Saturday, January 12, 2013

itslearning - Week 1

Well I made the plunge - itslearning learning management system ( - in all 4 of my Algebra I classes.

I have been spending the past 6+ months reading, researching and checking out flipclass teaching and teachers . . . and finally I took the leap!

I was really hesitant about making the leap.  I was worried about student apathy, lack of motivation, poor effort, poor comprehension & retention, etc. . . . but the opposite has occurred.

Students are collaborating, revisiting the video notes, asking lots of good questions, and overall have been motivated and consistent with their level of effort.  My stronger students are ripping through the material, and have the freedom to continue moving on . . . it's differentiated learning!

In one week, though, I have changed the layout, looking to streamline things and make each lesson more user-friendly.  And I think it helped a lot.  And I am finding myself continually tweaking and changing things daily.

Things I have learned:

1.  It's nice to have all the videos out there already made by teachers, but I have found that my students miss those "details" and special "explanations" that I use that help fill in gaps of understanding.  Moving ahead - I will make my own videos.  Will probably be a little rough at first but I think this will help the students a lot at the front end of the lessons.

2.  Your bottom 10% who struggle in class now - lack of effort, apathetic, low ability, behavior issue - they are still a "headache"!  Looking for an alternative option to use with these students . . . I have roughly 100 students in Algebra I and approx. 12 students who just haven't gotten on board.  Each has shown signs at times in the past of doing work, but it is a hard balance for me as I have so many students working and progressing and asking questions and doing great things that I find my time with the bottom 10% is even more annoying when I see the success of the other students.

3.  It is going to take time.  But, blended learning will work.  itslearning will work in my classroom.  Is this true for all classrooms?  I don't know.  But, I do know that the leap was well-worth it!

4.  Freedom for me!  I am able to create my material and post it on itslearning and then it's there.  I can edit as I need.  Whereas I always felt like I was creating new lessons and worksheets and activities every single day for my classes . . . I was burning out from all the planning.  Now, I can put the time in at the front (prior to the students seeing the material) and then allows me to be a teacher - giving feedback and direction!  Yes!

****On to week 2!

Special thanks to @math_johnson (Graham Johnson) for all his insight/input this past week - he was great answering all my questions about blended learning!

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