Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moonwell/3121975018/

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Week in the Books

Another week has come and gone in my flipped math classroom. A few students are still not watching the videos on a regular basis and they paid for it on their unit exam this week. One of these students said, "I do not like the flipped classroom!" When I asked him why he said, "Because I cannot get away with doing nothing!!!". You bet. That is one of the awesome things about the flipped classroom. It places the responsibility for learning on the student. They have to OWN their learning. I love that. When I used to lecture, the students put the responsibility for their learning on me. That was the absolutely wrong place.

I had a parent from Yellowknife, NWT email me this week and ask if he could use my class wiki to help his son with his Math 20-1 studies. I said, "Of course, that is why I post my video lessons online.". Glad to see that I am able to help students in other parts of Canada.

Today, a teacher from Saskatchewan, tweeted me and asked if my video lessons correspond to the Saskatchewan curriculum. I informed him that they do indeed correspond. He asked for the URL to my wiki and checked out what I am doing in my flipped classroom.

If you are just reading about my journey for the first time, you can access my wiki here. Feel free to look at the wiki and use anything that is of value to you.

The thing that surprised me the most, today, was the number of students that were "voluntarily" making corrections on their unit exams. Even though some of them did very well, they wanted to know how to do every single question on the exam. This kind of self-motivation and concern for their own learning is what I want all students to be doing. It is never about the mark, but about understanding the math. My flipped classroom students really seem to be getting this.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Journey in my Flipped Classroom

This coming week will mark an entire month in my "flipped" math classroom. This week has been very interesting. I have had all kinds of teachers at my own school (Cold Lake HS) come up to me and ask me to explain what this "flipped" classroom thing is that I am doing. This is a good sign. If other staff are asking questions then maybe they will try the same thing. Apparently the students are talking about it a lot with their other teachers.

When I am out and about in Cold Lake I have had parents and former students approach me in public to discuss the flipped classroom. The parents love it!!! The former students are asking me why I did not do this when I taught them. They believe they would have learned better. I am starting to think that I have created a really good thing here. If people are approaching me in public and raving about the "flipped" classroom that has to be positive. In the past most people just said hello and kept walking.

The really strange thing occurred last Saturday. I was out working in the yard at my house. I had stopped, for a moment, to talk with the neighbour. The house across the street is for sale and a realtor was showing the house to a prospective buyer. She stopped showing the house, left her customers and walked over to me and said, "Are you the math teacher from the high school?". I replied, "Yes". I was bracing myself for an abusive comment. She said, "I recognize your voice from the videos my son watches each night. Great stuff!!". I thanked her and she returned to showing the house. Apparently I have become somewhat of a celebrity. Watch out Khan Academy here comes Mr. Kaminski!!!

This past week I started implementing formative assessments at the beginning of each class. I wanted to see if the students really understood what they "supposedly" learned the previous day. I place a couple of questions on the board and have my students use mini-whiteboards to work in partners to obtain a solution. I have the students show me their solution. Most of them are kicking butt. However, the few that had some misunderstandings, I get a chance to clear up the issues. This formative assessment will continue to be a daily part of our routine.

Another benefit of the videos is showing up. The beginning of October is prime moose hunting season in northern Alberta. I have students that are going to miss an entire week of school to go moose hunting. Every single one of them has asked me for a list of the videos they need to watch so they can work ahead before they go hunting. I am smiling!!! They get it!!! It does not matter that they will miss class. They have a way of keeping up with their studies. The only problem has been that video production has had to kick into high gear. I am usually about 1 week ahead of the class. Now I have to get 2 weeks ahead so that these students can benefit from watching the videos before they go hunting. Oh well. I do not mind this kind of problem. It is for the benefit of my students.

Stay tuned next week for an update on the adventures in my "flipped" math classroom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week #2 in the Flipped Math Class

Week #2 came and went very much like week number one. The kids watched the videos each night, came to class and they worked on their practice exercises in class with assistance from myself or their fellow classmates. However, the flipped classroom idea is spreading like wild fire amongst other teachers.

I spent 3 hours on Sunday meeting with two other math teachers at another high school in Cold Lake. They really are interested in flipping their class and wanted to discuss how it all would work. I explained the entire process to them but cautioned them that they need to lay a little ground work with their students, parents and admin before beginning the process. I advised them to take the next week to lay this ground work and then start flipping their class near the end of September. They were pumped about the whole idea when I left them!!! The chemistry teacher at this same high school is also interested in possibly flipping his class. I will have to meet with him in the future.

On Friday, we had our first unit exam. For me, this was going to be a really good indication of how well my students had faired in the first unit of flipping the classroom. Overall, the exam went very well. The results on the exam did not surprise me in any way. With all of the walking around I did each class and all of the assistance I was providing students I had a pretty good idea of which students were grasping the content well and which ones were struggling. I was glad to see that my impressions were fairly accurate.

A couple of students did surprise me, in a good way. A couple of students that I thought were struggling actually performed quite well on the exam. These are the kinds of surprises I like!!!

I did not receive any negative feedback from the students regarding the exam or their grade.

I am operating my classroom in a way that the students will have the opportunity to reassess on certain outcomes on the unit exam. The students will analyze their exam using the exam blueprint I provide them and then determine which of the outcomes they would like to reassess on. They will have to complete some additional practice on these outcomes to "qualify" to write the reassessment. For some students, this helps take the sting out of the fact that they may not have done as well as they wanted on the first unit exam.

So, everything keeps rolling along in my "flipped" classroom. After having used this model for approximately 2 weeks I would say that I would not go back to the "old" way of doing things. The "flipped" classroom just has so many advantages over the way I used to do things.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Full Week of Flipping My Math Class

It has been a GREAT week!!! My students in my Math 20-1 class have been watching the videos religiously each night. A few of them are still having some technical issues accessing the videos I have created but we quickly worked around this by providing them the videos on a memory stick. If you would like to check out my videos you can access the location where they are posted here. The great thing is that when they have been having difficulty watching the videos at home they come to class "begging" to use a laptop to watch the videos in class. They are taking ownership for their learning. I am not chasing after them and hounding them they are doing this all on their own. I love it!!!

My classrooms looks and feels SO different. I have been able to be a true facilitator of learning. My time is NOT taken up each class "lecturing" but I now get to walk around, help students, clarify misunderstandings and truly see my students owning their learning. I am SO happy about this. I no longer feel like I am the hardest working person in the room. In the past, the students would come to class, I would teach the lesson, they would have some time to work on their practice and they would head home. However, everyone came back the next day with at least one question in the practice that they could not solve. In fact, many students came back very stressed and frustrated because they struggled with the practice. I always felt pressured to "get through the material" during class time. Now, there is no pressure on me. My job is to "help" the students. In fact, I have way more time to do this. I have the entire class to "help". This is a really satisfying feeling. I can honestly say that I get to talk with every single student in my class every day. This never happened in the "old" non-flipped classroom. The students are far less stressed and frustrated because they get help on their practice when they need it.

The students are really enjoying the "flipped" classroom. The only thing they have to do each night is watch the videos and write their notes. This is very low stress for them. Some of them are unable to watch the videos because of work commitments, sports etc.. They come to class, grab a laptop (I have a cart of 30 laptops in my classroom) and watch the video in class. I very rarely have to "kick a kid's butt". They know the routine and they make it happen.

I have really struggled in the past with differentiating instruction in my math classroom. However, I can honestly say that I have differentiated more in one week this semester than I probably have in one month in the past. The videos allow the students to differentiate for themselves. They can pause the video, rewind the video, rewatch parts of the video. Their instruction is differentiated every day. In class, I am able to treat every student as an individual and assist them where needed.

My classroom is noisier than in the past. But, it is a "good" noise. The students are discussing the notes from the night before. They are helping each other complete the practice. They are teaching each other. I am SO happy. I would have to say that, so far, flipping my classroom has been the single best thing I have ever done in my teaching career.

I want to talk a little bit about the technology. It is truly being integrated. The "flipped" classroom is NOT about the technology. The technology allows the flipped classroom to happen. The ease of creating video lessons and hosting them online is made possible by the technology we have today. The computers and the Internet are the "tools" that help me flip my classroom. The technology is necessary to flip the classroom. The technology is not forced it just fits in like a textbook, paper and pencils.

The curriculum states that teachers need to facilitate "learning through problems solving" or LTPS. This means presenting the students with problems and letting them wrestle with them to find a solution. The students work on the skills of reasoning, communicating, connections and visualization. It is really hard to address these skills without having the students work on real problems. These are situations where the students DO NOT know the answers but have the knowledge and perseverance to find the answers. In the old days I would have had trouble finding "time" to do this in class. Now, there is lots of time for this. We have already completed two problem solving activities in this unit. They were Coffee Cups and Bucky the Badger.

After school yesterday, some of the staff got together at the local watering hole. We socialized and enjoyed everyone's company. Some of them asked me, "What are you doing in your math class? The kids are talking about it." This was exciting. I know it is a good sign when kids are telling other teachers about what is happening in our "flipped" classroom. I described to my colleagues what I was doing. They think it is pretty cool. Some of them even think they should try it!!!!

The videos that I have created are not only helping my students in my classroom. I have had students from another Math 20-1 class ask for the URL for my website so they can watch the videos. My oldest daughter attends another high school in town. She is also studying Math 20-1 . She sometimes watches my videos to help herself out. She has given the URL for my website to some of her classmates. This kind of thing is humbling.

Stay tuned for further adventures in the "flipped" math classroom. I believe that the flipped classroom is the future of education.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Arithmetic Series - Bucky the Badger

As part of "flipping" my classroom I will be using my class time to have my students do some "Learning Through Problem Solving" (LTPS)

We have not yet studied arithmetic series. So, the following activity is a LTPS activity because the students have not yet learned any of the formulas associated with arithmetic sequences.

I will be using John Scammell's 7 step Learning Through Problem Solving approach.

The following activity was originally created by Dan Meyer.

Step 1: Show video Bucky the Badger
video

Step 2: Ask the students- What question do they want to explore?
Hopefully the students want to know how many push-ups will do during the entire game

Step 3: Elicit student guesses: Have the students make guesses about how many push-ups they think Bucky will do. As a class, agree on a range of reasonable answers.

Step 4: Ask the students what further information they need to answer their question. They will need to know the scoring summary for Wisconsin for the game. Show them the following data to provide them with the necessary information.


Step 5: Allow students to work on the problem. Students who finish could be given an extension like, "Does it matter where in the sequence the field goals are kicked?" “Where should the field goals be kicked to have Bucky do the least number of push-ups?”

Step 6:Share student solutions. Have students share solutions with other students, or with the whole class using a document camera or chart paper.

Step 7: Show the answer video.
video

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Flipped Classroom After 2 Days

On day 2 in my flipped classroom we watched the first instructional "videos" together. I wanted to help guide my students. I wanted to give them hints and suggestions of how to watch the videos and take notes. Remind them that if they are having trouble keeping up with the video they can, stop the video, rewind the video, fast forward the video etc... I did not want to just send them home to watch the video lessons without some guidance.

The good news. Not one student or parent has confronted me about hating this method. All the students like flipping the classroom, so far.

Next week we really get into the true flip. Every night they will have to watch a video lesson at home. Then come to class, work on their assignment and participate in some TRUE problem solving activities.

The only glitch I ran into this week is that the iTuneU server that is hosting my videos was down today. Hope this is not a regular occurence!!! Otherwise, I will have to host the videos somewhere else. My students need to be able to access those video lessons 24/7.

I hope next week goes as well as this week.

Coffee Cups Activity

As part of "flipping" my classroom I will be using my class time to have my students do some "Learning Through Problem Solving" (LTPS)

We have not yet studied arithmetic sequences. So, the following activity is a LTPS activity because the students have not yet learned any of the formulas associated with arithmetic sequences.

I will be using John Scammell's 7 step Learning Through Problem Solving approach.

Step 1: Show video Coffee Cups- Act1

Coffee cups--Act one from Jahan Khah on Vimeo.


Step 2: Ask the students- What question do they want to explore?
Hopefully the students want to know how many cups will they be able to stack on the shelf.

Step 3: Elicit student guesses: Have the students make guesses about how many cups they think will be able to be stacked on the shelf. As a class, agree on a range of reasonable answers.

Step 4: Ask the students what further information they need to answer their question. Show them Coffee Cups - Act2 to provide them with the necessary information.

Coffee cups--Act two from Jahan Khah on Vimeo.


Step 5: Allow students to work on the problem. Students who finish could be given an extension like, "Develop a formula to determine how many cups you could stack on a shelf of any height."

Step 6:Share student solutions. Have students share solutions with other students, or with the whole class using a document camera or chart paper.

Step 7: Show the answer video.

Coffee cups--Act three from Jahan Khah on Vimeo.



Finally, summarize what has been learned.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day One of the Flipped Classroom

So, I survived my first day of classes of the 2011-12 school year. In fact, I would have to say that today went pretty well.

So far, my fears of introducing the "flipped" class to my Math 20-1's have been unfounded. They were not scared of the "flipped" classroom. Some said they thought it was a good idea.

I sent home a letter explaining the "flipped" classroom concept. This way the parents get the same message as the kids.

I used the following presentation to help explain the "flipped" classroom. In my letter to parents, I guided them to a link on the class wiki that will take them to this presentation. Hopefully, those that have questions and are unsure of things watch the presentation.

I hope that most parents are as receptive as the students were. We will see tomorrow. I may receive a tsunami of phone calls and e-mails asking about the "flipped" classroom.