Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Second Chance

Student Participation… Take Two
January 23 to January 27, 2012
In my last post I shared statistics on student participation with regards to watching their first video lecture and taking an online quiz.  The video was a review on cell division while the quiz was assigned to assess my student’s ability to glean important information from the video.  Being disappointed in the initial results, I went back to reteach students on how to watch the video while taking the quiz. 
I have graphed the differences in my results.  Week one is when I first presented my students with the video and assigned them the quiz to take as they listened to the content.  When comparing the initial results with week two, where students were given one more chance to complete the assignment or redo their initial attempt, you’ll notice an increase in both student participation and achievement. 

The number of students completing the assignment increased 23% from week one to week two, while the average grade on the assignment increased by 10.5% (7% in General Biology and 14% in Practical Biology). 
I wanted more student feedback into this first video assignment and the flipped classroom idea so I put together a Google form survey that my students have randomly taken.  Here is what my students think about the idea so far.

The answers that my students provided have helped me realize some important points.  First, I was surprised at how many students didn’t watch the video while taking the quiz as was directed.  After some discussion I realized that many students got hung up on the word “quiz” and felt as if they would be cheating if they watched the video while they answered the questions.  Many also stated that they were not aware of the fact that they could watch the video while taking the quiz, even after they had received both verbal and written instructions to do so.
Instead of a quiz for this week, I have designed a  modified Cornell notes worksheet so students can take notes, ask questions and write a summary about what they learn from the video.  On Monday, I will model how to watch a video lecture while filling in the worksheet as students participate in rounds of “think, pair, share”.   
The second thought that came to mind as I reviewed the data is how high school teachers often assume that students come into their classrooms knowing how to “learn” the content that's presented to them, but where would they have learned these skills?  Unless students have had a study skills class they may have never been shown how to take notes or decipher important information from a discussion or lecture. 

This week I will provide my students with detailed training on how to learn and take notes from a lecture.  I was surprised to see that over 90% of my students requested this direct training.  Sometimes we can learn the biggest lessons from the simplest questions!

Question:  What type of strategies or training do you provide to your students when it comes to helping them become better learners?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Student Participation

January 16 to January 20, 2012

Today (Monday), my Biology students were asked to watch the video review and to take the associated online quiz by Friday.  I gave them the option of using class time to complete the assignment or watching it on their own outside of class.   Out of 128 students, 72 completed the assignment (56%) and 56 did not (44%).  This is exactly what I was afraid of if I made the video homework, but I’m puzzled why they didn’t watch the video when given class time to do so.  I will investigate this further.
The reason I made the quiz was to determine if the students were able to learn the important information that was presented in the video lecture and to determine who watched the video.  There were 12 questions; eight multiple choice, three fill in the blank and one short answer.  Use of the video lecture while taking the quiz was permitted.  Very few students took advantage of this tool and did quite poorly on the quiz.  When I averaged the scores of all my students that took the quiz, it was only a 61.5% which is unacceptable.  For those of you interested in more details my classes are tracked with my Practical Biology classes averaging a 50% while my General Biology classes averaged a 73%.
I am hoping that the scores were low because this was their first time using a video review and taking this type of online quiz.  In order to provide my students with more practice on how to learn content from a video I will reemphasize to them that they CAN use the video to help them on their quiz.  The quiz has been reassigned to students that would like to improve their score, and for students that received a zero for not completing the assignment by its due date. I hope to see better results this time!

Publishing My First Video

Now things got a little tricky!  After making a 10 min. and 33 sec. video that is an mp4 file, I discovered that it was too long to post on YouTube (over 10 min.)!  Naturally I try the next best thing, SchoolTube.  After three attempts to upload the video and receiving errors each time I figured the file was too big for SchoolTube as well.  Now what?  The only thing I could think of was to post the mp4 file directly to my class’s online learning network, Edmodo. 

The next day I asked my students to watch the review video on our classroom laptops and to take the associated online quiz.  One BIG problem…our bandwidth was too small and only one or two students could stream the video at a time.
I decide to ask the Flipped Classroom community of teachers on Edmodo what to do.  I received some great advice and one teacher mentioned that her long videos seem to upload fine on SchoolTube.  Being the easiest fix I tried SchoolTube again, low and behold it worked!  I was able to embed the video on Edmodo and students were able to watch my final product.  There were still some timing issues with slow buffering but overall it worked well.

Filming My First Video

January 13th 2012

I want to ease my Biology students into the idea of watching a video lecture, so today I decided to create a section review video. 
What format should I use?  There are so many different ways to present recorded course content that I wasn’t sure which to use: screen casts, Kahn Academy, video recording, etc.  After much deliberation, I decided to use the Flip one-take model that Lodge McCammon presented at the STEM Institute.  I chose this format for two reasons.  First, I like the idea of my students being able to see me as I teach them, and two I think it will help me keep the video lectures short (under 10 minutes).

I started by dividing a piece of white paper into six sections.  Each of these sections would represent the material I would put onto my six white boards.  Then I transferred the information and images onto the white boards using colorful markers. 
I set up my white boards, tripod and video camera and was ready to go.  Since this was a review lecture of an entire section of content, it was a little longer than I had hoped (10:33) but I managed to pull it off in just one take.  From start to finish this first attempt took me approximately one hour. 

Why “Flip”?

While participating in the Siemens STEM Institute 2011 fellowship program, I attended Lodge McCammon’s (of the Friday Institute) presentation discussing the “The Flipped Classroom”.  It was an eye-opening experience that immediately made me aware of all the possibilities this tool can provide.

The idea of providing my high school Biology students with prerecorded lectures to listen to, at their own pace, sounded like a great way to differentiate my lecture material.  Students now can pause and rewind the material that was more difficult for them to understand.  This format also makes the curriculum more accessible to my ELL (English Language Learner) and special needs students.  

The greatest benefit of the Flipped Classroom is students can watch these lectures on their own time, as homework.  This translates into less of our class time being spent lecturing and much more time being spent exploring the newly learned concepts with labs, projects or investigations. 
This is where the term “flipped” comes from.  Rather than a teacher lecturing during class and then sending students home to work on projects they may not understand, students are instead assigned lectures to watch as homework and return to class ready to further explore the concepts.  By “flipping” what is assigned as homework, teachers assume the role of personal learning coaches and fellow classmates become tutors, all while being actively engaged in the content.

After much personal research I have decided to give this a try.  My three main concerns going into this are…
1.       How long will it take for my Biology students to assume the responsibility for their own learning and actually watch the videos as home work?
a.      There is VERY LITTLE motivation among several of my students to do homework.
2.      Students without internet access will have to find time in their school day to use a computer and watch the lecture.
a.      This should not be a problem for most students, but I can see it as an easy excuse.
3.      Will I be able to manage the many classroom activities taking place simultaneously in my room?
a.      Group 1:  Students on computers during class time because they didn’t do their “homework”.
b.      Group 2:  Advanced activities for students that have mastered the content.
c.       Group 3:  Mid-level activities for students that are starting their journey of understanding.
d.      Group 4:  A personal review group for students that need more one on one explanation.
Wish me luck!