Sunday, October 26, 2014

Don't be Afraid to Fail--ya right!

I love/hate the admonition to "not be afraid to fail."  I'm not afraid of failure, but when I finally have the courage to try something new, the very last thing I want is for it to be a failure.  I'm not afraid to fail, I'm just seriously mad when I do fail.  

I flipped my high school algebra class this year.  I've done everything on every "advice" list, and I'm still experiencing many problems.  Our district's available technology is a major problem.  Too many, almost 20%, of my freshmen "cannot" watch my videos for one reason or another.  You would be surprised at how many times their internet is randomly out at home... 

Anyway--I have backup plans and very few of the students are taking the initiative to overcome their inability to watch the lesson (watching my iPad at the beginning of class, coming to school early to use a student computer in a classroom, or staying after school.)  I began giving a notebook quiz to see if they copied the notes from the video, and I give 3-5 questions for them to answer at the end of the video.  I've had 2 parent conferences complaining about my method and several "thank you's" for taking the time to provide the videos.  At the end of the day (or literally the end of the 1st six weeks),  I've concluded that the amount of EXTRA time and work I've put into this new class format (in a textbook adoption year and on the eve of a major shift in TEKS) is not worth it.  My students' grades are not any better than last years'.  I will be restructuring and not relying on the flipped classroom model.  I still love the idea and would LOVE to be able to make this successful, but this year is not the right time.   I will still make videos for home reference, but I cannot rely on the students to watch the videos in order to be prepared to participate in the daily activities.  

If you've read all this so far, I hope you don't think I'm Debbie Downer.  I'm more of a Debbie Disappointed.  I really wanted it to work.

Monday, October 6, 2014


My flipped classroom has some problems.  First, I have several students come to class every day with an excuse as to why they couldn't watch the videos.  They just want to copy the notes really fast without getting the "explanation" on the video.  Then I have those students who won't confess that they haven't watched the videos, but when they ask a question in class and I ask to see their notes, they never have them.

I'm just lost. I decided to make a quiz from the notebook to encourage them to watch and take notes, but that is actually just punitive.  I hate punitive.  I just don't have buy-in anymore. How did I lose it?  Some students love the change, but then the "strugglers" just aren't putting forth the effort.  I really feel like the ones who are not watching the videos are the ones that wouldn't be turning in the homework if I had a traditional setup.  But the problem is that they aren't learning because the "homework" is the learning.  The "classwork" is the practice.

I'm just lost right now.  What am I going to do?