So, I always go back to the same question…What is the best way for my students to learn?  

I struggle with this because I feel like I am always trying something new to see if it will work and then I become frustrated and think it is not the best way for them.  For example, when I started flipping, I thought it was great.  Then I heard about mastery flipping, I thought that was great and then I feel like I need more time in each period to effectively get them to do the flipping and check in with them and have math talks/conversations.

Basically, I am thinking about the coming school year and wondering what I can do to better teach my students.  I want to continue flipping when I can, but I want to make sure they talk about math and get excited to learn about math.  Maybe that’s where I should really be directing my thoughts –

How do I get them excited?  

How do I introduce the concepts in an interesting way that will not take too long?  

Our first unit is geometry…is there a way to introduce this concept that is interesting and encompasses all the ideas we need to teach?  Kind of like the Dan Meyer activities, but every time I look at those I get confused as how to use them.

I am open to suggestions and ideas…

I just always want to do the best for my students that will help them remember what they have learned without getting too far from the standards or taking too much time introducing the concepts that they do not see the connection to the standards.

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July 16 – Favorite movies/tv shows:

Movies:  Of course, my favorite movies are the Harry Potter films 😉 I also love most of the Disney/Pixar films – Incredibles and Monsters Inc being among the favorites!  I also love the Muppets movie with Jason Segal.  Mostly – I am a kid at heart!  On the serious side, I loved Primal Fear.

TV Shows:  I may have a problem and watch too much tv…I love So You Think You Can Dance, Big Bang Theory, Blacklist, Bachelor/ette, Castle, Switched at Birth, Suits, Justified, Sing Off, and I think I am forgetting some – if I remember I will add them here…Some are guilty pleasure and some I really LOVE!

Recently ended series:  How I Met Your Mother and Psych


Other videos for Flipping?

Post from yesterday that I started and forgot to finish :(…

images imgres-2 imgres-1

So I am going to put my two sense in the ring about using other videos for flipping.  I am the first one to say when there is a time crunch, use what you can find.  I have used You Tube videos, Khan Academy videos, Learn Zillion videos, etc.  The best quality with the best content for Common Core Math, in my opinion, is Learn Zillion.  These videos are kept short, they look appealing, the information is Common Core.  The best part about Learn Zillion is that you have the option to download the slides yourself and then you can edit them for your students and make your own video!  Just some thoughts for you all if you are thinking about flipping, but hesitant about making your own videos! 🙂


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July 14 – Favorite books to teach with?:  Since I do not teach literature – I do not know.  I did teach it for a few years, and the only one I was excited about was Outsiders. However, now I know this was beyond most of my students reading level, which is why they struggled to pick up on all the symbolism and pull from the test to understand the bigger picture.

Mastery Flip vs. Regular Flip

Mastery Flip versus Regular Flip – that is the discrepancy.

When I first started flipping I had students watch videos at home and then I would go through more examples in the classroom the next day.  I would also want to hold my students accountable for watching the videos so I would check in their notes or have them complete a google form about the video with a few short questions.  This method was okay.  I found it to be a step in the right direction, but felt that I could be doing more with this concept.  I just did not know how.

Then comes an ICE/Flipped Learning Network conference the summer of 2012. My co-worker and I attended this workshop and as I sat there in the opening session, participating in a Today’s Meet, I found myself listening to a teacher from Downers Grove North High School.  Brian Gervase (@bdgervase) was talking about how he flips to the Mastery level in his Pre-Calculus class.  I was intrigued and motivated to use this new way of thinking.  I also went to his individual session and learned so much about this self-paced learning method for flipping!  This idea of making a unit where the students could do everything in school and work at their own pace, all while getting one on one help when needed because all the other students are working on something.  When I first tried it, I must say I knew more about my students and what they knew and what they struggled with than ever before.

A few things you should know:

– I do not do this for every lesson right now.  I pick and choose which units work best for flipping.

– Even if I don’t use it – I plan on still using Blendspace to put all aspects of the unit so if I ever want to or if someone is absent they still have all the resources.

– Start with a unit you are comfortable with and complete the whole unit before you teach it.  This way you will give your undivided attention during the unit to the students and work with them to complete each task.

– It is EXTREMELY important to check in with every student every day.

– I also plan on using some time during a unit to work with small groups.  I would use this to pose a question that will require them to talk through the problem.  I will be there to listen, not guide.  I will push students during these times to work with their group and really push beyond their basic understandings of a concept.

I would love to help anyone work through this concept if they are considering this idea and I am open to new ideas!

Take a look at my earlier posts on Bivariate Data to see how I structured my first Mastery Flipped Unit!

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July 9 – Pets?: I do not have any pets.  First, if I had cats I would have hives. Cats and kittens look adorable, but if I touch them or something they have been on – I will scratch my eyes out and end up with hives.  I had a dog when I was little, but my mom has asthma so no other pets besides fish!  My husband grew up with dogs, but after seeing what his parents go through to find someone to watch them when they need/want to go somewhere – we decided it was not for us right now.  If I was to get a dog, I would want some sort of cocker spaniel…they are soo cute…see…


Explain Everything

This was supposed to post yesterday – but didn’t 😦 Sorry!


This is THE app I use when making videos for my flipped classroom units.  I love this app for making videos because I can make them on my iPad, which means I can write on the iPad in real time for my students as I work through an example and notes.

(I have seen Camtasia in action and also really like this program.  I think it has great features, but not the flexibility of using the iPad to record so unless you have a slate you can’t write in real time.  )

Explain Everything can also be useful for students.  I could present a short problem and have them record themselves solving it and explaining what they did.  This could work for other subjects as well.  They could explain the definition of a word in their own words and draw a picture/use it in a sentence.  They could respond to a question posed in SS or Science and draw pictures when needed to help their explanation.

Click Here for more info on this App!


July 6 – Summer Vacation Plans: Now that we have our little girl, which was the only plan in the books (haha), we have looked at what is going on the rest of the summer.  I think the only thing we will be doing is my families annual Illinois State Fair trip in August.  That is all for….yesterday!

Flipping and Common Core

So Friday was an Institute Day for us with morning sessions for all the teachers to go through (keep in mind there are 8 schools in our district).  One of the sessions was given by myself and my co-teacher.  We had to condense a 3 hour professional development into a 25minute presentation on Flipping our Classroom.  Needless to say I felt like I was spewing information at people and hoping for the best.  We did get a lot of great feedback and I know we hope to do more sessions after school.

Here is where I am at with Flipping my Classroom:

– When I started flipping in January I was kind of on my own – no matter what websites I read – everyone is on their own the first time.  I struggled to get people on board (did get my co-teacher on board with my craziness 🙂 ) and had many questions asked to me and questions myself.  I learned with my students about what worked and what didn’t.  In the end I can’t wait to continue!

Some of the questions I get asked and my opinons:

– What about no internet or no computer?

A: Well, first I preface with the fact that I work in a 1:1 district, however the best idea I have for this is to use your video as a center to preview the next day or unit.  As for no internet – I make my videos downloadable – meaning they download before they leave class and watch it at home without internet!  The assessment I have to go with the video might be on the internet, so for them I recommend using their Excel (Homeroom) time wisely and get it done int he afternoon or morning!

– What if they don’t do their homework?

A: My question back is what do you do if they don’t do their regular homework (worksheets and book work?  The advantage is that they can now take a few minutes at the start of class to catch up and then join the activities for the day.  I do have assessments with the videos so they will lose points for not completing them on time, but then they have the lesson.  I will say that some of the students who struggle with homework completion do more when it is a video – they would rather listen to us than do a worksheet 🙂

– What about our special education students?

A:  This is also one of the biggest advantages in my opinion.  When I teach a class I know that some student catch on 2 minutes after I start and are bored…some of the class is following along…the rest are lost 2 minutes after I started talking (including many special education students).  Videos for homework allow those students who need to hear the lesson as many times as needed – CAN!! 🙂  I love it!  (FYI – you need to teach them to go back and re-listen!)  They also come to class prepared for discussion (HUGE for common core) because they have already seen the lesson and even if they don’t know how to do it they heard the vocabulary for it and are more likely to participate!

– Does it take longer to do?

A: Only because you GET to plan more student centered activities….I know…such an issue – NOT!  This is what we all wanted – time to let our students get to mastery through activities, projects, labs, etc.  I would have made the notes anyway (now their more interesting) and it takes 5 more minutes to record!  Now I do more centers and the would have been homework is a center and classwork for a grade!  I can help them before they do an entire worksheet wrong! 🙂

– How do you hold them accountable?

A: I always include something to do after or during.  Ideas: short google forms, discussion boards, warm-up, exit slip, take notes and check in for points.  (FYI – for math I never hold them accountable to start solving problems after watching a video – I still want to work with them in live person – so questions might be ‘What is opposite operation?’ not solve x – 6 = 23)

– What are the advantages/benefits?

A: Some of the biggest benefits of flipping is that I can really get to work with my students one on one or in small groups and they get to work with each other.  Some of your quieter students can watch videos and email you with questions so they are not embarrassed.  And then there is Common Core.  Common Core is supposed to go deeper than the first layer of math concepts we normally teach.  By making videos for some of the concepts we can keep moving fluidly through the parts of each Standard.

For now, these are my thoughts.  I will let you know my progress as I continue this journey!  Please share your questions and comments here!

Hello world!

So this is my first blog and I am doing it as part of an new blogger initiation…I have always wanted to try, but never felt I would have the time to blog…we shall see if I can keep this up.

First things first, meaning over the summer I constantly think about a couple goals for the new school year.  I try to narrow it down to 2 things I want to make better or try….Here is what I want to do:

1.  The goal I have been trying to implement for the past few years is parent contact.  Our district makes report card pick-up mandatory, but that is not enough.  The other issue is that many of our parents speak Spanish and therefore it is hard to call home (I am trying Rosette Stone, but that is a process).  Of course I want to call for good things and negative things, but how?? How do I find the time?  When do other teachers do it?  How do they do it?  I thought about picking one day a week and calling or emailing or writing a note, but is that enough?  If I write a note the students can translate if it is good, but what about bad behavior issues or grade/homework issues – can’t always trust the students to translate the truth to their parents.  So I am still looking for suggestions…

2.  Since I have been flipping my classroom since January and will have the same students this year (we loop from 7th to 8th grade in teams) I want to make this process better for the students, streamline the videos and make them more my personality while making them even more valuable.  I want the buy in to be even better than it was.  I want my videos to be able to be kept and stored and used by others. I plan to make my videos shorter than they were.  Use them more wisely. And make my assessments of the videos more meaningful, using discussion boards as well as the multiple choice google form.

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