Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Individualized While Still Engaging and Collaborative....

 This year I'm trying to have individualized learning for students while still keeping the class engaging and collaborative. I've done self-paced flipped, where students moved relatively at their own pace and tested on the same date. I've also done self-paced flipped mastery, where students truly moved at their own pace and couldn't move forward unless they scored an 80 on the assessment on the unit. One problem in both of these is it lowers collaboration between students. Students aren't necessarily on the same topic within the unit so it's much harder for them to work together or for me to go to the board and help them with questions the entire class is going to have. Another problem with both of the self-paced methods is I don't feel it's fun. I know Chemistry doesn't have to be fun, but I miss the interactions that I get to have with the entire class when we are all on the same topic. In the self-paced world, students are engaged but I feel they are engaged like little robots. They come in, they do what they need to do, and they leave. If everyone is together, I can do a thought provoking demo to get them thinking scientifically and make it interesting. If everyone is together, we have scientific conversations about the topic we are on to make it relevant. 

So this year I'm implementing the following:

    1) Group seating- to increase student collaboration

    2) Flipped classroom- I want students to stay on pace with each other but still have the differentiation of being able to take the notes at the pace they need. 

    3) Its Learning - using the learner management system, so students know what we are doing each day and where their HW is located. 
The biggest pitfall that I see is if students don't watch their video before class. When it's self-paced it doesn't really matter, they just watch the video, and continue down the list. In a traditional flip, if they don't watch the video, they are going to miss the activities we do in class. My plan to hopefully overcome this pitfall is three fold. 

    a) Since students are in groups of 3-4, they will check to see that all their group members completed their notes. If they didn't they will send that member to the back (or outside) to watch the video and fill in their notes. This will now burden the rest of the group as they will have less members. Hopefully instilling the idea that they are letting their team down will get more to comply and do their homework. 

   b) After 3 times of not watching their video before class, they will get a call home to see if we can work together to get the student to come to class prepared. 

   c) If they didn't watch their video, in addition to them having to watch it in class, they will need to stay after class in lunch detention to complete any work they missed while watching the video. This should work nicely in my Pre-AP chemistry class since I only have one section this year and it's right before lunch. They can stay with me for 30 min and then go to lunch the other 30 min. 

Currently this is what I have bitten off. During the year I'm sure we will have some tweaks and hopefully we can add some more to our plate. I'm looking at some flexible seating stools and making online lab portfolios in the future.  

I'm excited to start this year and be a learner with my students!


  1. I totally agree that everyone moving at the same pace does make labs easier, but mastery learning makes sure that everyone gets what they need when they need it. Is it possible to have a menu of labs that you are going to do during a week or two week period? Kids choose their labs based on their learning? Another way to slow the pace might be to have some of the kids who are mastering at a faster pace create some lab videos for the other students. This would be fun for them, and the students working at a slower pace would have the added benefit of doing their lab when the time comes, but also seeing another lab in action. Loving the plan and can't wait to work with you this year!

  2. Looking forward to hearing how your 3-step plan is working for you. Do students ever start falling behind and need additional time to mater the content? What happens then? What about the student who excels? How does that student stay engaged? Does he/she peer tutor? I never taught AP or PreAP, but I know it is fast paced which must be a challenge with a room full! Looking forward to learning more as you test and tweak to meet needs!