Next Time My Class Would…

Feb 05, 14 Next Time My Class Would…

Original post can be found on my blog.

Here is a much needed update and reflection on semester 1. I honestly felt like I was a second year teacher all over again. Granted I did have a new prep (and this semester I have 2 new preps), but it was definitely more to do with the new methodology than it was anything else. You can see which classes I decided to “flip” and the reasons, etc at the post here.

Some of the highlights included:
– the bulk of students performing at the level I had anticipated based on the past performances
– a small group of students showed improved results and actively showed their engagement in the way the class was run
– I knew my students better this semester than I ever have before – I was able to write detailed report card comments with less referral to written/technological records
– the freedom to help students that needed it in class
– having conversations with students about math, school, post-secondary, etc that were valuable

Some of the low-lights included:
– students that did not connect with me and ask questions (a smaller group of students with weaker math skills that ultimate resisted the changes I had imposed on them), despite other students being fine with asking questions (though this is not necessarily much different than any class)
– ELL students that still did not work with others as often as I would have liked
– students not using the check-in questions I created for them to check their understanding
– repetitive nature of class (particularly in physics) became boring

Some of the things I might do differently when I get a chance to do a senior class this way again:
– use Office 365 or Twitter to try to create a more interactive nature outside of class instead of using Angel (means I can no longer use the quiz aspect of Angel but could make use of something like Google forms that the video could be embedded in and contain questions for students to answer and submit)
– for Physics make sure to have a demo/simulation/additional “fun video” to go with every lesson so there is always something to do in class beyond “the work”
– create critical thinking tasks to be done in class (for same reason as demo/simulation need)

– provide students with a “shy” way to say “i need help” (though I did try creating online discussion boards with the ability to most anonymously and that did not seem to help)

I am doing some “flipping” (which I would much prefer to call shifting) in my Grade 9 Science class this semester. It has allowed me to talk explicitly about note taking this semester and I hope to keep that up. The idea being to create a bit of additional time so that I can give them a bit more time to work on assignments in class and so I can check on their progress in class more often.

Good luck Semester 2 everyone!

About Heather Lye

Physics and Science teacher. Passionate about our education system, learning technology and inquiry-based, student-centred teaching that misses teaching math.


  1. Thank you so much Heather for sharing this very personal and critical reflection on your work. I know it’s not always easy to step back and take an objective approach to practice but I think your honesty and openness here is inspiring for many.

    I do have a couple of questions related to your move towards the flip/shift. When you began, was there a particular group of students you are looking to engage or affect in a different sort of way? If so, are these the students that you believe have benefited most from the shift in practice?

    Second, and related, has to do with whether or not you believe the flipped classroom approach helps students that are traditionally marginalized by the practices of school. I’m thinking of your reference to ELL learners and am also thinking of students who may see themselves as struggling students. Has your implementation of the flip/shift Allowed you to connect with some of these students in a different way?

    I look forward to more conversation!

    • I would not have said there was a specific group of students I was targeting, but I guess my target could be classified as a group. I was tired of having students consistently frustrated with homework and not having the time necessary to focus on making that improvement. I was also frustrated with students coming into courses lacking in skills they needed and having to force them through new material that just continued to leave them confused. Do I think that giving students one class in this method has made those things go away? No, not really. But I do think that those frustrated students got more opportunity to seek help, and there were definitely some who took advantage of its format and were able to build on their weaknesses.

      Overall I am not sure if it had the effect on the ELL students the way I had hoped. The ones who had previously excelled in math still excelled, the middle of the pack were still middle of the pack. They still seemed to struggle with the idea that it was good to actually work together. I found it hard to tell if they liked it (in written feedback most said they did though) and I was still not able to make a different connection with most of them. But I will keep trying!
      [To be fair, in the above I am referring specifically to the International students at our school. A large portion of our regular population are ESL – at varying levels – but most have been around longer and had fewer of those in these two classes].

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