This year has been very different for me! Last year I was at a school where every student had a macbook and I was teaching one level of each course to different ages of high schoolers. This year I am teaching only freshmen with no technology and at tracked math levels. I will be getting chromebooks next semester though!
I've been asked a lot the past few months as I transitioned to a new school if I would continue to model my classroom in a self-paced manner without technology. After all, with objective based mastery grading focused on quizzes, canvas as an LMS, and pre-made notes and videos from flippedmath.com, my self-paced structure seemed to depend heavily on technology. I'm happy to say that while it has been more difficult, I have been able to keep my class self-paced in most ways.
what has changed
1. Self-paced math by units & projects. When I was one-to-one, it was easy to let the students loose and push them to work as hard as they could to progress through the material. This year, with no technology, doing so would mean I would potentially not see many students or put supervision of them on another teacher when I would send them to a computer lab. I also would have little interaction with them and having a lot of one on one interaction is my favorite part of the self-paced experience. To fix this issue, I set due dates and assigned a project for each unit. This way, when a student was able to fly through the material, it just meant they had more time to work on the project, a great way to dive deeper into what we were working on as well as put their own individual spin on it! I have loved the projects so much that I may not go back to my old way...or I may still require a due date for a project but let them loose on the other material...I'm not sure yet, look for the 3.0 version for the answer to that one!
2. Notes are difficult but can still be done. A big improvement I made about a month into my self-paced classroom last year was continuing to do full class notes. While some students learn best watching the guided notes videos, some really needed the live option. This wasn't difficult because my guided notes were pdf.s and I was able to project and write on them from my iPad or load the problems onto my projection software. This year I have expo markers and dry erase boards and while it was weird to get used to no projection/interactive board option, I am getting used to it. I have to be very strategic about when I teach lessons to different courses because re-writing the examples is not fun. I also hate the idea of making students wait on me to finish writing something that they already have on their paper. In my experience, this is an easy way to lose engagement quickly. So to combat this, I give notes for my Regular Algebra class one day, Academic Algebra the next day, and Academic Geometry the following day. Having the rotation allows me to draw the problems students have on their guided notes ahead of time and re-use them throughout the day as needed. Like I said, it is very different for me, but still doable.
3. Bellringers have been made part of the routine. Without technology, students seem to have a hard time defining that the bell has rung and they need to get to work. I did not have that issue last year. Canvas made things very easy to navigate and students were pretty motivated to work through the material. I had students from multiple grades in the class together. This year I have only freshmen and they seem to have a problem getting started or remembering content at a mastery level. Because of this, I have students complete three problems to start each class. I have not typically given bellringers but I can definitely see why teachers do make it a habit of best practice. This has helped create a daily habit and review for students and I love it!
What I still want to change
1. Notes by Nearpod. When I get chromebooks, I plan on using Nearpod to give my notes in a more engaging way than my current whiteboard technique. I can't wait for those!
2. Self-Regulation and Work Skills...maybe? One of the tracks of Algebra that I teach is specifically for students who plan on entering a trade after high school rather than going to college. We do not have a social emotional curriculum at ,my new school and there are some definite gaps. I have thought about adding another grade for some work skills. I'm not quite sure what to do here but it is just an idea, still floating here!
3. Is speed enough of a differentiation? In talking with another math teacher here, I have thought about creating more options for students. Right now my differentiation is simply how fast you master the material and how far you may end up. Do I need to differentiate the depth of content, too? Another thought I am thinking through!
That's where I'm at right now! If you have any suggestions, I am open to them!
See my first self paced classroom reflection here.