We are loving trying out the self-paced classroom, but it isn’t all sunshine and daisies.
Having a self paced classroom takes a lot of work. That being said, teachers are some of the hardest working people in the world so we know that isn’t enough to turn someone away.
The key to making a self-paced classroom easier on the teacher is putting in as much behind the scenes work ahead of time as possible. I (Becca) have been wanting to put together something like this since my first year of teaching but the thought of having all of the materials ready and making sure they were good quality was too daunting. This year a fellow teacher turned me onto a free online resource (flippedmath.com) and it was the game changer I needed!
This resource has good quality videos to assist with guided notes, practice problems, and solutions. My part was setting it up in our school’s learning management system (we use Canvas) in an easy to use way, adding supplemental resources, and creating assessments for each lesson/unit.
With a classroom of 30 freshmen through seniors taking Algebra, some having a hard time with the speed and others seemingly bored out of their minds with the pace, I wanted to start as soon as possible. I created the Canvas courses over the weekend and introduced it to my class the next Monday. It was great to get the kids started but I backed myself into a corner a little bit for the kids that sped through! In our math classes, the grades come solely from assessment grades. With this new method, student would take a 5 question test over each lesson and need at least a 4 out of 5 in order to move on. This required creating multiple versions of each 5 question quiz. Every night I was working on making quality assessments. My in class time was spent moving from student to student, answering questions or going over their assessment results. When I had two students get ahead of me, I asked them to help tutor others in class until I was able to make the assessment.
This semester I am joined by other Algebra and Geometry teachers trying this method so we have teamed up! We each took a chapter from our curriculum to write quality assessments so it doesn’t feel like such an overarching task! Now that my online course is built ahead of time, my time out of class is spent working on creating supplemental full class activities to help my class culture still feel like we’re all together. It is such a relief to be more focused on creating things I will do WITH my class instead of just the assessments.
My class (Danielle) is structured a little differently so front-loading means that I have to also have my online course created ahead time. Like Becca said, we use Canvas as a learning management system. In World Geography a self-paced environment is different than the math class because of the content structure. It is not really as linear as math is. I unfortunately did not have the resources that Becca had in flippedmath.com, so I have had to create most of my materials or borrow from other teachers and the Internet.
Here is an overview of what I have been creating for World Geography:
Here is what all that boils down to: I have all of the materials for a unit created and uploaded in canvas in advance or at least as far ahead as I can get. At the beginning of each unit students receive their unit checklist. I review the unit goals and outcomes with them, then they start working. Students work at their own pace through the material and I sign-off on their progress as they work through. As I check in with students I figure out where they stand on the goals and content. I use this information to plan my pull-out activities during a week. I have a list to pull from and then pick students that need to work on that area with me. Tuesday’s are typically reserved for remediation pull-out. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s, I work in a rotation through all students on a specific content piece or skill. On Monday and Friday, I am walking around the room checking on as many students as I can, reviewing work, and signing off on checklist progress.