Reaching for My Goals


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”


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:


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:


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.

Module 3: Define POP

Part 1:

A) 5 Whys? Root-Cause Analysis

PROBLEM: Teachers want to create a flipped classroom.

WHY? Teachers want to spend more time in class getting deeper into subject matter.

WHY? Helping students delve deeply into subject matter makes learning relevant.

WHY? Relevant learning can be fun and exciting.

WHY? When subject matter is no longer boring and exhausting, it ignites an intrinsic desire to continue.

WHY? Students who care about what they’re learning in school are more likely to stay in school and pursue additional learning opportunities.

B) Why-How Ladder


C) POV Madlibs


Part 2:

Teachers, specifically high school teachers, want to give students as many meaningful, real-life learning opportunities as possible while still aligning their courses with state standards and ensuring students master the basic skills required in that course. However, there never seems to be enough time during class to teach, practice, differentiate, master, generalize, and synthesize this information. Enter the “Flipped Classroom.” Flipped Classrooms allow teachers to give students the basics, the skeleton, of the lesson at hand using a pre-recorded video and sample questions (so teaching, practicing, and differentiating), and then use class time to master, generalize, and synthesize in both small groups and as a whole-class. I will make a training module for teachers who wish to implement this model in their class. I will provide research and first-hand experience, suggestions, do’s and don’ts, and a guide for handling questions from parents regarding the different approach.

Module 3 Lab Activities: Sniglets and Reframing

Part 1: Sniglets

Snough (snoff): v. To sneeze and cough simultaneously, as during cold and flu season
I was sure to disinfect the desks after my students snoughed all over them this morning.

Calcuhater (kal’ kyoo hay ter): n. The student who, no matter what, refuses to even attempt to enjoy math class.
The calcuhater in my last period class was particularly difficult to deal with on Friday afternoons.

Mathketball (math’ ket bol): n. A game played to review key concepts in math class; materials include stuffed apple, empty diaper box, and groups of four.
The boys thought they’d win mathketball hands-down, but it turns out that tossing the apple in the box after completing a problem was much different than shooting a three pointer on the court.


Part II: Reframing

In my freshman Algebra 1 class, I was struggling with getting students to complete their daily homework. Homework typically consisted of 10-15 problems to practice the skills learned in class. The first 6-7 problems were skill recall, the next 3-5 were more challenging problems requiring students to synthesize and generalize using information from previous lessons, and the last problems were real-life applications of these skills. Every homework was designed the same way as I felt the consistency would be helpful because they would know what to expect. Students repeatedly had a variety of excuses for not completing their work, from sports practice to work to forgetting their book. Practicing skills in math class is essential to mastering the foundations so I had to figure out a way to get students to do their homework. Not only were their grades suffering, but their potential for success later in their math careers was shrinking by the day.  My students, even the ones who did their homework regularly, were not mastering the material as thoroughly as I felt they should be and grades were very low. I thought my students weren’t doing the homework because they were lazy and unmotivated. I set aside several weeks where I was sure to allow time at the end of class for collaboration and to begin the night’s assignment, and I walked around the room observing and listening to conversations to try to figure out why homework completion was at an all time low.

What I discovered was eye opening. My students either were not being challenged enough or had no idea where to even begin on their homework. They would rather just not do it than risk getting the entire assignment incorrect because they couldn’t recall what was taught in class.  I completely redesigned my class the next grading period and transformed it into a Flipped Classroom. No longer were students asked to go home and do a set of problems on their own. Rather, I uploaded short videos of me teaching the skills to YouTube and gave students my channel. Their homework was simply to watch a video (something they were doing hours of every afternoon, anyways!). The next day in class, I broke the class into groups based on the performance on the video the night before (the videos had basic questions embedded in them to check for understanding and help me keep them accountable) and differentiated the assignment based on what I had identified to be the needs of that group of students. Students collaborated and talked during class, arguing about solutions and helping each other understand. Suddenly the homework averages skyrocketed; students weren’t bored (most of the time!) while doing their “homework” and they didn’t feel a sense of defeat if they didn’t know how to work a problem since they knew they could get help from their group during the assignment.

This experience really showed me that even though I am the teacher, and I am the one with the college degree and years of experience, I still don’t know everything about why my students do what they do (or, in this case, don’t do). It is important for me to take a step back and observe, get feedback, and make changes based on the needs that I see in front of me. As teachers, we should never assume we know why a student has made a particular choice, whether good or bad. When designing a product for a particular population, it’s important to consider the  problems the audience may encounter so that we can anticipate a solution. It is also important to view the problem from a different perspective to ensure we are designing for the whole rather than just for a small part. We can’t get hung up on one aspect or solution so much that we are blinded to other possibilities.

Problem of Practice Project: EMPATHIZE

I am designing a professional development module for teachers to learn about the Flipped Classroom. I transformed my Algebra 1 Honors class into a Flipped Classroom and many of my colleagues became intrigued as they heard how successful it ended up being. This module is targeted towards high school teachers, specifically teachers in a 1:1 iPad school as I plan to reference several apps that might not be available in a “Bring Your Own Device” or laptop/tablet school.

I reached out via Facebook to friends and colleagues to see who would be interested in helping me with this project and I received several inquiries. Several of my colleagues from my previous school had already expressed interest before I began this project and I reached out to them via email as well, but I have not yet heard back from them. I plan to include their feedback throughout this project as much as possible.

Since my integration of this method into my classroom was fairly recent, I remember very well the feelings that I had as I began such a daunting task of completely reworking everything I had already designed. I thought about my own background knowledge and technology skill set as I began creating my videos and tried to put myself into the shoes of teachers who perhaps don’t have the comfort level that I had. I have always been a person who’s not afraid to try out new programs and technology and prefer to learn by playing around with it myself rather than have someone walk me through the basics. If I can’t find the answer or can’t figure something out, I use the “Help” feature or I search Google. Many teachers, especially ones older than I am, are not nearly as comfortable using trial and error and prefer to have someone walk them through the processes. I tried to keep this in mind as I brainstormed ways to organize the module and what programs to use to create it. I want it to be user friendly but still showcase the possibilities that are out there when creating such a lesson.

One thing I learned was that there are a few different ideas as to what “Flipped” means. I always assumed it meant that the lecture was done at home and the “practice” in school, but a former colleague of mine had an interesting perspective. Nick wrote, “I think that flipped classrooms can also refer to any inversion of the normal student/teacher dynamic? So having students being teachers to one another, or framing the teacher as facilitator in the creation of knowledge rather than merely the source (or arbiter) of knowledge.” I thought this was fascinating as I always assumed, especially as a math teacher, that I am supposed to teach or give the material, because I struggle with how to help my students discover the new material in math courses.  Other subjects may lend themselves better to this alternative way of thinking about it, though, because discovery typically happens a little more fluidly in reading-heavy courses such as literature or history. This caused me to expand my thinking beyond just the math course and to consider how flipping might be implemented in, say, history or religion or even home economics. His comment also encouraged me to think of ways I could potentially guide students toward discovery in my own math courses; it’s a new way of thinking for me but I think that could make me that much better able to consider the points of views of others.

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