Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week 5 - successful and not so successful

Week 5 has been interesting with flipping lessons. I still am only flipping about two per week. I am waiting for my students to  demonstrate an ability to keep up with the work and stay organized. This will be my signal to add a third day of flipped content. I am hoping to flip content at least 3 times a week. This week I also exported my smartboard class lesson as a PDF and uploaded it to Edmodo for additional review of class notes. It was handy for those who were absent too. Students had watched an introductory video on the content, and only had to answer one question with not notes. I delivered more content and examples on the smartboard in class the next day. Most of the notes came from this. Exporting the PDF allowed students to relax and listen rather than worry about writing down all the  notes. They filled  in the the remaining notes that night from the PDF. I guess I flipped the content in stages over two nights and one lesson. This was a successful way to deliver the content and still gave me more class time to work with students on problems. My end goal is to increase classroom time with practice

What was not so successful is the parents and all their questions. They are not sure about this flipping and their student's homework/classwork grades. Homework/classwork grades in my class are only 10% to track the learning progress. Parents want their children to have nothing but A's in the grade book and can't seem to understand that 10% will not impact the overall grade to any great degree. I use an online assessment tool and students get a percent of achievement almost daily. We don't expect high percents until we have practiced a concept for a few days. Parents want to see 100 percent achievement on every homework. It is a shame that learning is so grade orientated. We incorrectly teach students to earn A's rather than learn content.

One problem I have is the students who are focused on getting the answer but not learning the content. Several students in each class are copying answers from their group work rather than understanding the concept and doing it themselves. I can see this from the lack of notebook work and questioning in group discussions. This week, I will be implementing notebook checkers at the start of every class to check notebook work from preceding night's classwork/homework.

I still need to figure out how to support--

  •  struggling students who are not used to thinking and just used to getting the right answer any way they can
  • high achievers who think they should have an A every day on every new lesson
  • parents who are having trouble shifting their understanding of the flipped classroom and class/work homework grades


  1. Barbara, your story and what you're working on figuring out how to support remind me of why we developed our "Notice/Wonder" scenario-only activity for the Math Forum Problems of the Week. As you know well when the question is removed from the problem scenario, the struggling students engage and the high achieving students have no where to go except deeper into the thinking about the context.

    I wonder if some of that strategy can be applied to what you are assigning? How can homework/classwork be presented so that students are encouraged to:
    * make sense of the problems and persevere in solving them
    * reason abstractly and quantitatively
    .... and all of the other Practices #3 through #8?

    Would it help to remove more of the questions? Is it the nature of the tasks that are making it difficult to support both struggling students and high achievers? Can we differentiate better when there are fewer questions to answer and more activities in which the students engage?

    I'm looking forward to reading your continuing stories -- it's so great to have a window into what you and your students are doing. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thanks Suzanne! What a great idea. I am going to see how I can adapt this into the daily practice. I have taught them "Notice/Wonder" with problem solving. Maybe it is time to just hand them a scenario only problem and get all of them thinking.

      I have been taking video of my class. It is a great reflection on my teaching. It is still too teacher centered. If I want them to learn to think, I need to let them lead with their "Noice/Wonder". More to come..............

  2. You may not want to use the phrase we've adopted but we use "Notice/Wonder" with "naked math"! So, for example, something like:

    What do you notice? What do you wonder?
    Find (5/10) ÷ (5/6)

    I think it takes some time to develop thorough noticings of naked math but it might be something to work on.

    Here are some of the kinds of things we'd expect kids to get to the point of thinking about:
    * Will the answer be a number? Whole number? Positive? Negative?
    * What's too high?
    * What's too low?
    * What's a reasonable guess?

    Another question to ask with that same prompt is "How can you solve your problem? How many different ways?"
    * Think about different strategies you could use.
    * What did you notice or think about to help you choose a strategy?
    * Did you get stuck? What did you notice or think about to help you get unstuck?
    * How do you know you are right? Is your answer reasonable? Does it match your estimation?

    So, while "problem solving" might make us think of story problems or word problems or PoWs, we might also extend it to solving naked math problems!

    1. Great explanation Suzanne. I did something similar today with "naked math". I used the words "what do you know about" 3 x 16 and 6 x 8? It was a real eye opener to math language and thinking. I prompted them with looking for relationships, patterns and anything we use to describe numbers. All four classes took the discussion in different directions but it was powerful discussion and generated a lot of thinking. I think I have adopted a new routine for developing mathematical thinking!
      However, I will need different words than "naked math"! :-)

  3. Maybe have the kids come up with what they'd call it?