Feeling a bit of Flow

I’m on week three of my first flipped year.  I’m feeling a bit better about what I’m doing and looking forward to seeing some results.  There are a lot of things that one should consider before using a flipped method with a classroom of deaf students.  Here are some interesting things I have found:

1. Students are not quite “Trained” to view ASL in 2D format.

Several of my students struggled watching my videos.  It wasn’t the content they were complaining about, but watching signing on video was difficult for them.  When planning your own flipped classroom, you may want to include mini-lessons on how to view ASL in 2D.  My remedial level classes were struggling with finding good places to pause, take notes, rewind, and review as needed.  They had a habit of watching the video once and then exclaiming “I don’t understand!”  It never occurred to me that they may need to be taught  HOW to view a video.

Also it is important that you record yourself on video separate from any content you do.  If you try using something like Screencast-o-matic.com, the recording is streamed making the final video a bit difficult to view as signs look blurry.

2. Take the time to teach students specifically how to access sites you will be using.

I sometimes take for granted that my students are tech saavy and I often assume that showing them something will be enough for them to get it.  However, a lot of my students needed a lot of practice with the sites I used: Edmodo and Kidblog.  I had to specifically teach them HOW to turn in an assignment or how to find their drafted posts in Kidblog.  These mini-lessons have taken up the bulk of my first 3 weeks of class but I’m hoping the benefits will be HUGE.

3.  Not all students love technology or even want to use it

Every year I assume that students will be excited to use the iPads or thrilled to play with a new website on their laptops.  Truth is, many of them do not enjoy technology because it adds to their frustration.  In addition to whatever academic issues they have to overcome (reading and writing especially) they are now expected to have some sort of media literacy.  It’s a lot for them to take in.  SO, if you are going to do a flipped classroom, keep it simple and small.  Don’t have a bunch of websites that they have to continuously log in to.  Keep the student log ins to a maximum of 3 and give them time to explore without worrying about grades.

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So, these are three things I learned in my first 3 weeks.  I’m also learning that mastery grading might be a worthy tool for me.  Mastery grading is a pass/fail sort of mentality to grading student work.  Students continue to work at their pace until they master the content.  You don’t give them the grade until they prove they have mastered the skill.  I haven’t quite begun mastery grading, but definitely something I might try down the road.  I’m also getting used to the idea of letting go of trying to get all students caught up on the same activities.  The whole point of flipping in the first place was to bring differentiation to my classroom.  I have to be able to allow students to work on skills long enough to master them. It might take some students a day, others a week.  I have to rotate activities so that all students are participating and actively involved in their learning.

I have to say preparation was a lot less than I thought.  If you have a good clear plan of what you would like to do or teach, then posting assignments to Edmodo takes a lot less time than heading to the copy machine to print out worksheets.  I find that while they are working on their warm-ups I can quickly post a class assignment or attach a worksheet.  I highly recommend Edmodo.

The rewarding part of everything, even with all of my trial and error, is to see every single student engaged throughout the entire class period.  It’s also wonderful to see them asking questions and stopping by outside of class to seek additional help.  This has got to be the first year out of my entire 7 years that students have willingly come to me for tutoring.  It shows that in this short amount of time, they are already taking responsibility for their learning.  That makes my bungles a lot easier to swallow.

I’ve got a long way to go before this feels comfortable and successful but I’m a step in the right direction.

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