24 January 2011

Flipping the Classroom (Week 1)

(or,  to YouTube, or not to YouTube...  That is the question.)

The first thing I learned this week  is that that is probably a correlation between the quality and clarity of the materials I create/share online for my students and their likelihood of having those materials prepared when they get to class.

That brings me to the trouble of time. It seems ideal to create my own videos so I can control the content, elude to events from class, and point students to more resources, but to create a worthwhile video takes me at least an hour at this point after I am done filming/screencasting, editing, and uploading.  Creating my own content also makes burning to DVDs or CDs much easier, which is important for making a flipped classroom feasible for my students without web access.  This almost seems manageable for one course, but getting it done for two courses at the same time, right now, seems daunting.  My first solution is to compile playlists of the best videos, which is mostly what I did for last week.  When chosen thoughtfully, I think a playlist of others' videos is almost as good, and kind of has me feeling like I have a co-teacher.

But here's the dilemma.  Many students that don't have web access at home make the wise choice to use their lunch or other free time in the building to go to a lab and view course materials and check their online grades when they can.  My students could have viewed their notes from last week this way IF YouTube was not blocked for student accounts.  The advantage of YouTube is critical mass of content.  When a student views one of my videos or one I share, if he wants to see a different video, the largest library of related content is on YouTube.  There is related content on unblocked sites like Vimeo or TeacherTube, but just not as much.  Something I need to work out.

Assessment of Week 1:
We were off Monday for MLK Day as mentioned in the last post, and then had snow days on Thursday and Friday, so there's really not even enough experience to grade.  Informal early reports suggest that my older students were more likely to have accessed the content from home.
Things to Change for Week 2:
Not a whole lot to adjust yet because half of my content/lesson plan from last week is still on the table.  I did not call/email parents to let them know notes/videos were available, which I know should be one element of success, but that was partially because I was not totally pleased with what I was offering last week.  I already had an email attachment debacle a couple weeks ago during a snow day, so I did not want to lose some parents by pushing crap out to the masses.  However, I will...
  • email/call parents
  • focus on ONE of my courses to improve quality of content
  • put some videos on Vimeo (can those uploads be linked to YouTube?)

18 January 2011

Flipping My Classroom (Initial Thoughts)

Tomorrow's the big day!  Sort of.

As with when I jumped into trying to implement standards-based grading with little more than a day's preparation last January, tomorrow I begin my week-long pilot of flipping, reverse, backwards classroom.  I really like the idea of it, and watching videos here and here, and following @drezac was pretty motivating and they seem to make it work, but I know that I am going to run into some difficulties.  If I could, BRIEFLY, go through the ADDIE model to digest what lay before me, I will.

What initially turned me on to the idea of "flipping" my classroom is that I felt like I was spending a lot of time covering examples and giving notes that my kids needed, but was severely lacking in helping my kids and coaching them along.  I built a "co-teacher" standard into my evaluations this semester to encourage the spirit some kids will inevitably foster of helping their peers and doubling my efforts, but I want to do more.  "The Rage" as we like to call it at North most often comes out toward me when the kids are just frustrated.  I hope to increase my one-on-one time with students and small groups of students.

On Friday I gave all of my classes the heads up on my intentions for this week and informally polled the class on who did not have internet or a smartphone to potentially watch videos and only ran into a few that (admitted) to having a problem with those capabilities.  I actually expected for more of those situations from my experience last year, so I'd been racking my brain, colleagues, and PLN trying to come up with alternatives to online videos.  I KNOW that most everyone has a DVD player at home, so ideally for those students without internet I would burn DVDs for, and secondarily would put the files on a CD/DVD-ROM for kids to open the files on an offline computer.

Last week we had a snow day and I emailed all my parents and students about a video I had posted and I got at least 1/4 participation, so I'm optimistic about levels of participation at home and support from parents.

I started making my own videos for my two courses today.  The advantage to making my own is that I can make for certain that everything on there is concise and tailored to where I'm going, and also makes the content easily transferable to DVD.  The disadvantage, obviously, is that it takes a LOT more time than using someone else's video.  Another limitation for me at home is that in order to get clean audio, I need to either be away from my 1 yr old or she needs to be sleeping.  That was not an option for me today, so uploading my own to YouTube was awash.

The new challenge, for me then, is how will I get notes and instruction to my offline kids without having my own content to push to them?  For those that are online, I ended up making two playlists on YouTube for their respective subjects for the week and embedded the playlists on Edline, our district website server.

I'm a little disappointed about not exactly coming out on top of things on the preparation side, but that's more acceptable when adopting innovations for one class versus an entire organization.  There are fewer consequences to adoption on smaller scales.  I was pleased with coaching my students last week, and am pleased with my lesson plan for tomorrow to get things rolling.

I wonder what the other math teachers will think...  I DID get an endorsement from @aunthattie on my DVD burning idea.