Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Message to Future Me

In the course of making this summer's to-do list, I found myself looking back at last year's, which is really like looking at myself one year ago, in summer 2011. Which is one reason having a blog is so great! I get to look at who I was at around this time last year, tally up my own mark, and set new goals with a clearer vision. In public, too! 

I anticipate doing the same thing one year from now, summer of 2013, so this post is really a message to the me that will be reading this one year from now. Hi me! Here's who you were on May 21, 2012. TTYL!

This year's summer to-do list is different from any that I have ever done in three ways: THAT I wrote it, WHEN I wrote it, and HOW I wrote it. Last summer's was probably the first one I ever actually wrote in any concrete fashion, but it was pretty short, and I wrote it during the summer, after a couple of vacation weeks had gone by. This year's has been in the works for about a week now, and it feels more like a shopping list than a to-do list.

It's wonderful to be able to check some things off the list, but I have learned that the goals you didn't reach are also a goldmine. You get to find out what was really important to you after all, something that has not always been obvious to me, at any point in my life. Sometimes you make something a priority because of external pressure, but you don't realize that until much later. This list, and this assessment, is the ultimate self-portrait:
(Full disclosure: Not an actual self portrait, my daughter did when she was 8.
but if I were to do one, it would look like this.)
Last year's actual list, posted here on July 8, 2011, is in italics, and in green is what happened, either during the summer or over the course of the school year:
  • rebuild/create website for my students' to blog and access resources DONE! So much more work to do (see goals for this summer) but I love it, and 3 students loved it too.
  • check out how other people have done that  DONE, mainly thanks to Paul Rombaugh, our awesome online history teacher.
  • practice on new online classroom platform (Zen live)  DONE, but mainly while teaching, not during summer.
  • learn or learn more about how to use:
    • tweetdeck  DONE, mainly while participating in the Monday night flipclass chat!
    • moodle  NOT DONE, on this summer's list, maybe because I got so addicted to google docs and scripts etc but now I feel I want more automation.
    • googleapps for education  DONE, used lots of gdocs, but tons more to learn
    • geogebra  DONE, and I have the geogebra page to prove it!
    • nota geez, I don't even remember this one
    • evernote Nope, on this summer's list
    • vimeo Nope, gave my full attention to Camtasia, don't see the point of vimeo now that I have Camtasia
    • delicious I went for diigo - I think they do the same thing though
    • edmodo nope, on this summer's list
    • flickr nope, but now that I have a groovy smart phone I might just do that now, I still want to put my own pics into things
    • take a break at some point  DONE! Weird thing is, not only did I  have fun last summer that wasn't job-related, but also a lot of fun that WAS job-related. 

And now for this summer: Just a few things.....

  • try out mightybell, moodle, sophia, edmodo etc
  • learn more about class management from Andy Schwen's site, and also from the man himself at Flipcon2012 in Chicago
  • pick a system that will handle all student data, ie assessment results so that next year everything, including cumulative and ongoing results will be available to my students
  • organize diigo with tags, groups, etc whatever diigo uses
  • make student guidelines for next year re watching lessons, commenting, updating me
  • parents - write new letter explaining flipped class and expectations, classblog, asking them to follow either their childs' blog or the classblog or both
  • Camtasia skills
    • redo SOME lessons into videos - start with the lessons that I am most happy with
    • use webcam, stop hiding, put my face and personality in the video
    • put in chapters
    • make them interactive
    • make them more interesting, eg animations, sounds, music
  • Voicethread:
    • put in more prompts for comments - ie open-ended questions to answer, things to draw/circle/join on a slide, for those students who have a hard time thinking of a comment
  • activity design: rework the ones I have to allow multiple entry points for different ability levels
  • design more of them, especially for logs
  • design group work activities that WORK, that naturally lend themselves to groups, eg too big for one person to do
  • geogebra: make more, design activities where students create a ggb to demo something eg that parameters a and h have the same effect on an exponential function
  • categorize them according to some scale that ranges from the basics to mastery. Basics could be a gdocs quiz, or a gizmo's assessment questions, middle ground could be creating a ggb that demos a concept, and mastery could be a complex task like a situational problem, or an essay
  • ideas for other activities:
    • exit tickets - something that must be completed and shown to me before moving on
    • interviews - students interview each other or an expert
    • student presentations - there just has to be more of them and less of me. Period.
Blog - This one:
  • tag everything
  • link to diigo
  • make it prettier
  • page for presentations
Blog - Class blog:
  • find out how to use it to store content, eg lessons, notes, worksheets, videos, voicethreads, checklists, everything except students' marks
  • comment coaching - red Darren Kuropatwa, edublogger
  • investigate using blog for alternate assessments - ie research/summary instead of test, essay
  • I guess I'll have to start organizing it by school year now....time naturally adds layers to stuff, kind of like what archaeologists uncover!
Units that need work:
  • probability unit gr 10
  • rational expressions gr 10
  • vectors gr 11 (don't forget to do all egs in new text)
Other stuff to check out:
  • Ted ed
  • prezi
  • evernote
  • one note
  • livebinder
  • curation, eg scoopit
  • blogs I'm following with googlereader
  • all my bookmarks on diigo that I bookmarked and thought "I'll have to read this later"

So, me 2013: Well done, and well not done. Can't wait to see what turned out to be important! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flip class schmip class

Is it important what I call it? Yes and no.

Yes because....

I want people to try it out! Keeping it simple and catchy makes that more likely. And even more importantly, it doesn't sound like that much of a change from what the average teacher is doing, which also means they're more likely to try it out.

Example: I remember when we got smart boards into the last school I was at, I immediately loved them so much, and I wanted everyone else to experience the transformation that I was enjoying. But I knew I couldn't be all Marcia Brady with "Hey everybody! This will make you change everything about the way you teach! It's fun!" Yeah. No.

Instead, I told them, "Listen, you can keep teaching the same way as you always have, don't worry. You can still write on the board, and get your students to copy down what you are writing on the board, that's great, just try it on this thing instead!"  And I would casually gesture toward the stylus....like Maleficent drawing Aurora to the poisonous spindle....

Knowing, of course, that it would only be a matter of time before they would come under the spell of being able to do new things:

  • "Oh! Cool! I can move things around on the board after I've written them. Hmmm...classifying activity maybe?"
  • "Wow! I can put things up on the board before class and then during class just click through them, rather than spend valuable class time writing on the board, thus giving me more time to teach...."
  • ....and eventually "Sweet! I can show websites, movies, and write on those suckers too....."

The BIG transformation happened once they tried something a LITTLE different from their usual.

So I guess the name is important because it's not as intimidating as Project Based Learning, Mastery, Inquiry -this, Constructivist-that, etc....

No because....

It's not about the flip! It's so not about the flip. It's more like inside/outside: I used to gaze through the window of a store that I really wanted to get into, and all I was missing was a key. Then I found a key. And it's not about the key, it's about what's in the store!

And I know that I have a long way to go - I KNOW I am still delivering content, I KNOW my students are still depending on me too much, I KNOW it's not just about videos, I KNOW!!!! But like the smart board, the true power of the flip reveals itself slowly, and in different ways to different people.

So let's keep luring them in with something catchy and simple, and watch the spell take hold!