21 August 2012

Flying buttress

As I have said previously, I have no problems simply jumping feet first into a new method/technique.  Forget getting your feet wet, I dive in and figure it all out as I go.  However, to make a flipped classroom work really well you need to take it slow.  But more importantly you need to find a good support system.
I use the term flying buttress here, partly because I am juvenile and giggle when I hear the word (what?! I work with teenagers every day!), but a buttress is the support used on the side of cathedrals to make it stronger.  The building could stand up on its own with no problem, but it will last longer when additional stresses are applied to it because the weight is distributed through its support system.

More teachers are talking about starting to flip a few lessons.  I ask them their method, what resources they are going to use and if they need help, and I keep hearing things like "Oh, I'll figure it out as I go."  I did that and while I didn't fail, I would have been far more successful if I had reached out from the beginning and asked for help. (probably would have been less stressed too)

If you are thinking about flipping, please check out the Flipped Learning Ning (www.flippedclassroom.org) and get on Twitter and follow the hashtag #flipclass.  There are amazing educators there willing to do whatever they can to provide you the assistance you need to get started.

And, of course, feel free to shoot me questions whenever!

03 August 2012

This sucks

I hate this phrase.  I teach chemistry so this gets thrown around a lot.  While I would love to make my class as real-world as possible, there are just some topics where it is not possible.  The connections are there, but things like balancing reactions and conversions are just mechanistic topics that have to be pounded through and practiced.  So, naturally, students love to say "this sucks" when they are not interested in what we are doing.  One student this year said this, on average, at least once per day.

But here's the thing, when a student says "this sucks" I hear "you suck."  They don't truly hate me, but if I am the one designing the activity that is causing them to feel this way, the negative comments are really an attack on my thinking and teaching.

I wish I had an easy way around this.  Besides designing more creative lessons, which I am always trying to do, what strategies do you have for getting students to say more constructive comments for your lessons?

02 August 2012

Hug it out

Before I say anything more I want you watch the following video:

Now that you are all warm and fuzzy inside, let's talk about building relationships.  It's the first day of school. Students are beginning to roll off the buses, excitement rolling off of them as they get ready to see friends who were missing from their lives all summer, and tackle new teachers with new challenges for the next 10 months.  As they approach the entrance, they look up to see half a dozen students holding up large signs with
The first reaction would be apprehension, but some would take a hug, some will walk right by, some will run right up and take the sign from us.  But, the hope is some of those kids who really dread coming to school, who move through their day with their head down, who try to hide in plain sight, will forget their troubles and reconnect with some bit of sunshine inside of them.  Hopefully they will be just a little bit more interested in being there that day.

What better way to connect with someone than through a hug?

Oh, and if you want to participate, make sure to check out the Free Hugs Campaign.