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Showing posts from 2015

No Secret Code

For many educators throughout the world, last week was known as the "Hour of Code." The Hour of Code event was a global initiative started by Their purpose was to bring coding and computer science into as many classrooms as possible. did a fantastic job at getting resources out to educators and providing the students great content to work with.
What exactly is coding and why it is so important are great questions. Coding is a way of talking with computers to have them do what you want. Coding is expanding so rapidly into so many fields, as almost everything is computer based. It is quickly making its way into business, mathematics, and medicine that its importance cannot be ignored. Coding requires problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. It is so much more than just sitting at a computer by yourself and typing. There is also a desperate need for females in the field of coding, as it is currently male-dominate…

Midterm Report: All C's

With my blended learning classroom truly coming into its own, me finally feeling as if I am no longer treading water, and all of my students engaged and energized, I am now starting to see how the puzzle pieces fit together. It has taken a long time to get to this point, 15 weeks to be exact, but it has been worth it. Not only do I feel confident and comfortable with the blended learning approach, but I also feel relevant again in the true world of education and what it should be.
Creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Commonly referred to as the 4 C's in education and I have wanted to incorporate these since I read about them years ago. Finally, now I am with the blended learning classroom. Utilizing online learning forums like Khan Academy and Study Island have allowed me to personalize student learning and make my class student-centered. However those were just part of the puzzle. Now I am piecing the puzzle together using Google Classroom and …

What a Difference

This past week, I was able to take a breath, step back, and observe my students at work. I was able to do this because the blended learning/flipped classroom is getting into a good groove, and it is starting to look like what I envisioned. However as I observed a lot this week, I saw some fantastic things my students were doing, that I did not envision happening, that made me so proud of them.
I observed all students taking ownership of their learning. They were using the Internet effectively to search for answers to their problems. They were engaged every day, every lesson, at every station. I saw student confidence rise, even in the students who thought they were "bad" at math at the beginning of the year. I heard the quiet "yes's" throughout the room as the students worked on and solved problems. I saw "I love math" notes around the room on the small dry-erase boards. Students were asking more engaging, specific questions. Formative assessment score…

Results Are In

At the end of the first marking period, I asked my students their thoughts on their first blended learning experience. I had my own, but I wanted to hear from them. If I am having a student-centered classroom, how could I ignore their thoughts?
My goal of getting their feedback was to find out if they thought they were getting an effective class experience compared to previous years, to see if I am on the right track from their perspective, to give them a chance to voice any thoughts on the matter, to see if there is a need to incorporate flipped lessons, and to share the results with my colleagues to start a conversation about blended learning and flipped classrooms.
Looking at the data, I feel very confident going into the second marking period continuing to use the blended classroom model. Not only do I feel as if I am finally able to dig into it more, but the students are telling me they really like the approach. There also appears to be a need to incorporate flipped lessons, too. …

You Don't Know Unless You Ask

I was recently in a meeting with a family and their child, and we were reviewing the student's goals for the year. When it came time for me to talk, I briefly went over the blended learning classroom with the family and my reasons for doing it. They seemed very much on board with the idea, then I asked for the student's feedback of the new approach.
As soon as I asked and before the student answered, I realized I have yet to ask for feedback from the rest of my students. So at the end of this week, I intend to get all of my students' feedback on their thoughts of the blended learning classroom. If I am really focusing on making my time with them student-centered, then I must hear what they have to say and incorporate their ideas, thoughts, and suggestions into my, or rather, our class time together.
Student feedback results coming on the next post...

Athletic to Pathetic

I constantly reference basketball in my classroom, as I used to play and coach. I gave up playing over ten years ago, when during the course of one game I had the ball stolen from me and found a pass to me go right through my hands. I knew at that point I had to stop playing competitively, because I had gone from athletic to pathetic in my "athletic career" in one game.
Anyway, when I reference basketball in the classroom, I reference it from the point of a basketball coach (not someone who is pathetic on the court) teaching his players how to shoot a free throw. Once the coach gives the proper technique and then models it, he steps away and lets his players practice. The coach may give pointers here and there, but the point is the coach lets his player practice on his own. The coach only steps in when he sees his player struggle, and sometimes the player will recognize his struggles, and will seek out help. Similarly, shouldn't a teacher consider doing the same?
With thi…

What's Your Bench?

As my blended classroom continues to evolve and grow into a more effective classroom every week, I am quickly realizing how this venture is not as frustrating or frightening as I made it in my head at the beginning of the year. Each week, I learn from my mistakes and improve upon my practice; giving my students and myself a better blended classroom experience each day and each week.
In previous posts, I mentioned it's all about the learning, and that is true. No matter the device, it all has to come back to the learning for the students but also for the teacher. What I am learning is that as I incorporate the blended learning into my classroom, I still must incorporate my strengths as a 14 year teacher into as well. If I don't, then problems and frustrations quickly rise. For example, I have never been a teacher who can effectively manage log sheets of students work, so when I tried having students record their daily work at the independent learning station and turn their log s…

The Dark Ages

The week started out smoothly with the blended classroom flowing quite nicely. Then unexpectedly, the network went down. No Internet. No independent learning station. No blended learning. No energy.
Fortunately, I was prepared to handle this (or at least I thought I was) with a whole group lesson, and that whole group lesson really opened my eyes to how engaging and student centered I had been running my classroom before the network went down. As I taught the whole group lesson, one that I had taught in previous years (with what I had thought had been effective), I looked around the room and saw the following: students with elbows on tables with hands holding up heads; students blankly staring back at me with glazed eyes; students staring out the window; and students doodling in their notebooks. Now while this was not every student, it was more than any teacher would like to see. But it was the first time I was seeing this in my class this year.
Could this be caused by the lesson? May…

It's All About The Learning

Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops. There is so much to choose from for a blended learning classroom. How does a teacher begin to figure out which one is best?
For starters, it definitely helps to have a knowledgeable and accessible director of technology. My director of technology, after listening to my blended learning ideas, decided that Chromebooks would probably be the best option for my sixth grade class. And after the first several weeks, I like the decision he made. The students, who are beginners with the Chromebooks, are starting to use them with ease now. The students are up and running in no time, and with no help from me. So, there is that "independence light" at the end of the tunnel that I was wondering if I would ever see after the second week. The students will get there, and probably much faster than one may think.
It is easy to become excited picking a device. It is easy to become wrapped up in the device that was chosen and read about all…


Third week into the blended learning classroom and I felt pretty good with how things were going. Still a little messy. Still some bellyflops. But overall I was happy with the progression. Then, specials happened. This cut my class time down from 70 minutes to 50 minutes. Just when there was a flow starting to occur, I was forced to try to figure out the best approach to run the stations with a shortened class. I knew the day we would have specials would mean shortened class times. So it was not a surprise to me, but somehow that day just snuck up. What I discovered in trying to figure out the best approach for that day, turned out to be the best approach for every day. I ended up simplifying the stations and rotations, which made for a much more efficient class and positive comments from my students. I took that simplified approach into the rest of the week, and things really started to take off like I had been envisioning since last year. All I had to do was just keep things simple. D…

At The Edge of The Diving Board

Am I ready for this? Are my students ready for this? Is it too late to turn back? What will my students think if I turn back? Did I prepare them well enough? Should I spend more time going over the different stations? Will this work? All of these questions and so many more were flying around in my head as I looked out at my first period math class who were about to begin the blended learning station rotation model. Then I was able to take a breath which gave me a sense of calm. It was in that moment I saw the excitement in my students' faces. I saw their belief in me. I realized they were craving something new, something different, something meaningful, and something that they can take with them for years that will help them in THEIR future. So, I jumped off that "diving board" and into the blended learning model. I came up splashing and reaching for that edge of the pool, and as I made it over there I realized it was fun, exciting, engaging, and yes, messy, but also ver…

You Don't Know Unless You Try

The first week of the 2015-2016 school year is done, but I couldn't tell you where those days went. All I know is that Friday afternoon is here and my oldest daughter is getting ready to be flower girl tomorrow at my cousin's wedding. While the first week went by at a speed similar to the last week of summer vacation, there was so much additional time and energy put in to it by so many people. The reason, starting a blended classroom in my sixth grade math and science classes. This is something that has been in the works since the beginning of the fourth marking period of last year, and something that I have been, unknowingly, building up to since I was hired 14 years ago. So while blended learning will be occurring in my classroom, it is definitely not a me-only project. We all will celebrate the successes the blended learning classroom gives us throughout the year. What has been so fantastic about beginning a blended learning classroom has been all of the excitement and willin…