Reaching for My Goals


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.

Two minutes in the life of… a three week old baby girl

I chose to shoot my video from the perspective of my newborn daughter, as this is what encompasses most of my days right now. It was really enlightening to shoot from her point of view, especially as I went back to watch it afterwards. No wonder she hates her swing! I felt dizzy just watching the video, and that view is borrrrrrring! My husband and I were just commenting the other night how we think she always has this stunned, confused look on her face, and now after watching this video, I know why! Her perspective is very overwhelming at times.

This was an interesting assignment for me because I assumed I knew what things look like from her view, but in reality, I had no idea what it’s truly like to be a baby. Her world is shaky and changes suddenly and she has no control over literally anything. I find it much easier now to truly empathize with her when she seems fussy for no reason. Perhaps she’s tired of moving, or just wants to be on the floor with minimal stimuli surrounding her, or wants something more interesting to look at than the ceiling. I’m really glad I chose this perspective for this project, though, because now maybe we can solve some of our fussy baby problems…

(Since I can’t upload a video without upgrading my WordPress, here is a link to it on YouTube.)

Two minutes…

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.

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