Saturday, June 4, 2016

Reflections (Part 1 - Semester One of School Year 2015-2016)

Well my plan was to reflect on my teaching all year long but changing my teaching style in the middle of the year caused me to put the blogging on hold. This year was so stressful at times; it was all I could do to keep my head above the water. Although, in the end it was all worth it being able to see all the amazing things I accomplished this year in the classroom. This is the first in a series of reflections for the year. I may not remember every little detail from this school year but I want documentation for the highlights that I do remember so in the years to come I can see the progress I’ve had over the years.

When last school year ended I was searching for more; wanting to finding something that would help my students learning and increase their grades. That year I had several informal meetings with my assistant principal about my progress in the classroom and a lot of our meetings ended in the conclusion that I needed to work on differentiation among my students. With that in mind I spent my summer working on transitioning my quizzes and tests into a differentiated style so that no students would be left behind. The quiz was designed so that if you chose option 1 (EOC Word Problems) you received a 100, option 2 (Content Calculations) you received an 85, and option 3 (Content Notes or Rules) you received a 70.

I thought this process was awesome at the time but when I brought it into the class I think it confused students way more than anything else. I think we may have continued this process for the first three quizzes. Luckily I came across a website called ThatQuiz that allowed me to create my own online assessments and the website graded the assignment.

I’m so blessed that I found this resource because I could focus my efforts in other more important areas since I gained all the time back that I would have been grading assessments for the year. This program offers multiple choice, matching, and slides. Check back soon for more detailed information on the website ThatQuiz.

For the remaining portion of semester one technology became my focus. I started thinking in the direction of a flipped classroom and tried this process for a few months. I was using educreations to create video lessons for each standard and using ThatQuiz for formative (practice - non graded) and summative (quiz/test - graded) assessments. The positives that I found in a flipped classroom were that each student had the opportunity to experience learning in an individualized manner and students could learn at their own pace. The negative I found was the learning process overall for the class was so chaotic. I found myself struggling to help every student because they were all at different places in the curriculum and always had different questions. While other teachers may find this is not an issue I could not handle this process emotionally due to all the stress; so towards the end of semester one I tried hard to bring back all my students in a group style instruction. I still continued to allow students to push forward into the new content if they were ready but we did large group instruction at the start of each new topic to keep students focused and more homogeneous. The semester ended ok in my opinion but I still had a lot to tweak in order to make this technology process work for all.

Things I learned from semester one:
  • I still need work on differentiation in my classroom
  • Technology is my friend
  • I’m not ready for a completely flipped classroom
  • Most students enjoy technology
  • Some students are nervous/unsure of technology and still need regular resources
  • Students rushed through some assignments that were on the computer and refused to work out problems like I wanted; need to fix issue
  • Do not use only technology to interest students... some like hands on activities, direct instruction, guided practice, etc.; keep it well rounded
  • Need to work on classroom management
  • Do not let students be disrespectful; cut it off immediately do not second guess yourself
  • MTBoS rocks keep connected and growing in this profession; you need it to survive


  1. Thanks for sharing your reflections. I got away from blogging this spring after becoming overwhelmed with everything else going on. I hope to get back to it this summer and then do a better job next year.

    1. All we can do is keep trying :) thankfully we do have the summer to reflect and re-energize ourselves.