Some years I set clear goals and expectations for my summer vacation -- academically and/or domestically. In 2017 it was fixing the back porch; in 2016 we focused on the kitchen floor, and I re-assessed my grading system. This year we aren't doing much to the house except painting 4 rooms (three down, one to go) and a few other smaller tasks. In terms of school stuff, I mentally divided this summer in two segments:
- 1st: consider my flipping systems, particularly in response to things I would learn & people I would meet at FlipTech East Coast -- I figured that would be most of July
- 2nd: some curriculum overhaul in response to the newly-adopted Frameworks, after the statewide 8th-grade civics workshop that I will attend next week -- then I can start mapping out the school year, making some videos / assessments / projects, etc.
I have never met anybody else who gives formal in-class quizzes about the video lessons, and as far as I know nobody has adopted that system after reading this blog or attending one of my presentations. The more common methods seem to be 1) just presuming that students watched & absorbed the information, 2) online check-ins with GoogleForms or something like EdPuzzle, 3) a more specific WSQ-style procedure of in-class activities, or 4) asynchronous / non-linear structures that give students much more freedom of pace. Am I missing something important? Is this a problem that needs to be solved?
The mastery quizzes are kind of a pain. Whether I score them at home or during class, it's still an extra thing-to-do away from the students. Scheduling and monitoring retakes is another burden, which always has some holes. Due-dates are becoming "uncool" in the edu-verse, and maybe my Need2Know deadlines are problematic.
I dabbled with some online assessment last spring, but maybe that only works because I started the year with more formal requirements...? I'm not as confident that students remember the material beyond the moment when they type responses, but I can't accurately compare with the quiz system. When I surveyed students for their opinion at the end of last year, the vote was pretty much split between both formats.
And what about the summative unit-level assessments? That higher-order level of understanding beyond knowing the essential facts / concepts / connections? Those full-period typing sessions are just unsustainable, I think. I still prefer that to a take-home essay in terms of accountability, accessibility, honesty, etc. But they seem one-dimensional. I'm not fully satisfied with that element, either.
It's not that my systems completely suck. I won't let myself go down that rabbithole of self-doubt. My job approval rating is fairly high, and we've had lots of success. There are some school-based problems that I cannot solve or avoid, and flipping has worked well within these circumstances. OK. Relaxing now. Putting down the dynamite.
The #1 weakness of my class has always been my curriculum. 1750-1865, including a prolonged roadtrip through the contents of the Constitution. That has been an impossible framework. Too much to 'cover'. So many places to get stuck. No clear connections to 7th grade social studies nor toward 9th grade, because I have been "picking up where 5th grade left off" and handing off to 11th grade US History 2. Oh god this seems so whiny. But it's true! At least twice every year I have felt like we're laying the tracks of our curriculum map, which is not a healthy way to work. So I feel really hopeful about gaining a stronger structure by the end of next week, and I will be ever so pissed if those hopes get dashed.
Looping back to "Segment 1":
- I will aim to build better in-class activities and structures. Stronger connections between the video lesson (essentials only!) and the next-day role plays, higher-order connections, etc. I marked a few pages in Crystal Kirch's book about simple structures for peer review and discussions.
- Another area of focus should be better 'hooks' and opening engagement. That theme appeared in Crystal's book, Matthew Moore's DIBS, Dave Walsh's mind-mapping diagram [see below], and Carolina Buitrago's presentation about Hyperdocs. I have skipped or under-utilized that step, which was a bad idea....
- The student panel at FTEC unanimously agreed that perfect video production is not necessary, and actually should be avoided. They remember the teacher's self-corrections, the dog barks, the other little things that make the video feel realistic and human. So maybe I don't need to spend so much time in the basement!