Monday, January 4, 2016

Geometry, blended style.

I'm a member of a Blended Learning Fellowship at school; I was part of it the past two years with my role as a Digital Learning Specialist and stayed with it this year as I headed back to the classroom. The funny thing is that I'm the least-blended fellow.  It takes a lot of work!  Whether you create your own materials or pull from what is out there, it's definitely not a "turn the page and do the next 30 problems" type situation.

When trying to plan for my next unit (the dreaded Geometry) in my Math 1 class, I knew I needed to try something new. These kids actually learned this material last year (in the first half of Math 1) and honestly, should have learned it the previous several years, too. But we all know that that doesn't necessarily mean they remember it!  What that did mean for me is that I didn't want to reteach it all, and I wanted to give them some flexibility. Some of my kids will remember pieces of the unit, so I don't want to make them start fresh.

I began to think that blending the unit - pulling together all types of resources, both live, online, and on paper - was a way to approach it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. I sat for hours and hours (literally) over Christmas break putting notes together, finding a variety of activities for the kids to do, creating a Checklist for them to work from, and starting to put screencasts together.

Here's the things I had to think about:

1. Their Checklist.  You'll notice that some activities are mandatory, some they have a choice.
For their "Target Skills", I'm giving them a packet of notes and am creating screencasts for each topic. That way if they look through the packet and need some guidance it's built in for them.

2. The timeline. I *think* it will take 2 weeks for a student to work through the notes, associated MathXL assignments, and their choice of Activities.  And then another week to complete two "projects", a vocabulary quiz, and a unit test.  I'm going to be flexible if I see that kids are working and just honestly need more time.

3. The in-class reporting. I set up Class Dojo to keep track of how the students are working while they're with me (I can do +1 for good, -1 for bad, etc.). I am also going to have the students fill out a google form each day stating what they worked on, what they plan to do the next day, and what they need copies of.

So today is Day 1. Here goes nothing!

The first day was pretty smooth. I spent a lot of time looking up kids' usernames for MathXL and getting some of the slackers logged in.

The kids seemed a little confused about the freedom I was giving them. Their days are so regimented that they just don't know where to start.
Student:  So what should I do first?
Me: You pick!  But you might want to think about...

And some kids jumped right in to what I thought would be the third-ish assignment, then were confused because they didn't know the material.   I gently encouraged them to rewind a bit.

I saw at least 3 kids watching a screencast, so score some points for me there!  But now I need to make a couple more :)

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