End of Semester

So, the first semester has ended and I have had mixed results. Spanish I began strong but by the end of the last grading period, students were too far behind to catch up. Also, they seem to have forgotten all of what they learned because they were unable to answer proficiency questions at the end of the semester but were able to throughout. Spanish II, III, and IV were not successful at all. I was unable to organize the units entirely and this hindered the learning process. Additionally, with some many different levels in the same class, it was very difficult to keep a stronghold of everything.

So, for the upcoming semester, I am incorporating 1 major change: I will give due dates and encourage students to complete assignments by due date. Hopefully, this will keep them moving at a steady pace. I will not place a due date on proficiency quizzes but students will complete additional practice if they do not pass the quizzes. I think I will still primarily focus on Spanish I this semester so that there is a very strong foundation for the future as I organize the units for all levels. I am learning so much through this process and I will have the rest of this semester and the entire summer to prepare for the upcoming year!

Now what?

So, I have been flipping for 9 weeks now and I think it is time to incorporate some of my “fun” activities. I have been working hard to get the students accustomed to the flipped classroom and implementing PBL units at the same time. As a result, I have not done as many differentiated activities as I would normally do. Now is time to give the students more choices and more opportunities for formative assessment. So far, they like the flipped model and I believe I have had some success with it…now, I’m ready for the next level and I am sure my students are too. I am excited about the progress but I still have so much to learn!

First Assessment

Last week, I gave my very first unit test to my Spanish I class. I must say that I had the best results of any year I have give unit assessments. The funny thing is that this time, the unit included concepts I don’t usually teach the first few weeks of school. The class average was 78%. If I removed the only outlier I had (a 43…the student left the essay section completely blank), the class average was 80%. For many teachers, this may not be a success because it is still a “C” average. However, as compared with previous years, this was a very high rate of success for me. I actually looked at the sections that the students had trouble with and we are currently troubleshooting those weak areas for the ones who had issues. With Spanish I on a roll, it is time for me to focus on Spanish II and III to get them totally Flipped for Mastery!

Three weeks in…

SO, I am three weeks into flipping my class. I cannot express how pleased I have been with the results! It has taken some time for students to get used to having to pace themselves. As a result, we are further behind where I wanted to be at this point in the semester.

So, what has flipping done for my students? My students are actually acquiring more of the language at a quicker pace than my other students. The students are always on task and they are taking pride in actually learning. Students have to re-take proficiency quizzes on which they don’t score at least an 85%. If they don’t pass the first time, they are being required to complete extra practice assignments. This is working well. I also do small group instruction for students who need extra help. One rule that I have about retakes is that students cannot do more than 1 retake on a given day.

I have set up each section in pretty much the same format: notes, vocabulary, intro packet, discussion board, writing assignment, listening assignment, and podcast. I use Coursesites to organize my units. Since I am teaching 4 levels at the same time, I have been concentrating mainly on making sure Spanish I is trained well. My Spanish 2-4 students did not do flipped lessons last year; so, I am okay with not getting them trained right away. I hope to have them on the same schedule as Spanish I at the ending of this grading period. Fingers crossed!

Two weeks in..

Well, I am two weeks into my first year of flipping my classroom. So far, I am pleased with the results. My students are reaching the goals for each section and are producing Spanish with far more proficiency than my students have at the same point in the school year as last year.

I am using http://www.coursesites.com as a supplement for adding assignments and communicative activities. I really like the set up (much better than Moodle) and the students can navigate the site rather easily. I am just having issues with the site crashing sometimes in the middle of class. I am not sure if it is the site or if the internet connection at work is to blame.

Below is an example of the unit sheet that my Spanish I class received at the beginning of the year:

Unidad 1.1 Due Dates

Until next time!

First Day!

So, teachers return to work on Monday. I am both excited and apprehensive about the upcoming school year. My plan is to finish my classroom this weekend (yep…on Saturday and maybe Sunday). I have a workshop that I am giving on Collaborative and Cooperative Groups on Tuesday and I am ill-prepared as of today. I want to spend Monday copying and getting to know the others in my department as I am no longer a department of one since I have merged with the Social Studies department and have been given the responsibility as department head. As always, I am up to the challenge and am looking forward to a productive year.

Will post pics of my new and improved classroom after I am done!

Playing Catchup…

Ok, so I already feel like I am behind and the year hasn’t even started yet! I am trying to get ahead so I don’t feel overwhelmed when the students come back. My room has been cleaned so I can start moving in at any time. I need to go through some of my stuff and downsize. Like most teachers, I am slightly a hoarder..ok…there I said. I am a hoarder. I don’t like getting rid of stuff because I never know if I will need it. With my upcoming schedule, I am going to have to be at the top of my game and try my best to be more organized than I have ever been. I have some ideas about what I want to do. My issue is sustaining throughout the semester instead of just during the first couple of weeks. I guess I better get to it…

Summer Pondering

As with previous summer vacations, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to find new ways to engage my students (and myself for that matter). I have toyed with the idea of a Flipped classroom for over a year now but have yet to make the jump. Simultaneously, I have been dabbing in Project-based Learning (PBL). I decided a few months ago that I was definitely giving PBL ago for the upcoming school year.

I continued searching the web for ideas and it brought me back to the concept of flipping my classroom. This time, I took the idea more seriously and started to find the best resources to use to get started. Even though I was steering more closely in that direction, it wasn’t until I saw my new class schedule that ultimately persuaded me to turn to the Flipped Classroom Model. Why this year? Well, I found that I had a split level Spanish 1/2 class. Now, with Spanish, most of your upper level classes are combo classes because the students are more independent and much of the material is much more communicative in nature. However, levels 1 and 2 are DRASTICALLY different. This combo pretty much sets the students up for failure because there is too much guidance that each level needs and the concepts cannot be combined in any way. This is beyond differentiation because there is no common goal for the two classes. In essence, the instructor will be differentiating two totally different classes simultaneously. This is almost the equivalent of asking a Math teacher to teach Algebra I and Calculus in the same class.

The bottom-line, the Flipped Model became the most logical solution even though it is still going to take a lot on my part and on the part of the students. I just hope my students are successful and they understand that sometimes we have to make do with the hand that we are dealt.

What does that mean for summer vacation? Well, it has been changed from focusing on getting my dissertation approved before the end of the semester to finding a way to maintain my sanity throughout the school year. ¡Qué Dios me bendiga!