

Well, today was our What do you Know? and for the most part I was pleased.  However, my first period has a handful of students not working to potential.  In no uncertain terms I let them know what I thought about their lack of effort.  Some students got 30's on their WDYK? and others, who normally get 40's, passed with flying colors.  I reiterated that students will get out of this what they put into this endeavor.  Students cannot sit, do nothing and expect to pass in this type of classroom.

After our WDYK? students created a talking drawing (I'll post about that next week) and an end of the week mural.  Each student is tasked with thinking about one thing they learned this week and represent it on the mural with a word or drawing.  Each period had their own mural.

Next week we are continuing with the middle ages.  Students have a few more sets of notes to complete, students will listen to NPR podcast about an illuminated manuscript, a vocabulary activity that includes math(!), a video clip on the Mongols and others.

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day Four

Not my real observer.  :-)
I am into day four of my flip.  Things are going well.  I was observed, for my yearly review, by my administrator.  It was first period, too.  My administrator seemed to be pleased.  I am looking forward to my mid-year conference and discuss their thoughts on our flipped class.

The stations are running well.  I would really like to have five more minutes into each station. For the most part, the students are staying on track.  However, I did have to have a heart-to-heart with first period.  I asked them what "Garbage in, garbage out" means.  Some of them giggled when I said it.  I reiterated my question.  There was silence for a few seconds.  I got a good response.  A student said, "If you put garbage work in, you'll get a bad result."  I reiterated that this is not the "old" classroom.  Students cannot sit on their laurels and expect to skate by during the flip.  I am looking forward to that handful of students putting their brains in gear and watching their minds bloom.

Today's stations were a continuation of their multi-media project.  Students are starting to put together their props and my room is now full of colored butcher paper.  The second group was finishing up their notes on feudalism notes and then create a resume for one of the people in feudal society.  The website I used was a PBS station out of Ohio.  Here is the link for the website.

The map used was similar to this one.  I had the students
outline the water.  It saved time to allow them to
label the countries and the migrations.  
The final website was an extension of notes discussion about the migratory groups of the middle ages in Europe: Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and Magyars.  Students were given a blank map, colored pencils, a list of what needed to be labeled and an iPad with a map ap.  The end product was to be placed in their binder.  If students did not finish in class, I encouraged them to come to me during their study hall or ask another group member.

Tomorrow they will continue with their multi-media project and create a class mural after their What do you Know? quiz.

A student busy at work.

Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Flipping Day One

Day One...finished!  

I have decided to break the class into three stations.  Each class was divided into three groups that will stay together for the entirety of the chapter.  

Agenda for today's activities. I'm also included items the students need
for their activities.
Today's stations included teacher/student discussion of filled out SOL column notes.  As the teacher I prompted students with questions.  In some cases, students had questions for me.  I encouraged the students to come with more questions next time.  

In addition to the column note discussion, I had the students review material by creating a Venn Diagram by organizing the cards into Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or both.  After the students had peer checked they wrote down the finished product.  Some classes needed my verification before the students copied their Venn Diagram.  

One of 1st Period's Venn-Diagram

The third group was a read about Charlemagne and questions.  The students turned in the questions for a formative grade.  

Here is a breakdown of today. 
What did not go well:
1.  Too many students did not have their notes finished.  
   How can that be fixed?  Well, students had to go to the library, watch the videos and then fill in their notes.  They were also responsible for making up the missed notes or activities.
2.  During a few classes it was hard to hear the students I was talking to.  The noise level was a bit too high.  
   How can that be fixed?  I suppose I could discuss this with students and encourage them to keep their noise level down.
What went well:
1. Most students said they enjoyed doing the column notes out of class.  A few mentioned that they would use the notes later to study.
2. Most students seemed to stay engaged throughout the entire rotations.  

Tomorrow is day two!  

Happy Teaching-