Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Overcoming problems and objections

So, the first mini-review unit went off without much trouble. My idea had been to start with the review so that I could iron out any technological problems and the students could get used to the idea of the flip before we started working on anything new.

Before I go any further, I feel like I should backtrack a little.

I made videos for the grammar topics using Power Point and Camtasia. I had decided to follow many of the ideas for how to run the flipped classroom from the conference at Woodland Park High School over the summer. One of the most important things I learned about using the videos for lectures was not to require that the students watch the videos. I know, this sounds nuts....but, I think it is a good idea because if nothing else, it helps to overcome the "I didn't watch the video, so I can't work" excuse. There are also some people that just won't like the videos. So, if students don't want to watch the videos, they can take notes from the book, or from another website. My bottom line is I don't care where you get the information, I just want you to get it.

I only had two students that weren't able to watch the videos because of technology problems, and these were overcome by using Camptasia to make the videos in a .wmv format and putting them on the students' flash drive. I did decide that next year, I will probably add flash drives to my students supply list to make sure that everyone is prepared should there be issues.

The other main technological problem came from something I have no real control over. My school blocks access to YouTube, which is the easiest way to publish and watch videos. So, I am also using screencast.com. I post the videos on the website using YouTube and then I add a link to the video on Screencast. This way, whether the kids are home or at school they can easily access the videos.

Keeping the students focused and on task is going to be the hard challenge to conquer. They love working together, but they seem to be having trouble staying on task for the class period. I think that some of this has to do with being on the block schedule. 90 minutes is a long time to stay focused. I am finding that even the best students seem to be "done" with about 15 minutes left in class. So, I am going to have to work on ideas to keep class focused for the entire class period.

Challenges and all, I can really see how this is going to pay off. I am excited to keep going.