Implementation of my proposal – early days

Update on Innovation Proposal Execution            

Well, I took the leap.  At the beginning of the 2nd Semester I informed the students that those who wished a flipped classroom/work at their own pace just needed to get a permission slip signed by their parents.  About one third of them did so.  This meant I needed to create a flipped classroom fast.

To achieve this, I needed to learn:

  • How to quickly create an informative video tutorial using Apple products (Macbook and iPad)
  • How to use the animations on Keynote to create a dynamic presentation that brings the student along on a journey rather than a static list of facts.
  • How to edit videos to eliminate errors, add short video clips (that I learned how to edit to that short length). And add sounds and soundtracks.
  • How to upload the videos to YouTube and tag them properly.
  • How to create several types of quizzes on Blackboard to properly measure students’ mastery of the concepts.
  • Reserving iPads for my classroom for the remainder of the year.

Then I needed to create a complete lesson plan and post it on Blackboard.  This process illuminated several new issues:

  • Student iPads are blocked from YouTube and Blackboard won’t allow me to post videos directly to the page – only links.  (Students are forced to use their phones to work around this obstacle.)
  • Many students were unable to access Blackboard due to discrepancies in their login information beyond my ability to correct.
  • A rigorous process to distribute and collect the iPads is necessary or students will leave them on the desk in their hurry to leave when the bell rings.
My latest video incorporating several new features!

However, even with all the stress of the time crunch and things not working properly, I am very pleased and excited by this process.  I already see the following positive changes in my classrooms:

  • All assignments for the unit are posted, so students know what is expected of them.
  • Students always have access to both learning materials and assignments, so I am not reprinting anything or searching among my papers to find a “lost assignment.”
  • I walk out the door with a lighter bag because the amount of work I have to grade at home is much less – which gives me time to work on refining lessons.
  • I am able to roam the classroom and spend far more time 1:1 with students addressing confusion rather than presenting information to the whole classroom.
  • It is far quicker to enter grades so students have much quicker feedback on their performance so far in the unit.
  • Students have shown more ownership of their learning as they have to do more actions on their part (get an iPad, sign in, select the appropriate lesson, and learn from it or complete it) and of me talking at them.  This is in early stages and not yet too widespread, but I am seeing signs.
  • Because I learned how Blackboard has not only the ability to randomize the question order, but also randomize numbers within the question, students are significantly less able to copy from their peers.  This has enabled me to allow them to work freely together on worksheets to prepare for a graded quiz that is randomized.  I hope that some students will see the need to make good use of their learning time as a result of this change.

As of now, three weeks into the process, there are a handful of students who are about two days ahead of the pack, and maybe a few who are lagging behind.  I hope to see this spread increase a bit as we go forward because then students will be doing labs on a staggered basis, which will make it far easier for me to monitor safe use of chemicals and lab equipment.  It will also allow us to overcome the limitation of having only six propane gas outlets in the class for Bunsen burners.

My immediate to-do’s include: 

  • creating and posting a test on the unit so students can take it as early as Monday.
  • Preparing the lab for next week and determining how to integrate it with Blackboard.
  • Creating the first few days of the next unit and putting those lessons onto Blackboard.
  • Fixing all remaining student login issues.
  • Create an end card for my YouTube videos to insert at the end of each that has links to other videos and gives a consistent end to the videos.