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Reaching for My Goals

MSU: MAED

Problem of Practice Project: Picking my problem

For the past three years I have been fortunate to work at a one-to-one iPad high school. I taught several different math courses and used a variety of instructional strategies in an attempt to reach my students in a creative, memorable way.  For two years I (and another teacher) implemented the Flipped Classroom. If you’re unfamiliar with that model, the Flipped Classroom is essentially a setup where the teacher assigns teacher-created videos for homework. These videos are short and informative, giving students the basics of the intended lesson and opportunities for practice. Then, the following day in class, the teacher assigns problems, projects, and/or in-depth analysis of the material. I found the Flipped Classroom to work incredibly well in math courses because students weren’t expected to go home and complete 20 practice problems for homework; they watched and interacted with a video. Then the practice was completed in the classroom in small groups, where they could get help or clarification the moment they realized they needed it.

Many of the other teachers (in both the math department and other subject areas) expressed such an interest in implementing this model with their classes. Even though I left my classroom to be a stay-at-home mom, I still have colleagues reaching out for guidance and direction on how to transform their class into a Flipped Classroom.

My “problem” for this project is to design a professional development module, targeted towards my former colleagues at my most recent school, explaining the process and giving direction on how I created my Flipped Classroom. I plan to explain not only the tools that I found worked well, but also discover and share additional tools that others may find useful. I plan to make it a “Flipped” experience, so they learn from my instruction but also experience from a student’s perspective what the Flipped model feels like. I know the kinds of things our administration likes to see in instruction and evaluation so I will include those in my module. Then, I will send the module to the teachers who have reached out to me as well as to the Technology Adviser and my former principal, in case there might be other teachers who have expressed interest but haven’t necessarily reached out to me.

Featured post

CEP 817: Final Reflection Paper

CEP 817 Final Reflection

Please view the document above for my final reflection paper. I tried to design it in a way that reflects my personality and preferences– clean lines, a bit traditional, creative twists on the unexpected, and bright colors. I hope you enjoy reading it! Thank you for everything you have done for us this semester; I will take significant portions of this class with me forward in not just school, but life as well.

~Katie Wood

PoP: The Final Report

Problem of Practice Final Report

The PDF located at the link above contains my Final Report for this Problem of Practice Project.

Module 6: Testing Report

Problem of Practice: TESTING PHASE

Context: Teachers lack the time in class to delve as deeply as they would like into subject matter. One solution to this problem is to transform the traditional “lecture at school, practice at home” into a “lecture at home, practice at school” style of Flipped Classroom.

Users: Current teachers who were interested in implementing the Flipped Classroom in their own courses. The teachers I sent my prototype to had various levels of knowledge regarding flipping.

Designing the Test: My goal from the get-go was to create a self-guided module for teachers to peruse on their own time. One of the parts about flipping that is stressed to students is to watch the videos/lectures when they are most focused. So often in a traditional classroom we ask students to attempt to understand new material when they may not be ready to think in such a way. With the Flipped model, they are encouraged to wait until they have as few distractions as possible and are ready to devote their time and attention to the material in front of them. My goal was the same with teachers and this module. Teachers have so much on their plate that I wanted them to choose the time that worked the best for THEM.  That’s why I chose to make a website for the prototype. I used a Google Form for feedback so they could offer it immediately after viewing the module. I didn’t know ahead of time when the testers would be able to peruse the website and I wanted them to have an easy-to-access way to offer immediate feedback while it was fresh in their minds. I told them they could also call me and I would record our conversation or they could email/text me, but all three opted to just fill out the Google Form. The feedback form they used is embedded in my website.

What happened and what did I learn? I originally created a PowerPoint presentation for my prototype but overall wasn’t very happy with it… I just couldn’t seem to get it to match what I had in mind. I was planning to send it out anyways, until I got feedback on that phase and realized that I hadn’t created what I thought I had created (see the blog post here to read about that process!). I ended up totally changing my prototype to a website, which, thanks to Google Sites, was a lot easier to design according to what I had imagined. After making the website, I sent it to my friends and colleagues with the following message:

Good morning everyone! Here is the link to my website prototype. Please work your way through the tabs at the top of the page, reading, watching, clicking, and reading some more. The tab furthest to the right is a Google Form so you can offer feedback. If you’d prefer, you can also text/email me or give me a call and we can chat about it (I might record our conversation to include it in my course assignment, but I will let you know ahead of time!). Thank you so much for agreeing to help me with this project. Your feedback means so much to me!

My colleagues replied with their feedback and I was so grateful to them for taking the time to play around with my website. I learned that I need to give teachers PLENTY of time to complete yet another task. In the future I might try to meet them for coffee to discuss the prototype in person and offer an incentive (coffee on me and a visit with a friend!) in order to gently encourage them for more timely feedback. I also learned that technology evolves SO quickly. Programs and apps that I used just a few months ago to create flipped lessons for my classes are either no longer available or require subscriptions, so I had to adjust my plans for resources I would include and how I would create my own module.

Although this is late in coming and my first prototype was not the greatest, I feel good about what I accomplished during this final phase. I will definitely take what I learned from this semester long project and implement it in the future when designing course materials and products.

Module 6 Lab: Testing Phase Video

Module 6: Testing

This module felt hectic to me. Upon receiving feedback on my prototype from the last module, I went back to look at it again and realized I had not, in fact, created what I thought I was creating. I thought I had made something helpful for teachers who already knew about Flipping, but what I’d done was created a resource (a rather boring one, at that, but my plan was originally to add voiceovers to the presentation I’d created) to introduce flipping to teachers curious about it.

So I scrapped it.

I recreated my prototype and I have to say, I am much prouder of it now. In hindsight, I don’t think I was supposed to have done that, but I think my current prototype is much more “testable” and actually demonstrates what I had in mind for my project.

You can find my new prototype here. (Please let me know what you think!)

I was unable to complete the lab activity (yet! I am still planning to do it!) and truly finish the PoP assignment. I was waiting for feedback on my prototype from course instructors before sending it to colleagues who had already agreed to help with the project. Due to a glitch in the system, my feedback needed to be reloaded before I was able to see it. When I realized my prototype wasn’t what I thought I had created, and decided to recreate it, it took some time to actually put my thoughts into fruition and come up with a delivery system that was easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing, and that ultimately I was proud to have created. I sent the website out to my colleagues with pleading words to offer feedback as soon as possible, whether via the Google form I’d included in the site or via text message or phone conversation. Of the four colleagues I sent it to, I have received feedback from only one so far. I have chosen to hold off on my lab activity and submitting my final Testing Phase Report, so that I might include feedback from the others who are testing my design.

My professional development module that I created was intended to be a self-directed module for teachers to learn at their own pace. Here in Florida, teachers are approaching End-of-Course exams, senior exams, and the busy prom-graduation-festivities part of the year. I have to patiently wait for feedback from those I sent the module out to; I am hopeful I will get at least two more replies within a week and then plan to re-post to share what I learned and how things turned out. I suppose this was a design flaw in and of itself– I should have organized a small session where the teachers access the unit in front of me and then offer immediate feedback in person. This would be something to keep in mind for any future design projects but it’s impossible to do at this point due to time constrictions. I’m not currently in the classroom, so coordinating a time to meet with everyone in person may be near impractical.

I did send an email to ask (beg!) for an extension on this part of the project, but as of this moment have not received permission for that. I understand and will take responsibility for my poor planning if an extension cannot be granted but regardless, I still fully intend to complete the module lab and PoP activity as assigned.

Thank you!

PoP: Prototype

Here is a link to my prototype for my Problem of Practice. I found this to be an incredibly difficult assignment. Prototyping is hard for me– I’m a perfectionist by nature and have always struggled with having a “rough draft” of a project or paper. I found myself getting frustrated that the programs I had planned to use either didn’t work like I was used to back when I flipped my own classroom last year, or I went to download them again and found they required a subscription. I guess so many people were hopping on the Flipped Train that developers saw a way to make some money. I can’t blame them, I suppose.

I learned several things throughout this process.

  • I learned to actually go back and look at my plans and sketches. I realized I was trying to do twice the work! I forgot that I had already figured out my path for how the information would flow from one part to another. I went back to an older blog post and found what I was looking for, and boy did that make this process much easier!
  • Technology, as awesome as it is, will let you down. Always, always have a Plan B. I learned that the hard way, too, when I was in my flipped class. So often students would come in with one technological problem or another, and eventually I had to tell them that they were responsible for figuring out a way to learn the material I had presented in the video; I didn’t care HOW they learned it, they just needed to learn it.
  • I need to have patience with the process and allow myself to make mistakes and imperfect creations, so that I have something to start with. I tend to focus too much on perfecting my product/creation that I lose sight of the bigger picture. Such is the case with this prototype; I KNOW my final product can (and will!) be much more engaging and interesting.

 

Module 5 Lab: Prototyping “Everyone Matters”

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Everyone Matters

“…Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world…”

The classic song from my childhood Sunday School class is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Everyone Matters. I chose to represent this idea using Legos (Mega Blocks) because of how they connect together. No matter our race, color, gender, culture, background, or beliefs, we are all interconnected and each piece is just as vital to the overall structure as another. If a piece were missing, the final result would not be the same. I put the Legos on a “MajikCatch” mitt (you know the ones with velcro on each hand paddle and a tennis ball you throw back and forth that let uncoordinated kids actually feel like they can catch a ball) because of its scratchy surface. Life is scratchy. It isn’t always nice looking or good feeling, but in the end it can be a pretty fun game. The mirror represents the importance of inward reflection, and constantly reevaluating ourselves. It also reminds us that our individuality is vital, too. My individual likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions are just as critical to the world as another person’s.

As I was trying to come up with different ideas for this assignment, I was sitting amongst my kids’ toys and was just looking around for inspiration. It kind of made me think of our last module where we were directed to take a “brainless break” to allow a new idea to pop into mind.  I had been thinking for a few days on what on earth I could use to represent one of the abstract ideas and had hit a wall with my thinking. I hadn’t even picked a topic-I just kept reading over the list and waiting for something to come to mind. I was in the middle of a living room filled with Legos when I noticed the black, white, yellow, and red ones near each other (thank you, Construction-themed Mega Blocks set!) and that song from Sunday School popped into mind. Suddenly, I had my idea! As I started putting the Legos together and thinking concretely about my interpretation, I rummaged through the toys to find other items that helped expand my thinking. I enjoyed this lab! I enjoy creating things like this, although sometimes I struggle with understanding another person’s interpretation of their abstract ideas. I am interested to click through classmates’ posts to see how they handled this assignment.

Problem of Practice: IDEATE

Part 1: Brainstorming

I did two short brainstorming sessions– one with a moms’ group (backgrounds include psychology, history, and math teachers, stay at home moms, engineers, and physical therapy) and one with my own mom, who works in administration at a private high school. My notes from both sessions (I took them on the same paper) are below.IMG_1028

Part 2: Incubation journal

I kept this incubation journal on my cell phone, in my “Notes” app. I chose this because I ALWAYS have my phone with me and I can verbally ask Siri to add something else to my note if I have an idea while driving or am otherwise occupied.

Part 3: Reflection

Throughout this process, I have learned how to really expand my mind and come up with some ideas that I might not have considered before. I am someone who tends to jump headfirst into projects without much planning/though beforehand and this process has forced me to slow down and THINK and truly ponder the design process. As a result, I think I will ultimately be much happier with my finished product than I would have been from the get-go. This would be an incredible skill to turn around and teach to my students in my classroom– if they had the ability to follow these steps when doing their own projects, the products they created would be incredible!

As I move away from the “thinking” and towards the “doing” parts of this course project, I have begun to actually consider what aspects and ideas I will use in my final product.  In another MSU course, I discovered the web app called Symbaloo. It’s an incredible resource for creating self-directed learning modules and allows you to use a variety of outside resources (like documents, links, videos) as well as create tests/quizzes and interactive activities. My plan is to create a Symbaloo module. I have a great article that is very informative for parents of students in flipped classes that I will provide as a resource. Then I’ll give teachers an opportunity to give me some feedback on what they already know about flipped classrooms so I can gauge their background knowledge, sort of like a built-in KWL chart within the module. I want the module to be easily accessible across all platforms, so that whether a teacher has an iDevice, an Android, or a PC, they can effortlessly complete all the activities and view the resources. The more I plan this project the more excited I am about actually creating it! I hope it will be as useful to other teachers as I would like for it to be!

Module 4 Lab Activity

Part 2: Prime your mind

Idea Notes:

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Part 3: Incubate

(The fact that an assignment included a scheduled break was so nice! Although, my husband came in the room to see if I needed anything and I had to tell him that laying down playing Angry Birds Blast was actually part of the assignment! He was admittedly a tad skeptical…)

Part 4: Back to work and reflection

Addendum to Idea Notes:

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Reflection: I really enjoyed this lab activity. I liked having dedicated time to spend on actively thinking about my problem. Taking a break is something I have always done when I am stuck; I distinctly remember a time in middle school when I was overwhelmed with a project and I spent hours making no progress whatsoever. My mom suggested I take a break and come back to it later. I went for a walk and had a snack.  I remember being shocked at how much more progress I was able to make on the project after letting my brain walk away for a bit! I’ve been mulling over this problem of practice since I originally picked it at the beginning of the semester, so have been constantly running ideas through my mind. Because of that, I don’t think my incubation period here was as effective or eye-opening as it potentially could have been. However, I think I still came up with some questions and ideas that I hadn’t already thought about over the past few weeks. I really feel like over the course of this class that I have come up with some good ideas and addressed some valid concerns that my fellow colleagues will have when attempting to flip their classrooms.

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