Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Results of a Semester of Flip Class

Now that a full semester is complete, I can judge the effectiveness of the change to flip class. The results confirm my perceptions of positive change. 
Results
1) Student achievement is up from previous years.
Quarter 4 of '12-'13 was first quarter of flipped class

2) Academic Notifications are progress reports sent home for struggling students. I have sent fewer academic notifications this year. 
     

3) The number of students averaging in the 90s has increased. 

    4) There has been no change in the number of failing students
    5) I have better relationships with students. I no longer have to manage behavior during content presentation; the most significant behavior issue I have to deal with now is making sure students are on task. More eighth graders have asked me for recommendations this year than in all the previous years combined. My job satisfaction has increased.

    6) Since I have recuperated class time, there are more opportunities for project based learning. In previous years, I did not have any projects. This year, I had three projects in the first semester. 


    Major adjustments from the first semester

    1) I had a few horrendous workflow issues early in the first quarter. I required students to use multiple sources to acquire and keep track of work. After feedback from students, I streamlined this process. I created one assignment sheet with links to all handouts and assignments. 

    At the beginning of this semester, I have done away with the tracking sheet since some students did not use it on a consistent basis. I opted to display the required weekly assignments in class; this information is also posted on the homepage of the website. This should greatly reduce any questions about expectations. 

    2) The asynchronous nature of the course, made it difficult for students to work with different groups. In addition, it also diminished the community feel of each section. I started to use synchronous assignments to give students the opportunity to work as a class and with different individuals. Some synchronous activities are labs, Socratic Seminars, Peer Instruction and the projects. These have helped with both problems.

    3) In the middle of quarter 1, I started to meet with individual students in class after failing a quiz. This helped me gauge their misunderstandings and suggest remedial activities. (Over the summer, I hope to increase my Library of remedial assignments.) I offered students an opportunity to retake part of the genetics exam, even though I did not have this plan. I allowed students to retake part of the exam if they submitted all outstanding work, retake any quizzes they did not receive perfect scores on, and submit test corrections. All but two students (out of 6 or 7) increased their test score in the retake. Even though they loathed the requirements, some told me that it helped them. Unfortunately, the two students who really would have benefited the most, did not take advantage of this opportunity. I'm unsure how to address this issue, other than explicitly including the offer in an Academic Notification. (I neglected to do this because I did not originally plan to allow students to do a retake.) 

    Future adjustments in Semester 2:
    1) More frequent check in times with students. Although, there are mandatory and optional check in assignments, I did not have an effective way to enforce them. I will be more diligent about checking in with students. This should help keep struggling students accountable (the tracking sheet did not work with struggling students because they typically ignored it.) This will also increase scores because some students neglected to show me assignments in previous quarters, even though they may have completed them. 

    In general, I just need to hound kids more often. 

    2) More optional assignments or components of assignments: I received some feedback that not all activities are required to understand some concepts. While I'm skeptical that all students can gauge what they need, I will be flexible with students who have demonstrated success. 

    3) More engagement with my Personal Learning Network and resume weekly blog posts: in the first quarter I did not engage my PLN as often as during the summer. I regret missing consecutive Flip Class chats on Twitter. In December, I stopped posting weekly reflections to my blog. Even though some weeks are not note worthy, the habit forces me to reflect on successes and needed adjustments. I should at least draft a weekly reflection even if I choose not to post it to the blog. 

    Institutional obstacles:
    1) iPads are limited. 
    • They don't reliably print. I'm not sure the nature of the issue. In semester one, I started to print copies of handouts but that caused a lot of waste. I will no longer print the handouts and will encourage students to use Notability and/or Google Drive. After a semester, 8th graders have a better handle on iPads.  
    • These devices do not support Flash. I frequently use online simulations. It is unfortunate that students cannot use their devices for all work. It's hard to plan for laptop usage since the course is asynchronous.
    2) Headphones: I should purchase a class set of headphones since some students neglect to bring headphones on a day they need to watch a video. In some instances, students are forced to watch the video in the hallway, which decreases my ability to hold them accountable. 

    Conclusion
    The first semester switch to the flipped class was a successful one. Students are performing better and my job satisfaction has improved. Even though there are still tweaks and improvements to be made, the outlook for this flipped class is positive!