Monday, February 2, 2015

Ever had one of those weeks?

This last week has been one of the most stressful of the school year.  Crazy busy from 6 AM until 8 PM almost everyday, coming home and doing school work, and having to be a care provider to my beloved wife.  During this time, I'll be honest, I thought about simply going back to the old "stand up and lecture" method because it's easier and I felt like I could just use a couple of days of simple conversation.  Then I got to school and looked at the kids working on problems they would not be able to do if they had not been in a flipped classroom and that all changed.  That, and talking to my students and hearing them say "we are happier when we have a chance to talk through problems than in a normal lecture class."  This only happens because I anticipate the questions the students have from the video lecture, based on their questions, and go from there.  This was the motivation I needed.  Also, during my non-math based class I decreased the amount of Q & A time for one class and gave them more hands-on activities and reversed it for the other section of the same class because that is what the students in those classes wanted.  Again, this is not something that could have been done in a traditional lecture class.  I have also given back in to having the students in my lower physics class watch videos in class and do work afterward.  This helps the students who are not as motivated stay engaged and the students who work ahead by watching the videos the night before, can get ahead and do other things.  This has been a god send that would not have been possible in a traditional lecture class and a realization that saved me from the easy fall back to lecture trap I nearly fell into.
Also, in my other position I had the opportunity to observe teachers and talk about how their classroom works.  While I absolutely love this opportunity it did take my prep hours away, which needless to say added more stress to my week and an additional half hour to my morning.
So, you would think this would be enough but I am also the primary care giver to my beautiful wife.  She has numerous disability issues and, while fighting through them all, is the most positive person I know.  She has been struggling with her independence lately and I am trying to be there for her, along with attempting to do all of the other things in my professional life.  Thank goodness I have started jogging again so I can find some time to relax and reflex.  This will be a constant battle ground I must tread and hopefully I won't set off too many mines.
So, if you finished this post I thank you for reading my ramblings.  Please feel free to comment.  Thanks for reading!

Ways to avoid procrastination

This week in our flipclass chat in twitter chat:  https://twitter.com/hashtag/flipclass?f=realtime&src=hash
The topic is how to curb procrastination for big projects.  This is something I have been struggling with and find this topic very interesting.  This problem really showed up in my class with a car design project I gave the students one month to build.  I would ask for an occasional check-in to see how the students were doing and, no surprise to me, they procrastinated until the end of the time limit to finish the project.  When I asked the students to tell me one thing they would change about the project they told me they would change the amount of time they were given. They said the time frame was to long an the extra time did not serve many of them.  So for the next project I shortened the time frame and the students said they appreciated the shorter time frame for our egg-drop 2.0 project.  I have found that students, no matter 9th grade, 11th grade or 12 grade, need and want to be checked on so they feel appreciated and able to ask questions.
The one project I have that lasts most of the trimester is our research project about an amusement park ride.  For this project the ultimate part of the project is to design and execute an experiment on an amusement park ride.  This project begins by the students doing research on the history of their type of ride (roller coaster, spinning ride, circular ride, etc).  The second part of the project is for the students to discuss the physics topics their ride covers.  The third part of this project is to create a rough draft of their experiment (which gets checked in class and discussed).  The students then get to conduct the test on the ride.  After the experiment they must finish their final project.  I check in with them and make sure they are on track to complete it.  This project is a large scale project and something I am working to incorporate into my smaller activities.
Please feel free to share comments or ask questions.  Thanks for reading this post.