Tag Archive | twitter

Flipped Classroom – EMTH Reflection

*Please be advised: this is not a new post. It is the reflection that used to be on the “Flipped Classroom – Math 9 Polynomials Unit” Page. I just needed to reorganize a bit.

For my final project in EMTH 450 with Rick, I had free range to do anything I liked that pertained to education and math. The possibilities were endless. I changed my mind about 1,000,000 times. I finally settled on what I figured to be a manageable project of creating a set of videos to “flip” a unit in the Math 9 Curriculum. During my internship, I had the opportunity to teach Math 9 for the full 4 months, and I loved every minute of it. While for the most part, I liked what the textbook had to offer, I was not particularly impressed with how it delivered Polynomials. They came packaged in two clunky, non-consecutive chapters. I knew that I needed to avoid using the textbook, so I went hunting for some resources and made up my own work-package for the students, as independently from the textbook as possible.

Since Rick gave me free range to do whatever I fancied (within reason), I decided that I wanted to revamp the way I taught polynomials. Little did I know, that this project actually helped revamp the way that I want to teach in general. I’ll say it one thousand times over — my internship was great. Now, I think I can be more than that. I can see it, so I decided to push myself with this project.

This unit is entirely flipped. There are eleven video lessons, eleven worksheets, a “What Can You Do With This?,” and a project. The assessment is an outcome/indicator-based assessment guided by a learning contract. There is no unit exam. There are no formal quizzes. The closest thing to a quiz is a “skill check.”

I struggled with having this flipped classroom avoid direct instruction. Part of flipping for me was to avoid direct instruction. It seemed that it was inevitable, so I decided that if I can’t fix it, I might as well embrace it in a weird sort of way. Instead of making long and boring videos, I decided to keep them short and simple. I did my darnedest to ensure that my worksheets were inquiry-based. My theory behind this was to give a bit of instruction, just to send the students in the right direction, then let them work in-class on exploring each concept thoroughly. Answers will all be posted on the wall (answer keys coming soon). Students are invited to collaborate with one another.

Part of me thinks I may have had a mental back-lash during this project too. During my internship, I found that students felt bombarded with problems, and there was not nearly enough drill and practice. Both have their place, but I felt that problem solving was interfering with the students understanding the concepts concretely. I decided to not include the “token problems” at the end of each worksheet. Instead, I designed each worksheet to act as a set of notes, since the students wouldn’t be taking any anyhow. Each sheet contains what I think are the essential questions/big ideas (i.e. Explain in your own words how to divide a monomial by a monomial), as well as several examples. Because the answers are posted and students have no set “time limits” for each assignment (which was a big pull for me to the learning contract), every student will get every single question right. They have access to their peers and to me, so finding the correct answers is only a matter of effort.

To “address” word problems, I decided to have a unit project. This satisfied the old-school innate need deep down inside to have a unit assessment. “At least it’s not an exam,” is what I told myself. I’m not one to undermine or under-appreciate a good word problem, but at least a unit project ties together all the concepts and involves a “real world” situation. It’s a little bit less contrived. I decided to go with an area-based project, which lead me to think about the areas in floor plans. About ten minutes after staring at my computer hoping it would finish my project for me, it dawned on me. I should do a WCYDWT with a floor plan, and then ask the students to work in reverse by creating a floor plan and designing the dimensions on their own. All of a sudden, the “contrived” unit problem sat a lot better with me (and it squeaked in another teaching strategy beyond direct instruction).

My last word about this project, I promise: I am so glad I opted to work with a learning contract. It enabled me to build an outcome/indicator-based assessment and evaluation system that was free of rigid timelines and stress-(and/or vomit-) inducing exams. One of my initial concerns beyond the direct instruction bit was that flipped classrooms somehow guarantee only 20 minutes of homework per night. What about the student who doesn’t finish the in-class work? Does he/she have extra homework? So much for the nice guarantee. If we stick to the guarantee, then what good does it do for that student? Conversely, what about the student who finishes in fifteen minutes? They now have to “kill” 45 minutes. Yes, I could load them with extra work, but I’m going to challenge them anyway. Why not let every student work at his or her own pace? A learning contract does just that. To keep things reasonable, I will set a time-guideline and a conservative completion due date. Aside from that, every student can be working on what he or she needs to be working on.

As always, I welcome, encourage, appreciate, and pray for your comments to pour in. The more feedback I get, the better I’ll become.

Special Thanks to the following: Dan Meyer, Joe BowerSophia (They have fantastic Twitter Support), Kyle WebbRick SeamanEvolving Classroom, and Andy Schwen

This is my utopia right now. I can’t wait to put it into practice.


Memorable Versus Memorizable

At the WestCAST Conference last month, I had the opportunity to attend the presentation by Michele Jacobson. This presentation was fantastic for a two reasons: (1) she had lots of great stuff to talk to us about, and (2) she opened up her presentation by telling us that we should be tweeting and on our phones while she was presenting.

First: the awesome stuff she told us about. Michele talked a lot about student showcasing. How do I see this working in my classroom, based on what I learned from Michele? Well, it starts off with something Michele called a “Great Task,” which is a well designed task for students that is memorable, not memorizable. Those last three words stuck with me. This means that the task is active and participatory, requires communication, and provides assessment as, of, and for learning. With this task, students would also need to engage in active peer review based off of a well-laid out, clear, concise rubric. This ensures student accountability, but also provides exposure to other thinking.

The peer review (notice that I didn’t call it peer-evaluation) is the best part for me. I’m a big believer in learning through teaching others. In my personal life, I’ve  been competing as a baton twirler for over 17 years. I started taking coaching courses and assisting with coaching about five years ago. I didn’t really understand the technique fully until I started helping and teaching young twirlers the basics. Since the basics build up to harder tricks and skills, having a solid understanding of the basics is imperative. I have to say, my understanding of the mechanics of twirling and learning how to coach has greatly improved my ability to practice and self-coach during that practice. This would be the same in a classroom — learning how to identify strengths and weaknesses within someone else’s work will ultimately help students to understand the material better, and enable them to better critique their own work. That will most certainly lead to better learning and deeper understanding. How marvelous!

Now for the second part of why Michele was awesome: she encouraged us to tweet. Gone were the days of trying to hide a phone under the table and sneakily tweet or text without looking down. She asked us to tweet. It was awesome. We were able to be in the presentation, listening to her make fantastic points, and still hold a group discussion, courtesy of the #WestCAST2012 hash tag. We also tweeted @dmichelej (Michele Jacobson), which helped keep things organized too. What was an awesome outcome of this? Michele tweeted us back after she finished speaking! The conversation continued far beyond the presentation. How marvelous!

I’m thinking that this could be really beneficial in a classroom. We were having a group discussion, but it was totally quiet. I know there are a lot of hurdles (like how do I tell if they are engaged versus playing Angry Birds), but it is certainly something to ponder.

With tweeting during her presentation, Michele instilled exactly what she was presenting about — we were actively engaged and her presentation was memorable, not memorizable.

Blogging and Twitter… But Wait! There’s More!

Lately, I’ve been loving the PD I’ve experienced through twitter and this blog. You can read my timely post about it here. In my ECMP 455 class, we had the opportunity to listen to Chad Lehman (@imcguy) as he spoke about free professional development that is all available online. Here I thought that I was rocking PD with twitter and my blog, but I can’t wait to expand my development with some of the great tools he introduced.

I’m not sure I can do all of these justice, but here are a few that really stuck with me:

Every year, K12Online holds a conference for teachers. Why is this so remarkable? Because it’s online, that’s why. They also archive all of their conference materials and presentations, so anyone can go back and find what they need to. The lovely blend of synchronous (for those that have a schedule that matches up, which I hope mine does for this year) and asynchronous (for those of us who can’t “make it” to the conference) makes it easy for anyone to experience professional development.

The next thing Chad spoke about was Classroom 2.0 Live, which is available on iTunes. I would never have guessed that I can get professional development on my iPod. Also available on iTunes is iTunesU. If anyone has any advice on these specific tools I would love to hear from you. From my understanding, they are resources that have many different podcasts and videos on different educational topics. They are all professionally done. Needless to say, I am excited to start exploring.

I’ve been watching TED talks for a while now, and I took TED breaks during marking while I was doing my internship. Now that TED is launching TED Ed, I am even more ecstatic. Aside from TED Ed (say that ten times fast!), TED has literally thousands of videos to watch. This can be daunting, but with some handy searching, finding some good talks isn’t all that hard. I’ve found some of the best TED Talks aren’t “on education,” but rather I can relate something they speak about to education or my life. Sometimes, taking that step back or going at it from a different angle puts things into perspective

iLearn Technology Blog was also given as a resource for us to use. You can never get your hands on enough info about technology. It’s an edublog that focuses on integrating technology into the classroom. It’s great because it doesn’t stay too focused on one thing — it really surveys all different technology available.

Similarly, FreeTech4Teachers.com has regular posts about different types of technology available. It focuses each post on a different technology, sort of giving it a review, with practical applications and how it can be used. I appreciate that it looks at some sites/technology that don’t necessarily directly market to education, then gives places/spaces to integrate them into the classroom/staffroom/school.

My eyes have been opened yet again. My PD is about to get a whole lot better. I’m finding that I’m also getting more efficient with my professional development. I know I should be using something like delicious, but between Google Reader and my browsers bookmarks, I’m keeping track of my favourite sites, as well as sites I know I’ll need to refer back to. I’ll be starting a “PD” tag in my bookmarks starting… now!

Thank you Chad for joining us on Monday!

UPDATE: Courtesy of Chad, I present to you his slides from Monday evening. He tweeted me the link, so I thought I better share it with everyone. Enjoy.

The New PD: In Awe of My Growing Professional Network

I am so grateful. I would personally like to thank Leonard Kleinrock for writing about “packet switching” in 1961. Why? Because he published the first conceptualization of the internet, according to WWW FAQs. Aside from being interested in trivia, I looked this up because I wanted to find out who I can thank for the great professional development I am getting on a daily basis.

I am constantly able to have this professional development — gone are the days of PD events being the only source of PD. I am a student and I am getting PD in the palm of my hand if I want, via my twitter app on my phone. I have a blog that I can post about anything that pops into my head and get feedback on it from anyone, anywhere. I can do a little clicking around and read the blogs of other educators to gain inspiration, read about success stories, read about lessons learned, and watch videos of real students in class doing real schoolwork.

“Whoa.” That is all I can say about this, for I am in such awe. Over the last month, I’ve been very focused on becoming the best teacher I can be. I’ve always worked really hard at school and my internship, but I haven’t taken the opportunity to look outside the classroom walls enough. Now I am doing just that, and the information I’m finding is magnificent. Yes, it takes a lot of time, but it is beyond worth it. I don’t have to set a time parameter either — some days it’s five minutes, other days it’s an hour or two. I get out what I put in.

That seems to resonate with me — I get out what I put in. This is the whole internal debate I’ve been having with myself about motivating learners. I want my future students to get out what they put in, and I want them to want to put in a lot. Learning how to learn again (i.e. motivated by learner rather than by grades and averages) has been a huge learning curve for me, and I’m so glad I’m doing it. I am no where near perfect, I have a lot of work to do, and I am loving it.

Living Facebook

Last night, John Spencer visited our ECMP 455 class, who spoke to us about “Living Facebook.” Basically, his premise was that everything you do on facebook, you do in real life. So for example, if he would have “liked” something on facebook, he would give a big thumbs up and proclaim that he liked something. Similarly, he started writing on people’s walls (window’s actually) with non-permanent markers. He did all sorts of things like this with relation to facebook and how it functions.

This got me thinking about how digitally I interact way more than I do in person. It is so strange how easy and convenient it is to send a text message or write on someone’s wall. It’s very quick to post “Happy Birthday!” when it’s someone’s birthday, but wouldn’t it mean more if I phoned them or just stopped by to say so? What about a good old fashioned card in the mail even. I love to get mail.

With this in mind, I decided that I would make a concerted effort this week to ensure that I am working toward verbalizing or (to invent a new word) “physicalizing ” the cyber space within which I live.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m sworn off facebook and twitter. I have become pretty attached to them in the last few weeks especially. I’m building my professional community, and I know I have grown up quite a bit just from sharing in this capacity (I’m refering directly to twitter). I also know that there is no way that I could possibly keep up with everyone from all over the world without these social media applications. They definitely have a very distinct purpose in my life. However, why can’t I make the effort to “physicalize” as much as I can for the people around me? This ties into part of my plan for Lent: I decided that this year I was going to give up/improve upon two things. The first is my snooze button. Less than a week into Lent, and this has been HARD. It’s getting easier though. The second thing I am giving up is negativity in my life. Due to this complete 180 that I’ve had in the last few weeks, I’ve worked really hard at building my professional community and now I want to extend these positive changes into my real life too.

This talk couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Thank you, John!

Live Blogging

I’m finally at WestCAST! I had my presentation on an E-Advisor model and it went really well. Likely, I’ll try to post something about that in the next few days. It was tons of fun, and I wasn’t nervous at all!

For this conference, I’m thinking that this is a perfect framework for me to try different types of blogging. The WordPress App has a “quick video” option, and I think I’ll give that a try. Feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Stay tuned..


WestCAST and Live Blogging

I am so excited. Why? In a few short weeks (13 sleeps, not that I’m counting), I’ll be going to WestCAST for my very first time. It’s in Calgary, AB this year, which is one of my favourite cities to visit. I’ve never been, so if anyone has any advice for me, let me know!

Basically, I’m wondering about protocol. Do I have to wear “teacher” attire (I’m assuming yes)? Should I bring “business cards” or something of the sort with my contact info? How much stuff will I likely  bring home from the conference (I’m thinking space for packing)? Should I look at taking a clipboard or a pen/paper ensemble for taking notes? Will I need to take notes (I’m assuming yes on this one too)?

That’s just a start for my questions. If anyone can help me out at all, I would really appreciate it!


On the upside, I plan on live blogging and tweeting while I’m there with all the awesome stuff I’m sure to learn. Dean, my prof for ECMP 455, suggested using coveritlive.com. It has a free trial, but I did a little bit of sleuthing and discovered that wordpress has its own live blogging plug-in. I’ll be testing that out over the next couple of days!

If you want to follow me on twitter, I am @sarathibeault.