Instructional Innovations

MCHS Newsletter: Week of December 14

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Flipping Out: Blending Instruction in Your Classroom

We've all heard about flipping the instruction in our classrooms. Some of us have jumped on board: Dr. Bundy and Dr. Kitchings (see Dr. Kitchings' use of Vimeo below), while others of us are a bit more hesitant. As with any new instructional strategy, there's some risk to implementation; however, I would argue that the risks outweigh the benefits for our students.

A flipped classroom is one in which instruction is given online through various web sharing sites, like Google Classroom. A fully flipped classroom uses class time to explore the content through discussions, projects, labs, and other exercises. Kids should come prepared with background knowledge of the content by viewing the teacher's lecture online before they attend class.

A blended classroom is a classroom where some instruction can be accessed online. The online lecture/work does not necessarily replace the direct instruction of the teacher in the classroom; rather, it supplements the teacher by allowing the student to explore some content on their own. Additionally, it can be used for enrichment or remediation.

You may not be ready to "flip" your classroom completely. I know I would have a hard time executing this myself--I'm in awe of what Dr. Bundy does. But I do think each of us can work to "blend" our instructional format with online tools.

Four Reasons Why Blending Is Awesome

1) Blending helps struggling students. Kids often go home and seemingly "forget" what you taught them that very day. By uploading some of your instruction, they can access it at home to "relearn." Sometimes we have students who need to hear or see something more than once, blending gives kids this opportunity in a nonthreatening environment.

2) Blending helps parents help their kids. Let's face it, many of us would be lost helping our own kids with high school homework--especially math. Placing your instruction online gives parents the opportunity to learn the content to in turn help their kids with their at home work.

3) Blending helps to teach our students skills to become lifelong learners. What do I do when I need the answer to a problem or want to learn more about a topic? Most of the time I go online. Learning the tools of responsible learning will help our students after they leave our halls. Kids are digital natives, but they still need a little direction in how to maximize technology in their learning.

4) Blending will make your life easier. When a student is absent, s/he can view what s/he missed on your site. When a student comes to enrichment and needs extra help, but you also have fifteen other kids attending, you can hand them a chrome book and let your previous teaching do the work--this is an opportunity to really differentiate as well. Work smarter, not harder.

There are challenges to moving to a blended classroom, and I realize that many of our students have little access to the interweb outside of school (although, through smart phones, this number is decreasing); but I truly believe that the benefits outweigh the challenges or risks. Beginning to blend your instruction might just revolutionize the way you teach.

Attend Kelly Cassidy's "Simple Screencasting" workshop on January 4th to learn how to use screencasting to post instruction online. Blending doesn't have to be difficult. Let Kelly show you the ropes.

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Photo credit: The Tesla Academy

Caught in the Act...

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Clay Kitchings hails from from Barnesville, GA and joined our math department this year. He has teaching experience ranging from middle grades to the collegiate level in mathematics and in mathematics education. He has been in mathematics education since 2001. He is a "Triple Dawg" (once wasn't enough) from UGA, with degrees in Mathematics Education.

Clay enjoys looking for ways to improve student understanding through just about any means necessary. Two of his favorites right now are: looking to find ways to improve understanding through the use of technology and through questioning techniques. In his "spare time" (who has that?) he films weddings. He has a little more video equipment and so he uses some of this equipment for teaching support. In examples like the one above, Clay used his Vimeo Pro subscription and microphone USB setup (and an inexpensive USB writing tablet) to screen capture a lesson summary of an activity to share with students who were absent for the activity. While Clay used slightly more expensive equipment, most of this can be done relatively inexpensively. There are also several economical iPad apps available to create similar videos. These kinds of videos can also be useful to introduce new content, remediate, or review old content.

Check out the video Clay created for his kids by clicking on the link below. The password is DRKAMDM. Clay used Vimeo but you can also use YouTube along with some other websharing devices. The great thing about Vimeo is that you can really control access to your videos.

We're Getting Better All the Time: Professional Development Opportunity

Monday, Jan. 4th, 9-11am

600 Madison Street

Danielsville, GA

Look for an email this week describing January 4's professional development workshop. We'll be exploring topics ranging from student engagement to maximizing collaborative learning in your classroom. The six sessions will be thirty minutes in length and you will choose three (mandatory) and a possible fourth if you'd like from the six sessions offered--it'll be an hour and a half or two-hour commitment determined by you.

Midterm Schedule This Week

Wednesday, December 16

2nd, 4th and 6th period exams with NO advisement

Thursday, December 17

7th and 5th period exams with NO advisement

Friday, December 18

1st and 3rd period exams/EARLY RELEASE

Please plan productive instruction during non-testing times these three days.

Any requests for early exams MUST go through Mr. Bullock.

Jimmy Fallon, One Direction & The Roots: "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (Classroom Instruments)

Melissa Conway, ISL

Have suggestions for the newsletter, or you want to chat about Alvin and the Chipmunks' new movie and their resurgence in entertainment? I'd love to hear from you.