Sunday, February 17, 2013

Long Time No Visit! How Is It Working?

I love the idea of blogging what is going on, especially in my classroom.  It helps to see it more clearly - stating the obvious! But...when you are uberbusy, writing a post takes a backseat to everything else, even cleaning the bathroom! Reading blogs from several of my fellow flippers, new and seasoned, has spurred me to churn one out before my Sunday morning walk.

After attending the Flipcon12 last summer, I have been working on the main element in a flipped class - taking the "lecture" out of class and replacing it with more meaningful activity.  The bulk of my time has been spent in two ways, then. Revamping my PPT's and turning them into online videos that the students watch at home and researching and creating additional activities in class to support and enhance what I want them to learn.

I have come to realize that biology, for the freshmen, is really like a foreign language.  We have anywhere from 30-50 new vocabulary words in each unit, and half or more are totally new to the kids.  So one task  has been to create various ways to learn and use the vocab. I have been fortunate to be able to create a healthy little competition with a simple game of "I Have...Who Has..." between the classes. The repetition seems to help quite a few of the students.  I always ask at the start of class if they want to play, the answer is almost always yes. Another game the students love, "Talk A Mile A Minute" works really well as a test day review before the test.  Both games take 5-7 minutes tops and make vocab much more manageable for them.

With many, many thanks to Laurie Westphal, I have a lovely bank of product ideas from which to create a menu (full blown or mini) or just to create a new way to do an old boring task.  I can't wait till her high school menu book comes out next fall! A couple of the seasoned flippers discuss the asynchronous aspect of their class in their blogs and this idea intrigues me quite a bit.  A menu of activities, both required and choice, seems that it will fit quite nicely with this asynchronous idea.  In addition, I am teaching freshmen, and while it will be a huge challenge for them and me, I really like the idea of getting these little 9th graders to be more self-sufficient, self-directed learners. I feel a bit like Rudy in that respect. (You remember - the movie about the kid who wanted to play at Notre Dame)  He always gave 110% in practices, getting the starters ready for their game. If he gave less, they would not be prepared. I want to set the freshmen up for success not just they year they are with me, but for the next three+ years. That will be my goal for next year.  This year, I just want to get things in place!