Category Archives: Flexible-Paced Learning Classrooms Series

Part 5: The Results are In…

Well, Week 2 went much like week 1. Now that the initial unit is complete, it is time for another self-refection.

Things we thought we well:

  • Students were engaged and worked diligently.
  • Overall student learning increased. Most students improved their assessment scores; although, it did take some students more attempts than others.
  • Students seemed to take more ownership of their learning.
  • We were able to spend more time with individual students.

Things that didn’t go so well:

  • As usual, there were some technology glitches, but we seemed to have worked these out.
  • We need more equipment for some activities. It seemed like everyone wanted to do those activities at the same time.
  • Some students still needed some help staying on task and struggled with independent work.

Things that surprised me:

  • I didn’t expect to have so much free time during class.
  • I didn’t expect it to be so quick and easy to get assignments graded during class.
  • I was surprised at how long certain activities took compared to others.
  • I was pleasantly surprised at how well they adapted to the changes overall.

So what did the students think? Glad you asked. We did a survey using Google Forms to hear what they had to say. Here are the results:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DW9wPnjy7gqxq3KdJfCuxzG2y7cQTo1G5iMJWXhmRG8/edit?usp=sharing

So I guess you could say they liked it, so here goes Round 2…

Part 4: Are we ready for this???

Teacher’s Log Day 1: The kids seemed excited about the new changes. As expected, there were A LOT of questions, so the discussion took a lot longer than expected. I don’t know that the kids accomplished much on their assignments today, but it seemed to have gone well.

Note to Self: Student’s need earphones or earbuds for watching videos.

Teacher’s Log Day 2: Everyone came in and got started. They were ready to work. We did field a few more questions about the directions for the unit, but overall, it was a pretty productive day. I was even able to talk to most kids individually as they worked on their assignments.

Teacher’s Log Day 3: I noticed that many students had completed some of their assignments but had not turned them in on Schoology, so at the beginning of class, we discussed why it was important to turn in assignments as they were completed. Do not procrastinate and wait until the deadline. I need to keep reinforcing time-management skills.

It was also interesting that student’s grouped themselves according to the assignments that they were working on at the time instead of sitting with friends. This is new.

I also noticed that some students were breezing through assignments while others were lagging behind. I used my class time to focus on the students who were struggling and prod them along. I also was able to grade assignments as they were being submitted.

Teacher’s Log Day 4: All assignments are due by midnight tonight. Some students did not get a perfect score on their Momentum & Impulse HW even after 2 attempts. I spent today in small groups with those that were unsuccessful going over what they struggled with on the assignment.

Some students were already finished with all of the required assignments and were just working on the optional assignments today. A few overachievers were already finished with all of their assignments, so they either helped other students or worked on homework for another class. Overall, today was really productive.

Teacher’s Log Day 5: Today is quiz day. I created a timed, online quiz on Schoology using Question Banks so each quiz is different. This quiz is open-note. Students have 2 attempts to take the quiz. They must make at least a 75, or they will be required to do remediation.

I handed out the assignment sheet for Part 2: Impulse for them to work on when they were finished with the quiz.

Fingers crossed, it appears to be going well, but we will have to wait for the final results….

Part 3: Creating the Plan

We started by looking at our objectives for the unit and identifying possible assignments for the student’s to complete during the unit. Since this was a two week unit on Momentum & Impulse, it was split up into a Part 1: Momentum and Part 2: Impulse.

Since we wanted our student’s to have some choice in their assignments, we created required assignments that everyone must complete and a list of optional assignments.

***Disclaimer: Implementing this plan, requires an astronomical amount of front-loading for the teacher. All assignments for the unit have to be created, copied, and ready to go BEFORE you introduce the new unit in class.***

The plan for class on the first day of the unit:

  1. Give each student a copy of the assignment sheet.
  2. Have a class discussion explaining why some class changed are necessary, how the unit is structured, and our expectations. We had never done anything like this before, so we expected a lot of questions.
  3. Give the students the rest of the week to complete these assignments during class.
  4. Take the Part 1 Quiz on Friday.

We’ll see how it goes…

Part 2: An Idea is Born

This spring, we decided to try something different for our students to aid in their learning. After a little self-reflection, we knew we needed to make some changes to our classrooms. We needed something that would be able to incorporate the following:

  • Differentiation
  • Flexible
  • Engaging
  • Challenging
  • Student-Centered
  • Allow for Student Choice
  • Incorporate Technology
  • Time-Management Skills

Our solution was to create a flexible-paced, blended learning classroom for our students. That’s a mouthful, but what is it?

Now we just need a plan…

Part 1: It’s Time for a Change

Flexible-Paced Learning Classrooms Series

Reflection

At the end of the fall semester, we sat down and reflected on the previous semester. We had both taught Physics using a traditional approach and incorporating some technology. This was Becky’s second year to have 1:1 Chromebooks and Staci’s first year with a class set of iPads. While the first semester went well, we each had some concerns that we felt needed to be addressed before the start of the second semester.

  1. How could we differentiate for all students?

Becky taught multiple levels of physics, but students had not always chosen the right level for their abilities or work ethic. For example, several students chose to take Honors Physics but lacked the prerequisite math skills for this class. Staci taught all levels of students (from SpEd to the valedictorian) in the same class period. How could we accommodate all of these students?

2. What do we do about students who miss class?

In our schools, the spring is filled with numerous activities, which means that since many of our students are involved in these extracurricular activities, they will also be missing class. We knew from previous years, that students felt overwhelmed and seemed to struggle when they missed numerous days of classes.

3. How can we improve our student’s time-management skills?

The other concern was the absolute lack of time-management skills our students exhibited. They have no idea how to balance their schedule. Typically the junior year has been more difficult than previous years. By the time they are juniors, teachers expect the students to be more self-sufficient and more responsible for their own learning. Many students have more out of class responsibilities with jobs, extracurricular activities, and childcare for younger siblings. With less parental oversight, our students were struggling to balance these responsibilities and manage their workload at school. As a result, their grades were suffering.

How could we address all of these concerns before the beginning of the spring semester? It was time to make a change…