Friday, December 20, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I find it interesting that adults want youngsters to take more responsibility for their learning, yet rarely give them an opportunity to do so. Are they supposed to magically figure it out? I'm happy to say that students are forced to take responsibility for their learning in my course. And even if some students don't immediately internalize this message, they are aware of the expectations and have plenty of opportunities to do so -- courtesy of the Flipped Class.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Dschen Reinecke // Wikipedia|
Friday, November 15, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
I received a wonderful letter from a parent. It was truly touching. I won't quote it here but I will explain the content. It was the parent of one of my exceptional students who has consistently worked ahead. The parent thanked me for allowing the student to work at his own pace and shared that this was the first time this student actually felt a science or math course allowed him to work at his own level. Now of course I'm sure that there are/were parents who could say something negative about the flipped class, so I won't overreach here. But I am glad that one of my main motivators to make the switch is actually happening. I do have a number of exceptional students who are ahead of the pace of the course and that number increases as time passes. If I stayed with the traditional model or even a synchronous flipped model, those students would still be kept hostage by everyone else's pace. They would never know what it felt like to get an education specifically geared to their them, rather than to the middle of the class.
I'm reminded of the Universal Design for Learning model. This model is inspired by a similar mode of architecture wherein the building is designed for the extremes rather than the middle. For example, if you build 7 foot doorways, everyone can fit through without ducking their heads. If you have wheelchair ramps at every entrance and exit, then everyone can enter and exit the building. The opposite approach would have doorways the same as the average height of people or only a few wheelchair accessible entrances and exits because most people can walk. If you design for the extremes, then everyone benefits.
The same approach can be done for education. If you design education by keeping in mind the extremes, those who are exceptional and those who have special needs, then you can reach all students. When I designed my flipped class, I kept in mind the strongest students I've ever had and the other extreme. I tried to design the course to meet those extremes, in order to reach all students. The traditional model is designed around the middle of the pack and doesn't do much for the most exceptional or those who struggle the most.
How do I meet the needs of the extremes?
1) First, by having my lectures on video, students can view the content on demand, rewind, pause or fast forward. They can watch the video several times. This really helps those who struggle the most because they typically need to hear and see things several times to get it. This helps the exceptional students because they can view the video once and move on and not be slowed down by the students who have questions or those who need to hear content repeated.
2) The first question I get from colleagues is what happens when a student has a question when they watch the video, especially at home. My students are required to complete a video form after/while watching a video. Part of the form is a required question. Students send their questions to me and I can respond, many times before they come to class. This works for students who struggle because they can ask any question without fear of asking a "dumb" question in front of peers. I can reply with an email or even plan to meet with the student during the next class. The exceptional student gets to ask a question that goes beyond the scope of the course and I can answer it without fear of confusing the students who might not even understand the question.
3) Asynchronous learning cycles further support individualized learning. Weaker students can slow down and work at their pace, while exceptional students can work ahead. The obvious implications are that some students will not finish the entire course, while others will learn content beyond the scope of the course. The former implication was hard for me to accept at first but when I remembered that the weakest students didn't actually learn all of the content in the traditional model anyway, I felt better about the decision. We rush all students ahead at a predetermined rate, usually equal to the pace of the middle students, without really considering that the weaker students haven't learned the earlier material. In a cumulative course, this approach is counterproductive. Either way, the weakest students will not learn as much in a year as the other students. At least in the asynchronous model, they have a chance of mastering some content and feeling good about really learning.
I have a weird policy regarding lab reports that I'm rethinking. Since the first lab assignments, I haven't let students work on their lab reports during class time. The major reason is that the reports take up too much time; if we stopped going through the learning cycle for lab report writing, we would get through a fraction of the curriculum. My workaround has been to allow students to record data and perform calculations in class but write up their reports and make graphs at home; in addition, students who complete the mandatory learning cycle tasks for the week could also use the remainder of the week to either work ahead or work on the lab reports. So far, this is the best compromise that I've figured out and still trying to think of an alternative solution.
Speaking of labs, running an asynchronous course makes it difficult to run labs that require the entire class. So far, I've managed to share last year's data to allow faster students to complete their writeup without waiting for other classmates. Once all of the students have nearly caught up, the entire class set-up the experiment and collect data to be used for next year. What I would like to do instead is let individual students or small groups set up the lab as soon as their ready, then share last year's data with them. This way they are setting up the lab as soon as it is relevant; ahead students won't have to set up a lab they already wrote a lab report for! I still haven't figured out a way to avoid using last year's data in an asynchronous course because I don't want the quicker students to wait too long and don't want the slower students to arbitrarily set up a lab when they haven't even learned the prerequisite material.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
My favorite desktop program:
Simplest/Easiest to Use
Jing (harddrive), ScreenR (web) and Quicktime Pro (harddrive) are the simplest and easiest to use screen casting programs. The drawback to these programs is that they produce one-take videos without editing and any helpful annotations. I use Jing for screenshots but not for screen casts because the videos are recorded as swf files, which do not upload to Youtube. Quicktime Pro has a relatively unknown screen recording feature. It's as easy as selecting "New Screen Recording" on the File menu and pressing record. This is my go-to program when I wish to do a quick one-take screen cast.
The other beautiful thing that happened was the video form responses proved to be helpful to me in a practical, not just theoretical, way this week. The students watched a video on chi squares, which I knew would be difficult. Next to protein synthesis, it is always the lesson that gives me the most anxiety before doing it. This is a difficult concept, especially for 8th graders. The lower than normal video ranking (2.4 compared to 2.75 out of 3) is clearly an indication. However, I see this as a success story because I wrote down all of the student names who indicated confusion and we spent the first few minutes in a small tutorial group going over chi squares. I knew going into this process that some students would struggle with some of the video lessons - this is why I use class time to provide remediation, tutoring, etc. The part unseen is the majority of students who understood the concept from the video and can now move on, without being slowed down by their peers. In my opinion, this is exactly what should happen in all classes: students getting what they need!
I'm seeing a lot of red on the tracking sheets, even the simple inheritance one which most people have finished. Starting tomorrow, I won't allow quiz taking until your tracking sheets are filled in. You also won't pass a check-in without showing me your tracking sheet. Please update.Quick explanation: this is really important to me because I need to know where you are in the learning cycle. If you are behind, I need to figure out a way to help you. If you are ahead, then I need ample warning to set up and order lab supplies, make photocopies, etc. You might be ready for the next step but not have any materials. So please, I implore you to update those tracking sheets.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
My final adjustment this week is my approach to quizzing. A few students were able to take their Moodle quiz today. I'm glad it was only a handful of students because I became aware of a few glitches. I definitely needed to work through the Moodle quiz options. For example, the quiz is password protected but it is easy for that password to spread. I initially thought changing the password between periods would be enough. Apparently, I need to hide the quiz even during the same period. Some students took the quiz without permission. They mistakenly thought they could take the quiz. In addition, I enabled the force time break between submissions because some students took the quiz a second time right after taking it. I added a 24 hour break between submissions and a total of three attempts per quiz. I don't want students rushing through attempts without pausing to reflect on how they did on the quiz. Some students ignored my advice and took the quiz without having pen and paper. Since several quiz problems entail math, they did not do so well when they tried solving the problems in their head. In addition, I have to set a better tone for the quiz taking. The class is an "organized chaos" with students moving around and collaborating. This atmosphere is not conducive to taking quizzes. In the later periods, I had students taking quizzes separately and mandated that they give me their scrap paper after taking the quiz. I'm hoping this will reduce the sharing of quiz questions. Although I hope I have enough questions in the test bank to prevent or discourage sharing.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Multiple Playlists vs...
One Assignment Sheet