Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Teacher Tuesday - An Update


I've had lots of y'all checking in on my and asking for an update on the school year and I've been hesitant because mainly I feel SCATTERED!  I've been trying to wrangle all my thoughts into some sort of cohesive post and I'm just not sure that's how this year is going to go.  So instead,  I'm going to hit y'all with a bullet list and try to answer the questions I've been receiving as I go.

- I have been so pleasantly surprised by how awesome students have been about complying with mask-wearing.  I expected it to be a bit of a battle and it really hasn't been at all.  Granted, our students can remove their masks when they're able to socially distance so they're not having to wear them for 8+ straight hours but all in all masks really haven't been an issue.

- I am still running my classroom "flipped" (read more about that HERE) for the most part but there have been some lessons that I have just preferred to teach in my classroom.  On days where I've taught the lesson during the class period I've still posted my pre-recorded video of the same material on Google Classroom because I continue to get feedback from students and parents that the LOVE having those as resources at home.

- That said... I AM having trouble ensuring that students are watching my videos at home :(  It's the one component I haven't been able to figure out without creating a ton of extra work for myself (like using edutopia or other sites that monitor video watching).  I've stressed to students the importance of watching the videos to be prepared for class and now that we're out of the "review period" the first few weeks and are getting into lots of brand new material I think that natural consequences are kicking in and they're realizing that if they aren't prepared they won't be able to finish the in-class work which means I take points off for it being late.  I have started giving pop quizzes a few times a week over the previous nights video (typically straight from the notes) and it has given several of them the nudge they needed to get in gear :)  I'd LOVE any suggestions you seasoned flipped classroom teachers have for this!

- The part of doing a flipped classroom that has surprised me the most isn't the amount of work involved in the videos (which is A LOT) but is the amount of work involved in creating enough supplemental material to fill an entire class period.  It's been super fun and has opened up opportunities to do activities that I've always wanted to do but never had enough time to do but MY WORD is it a lot of prep.  

- Despite teaching middle school math for 15 years somehow figuring out pacing/timing for in-class activities STILL seems to allude me.  I'll plan something thinking it will take 20 minutes and somehow it takes 60.  And then I'll plan something thinking it will take the whole 45 minute class period and 15 minutes later they're all done.  Flexibility (and back-up plans!) have been the name of the game but I do feel like I'm getting a teeny bit better and am making TONS of notes for next year.  

- As far as online teaching goes, it's going really well!  I have had to let some things go and just trust that kids are being honest :)  I had this big plan to have kids take tests while we were on ZOOM... well, not everyone could meet at the same time (I have limited time to ZOOM with online kids since I teach 6 out of 8 periods of the day) and then it was the dilemma of how do you get them the test, have them print it, etc. etc. etc. before.  It just wasn't worth the hassle.  So I've started emailing them the test in the morning, requiring them to show ALL their work and then letting them email it back to my by 4:00 in the afternoon.  Could they look up an answer? Sure.  Could they photo math something? Absolutely.  Could their parent give them all the answers?  Maybe.  But what I've explained is that they WILL have to take their semester exam in person and so it's vital that they really do understand how to perform the required skills.  It was freeing for me to not try to micro-manage that aspect and the students have all handled it really well.

- The hardest part of teaching online for me has been the organization aspect.  I'm generally REALLY organized in the classroom but having kids submitting assignments via email, then printing them off, grading them and then scanning them to return them has my head spinning some days.  I like to give daily feedback so kids know how well they understood that days lesson but that is HARD with online!  I'm not a fan of Google forms or other online assessments for math mainly because with Pre-Alg and Algebra seeing their process is SO important!

- Emails are killing me! hahaha  I'm sure I'm not alone in this but the sheer amount of emails I'm receiving and responding to feels like a full-time job.  HALLLLPPPPP! :)

Overall I really can't say enough great things about the year so far.  I understand that we're only eight weeks in but at the same time WE'RE EIGHT WEEKS IN!!!  I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective as both a staff member and a parent and I really can't say enough great things thus far.

Phew.  That was a lot!!!  If you hung in there YOU WIN :) hahaha  I'd love to hear how school is going for you and your family - leave me a comment and let me now!

HAPPY Tuesday, friends!!!


  1. 3rd grade teacher here! I also expected mask wearing to be a challenge & the kids have been amazing! I'm with you on the emails though....so.many.emails! I love these teacher posts. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Edpuzzle is a great way to track student completion on videos! It also allows you to embed questions, but you could use it just for the “tracking” feature. I believe it works great with YouTube as well! Good luck :)

    1. I second this! It could be something as simple as putting a question at the end for students to answer or perhaps giving them a hint/trick at the end of the video. Edupuzzle has saved me many a time! :)

  3. I just returned to school yesterday after finishing up maternity leave and it was SO hard to go back. I teach 2nd-5th grade Advanced Academics (at different times throughout the day), all hybrid, and I am feeling so lost right now! I have lots to learn and I'm already behind, but I'll figure it out. I'm grateful I have many of the same students from last year so they were excited to have me back and will extend lots of grace.

  4. Have you tried using Flipgrid? You can record there and track who has watched. Also Edpuzzle is a GREAT class time activity. Hope that helps! ;)

  5. Last spring, I created and shared a Dropbox folder for each of my students. Using the Dropbox app at home, they could scan their daily work into the folder as a PDF. Then, I could use my iPad and iPen to grade it and addd comments on screen. Finally, moved it to a 2nd assigned Dropbox folder that they had access to but couldn't edit. I never had to print or re-scan anything and could provide the kind of daily feedback you describe. This system was a LIFESAVER!

  6. Fellow teaching coming just to suggest you try Edpuzzle.com as a way to track video watching. It's a platform that integrated with G Classroom and allows you to insert questions in the middle of YouTube videos. It automatically grades the questions to measure comprehension. I use it for my History classes and find it helpful! Sounds like you are doing a great job!

  7. Edpuzzle is a great tool for this. I think with your creativeness you might enjoy this too. We have had some teachers hide easter eggs ( not real eggs it's just a term in the tech world) in their videos. Some teachers will ask questions about it for extra points, or long lunches, or even VSCO stickers for their chromebooks. I know you love to use funny memes, that would be a fun thing to incorporate. Like maybe it flashes in the background. The goal is to learn the content, but then the kids are searching for something extra in the video.

  8. I am in my third week and so far, so good. No masks, just social distancing which has not been too challenging. One of the greatest challenges has been everyone getting used to being up and out early again after so long away from a schedule. I am including myself in that! HA!

  9. My daughter’s math teacher is using the flipped classroom too. She’s in 7th grade, they have to take notes of the presentation and there’s a couple problems that they have to turn in the next day. I think that’s how the teacher makes sure they’re watching...

  10. You are, clearly, an exceptional teacher.

  11. I second and third and fourth all of the recommendations for Edpuzzle! It is a very versatile tool that you can do as much or as little with as you'd like to ensure students are watching the videos! :)

  12. I've been using the free version of Showbie to collect my students' math papers and it has saved me a ton of time on downloading, scanning, etc! They can upload photos or a PDF and it's really easy to annotate them on the iPad app and they get the feedback immediately and saves on some of those emails :)

  13. My kids’ schools use Kami. They can type, draw, etc on a worksheet the teacher scanned, then turn it in. The teacher can grade it and, I believe, send it back with their notes. All without rescanning on their part or yours. I *think* you could write on the screen as well if your using a touch screen computer. Our schools also have the kids take tests at the school. They have pre determined days where all students can come in at certain times to take their tests. They are monitored by teachers who have been assigned to only have “virtual students”.

    I wish I had more details but my kids attend face-to-face. However, we did have to use Kami when they let us out last March and again when we had to go virtual for a couple of weeks after Hurricane Laura due to school damage.


Blog design by Get Polished | Copyright 2016