Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flipping Algebra 1 and Physics! Where is the time and why only those courses?

So I am reflecting on why I talk so much during my typical math course!  Probably cause I know so much math! Ha!  Really it is based on a combination of teaching how I was taught and believing I have something really important to say!  Too often I tried to talk a student to understanding. Over the years I have lectured less and less.  Now my flipped videos are about 5-7 minutes, I had lectured about 15-20 minutes last year. But the real question, what was I doing the other 12 minutes?

I really cannot answer that question yet.  Flipping makes me think about the concept harder and simplify.  And hopefully flipping will make the learning process deeper.

Because if flipping works like I hope it does, students in my classroom will have better notes taken outside of class in less of their time and the class hour will be filled with problem solving and critical thinking things.   I have to take it slow, I am only moving my Algebra 1 course and Physics course - and those were picked for specific reasons.

My Algebra group is always new students to me.  As the only HS math teacher all other classes (Geometry, Alg 2 and so on) have had me before and are use to my style.  I did not want to have the battle about "who moved my cheese."  (Good book about change)   Starting with a class that has never been taught by me will make it easier, they won't expect the standard lecture routine I did.  (Though I was not really typical, we never graded homework or review questions from homework -- homework was recursive practice, all 'new' things happened in the hour.  Still running the rest of my classes that way.)

My Physics class is upper level - Juniors and Seniors, based on large projects, labs and daily "mini-projects."  Since it is a high level class I am trying to flip them too, because they are good team to discuss how the videos work and get feedback. Typically the group is self-motivated and driven, and this is science which is different than math, so again the students do not have a preconceived notation on what the class "should look like."  

The biggest challenge will be setting up new hour once the videos replace homework.  But the key will be too talk less and have the students do more.  It is time to become a math coach.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sports and Math -- Why do they have to be different?

Is coaching and teaching different?  So this year I am coaching HS volleyball, and this is not a post on that.  But it is a post about why do we feel there is a difference between coaching a sport and teaching math -- because I think most people think they are different.

A key to coaching is not to talk too much, and it really is tough.  You show them a skill quickly and then give them a chance to replicate and we develop, we make them better - we coach.  Math teaching should be exactly the same - we need to lecture less.

All too often we seem to think we can talk our way to their understanding.  I have been working hard at making flipped videos for my Algebra class and while I rarely lectured more than 20 minutes - these videos are falling between 4 to 8 minutes.  So what was I doing the other 14 minutes?  (A post for later)

I just need to work on guiding more, talking less.  And remind myself, repeatedly, that students learn from doing, not listening (and I would argue a minority really listen and understand when I do lecture).  But the key will be too talk less and have the students do more.  It is time to become a math coach, get the players active and develop.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why flip my classroom?

So this year I am 'flipping,' recording mini-lectures, and asking my students to watch a video for homework -- in essence I am 'flipping' the lecture and homework. I see it as a way to help differentiate for my students and gain precious class time.  Some students, maybe even a majority (arguable), do okay with the traditional lecture, but that leaves a large portion who cannot follow the lecture due to many factors - whether they struggle or excel, or are more kin esthetic -- the point is lectures are not the best for a sizable segment of a class.

And it looks like the videos will really work well for nearly all the students -- this is based on the instructional videos I have been watching at FIZZ.  The traditional lecture students will still get what they need, the advanced students can fast forward and students that want or need more review can stop me and repeat me!

The challenge will be planning higher order activities in the open time.  I am starting slowly, just my Algebra Class and maybe a couple of Physics things.   And as I finish the first group of 20-30 videos I will spin my attention to how the class will run from bell-to-bell.

It means changing the work they do, how they do it and how they show they did it.   Now the FIZZ site does have a team grouping worksheets and a lesson plan that I want to work with (just starting to work with it).  It kind of matches what I want to start doing, which is taking more time with students working out problems in groups and presenting out solutions. 

But I also want to have them spend more time working out bigger problems too.  Ones requiring research, assumptions, conjectures and revisions.  And I truly believe this is how we will make students ready for the world.  So watch out world - here comes math videos co-starring Mr. Anderson, remember the math is the star.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homework in 2013, changing what I do -- how to keep the class "high-level"

So I posted some of the things I am working on with respect to homework before and I am still trying to figure out the last part.  The last part was how to get my students the practice they need and have it be more like 2013 versus 1985, which I previously posted as:

Finally the workbook/text book combo.  I am currently looking for ways to move low level things out of my class (by flipping, out of class reading/note taking, etc) and doing a combo of text reading (needed for college) and ....

So I have been trying to figure out what this workbook/text combo idea looks like and how it fits into my classroom.  The more I work at it, the more I lean towards flipping the classroom and having problems completed in class.  I still remain quite unsure of how it will work but have located a resource.

I have been following the FIZZ ideas for how to flip (about style of video, content, etc) and have basically completed their entire first module, I am actually now applying but either way I am again moving forward with their ideas.

I like it because it has that teacher touch, my students taking instruction from me.  It also makes me really think about what I am teaching, how I will integrate and follow up on.  There are plenty of details but I have upload my first couple of videos (fractions, classify triangles by angles and/or sides) and they are better than my previous ones I feel - so it is progress!  With school only 3 weeks away I now have a path (at least).

Again - no more 1985.....

Monday, August 5, 2013

Problem Based Learning - Real problems, real solutions -

How do you get students interested in what is going on?  How do you make them understand real world things like ROI and payback?  How do you make students justify and defend?

You do real world things.  We did the green energy thing, and we will finish that project shortly.  So now it is encore time.  What other real world things can students do?

LED Lighting, Roof gardens, Water reduction, Insulation (heating/cooling) reduction -- what else?
Figuring out what is next is challenging -- leave a comment, help me out!