I think I might be addicted to change….

At the beginning of this week, I was working on one blended learning course, Calculus 30, that would be used as my prototype for #ECI834. Then Wednesday hit….and I decided why not jump right in and start a flipped classroom with my Foundations and Precalculus 10 students, I could use a little change! (And increased prep work I suppose!)

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Jumping into the abyss! via GIPHY

This is not the first time I have pitched a flipped classroom to my students to see if they would like to try it out with me (I have tried several times with Precalculus 30, a HUGE course content-wise, but never received any interest) and I expected the same response: “Ummmm………no.” So what’s different this time? Almost half of my students are in band which is a “pull-out” program in our school meaning that they miss my math class once in every six-day cycle to go to band class. This same group of students missed Friday and will be away on Monday as they are in Banff for a band trip. A good chunk of these students are going to be missing for four days in April as they are going to Europe on an EF Tour to attend the 100th celebration of the Battle at Vimy Ridge. These students miss a lot of instructional time and view the flipped classroom as a way to minimize what they miss and provide them with an efficient way to catch up.

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Screenshot of my Google Form

So, Wednesday night, I was creating and videoing lessons, referencing those that already use a flipped classroom such as Ashley, coming up with formative assessments, and deciding how this was going to look (check out the blog site I created here). Thursday, we watched the lesson as a group and filled out the skeleton notes I had provided them. I felt it was important to model what they should be doing at home and answer any questions about the process, I do not want them to be disengaged because they are having difficulties with the process, as mentioned by Seethamraju in this week’s reading. This process was slower than it would probably be for most students watching the videos at home, but, I feel (hope) that it was valuable to them to go over it together. We then went over the formative assessment I created on Google Forms where I have asked them to answer 3 questions so I can see if they “get it” or not. I am hoping to use this to help decide if I need to address certain students individually on their understandings or if I need to reteach something as a large group. The big test of the process will be how many students have prepared and watched the lesson in advance of Monday’s lesson…….

This flipped classroom does not have a lot of online interaction outside of grabbing the appropriate links and going (much like Nicole mentions about her Weebly page), but I get to see these students every day and I set it up from scratch in one night. If we (the students and I) agree that this is effective, I will continue the flipped classroom beyond this unit and hopefully grow it into a more interactive community.

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Photo via @WeAreTeachers Twitter account

My Calculus 30 prototype does have these interactive aspects. Melinda mentions that she had not given much thought to interactions between students and with the instructor prior to the blog prompt and I find that I was the opposite. This is, in part, to the fact that I am already teaching this as a distance-ish course and have regularly received emails in the past of a picture of a question asking how to complete it. I am a big believer in encouraging collaboration within my classroom and will often direct students to each other to help them understand. One of my professors in my undergrad described that teaching demonstrates the deepest understanding and that has stuck with me and I have found that it usually is true. The image above is somewhat similar to what was shared with me so long ago.

My prototype is on Canvas and Google+ (at the moment, I’m thinking of changing that up a little) with the Google+ community where I see online collaboration occurring. I would encourage students to post questions they don’t understand or ask questions of each other and myself and come up with solutions and understandings together, instead of from the teacher who stands at the front of the room.

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Photo Credit: Debbieallendale Flickr via Compfight cc

I have thought about using the discussion board feature within Canvas but my own experiences with discussion boards have been poor. I have experienced the feeling of frustration when others dominate the discussion and post so often I feel that there is nothing left for me to add that will be valuable and unique. This is a concern that arises often and needs to be addressed according the edutopia handbook, Mastering Online Discussion Board Facilitation and this is deterring me from wanting to use them. I like the more informal version of discussion we have in our Google+ Community as I feel it better encourages the development of relationships. I fear, like Logan, this is not as cut and dry as it is in the classroom, it needs more work in an online platform. Benita mentions the “5 R’s” from Schwier’s Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments: “rules, roles, rounds, rituals, and ringers”. This gives a great place to start thinking about the tasks that you could assign in the discussion board of your LMS and has caused me to sit back a bit and think of if/how this changes my personal feelings about discussion boards. I’m not done this thinking process and am still grappling with how I would use it.

A common theme from this week’s posts (Melinda, Adam, and Kelsie to name a few who talked about it) has been the use of Flipgrid and, as I haven’t checked it out yet, I decided that maybe now it was time. After playing with it a little, I think this is more in line with what I would like for a discussion board, something that is more interactive and personal. So maybe my thinking is changing….but I think I need more time.

What have your discussion board experiences been like? Do you prefer the traditional typed version of a discussion board or the interactive one of tools such as Flipgrid?

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8 thoughts on “I think I might be addicted to change….

  1. Whew! You did a lot of work this week. This is blended learning! I even went and watched one of your screencasts and fondly remembered high school math. Very well done and clear lessons online! I just started using flipgrid. My students are still hesitant – mostly because other peers will be watching their videos, but it is a great easy tool. I’m not sure the basic flipgrid option allows peers to comment which is frustrating so you may need something else to allow response for interaction. I thoroughly enjoyed your post (and your lesson 😉 ).

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    1. Kara

      Thanks for watching and responding! My students provide me with feedback of what they like/don’t like about the videos as I work through making them but it is nice to have another educator’s view of them! I think as making videos becomes more natural, students will be less hesitant in using something like Flipgrid. Thanks for the response!

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  2. Lindy Olafson

    Wow- good for you. Sometimes the best way to do things is to jump right in! So wonderful to have some students excited to take the jump with you.
    I just started using Flipgrid with an ELA 20 class I’m working with. We tried it with 3 kids so far who would otherwise need a scribe for responding. We were quite happy with the responses we got. I did play a little with the free version- but for $70 we decided to purchase for our school.
    Excited to hear how you and your students make out!

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    1. Kara

      Looking at purchasing it for the school is a great idea. I may have to talk to some of the Pre-K to Gr. 6 teachers who I know would like this and rally them with me to decide we want to spend some of our school budget on the purchase! Thanks for the response!

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  4. It’s great to hear that you have “some” students on board to try this out with you. That is half the battle.
    We have added a flipgrid to our prototype but fear that the free version would not be what we 100% want and would need to spend some $$ to upgrade. We will have to trial this out and see first. After playing around we also think this is more in line with what I would like for a discussion board, something that is more interactive and personal. I loved the video idea on it!

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    1. Kara

      Thanks for the response Melinda! I am interested how your older students will react to making the videos and how that will work in your prototype! Can’t wait to see the results!

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