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…



Student Blogging? Share your thoughts!


So after doing some research I have seen a few student blogs that are actually their portfolios.  I am intrigued to say the least.  I knew it would be a valuable tool for ELA and SS and Science, but I was unsure about its usefulness in math.  Yesterday when I posted about some math apps, that is when I saw one teachers blog about apps and came across one of them that led me to an example of her students.  I went to it and saw how it was being used for math.  It looked like the students needed to post assessments and summaries of learning to their blog.  I found it a great way to keep all their learning in one place, that was not random sheets of paper that they through away after the test or notebook that is hard to follow.  The assessments went from pictures of assessment tests and  quizzes to explanation videos of their learning for a specific concept.

This blog post if looking more for your input…

Questions I have:

1)  How is checked by the teacher if you have 110 students?

2)  What sites seem to work best?  The one I saw had a password protected for students.

3)  Did the students find it worth it and use it to for their advantage?  Did they have one for each subject or one blog that has all subjects in it?

I am sure I will have more questions, but let’s start there…

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July 8 – How did I end up in teaching?:  I actually started in TV/Radio Production so my path is different.  I finally knew I wanted to be a teacher after I started coaching and realized I had the patience to teach young people how to do things.  I then tested the waters by becoming a teachers aide while going back to finish off some endorsement credit hours at a community college.  I then got into a program that was specifically designed for students who had a bachelors degree in something else and wanted to change careers.  I think it has always been a part of me because I could distinctly remember playing school at home with my little easel.

Math Apps

Just a few apps I have either used or found recently for Math…

Photo Measures:  Just read about this app and I am excited to use this in the coming year!  It allows students to take pictures of different objects and then the app will help them measure it and then they can label the type of angle it is!  Hands on and seems easy to use!

Oh No! Fractions:  This is a great app for fraction practice.  The free version really only lets them compare fractions, but I feel that is the most valuable anyway.  I teach 7th and 8th and they struggle to see which fraction is bigger than another.  If they are not sure, there is a visual component that they can use to compare and if they are wrong they can see why they got it wrong.  I have used it as a warm-up in class!


Questimate: Just found this and think it could be amazing!  An engaging way to practice estimation.  I know my students really struggle with estimating anything and this could be the perfect app to help them!

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Dragon Box Algebra 5+: Just saw this and am intrigued.  Not sure it will work or if it is worth the cost ($6), but I wonder if it can help tech algebra without teaching algebra. Would be another great way for students to practice logical thinking that will help solving complex algebra problems.


July 7 – Favorite books as a child or adult:  As a kid my favorite book was The Giver, as a HS student I enjoyed reading The Jungle, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult, just out of college, I finally read the Harry Potter books and they are my passion!  I love them, probably a little obsessed! 🙂

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!


So, I have been participating in the Big Time Blogging Challenge through a coworker in my district and we have been given certain prompts for each day this month.  I have not really been following that calendar, so I will answer some of those questions today after I discuss Dropbox…


Dropbox is a great tool that I use for personal and professional use.  Having a team of 110 iPads for my students has presented some challenges at times.  I love the iPads, but when certain files are too big or certain things like printers are not working with the iPads – Dropbox has saved me and my students!  I would have a student Air Drop it to me from their iPad to mine and then I would make sure it went to my Dropbox account.  From there I could access it on my computer and print or do whatever I needed to it!

I also love that I can link it to my Galaxy Phone as well as my Mac products!  My photos and any files I want are all connected and I can access them wherever I need them!  If you want to try it out – CLICK HERE!  By doing it this way I will earn more space and you will get an account! (Thanks!)

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So now here are some of the questions from this week:

July 1 – Reason I Blog:  I wanted to use it as a way to share what I have been doing in my classroom.  It started when a co-worker encouraged me to blog about a big Flipped Classroom unit we planned went into action! (my first posts are all about my Bivariate Unit for 8th graders)  Here is a link to my first post about the project and here is a link to my co-workers first blog on the same topic.

July 2 – How long/capacity been teaching:  I just finished my 6th year teaching 7th and 8th grade math.  We loop with our students so last year was 7th grade and this year will be 8th grade – same students!  I am also a Team Leader and Coach basketball!

July 3 – My family – I am an only child, and very close to my family!  I am the oldest and only girl grandchild on one side and the only grandchild on the other.  I am married to my high school sweetheart, Steve – we met my junior year/his senior year at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park, IL.  We dated for 10 years before getting married in 2009 and we recently added our beautiful and amazing daughter, Nora on June 5th!

July 4 – Favorite thing to teach – I love teaching almost everything in math!  Some of the favorite topics include similar figures, solving equations, ratios in the real world, and so much more!

July 5 – What teams do I cheer for? – I am a huge sports fan!  I love to play basketball, but don’t always follow the NBA/Bulls.  I enjoy watching my Cubbies!  I LOVE watching football!  I am in 3 Fantasy Football Leagues and I will always cheer on the Bears, but my husband and I have a second team – New Orleans Saints that we cheer!  (we got engaged in New Orleans)

I will try to answer these questions everyday as I also talk about teaching stuff!  Have a great night! 🙂


Standards Based Grading

First – HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!  Hope everyone had a great and safe holiday!

Second – Standards Based Grading…

For the second half of the school year my grade level counterpart and I decided to give SBG a try.  2 other math teachers in our building had started it at the beginning of the year and we talked to them to get some ideas before jumping in.  This is where I am at so far with this process.

We discussed it with our students and explained that they will be given quizzes every Thursday.  The quizzes will be assessing the recent standards covered and then graded from 5 to 10 out of 10.  To get a 5 they would have basically turned in a paper with nothing on it.  6 and 7 would mean that they are in need of some help on that standard.  An 8 would mean that they are almost there.  A 9 or 10 would mean that they understand the standard.  Homework would begone over and checked in, but not included as part of their grade.  It was still important to complete HW so that they each felt confident for the weekly quizzes.  This way if they say they do not know how to do something on a quiz and that is why they got a low grade on the quiz, I can look back in my gradebook to see if they had been competing their HW.  IF they have not, I can tell them that is why they did not do well.  The other teacher I work with started using Class Dojo to help her keep track of who did their HW and who did not.

This year our district would like to see the middle schools move to solely SBG.  I know this will be a tough push at first, but hopefully we can all see the benefit of this!  Many of our students are struggling, SBG allows for that to happen and not let students sneak by because they can “play school” and get good grades.  We have seen a higher correlation between SBG and other tests given in the year.

Hope this helps many people who are skeptical about SBG and yet want to give it a try this year!


So for the first tech tool I want to use this coming school year is Remind 101.  This website/app is a way for me to communicate with all of my students and parents via text message.  I love this idea.  Let’s say I need to remind one class about an assignment – I can!  Let’s say I want to remind parents about report card pick up – I can!

Click Here to see it!

7 cool things about this tech tool:

1)  All cell phone numbers are kept private – for the teacher, students, and parents!  This is great since we don’t want students to have our info and parents probably do not want us to have their child’s cell number, nor do we want it…

2)  Yes you have to get the parents and kids to sign up, but all they need in a phone with text messaging to do it and most would rather that than having to go to a website!

3)  The site makes it easy for educators to use it!

4) There is an app!

5)  You can schedule your messages to be sent at a certain time so that you don’t have to be at your device at the exact time you want to send it out.

6)  Great for parent communication!

7) They give you everything you might need in PDFs to share with students and parents!  It also gives a page to print and pass out for the parents to sign up!

I first heard about this at the end of the school year when our Virtual Summer School administrator mentioned it for them to use and that we might all want to take a look at it.  Now that I have – of course I will set this up for the coming school year!  (I will just have to give my info to the Long Term Sub I will have at the beginning of the year – but love this idea!)

Happy 3rd of July! 🙂

Current Tech Tools

This past school year I started with iPads which led to a whole new set of trial and error.  I was excited and ready to try anything that might make this process easier.  There are people who wondered – LOUDLY – why I would want iPads over laptops and I felt this need to prove I could make students life easier and more creative with the iPads.  The frustrating part is that since I did not got them until after the school year had started – it took me longer to get my bearings and to help the rest of the staff get acquainted with the new processes.  In the end – I am so happy with how things worked out and can’t wait to use them again!


This is a great website and app.  Students can turn in work and you can grade it right on your iPad without downloading each students assignment.  This was the best feature!  Students can submit short videos (1min) and you can have one on one conversations with students – for example:  you check a students work and see they did not complete it, you can send them a note saying to finish it or fix it and they can see it and respond.  This works with both iPads and laptops.


This is the site I now use for flipping!  I love that I can incorporate many things in one place!  You can attach PDF’s, link videos from You Tube/EDUcreations, google docs, put quizzes built in that can be graded within the program, etc.  I flip with self-paced learning and this site allows me to build everything smoothly and easily.  They now have an app if you have the school version.  I think this app is extremely helpful for building lessons!

When I say self-paced flipped learning, I think of it as a way for students to encounter math at their own progression while I am able to check in with students one on one.  It also allows for small groups to be pulled so that students can TALK math while I can truly observe and listen.  When a whole class is discussing a problem it is difficult to hear and understand each pair or group.  But one group at a time allows for the conversation to happen while I hear their process.


Our district uses this site as our organizational tool for students/parents to see what is happening in all classes and to get all of their resources.  I love that this is our system and that parents have access.  I do wish more of our parent population would use it, but I think the system itself is great!


This is the math tool I love most!  This allows students to work on assigned tasks and have the option to play live with students from all over the world!  Check it out!


This is the app I use for all note-taking!  Students can download notes from eChalk or Blendspace or Showbie and then use a stylus or the keyboard to complete their notes or practice sheets!  I think it is versatile and user friendly!


I am willing to give more info and probably will over the course of this blog – but this is my starter list!

Check back tomorrow as I will pick something new to me that I am thinking of using and discuss!

I’m baaaacckkk….


It feels like it has been to long…and it has.  Since I started this blog, many things have changed.  I have grown so much in my mathematical thinking, I have discovered so many new tools in flipping, my team of students and teachers have switched from laptops to iPads, and I recently became a mom to a beautiful baby girl!


I am back and want to be more committed than ever, especially since I will be home with my daughter until November.  I plan to use some nap time each day to post my thoughts and findings when it comes to math, common core, flipping, etc.  I want to use this time and this blog to help organize the overwhelming amount of ideas I come across and figure out the best way to incorporate them into my teaching.  This will be my cathartic way of digesting the information that I find and figuring out the best way to use them so that it will enhance my teaching.  I hope that anyone that follows my blog from now on will also help me find ways to incorporate my thoughts into the classroom or I hope that those following will take something away from this and use it to push their teaching.


My next post will talk more about the tools I currently use, Showbie, Blendspace, eChalk, Mathletics, etc.  I also will be looking into all the Twitter posts from ISTE that happened this past weekend.


Lastly, I want to share again that I am a proponent of the Common Core Math Standards.  I know their is controversy surrounding these standards, but I want you to be aware that I support the idea of teaching students math in a way that helps them to fully understand the math concepts in a way that I was never taught and am currently learning.  This is what I think Common Core math means.  If we can keep this in mind then how are they bad?  Don’t we want this for our children?  Just because it is different from how we are taught, does not make it bad.  I still find value in knowing basic math facts, but I also want them to understand the connection between their facts.  How the four basic operations are related and what rules can be applied to each (commutative, associative, etc) while learning the facts, not later in a separate unit.  I hope this helps you all understand where I am coming from when I go through my blog!  Thanks!

Day 4-6 Bivariate Unit – Measure Arm Span


After they watched the video they then had to collect data from their classmates as they compared their heights in centimeters to their arm spans in centimeters.  This was another fun and active day!  The only difficulty being the shortened schedule for our Veteran’s Assembly (love the assembly – just a time constraint for measuring!)  It was fun to see them make some of those connections we always hope they make!  Some students realized it should be similar to their heights and others made comments about people with longer arm spans than their height being good at certain sports!

This is exactly what I hoped!  Once they got 10-12 measurements they were to graph the data in their notebook.  I realize now that most of them needed a little more guidance in that area.  They struggled with which variable should be on which axis and many other things.  This is mostly because these students have not been exposed to a lot of graphing.  I think either a class discussion to begin with or a video reminder would have helped!


Once they got through that I wanted to show them how to use Numbers to do the same thing.  I did do this as a class on Day 5!  We walked through the process of selecting all the data, creating the scatter plot and then making adjustments to the graph in “inspector”.

Along with that we started the class discussion from Page 2 of the file.  This discussion was leading them into seeing different correlations or relationships in data (positive, negative, or none).  It was a SMART Notebook file that I put on the SMART Board and they came up to move their own data points.  The first graph was looking at their birth month and how many siblings they have.  Each period had their own color points so that we could see what happened throughout the day!   They loved coming up and moving the points and they were able to see that their was no relationship.

The next graph was looking at their height in inches and their shoe size.  Here they were able to see that their was a positive relationship!  And the last one was the limbos and their height – which we had already done so I showed them their graphs we had made, to see the negative relationship.


This ended up being the day we went over how to graph by hand from Day 4…oops!  Lesson learned!  Again we had shortened periods – this time for Discovery Education testing.

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