Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Week 40: Reflecting and Looking Forward

Another delayed post based on a list I wrote myself weeks ago. This one is probably the most important (and the list was actually written in the last week of the school year while it was fresh in my mind). Here is the annual reflection of my practices based on things that I want to work on in the future:

1. It was made evident to me (largely by conversations with a couple parents of my Grade 10 students) that many of these kids are still not really equipped to handle the flipped classroom on their own because of two major things: They have never view videos for homework before really; and Many of them have inadequate note-taking skills (i.e. they do not know when to hit pause because they have seen something important that needs to be written down).

I had tried to tackle these issues in the intro to my classroom but clearly I am not even doing an adequate job. Step 1: admit you  have a problem, right? I had been doing the first couple of videos as a class and had tried to show them that they should pause and record rewind if needed - and I do go through a list of "video guidelines" that they should follow for effective learning. Peers have shared that they will have a student be in charge of the mouse during these types of class video viewings so that a kid is in charge of pausing, rewinding, etc but either I am going about it wrong when I do this, or the kids are just too shy to really do what they need to do. I must find a way to better model this process. I think that perhaps I should model note taking myself even...and probably do the videos in class for a few more days than I have been.

2. Further to the note-taking issue, I have been grappling with the idea of losing textbooks as resources altogether and providing them with notes - this may happen if I return to the math department as this is the direction our new department head wants to take (if we have our own resources it does not make sense to pay for textbooks). Another possibility for working on modelling note-taking would be to provide students with outlines that they have to fill in as part of their homework/lesson.

Food for thought. Potentially time consuming. (especially with a new prep to worry about this semester)

3. Working as a flipped classroom teacher the focus is supposed to be on the in-class "stuff" that is assigned to really move the learning forward, allow for individual assessment/feedback time, and really engage the students in the topic and the learning. This has been a big adjustment...just what do you do with all the TIME!? It is, of course, the biggest blessing of this coaching style (I do not really call it teaching anymore - I am a guide to their learning...a facilitator if you will).

I want to make this part a better focus for me next semester. To continue to find engaging and meaningful things for students to do in class while resorting to "do these problems" less and less. Again, finding these many resources, ideas, etc is time consuming. But it has to be the most rewarding...the biggest bang for my buck (if the buck is time). I plan to continue accessing the many resources I have found (which include fellow bloggers, interactive websites/apps, project based learning, inquiry - and to hopefully harness the most effective things as often as possible (and if I can engage in PBL and inquiry this will be newer territory for me in areas that have intrigued me for awhile). I have even thought a bit more about the "genius hour" idea - and really liked the way Matthew Oldridge outlined it in his blog entitled "The Road to #GeniusHour Math"! (I recommend the read if you are math/science and want a starting point for implementing this type of task into your class).

4. I started to repurpose by Twitterchats from many moons ago to use as in-class discussion starters. This was a focus on physics CONTENT (not problem solving) and is supposed to serve as a way to get more effective conversation going in my classroom. My reflection on this is how I want to continue to use this next year (and beyond) by really establishing Accountable Talk practices (conversational norms) for students to use and make habit going forward. I discussed these ideas broadly here.

Looking forward I want to help students create conversational skills that will make them:
Clarify what they think the other person understands.
Asking another person to repeat what they think they just heard (i.e. engaging other group members).
Seeking the opinions of others by asking them if they agree or disagree AND why.
Engaging others and seeking all ideas by asking if there is anything they would like to add.
Using wait time to allow others to think. Not rushing the discussion.

5. I have also blogged this year about using Mathalicious with my Grade 10 math class. I would love to work on implementing these tasks the next time I teach a math course. They are a great foundation to math applications and a more authentic look at the subject, but are not always easy to implement in a way that engages teenagers. I need to work on relating the task to them more AND definitely making sure there is a strong foundation with the math tools needed before assuming it is a feasible task in the time-line I lay out.

Well I think that about covers it. I always have ideas for myself that turn out to be ambitious and maybe not achievable goals but I would way rather have too much I want to accomplish than to become complacent and not have enough.

I think it is safe to say that my priorities in this reflection are 1, 3 and 4. Goal 1 is my focus to help most with continuing to implement my flipped classroom and to build better relationships with students at the start (and parents, by extension). Goals 3 and 4 will be the focus I set out for myself for in-class throughout the semester - if I only do 2 significant things this time around I hope they are to actually create this conversational atmosphere in my class and to try new tasks/ideas/etc as often as possible.

If you have read to the end of this and have any reflections, ideas, questions, thoughts, etc that you would like to share please comment below. Would love to hear from you :)


  1. Hi Heather!
    I see the exact same thing in my classes when it comes to taking notes. Though most of the learning is done in class (still in an independent, self-paced fashion), students struggle to take consistent notes, and most don't take them at all. I've tried introducing and modelling Cornell notes (even making up a stack of Cornell note templates for them to use), and reinforcing the practice of reviewing notes before a quiz or final assignment (asking to see the notes, asking what they are recording), but it's a skill that still falls to the wayside. It is one of my goals, too, to get more students in the habit! I've been playing with a better introduction to note-taking as a whole, and would appreciate your input! I've been jotting down ideas here Good luck with your goals for the year! :D

    1. Hooray! New thing learned today! How to make comments thread on blogger! (I realized I could do that on yours and not on my own, so thanks for general your page is much better set up - it actually seems more like a personalized website anyway :) )

      Glad that you are experiencing these things too. I too try to use Cornell note (it is what I intro to the Grade 9s...10s/11s I tried to give that option as well as WSQ so there was choice).

      Loved what you shared as well (and posted a comment in there) :)

      Thanks for the comment!