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Blog 2012-2013

Here is the blog from Tara and Cheryl that was created during the 2012-2013 school year. It was the first year that iPads were implemented in their middle schools.

Choices for Students

posted May 23, 2013, 7:44 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated May 23, 2013, 7:44 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

I have found that more and more, I am giving my students choices on what they want to do and it is powerful!  I've always known that, but I feel I am actually really doing it now.  For example, tomorrow in algebra, they are reviewing for their exponential test.  I am putting up a list of suggestions and letting them pick.  
  • Finish quick checks (short assessments on thatquiz.org over each lesson)  ..  Search my name and you'll find 5 different ones that are public for ch. 11 which is all about exponential functions.
  • Retake a quiz (we bombed - did some reteaching - hope it's better)
  • iBook interactive features (keynote, review, gallery images)
  • Finish any in-class assignment from the chapter
  • Power point I made of word problems that could be linear, exponential or quadratic.  Students can just say the function type or solve for more of a challenge.  power point link  (It's nothing fancy!)
Here's hoping they gets lots accomplished and I get a ton of time to help whoever needs it!

Let them fly!

posted May 16, 2013, 6:25 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated May 23, 2013, 7:35 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

Last week Friday (5/10/13), in my geometry class, I started class with this statement.

"We are starting our last unit and it's all about transformations.  The chapter test will be two weeks from today.  Here's your iBook,chapter schedule with all the details for in-class work and quick checks, notes and explorations.  You may go at your own pace.  You may take the 2 quizzes when you are ready.  I've created a sample schedule that will get you ready to test two weeks from today, but it's really all up to you."

I have a student taking the test tomorrow (Friday, 5/17/13).  ...   (Update - his score was 100%! - WOW!)

When you open up the doors some kids just fly!

It has been an amazing week in that class!

Reality Sets In

posted May 7, 2013, 6:46 AM by Cheryl Wilson   [ updated May 7, 2013, 6:46 AM ]

I spent time planning over Spring Break to do a flip in my 8th grade math class. But... reality has set in. As usual there have been a bunch of detours and it still has not happened. I would still like to do a mini-flip before the end of the year, but we will see.
On a better note, we are doing a webquest in my 8th grade math classes. We heard Jacque Melin speak again at a recent PD session. She encouraged us to try PBL, problem-based learning. I am going to visit Kent Innovations High School tomorrow, where their focus is PBL in the academic classes. I am excited to see how it is put into play. We are trying something, let's say, a step below PBL, by doing a webquest. My fellow teacher and I searched on Questgarden and found a transformation webquest that met the CCSS standards and our time frame. Here is the link to the webquest on Wallpaper Transformations http://questgarden.com/158/81/6/130502063111/. We were able to get a trial membership to modify a webquest that someone else created. It saved a ton of time. We are thinking about getting a math department membership for next year.
So as reality has set in, I have been doing a lot of thinking about how I want to teach next year. I really want to flip, but I feel more comfortable with the PBL sort of thing. So, maybe there is a place for both. I will probably head more down the route of PBL sort of things, but also incorporate flipping as a mode of instruction. It will take time, but doesn't it always take time to do things well?
So as this year rounds out, I feel that I have come a long way with teaching math again and also incorporating the use of iPads. Did I get as far as I had hoped, no, but that also makes me want to do even more next year. That is the true challenge of teaching, making it better the next time.

I'm going to try it (flipping)!

posted Mar 17, 2013, 11:21 AM by Cheryl Wilson   [ updated Mar 17, 2013, 11:21 AM ]

Tara, you have me so itching to try it! I heard Tony speak at the MIA conference and now you can't go back... I must try it, but I am going to wait until after Spring Break. I need some time to prep myself and select one of our units to flip. I think that the kids need it and I need something different.
The iPads are going well, but I just don't feel like today's students can learn like we did in school. I hate standing in front of the class giving notes and explaining how to do do a problem, when most are not really engaged. I need to challenge my 8th graders before they go to high school!
I did a project-based unit with my 7th graders a few weeks ago and I found it so much more successful. They were so much more engaged during the learning process. It was also nice to be able to walk around and talk with some of them. Right now I feel like I am only interacting with a few of the kids when I am teaching the whole class.
So I need to prep myself about what quality flipping is and try it myself!

Can't go back!

posted Mar 7, 2013, 6:40 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated Mar 7, 2013, 6:40 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

Yesterday I taught a "traditional" lesson "up in front of class" for the first time in a few months in my HS geometry class of 8th graders.  What a disaster!  After 4 months of a flipped learning environment, one traditional lesson was enough to know that I can never go back.  I think about 1/3 of the class was actually with me.  I think the other 2/3 were checked out, not engaged, and really learned nothing.  I didn't enjoy it - the topic wasn't the most exciting, the Unit Circle, but I also didn't like being up front, not talking to the students one-on-one.  I know I didn't check in with each kid like I normally get to do in my flipped atmosphere.  Four months ago the students were a little resistant to the change, but seeing their faces yesterday told me that they are OK with the change now and don't want me taking away their work time, discussion time, and collaboration time in class.  I will be surveying them in the next couple days to really see how they felt about the lesson.

So proud

posted Jan 31, 2013, 7:29 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated Jan 31, 2013, 7:29 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

Today I reflect back on one semester, last fall, of more change that I've done in my past 15 years of teaching.  I owe most of that to Caitlin Grubb (@grubbcaitlin) who I had as a student teacher for the fall of 2012.  I am SO PROUD of her! She, 5 weeks after graduation, in late January, just landed a job.  Amazing!  It's a long term sub job that's basically a contract for next fall.  She will be a rockstar!  (She already is.)  Caitlin pushed me to flip my classroom and I can say that I am 100% flipped now. All three classes (geometry, algebra and 8th grade math) are all "operating" from an iBook with videos made through the showme app or by using Camtasia software which is created by Techsmith.  There are two other people that have encouraged, poked, prodded the past two years.  Tony DiLaura (@anthonydilaura) and Steve Braunius (@StephenBraunius) have asked me so many questions, had zillions of conversations about what is best for kids, encouraged me to take risks and supported me as I've jumped on this tech ride.   The other part of "so proud" comes from my students.  I have surveyed them several times, asking how they want to learn.  They keep saying, "videos, videos, videos". Now that we have switched classes at semester and I've lost a few students to a different math teacher, I have finally realized the power of the flipped classroom model.  I have had 4 students in the last three days come and ask me how they can get the videos and/or guided notes (WSQ - stolen from Crystal Kirch).  I am so proud of the students for standing up for how they feel they learn best, for asking for the videos, for wanting to truly understand the material and not just go through the motions.  What an amazing day today!

Focusing on Assessment

posted Jan 22, 2013, 8:33 AM by Cheryl Wilson   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 2:12 PM ]

My school district is having Math and LA teachers at the secondary level attend 4-half day workshops on assessment, presented by Jacque Melin (http://www.formativedifferentiated.com/ ). The first week focused on selected response. We also spent a lot of time disucssing the fact that we need to present the learning targets in a "kid-friendly" way so that students can ask themselves if they really are accomplishing the learning target. Each assessment should have 3-5 questions about a given learning target (if it is to be selected response). This ensures that students are not just guessing and getting lucky.
Our assignment was to use a selected response assessment this week to see if students are able to show us that they are accomplishing the learning targets. The other pre-algebra teacher that I work with and I created a lesson and short socrative quiz that we gave after the lesson on slope-intercept form. We were very pleased with the results. I have attached the PDF for the lesson (below in the files). We actually took pencil and paper notes for these (due to the graphing at the end). After the notes, we gave the Socrative quiz (SOC-740394). We both felt that the notes were good and the Socrative quiz gave us a good idea of understanding of the lesson. I found out that two of my three Pre-Algebra classes were understanding the material well, but the other one needs some more reinforcement.
We are going to be giving a quiz covering a few more sections in a couple of days. I am going to suggest that we re-write the quiz to have 3-5 questions on the learning target above, but that we also include some review from the previous sections. I will be sure to report back on how the assessment faired. This assessment could be a Socrative assessment, or even Schoology, because we are focusing on selected response right now in our workshop assignment. I have found that giving online assessments is great for several reasons: (1) results are easy to analyze (2) easy to grade (3) students can get back immediate feedback and (4) good practice for upcoming standardized tests that will be given using technology. I have also found that there is are several reasons why I don't love online assessments: (1) students do not always work out a problem on paper, they just do their best guess and (2) can be hard to show mathematical formulas and equations in some programs (like Socrative).

The highs of teaching

posted Dec 4, 2012, 8:19 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated Dec 4, 2012, 8:19 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

So many emotions the past week.  From the frustration of trying my "dream" and it not working, to having it work and the kids really start to see the value in communication in math, to the sadness yet pride in seeing my student teacher leave, it's been a wave of emotions. 

My adventure with iBooks and the interactive textbook has gone MUCH better this week.  My geometry students are using it daily, taking amazing notes, writing fabulous summaries and developing questions.  The questions need some work but I can't expect greatness from 8th graders all the time!  :)  Last night part of their homework was to take a picture or two with their iPad investigating the triangle inequality theorem.  The pictures were great.  A couple students used Doodle Buddy to put lengths on the picture.  Wow!  ....  I'm letting a video "optimize" as we speak for my algebra 1 iBook since that is the way the majority of kids want to learn.  I gave them a survey and on a scale of 1-5 (1-hate it, 5-love it), here's what the three methods of teaching received.  Traditional = 2.8. flipped with reading = 3.1 and flipped with videos = 3.9.  Here's the BEST student comment from our survey.

I am doing better in algebra 1 the second we started the flipped videos! I like how I can pause of and learn at my own pace. With a video I can take my time and actually learn what we are supposed to be learning. And I ask questions much more often now that it was required at the end of the summary. If we go back to the regular way, I would be forced to go back to just copying down what you're writing on the board instead of actually learning and taking my time to comprehend it on my own. I liked the flip videos!
-Kristin Kirsch

If that doesn't sell the method, I don't know what does.  So, making videos, making widgets, uploading and optimizing have been my world the last week.  Time - it takes a TON of time.  (I don't know if I can maintain this "time" for two classes for the rest of the year.  We'll see.) However, I do believe the pay off is there.  The kids that have been struggling LOVE this way of learning.  The kids that are our top "students" don't like it.  Funny how the top 5 academic kids, percentage wise, voted for the traditional style of learning.  That has been weighing on my mind a lot this past weekend.  They are only concerned about the grade, the score, the number.  They aren't concerned about learning.  I see that as a problem.  ??  Maybe I'm crazy, but I want them to learn, not just receive information and spit it back out on a piece of paper.

Seeing my student teacher, Cailtlin Grubb, leave today was bitter sweet.  I am so proud of how far she's come and she is SO READY to have her own classroom.  (Know of any long term subs needed for secondary math?)  She's definitely a keeper!  She pushed me further than any student teacher ever has.  (I've had 10 of them now. :))  I've learned from all of them, but none have made me step back and question so much of what, how and why I teach.  I thank her from the bottom of my heart for putting that spark back in me.  She has a gift and who ever gets her will be so LUCKY!  

Calling it a night!  


posted Nov 26, 2012, 6:44 PM by Tara Maynard   [ updated Nov 26, 2012, 6:44 PM by Cheryl Wilson ]

So, I spent a better part of Saturday night and Sunday late afternoon through evening making my first ibooks interactive textbook for geometry.  (I only had it done for 3 of the 8 sections.)  I made 4 videos using camtasia software.  I used iBooksauthor to create a textbook that can be downloaded into the students iPads.  The textbook contains the videos, written text, pictures as well as interactive reviews that students can check their work on right away.  The benefit to this is that the videos are then on the iPad and the students don't need wireless or internet to make them work.  Huge bonus!  Level playing field for kids!  ...   However, when I logged into edmodo this evening, there were 12 posts saying the video wasn't working.  Apparently it starts to get blurry about half-way through??  I tested it out on my iPad, through ibooks, and sure enough - BLURRY!   Ughhhh!  I was so excited, I stuck my neck out, tried something new and wham - it blew up in my face.  So, where do I go now?  ...  I watched the next video (homework for tomorrow night) and it seems to be working fine.  Do I take the risk?  Do I just teach it traditionally?  ...  I can't throw in the towel.  Too much time invested and sights of how cool this can be.  ...  I'll update soon to let you know how tomorrow goes.

1/3 and where am I?

posted Nov 25, 2012, 5:30 AM by Cheryl Wilson   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 2:14 PM ]

This coming week will mark the end of our 1st trimester. I thought it would be a good time to step back and take a look at the first 1/3 of the year with the iPads.
When I first started to think about this, I was feeling like we had hardly done anything with the first 1/3 of the year. I haven't done a lot of the "cool things" that I had dreamed of with the iPads. But, as I have talked with a few other teachers and thought more about it, we really have done quite a bit in a short time. Here are the things that I feel have been accomplished in the first trimester.
1) Students are able to use Schoology as a resource for my class. Originally I wanted to have grades on this, but the district uses Infinite Campus for grades, so I decided not to double-duty. Students are able to see daily assignments on here. If there are files or links, I have them included. It saves me from having to keep endless copies of worksheets. It also lists problems from the book that were assigned. It places more of the responsibility onto the student.
In addition, students are able to take quizzes and tests that are created on Schoology's quiz/test feature. Students like the instant feedback that this offers when taking a test or quiz. I have to admit it can be hard to hand grade things and get them back in a timely manner. This eliminates this.
I have also used this to correct homework. Recently, I used it for the review problems that were assigned before a test. I used the results to know which problems to go over with the students. It saved me from going over all of the problems and just focusing on the ones more people missed.
2) I had the students take notes for the last unit using notes that were on a PDF. I encouraged students to take the notes on the iPads using a reader program of their choice. I use Adobe Reader. Many of the students use this, but there are many other good ones. Occasionally students "lose" a document in Adobe Reader, but I spend 10 minutes one day showing them how to make sure that they are backing it up using iCloud and the problems have lessened.
We are fortunate to have Apple TV now. So I put up the PDF for notes on my iPad and then use the Apple TV to show the students how I am taking my notes. We can do problems right on the PDF in the reader using the draw tool or they can type. I do allow students who want to take notes on paper. I tell the students that they need to find someething that works for them.
3) In addition to my class, we as a school have worked on establishing clear guidelines and expectations for the iPad use and consequences for misuse. Here is a video that we showed to our students https://www.dropbox.com/s/rt1n87nbbdztc2b/Video%20Nov%2006%2C%203%2017%2054%20PM.mov. There is also a document that goes along with this. I will try to get a copy and share it in here. We have only used this for about 2-3 weeks, but it appears to be working for the students and the staff.
So I do feel that we have accomplished the basics with the iPad. It has taken longer than expected to establish them, but considering that 3 months ago students did not have iPads and teachers were just learning how to use them.
So what would I like to see happen in the next 1/3 of the year? I want to continue with the basics of using at Course Management System (Schoology) and note-taking on the iPad. My Individualize Development Plan for this year is to integrate more reading strategies into my units. This will include Guided Highlighted Reading using the iPads and using Concept Diagramming for vocabulary (again using the iPad). Plus, I would like to have the students use the iPads to show me how they can do problems, like with Educreations.

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