Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Video and Note set up

I'm not one to do two posts in one day, but I did promise an example of a Screencast and the notes that go with it (from the interactive notebook) this particular lecture is short (less than 10 minutes) on the Geography of Ancient Greece:

This is what the notes look like that students will be filling in as they watch:

Day 3

Overall things have been going great, a lot of kids went home and watched the videos so far, hopefully the majority finish their lecture assignments by Friday. The projects have also been coming along, today we saw the turning point from research to putting things together.

There were a few hiccups, I still have two students who have produced nothing this week. I'm hoping after our chat today that they turn it around for the last two days of the week. Since it is February vacation here next week the projects are going to be due tomorrow since we are having an all day movie day Friday with the other teachers on the team. Most students seem to be in good shape to get things done.

I've posted a few pictures below to showcase some of the in class projects:

I'm actually happy we have February vacation next week as it will give me a chance to assess this first week and make adjustments.

I will update tomorrow with how the finished projects work out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 1

Well today was the day, we flipped. I was incredibly nervous about how the kids would be when they came in the room, if they would remember their supplies and so on.

I was pleasantly surprised. A few kids forgot of course, but they used today for research. I divided my desks into pods of 4 and in addition to the desks to work at created a "research corner" where my reference books were, a "reading corner" with mythology books and chapter books and finally I created a "quiet corner" for students to go and sit and quietly work when the group was distracting them. I also allowed them to chose their own seats.

So the question is, how did Day 1 go? Well I like to start with the cons, I don't know why it makes me feel better about the positives I guess, so here goes:

Cons: Some students did forget materials and while that was ok today, tomorrow it may be a problem. A few students took advantage of the time negatively and used it as an excuse to walk around the room and get into trouble. A few students could not get started without a lot of input from me. I emphasize a "few" on all of these items, perhaps 2-3 out of 90 students.

Pros: I saw many many students working together and staying on task, helping each other out with the research. I saw one girl who rarely does anything in my class take advantage of the quiet corner and go and sit and do work...that was probably my most thrilling moment of the day. Finally I felt like I really got to walk around and get to know their learning styles a bit more, and really help them come up with ideas for their projects. I saw them getting enthusiastic, and asking questions, and actually CARING. I haven't seen this  in a long long time from my students.

Overall I was incredibly happy with today, I know its a honey moon phase and their are still kinks to be worked out, but for at least today I'm exhausted but incredibly happy with how things went.

On a side note, a colleague of mine introduced me to the concept of making QR codes for the kids, I'm playing around with it and there's definitely potential for some really cool things. Has anyone else used QR with their students, I'm interested to hear of others projects.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Counting Down

The official "flip" occurs on Monday, which means I'm going to be assigning students their first projects at the end of this week. I'm actually going to Washington DC this weekend, so I won't be in school Friday- bad timing on my part. This means I have to work double speed to get everything done in time!

I am almost finished with the interactive notebook- I'll post an example once its finished. I'm really pleased with how it came out. I used powerpoint to create it. I put in the two column notes the kids already used, but incorporated maps, pictures, and spot check questions as part of it, all corresponding with the lectures. I'm hoping to have it done tomorrow, and to record at least the first units lectures tomorrow and Wednesday much to do!

I decided that I should also set up some kind of online gradebook so that the kids could keep track of their grades from a more accessible place, since this style of classroom is putting responsibility on them to complete the materials, it only makes sense that they should always have access to their grades. I used a site called Engrade. It was really easy to set up. I logged on and clicked "create new class" and typed in the kids first and last names and ID numbers. The site even generates a print out of all the kids access codes so I could send it home with them to test out. Many students had expressed interest in this sort of thing to me, so I hope they take advantage and set it up.

My school system already uses an online gradebook (though not one accessible to the students) so plugging grades in online won't be a huge change. I'm hoping I can do it at a faster pace though since I will only be correcting several exams at once instead of 100. I also think this will give me more time to really give feedback on essays and short answers.  I currently have to skim those looking for key points, rather than give them the full attention they deserve.

I'm getting nervous, and a little sad, I enjoy lecturing and I do try to make my lectures "funny" for the kids so I'm going to miss that a little...who would have thought! However if this method works better for the students- this is what I need to do.

I will update tomorrow or Wednesday with an example of an interactive notebook and an accompanying lecture.

Does anyone else use Engrade? Do you find your students utilize it? I'm curious if seeing the grade constantly change with their work will motivate them.