Sunday, October 13, 2013

School Year Goals

This school year I have set out on an adventure in my classroom. I have completely flipped my classroom. If you don't know what this is it is where my students watch the video lessons at home and then come to class prepared to apply their knowledge through activities and collaboration. This has been a huge challenge as it is a very different concept and my students have been in the school system (as well as their parents) for many years now and so it is different for them. I have had other colleagues and students question this approach, some even said that it was lazy teaching and I am just having a video teach my students rather than me. Clearly these people have not done the research I have done, nor have they taken the time to learn what a flipped classroom truly is. I would say it is the exact opposite of lazy teaching. I have never been so busy in my 5 years of teaching, but it is worth every minute. I make my own videos so the students are learning from me, the basics that is. When asked why I do this or why I chose to flip my classroom I go back to an article I found about the flipped classroom and answer this question that it posed, "When do your students need you most, when you're lecturing over a topic, or when they're trying to apply that knowledge to all different types of problems and situations?" Well when I answer that question it is definitely when the students are applying the knowledge. I may have one or two questions during a lecture, but most students just copy down the notes and barely pay attention and then get to the homework at home and have no idea what they're doing. Now when my students are applying their new knowledge I'm right there beside them with the ability to work individually with each student each class period. I can create formative assessments that require my students to depend on one another to complete them. I can not only teach them the Algebra concepts, but I can also teach them how to work with others (even if you don't necessarily like them) to complete tasks that forces them to think and problem solve as a collaborative unit. I now have my entire 51 minutes to work with my students, answering questions and challenging them to a whole new level. Now when asked if this works, yes it works wonderfully when done properly. If you ask my students how they like it you will get a mixed response. Those who would rather come to class put their head down, or barely take notes just to get by then go home and not complete the homework are really struggling. They have not been challenged in a way that they have to "own their own learning" like this before. They have not had to help themselves learn or work at it. However, my students who are up for the challenge and can be self-disciplined are performing better than I ever expected. As a teacher it is easy to point out the student's who are not doing well, but if we focus a little more on those who are excelling our lives would be much more enjoyable!
My main goal for this year (other than flipping the classroom) is to teach my students how to learn. I want them to leave my classroom in May feeling the joy of learning again. Somewhere along the way they all forget how exciting it is to learn new concepts and to be able to apply those concepts to either other disciplines or the real world, and my hope for my students is that they get that feeling back, even if it is only for 51 minutes a day in room E-10.
My other goal that I have been focusing heavily on in my classroom is spiraling the curriculum throughout the year. I want to force my students to retain the information they are learning through different tasks so that in the future they can apply their Algebra knowledge to all different situations.

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