Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Planning for next year

Now that the 4th has passed, it is time to think about what I am going to do for next year. As I wrote in a previously, I want to start implementing flip teaching for my middle school science classrooms. I only see my middle school science students twice a week in the classroom. I want to use more of that time to do hands-on activities. However, there is so much information to cover for each grade level and I want the students to have read the background information before we do the activities.
In the past, many of my students have had problems accessing the information in the textbook. Science texts tend to be quite dense and full of terms that have meanings specific to science. In the past, I had students complete an outline while reading the text. But the students tended to look for he words rather than read the text. This past year I switched to modified Cornell notes that helped students target their reading. I would like to continue doing this as the students and I noticed an improvement in their comprehension of the material. But how can I fit this in with instructional videos? I also want to avoid having modified PowerPoints for the videos. There is so much great information out there already and I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I will post more ideas as I think this through. Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Flip-Teaching Survey Results

It's been a few weeks, so I have decided to call time on the flip-teaching survey that I asked my students to complete. In all, 12 students completed the form on my website. That is about half of the students in the class. For the most part, the student's responses were positive about the flip-teaching format. However, as I stated in a previous post, this may be because these students were more predisposed to complete the survey.

I am not going to go through all of the data in detail in this post, but I would like to comment on some general trends that I saw. First, the students liked the videos and found them helpful. There were a few comments about the length of the videos and the number of the videos. Up until the last few videos, I was recording the videos using Jing. This meant that I had a 5 minute limit for each video. Each lesson took 2 or 3 videos. The last few videos were recorded using Camtasia Studios. These videos were usually about 10 - 12 minutes long with an occasional video being longer or shorter. I think that 10 minutes is a reasonable time with 15 minutes being the absolute max. I would like to find out what other teachers think about this and look at some research on this as well.

While the students found the videos helpful, most of the students did not use the videos to review concepts or to prepare for the test. In future surveys, I will make sure to add a "why or why not" follow-up to this question. I did provide study guides that we went over together in class, but I had hoped that students who were struggling with a certain concept would use the videos to help them on the study guide. I suggested this in class, but it seems only a few students did.

Finally, the students had mixed feelings about working with other students in class. Their responses indicate that like to do the bulk of the practice in class. However, the responses to the question "I found working with other students in class helped me understand the concepts better" were decidedly mixed. Again, I would like to add follow-up questions to find out why. Is it that the students did not like working in groups or that they found the multiple explanations more confusing than helpful? Or did some students feel intimidated by working with other students who were stronger in math? These are questions for future surveys.

So here is what I am taking away from this first attempt at implementing flip-teaching in my classroom:
1. Make the videos short and to the point.
2. Make the videos a part of the review process.
3. Be more in tune with how the students are performing in class.
4. Do a better mix of group work and individual work. This year I tended to emphasize group work in class.

I have added links to the original form and the data summary generated from the form if you would like to have a look at them:

Form that I asked them to complete: https://sites.google.com/a/juliancharterschool.org/ms-mathews-classroom/pre-algebra/flip-teaching-survey.

Summary of the results of the Flip Teaching survey completed by my students: http://tinyurl.com/flip-teaching-survey.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reflection on the past semester

I can't believe that my last post was in March! We have just finished the spring semester at the Murrieta Middle School Academy, so I want to take some time thinking about the implementation of flip teaching in my Pre-Algebra class. I have invited my students to complete a survey (a Google form) about the flip teaching. So far I have heard from about 1/3 of the students. Here are some things that I think went well or could have been done better.
1. Training parents and students
We started the semester with the new format with very little fanfare. I explained what we were going to do to the students and wrote an email announcement to parents. I think a short training session with the parents would have been helpful. The students took to the format like ducks to water. I think that when I publish the videos in the future, I will publish in both web compatible and phone compatible formats.
2. Getting the videos up on the website in a more timely manner.
I was often making the videos the night before or the morning of the day that the concepts were introduced. I think that I will have the time this summer to create many of the videos ahead of time so this will get better. The students mentioned in the survey that they liked it better when they watched one longer video rather than 3 short videos. Once I switched to Camtasia I was able to make longer videos.
3. Encourage students to use the videos for test review.
One of the questions that I asked the students in my survey was if they viewed the video more than once and if they use the video for test prep. The students indicated that they were not. So, how can I encourage my students to do this?
4) Students liked the practice in class.
Most of the students that answered the survey indicated that they really liked doing the homework in class. They also liked the videos. However, since only 1/3 of the class has responded, I am probably only hearing from the students who had very positive experiences. Hopefully a few more responses will trickle in over the next few days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New movie format

Over the past few days I have been working at creating a webpage that contains the video and a Google form. Getting the Google form in place was easy. Getting my current video format to show was not. I was trying to embed a Screencast media roll into the page, but in the end decided it was time to move on. So I downloaded the free version of Camtasia and used it to record the videos. It was realtively easy to use - somewhat similar interface to Jing. However, make sure that you change the type of file to .avi (under tools - options - saving). The default is a .camrec file that is not compatible with the players out there. This file is a project file that is used by Camtasia alone. I found this out the hard way. The first recording I made, I did not change the default and I ended up having to convert the file. Fortunately I found a way to convert the file (thank you Internet!).
I also changed the navigation on my site from sidebar navigation to horizontal navigation to make it easier to get to the videos. Check out the new pages and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 21, 2011


To start this blog, I will describe the tools that I am currently using to create my screen casts for my students. I upload the .pdf file of the handouts into Adobe Acrobat Pro. I use a Wacom Bamboo touchpad to add details to the file. I use Jing to record the audio and video capture in .mp4 format. I upload this to Screencast and create a playlist of the Jing files. I insert a link to the playlist in my class webpage.

After attending the CUE conference, this is what I would like to change. I would like to create a webpage for each video that contains the video and a form that the student use to write a brief summary of the video and indicate specific areas that they want me to go over in class. This adds accountability to the process. So far I have created the Google form, the webpage, and tried to embed the video. However, I cannot embed a ScreenCast media role into the website (I keep getting an error when I add the embed code). I tried YouTube and Vimeo and could embed a video just fine. I had problems embedding a TeacherTube video as well. So it looks like I will need to create one video instead of several shorter videos (Jing has a time limit of 5 minutes). I have downloaded a trial version of Camtasia studios. I will let you know how it goes.

What are the current setups that you are using?