Sunday, June 29, 2014

Another year has gone by

17 months later...I am well into my second year of teaching at Gin Gin State High School and I'm still  loving every minute of it :-) I even had an article written for an Ed Qld website.

Last year...2013...That was a big year in which I was on a steep learning curve, regarding both teaching and technology.

My biggest achievement for the year was flipping my Year 12 Maths B classroom (infographic below). I had been creating edStudios for many of my classes, including this one for Year 11 Biology, but I found the formatting to be quite restrictive and clunky for classes that needed lesson by lesson blows online that were quite specific. So, in term 2 I decided to set up a virtual classroom using BlackBoard for my Year 12 Maths B class (Note: You will only be able to access the link if you are affiliated with Education Qld).

My reasoning for setting up the virtual classroom was the number of lessons that the students were missing due to other commitments. The typical student who completes Maths B, I have found, is a high flyer who participates in many extra curricular activities, school sports, Student Council, School Leader, and music. All of these extra activities mean days out of school and lessons missed. Also, I needed the students to come to class with some idea of what I was talking about so that we could move beyond the basic A, B, C's and onto modelling and problem solving where they were more likely to require greater assistance from me.
When the students missed class they were worried about falling behind, and I was continually trying to catch them up in class to the detriment of other students. So, I decided to put all of the information up online, including what they were expected to complete prior to class.

In the beginning the students weren't too sure about the whole 'flipped classroom' thing as the onus was placed back onto them to come to class prepared to continue working. I had a meeting with the parents and the students to explain what a flipped classroom was and what I was hopping to achieve for their sons and daughters that semester. As the students became more familiar with BlackBoard they logged on regularly and completed the pre reading and/or watched the short video clips explaining the topic they were to study. I also included digital learning objects (DLO's, Gizmo's), images, and links to further information on each topic.

Students came to class with a basic understanding of how to perform the required calculations and class time was spent working on the more in depth questions, and any problems the students had encountered at home. Students completed online quizzes that gave them instant feedback on how well they had performed and with text pages referenced if they answered a question incorrectly. Students were able to work ahead (or behind) at their own pace and I would teach what was needed, when needed.

As a teacher I was able to see who was logging on to complete their work prior to class. I could (and  did) send out reminders to those who hadn't logged on to the site each week. I was able to upload quizzes as needed, and see the results the students obtained on these quizzes, along with the amount of time each student spent on the site and on which pages. I surveyed the students to find out what they wanted to see in the virtual classroom, and I answered student questions posed in the discussion boards.
By the end of the year I had students singing the praises of virtual classrooms.

2014...Fast forward to term 2 this year. The teacher for Maths B this year became ill in term 1 and I was asked a couple of days before term began to take over the class in term 2. Having all of the resources already in BlackBoard I was able to transfer the existing material to a new classroom on short notice, enrol the students, and commence teaching. This year I have not called it a 'flipped classroom' as I found that many students and parents reacted to the term last year, I have however insisted that the students come to class having pre-read and/or having watched the short clips online. 

My pedagogy is the same; I complete examples on the board, focussing though on the more complex problems where the students are more likely to experience difficulties, and I address the queries that the students have from questions they have gotten stuck on when working at home. This format has allowed me to spend more time with the students, one on one, to help them with their particular issue, especially with the modelling and problem solving questions as some of these questions can take up 20 minutes of a lesson each.

         Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media