Thursday, August 30, 2012

Orientation Days

The last weeks of summer flew by and so did Orientation Days at school! I have to say that this year if the first year that I haven't been totally excited to go back to school and after talking with friends at school many of us are in the same boat - it has a lot to do with the past, hopefully we can all move forward and make this year AMAZING!

I can already see some positive changes with our new Vice Principal, while I miss Mr. C, the new Mr. C is awesome. Very positive, upbeat, and upfront. What you see if what you get and I think the kids will respond to it. Yesterday we had the freshman and today the sophomores and juniors came in for a half day - just seeing how he interacted with them improved my mood - however, not to the point where I'm jumping for joy (yet!).

All I've really done with classes is hand out my syllabus, take roll, and chat a bit - during orientation days they only run their through schedule for about 45 minutes meeting with each class for about 5-7 minutes. Not that useful but enough to get some annoying things out of the way.

Each year students and parents have to fill out the Academic Honesty sheet (no cheating, plagiarism, lying etc.) and I usually have parents fill out contact information as well - this year I decided to use Google Forms to do this. I also added in a question "What should I know about your student that would help me teach them better." Not many parents have filled it all out yet, but those who have, have offered some amazing insight to their child. Such as seating arrangement help, behavioral issues and how to deal with them - amaze what parents will offer to teachers they have never met! I LOVE IT!

I'm planning on asking students the same question on the first real day I have with them. For the freshmen this actually won't be until NEXT FRIDAY! How crazy is that, with technology training (with our IT person), the summer reading test and review, I am giving up 3 full days next week for them to do non-history "things".

I was nervous about my sophomores this year, with a few issues that happened last year, I was curious, nervous, and interested to see what the relationship and reaction would be. Thankfully it is like we picked up right where we left off. We'll see how long this lasts - they are sophomores! A few of them were very happy about the late work policy being lifted and were curious as to why - I left them with the cliffhanger that they'd find out Tuesday. Woohoo FlipClass!

Hopefully tomorrow with my senior homeroom goes just as smoothly!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

NYSCATE Flipped Conference

What a way to get back into the swing of things! I must say the two days of professional development I just had were the best two days I have ever had. Sure, I've sought out PD before on my own and chosen the topic, but it was never quite driven by what I truly wanted to do. These two PD days, were exactly what I wanted and needed!

My first day of PD was at NYSCATEs Flipped Conference which was held at Pace University's Lubin Graduate Center in White Plains; it quite a trek for me from central Connecticut but it was well worth it! I felt connected with other "techy geeks" and not shunned for bringing a laptop and actually using it! We were encouraged to tweet out about the sessions and ask questions in that platform, it actually made the panel discussion go more smoothly than others I've seen. Perhaps because the question types could all be seen and discussed as a group rather than people jockeying for a microphone and to be heard!

Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) was the keynote, you can read more about him, as well as other pioneer flippers on the Flipped Learning Network. To feel his energy and his passion was uplifting and inspiring. At this point in the summer I am starting to doubt if this is going to work in my classroom, are the kids going to buy into this method - and he won me over yet again! Showing me that there is an answer for every doubt and every problem that comes my way.

One of the best quotes that came from the day was "natural consequences have a place in flip classrooms". I am a firm believer in natural consequences, you threw food in the cafeteria and now your project is a gooey mess - what solution do you see here? You decided watching YouTube videos of cats dribbling basketballs was a better use of your time then watching my 5 minute video to prepare for class - I suppose you'll have to watch it in class and miss the discussion.

Also presenting were Kristin Daniels (@kadaniels) from Minnesota (also a part of FLN), Marc Seigel from New Jersey, Helaine Marshall from Long Island University, and Kristin Siano a student from LIU. It was great to hear a students perspective, although she was a non-traditional college student. I would like to hear from a high school or middle school student what they have found to be useful, non-useful, and great in this format.

In Marc Seigel's (@daretochem) session on Flipping Assessment Mindset, we discussed the philosophy of assessment in a flipped classroom. The idea that there is a spot for collaboration for ALL assessments, even unit end ones. Collaboration is a 21st Century skills (while perhaps not technological!) that students need to know how to do effectively. They need to know what they don't know and then how to get that information, with collaboration that is brought to the forefront and gives them the opportunity to figure it out, in a low risk environment.

The collaboration and expose to great minds was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I met wonderful people, and even two from the central CT area! They will be the ones who are creating CREC's version of the Flipped Conference in November that I'm hoping to attend (there are a few conflicts on the horizon already!). If I had just stopped here at this one day, I would have been ready to go back to school filled with ideas and energy. But thankfully in Marc's session he had plugged EdCamps! A quick Google search led me to find that CT was holding their's the very next day - but there was a waiting list, I put my name on it and by the end of the Flipped Conference I was off and signed up to go. So glad I made that decision. But more about that in the next post!

Thank you to NYSCATE for putting together this one day Flipped Conference - it was what I think many of us needed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reflections coming soon!

I went to NYSCATE's One Day Flipped Conference today and it was amazing!! I plan on writing a reflection post but am so exhausted from traveling and learning from everyone that my brain can't wrap around everything! That and I'm heading to EdCampCT tomorrow in Simsbury. So excited for all this PD! Now if I could just get out of the first two days of my school's PD - that would be amazing!
Plotting my way out of it as we speak...

Reflection on NYSCATE and EdCampCT to come!