Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#FlipCon12, Day 2: Leaving Motivated and Energized

So any sort of huge reflective piece out of #FlipCon12 is an absolute impossibility at the moment. A couple pieces will come as I have more time to digest what happened these last three days in Chicago. To ruin any chance of a surprise coming out of any of those posts, I’ll let you in on a little secret: a whole lot of awesomeness happened. I’m going to focus on my immediate experiences and reflections today at #FlipCon12. Assessment was the theme today for me – Jen Gray and Marc Seigel led great sessions about what assessment can (and should?) look like in a flipped classroom. Also, a second consecutive working lunch, with history flippers this time, happened. Networking – love it!

My view of Bergmann/Sams keynote
One aspect of today that I’m not going to write about is Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann’s keynote – I have a feeling this post will run a little long on assessment as it is, and there was just so much in their keynote. All I’ll say about it is once it goes up online, watch it – it is really an incredible speech. I love the cutting board analogy!

I started today hanging out with Jen Gray. I loved some of the organizational and metacognitive strategies she shared. The charts she uses in her classroom include learning targets – in student friendly language – and show multiple ways student could show proficiency in a certain learning target. Additionally, these charts also included columns that had a suggested completion date for this learning target, as well as a place for the actual completion date. Her daily goals sheet – what do you want to accomplish today and what did you accomplish today – are great accountability pieces for students as well. Both sound so simple, right? I love stealing things like this from smart people! Saves me from having to do the thinking later…

Jen also emphasized metacognition around tests for students. She pushed the idea of creating a place on tests for students to say whether they are confident or unsure of the answer they gave on a test question before they turn the test in to be graded: yup, love it. I also really like the test corrections structure in her class: test corrections earn you the ability to be able to retake a test. I am moving to written short answer questions, which students will receive at the beginning of a unit, as the majority of each summative unit assessment next year (with a couple multiple choice questions sprinkled in – darn state test prep). I am hopeful that I can do a few tweaks to her idea (which included classifying why you got a question wrong – simple mistake, wording of the question, just didn’t know it), like maybe test corrections on the multiple choice section of the test earning you a verbal retake of the short answer questions.  In addition to conventional test corrections of errors, Jen also has her students reflect on what helped them master content they got correct – whether students mastered the content because they taught a friend/family member, made a flow chart/concept map, rewatched a video, or an in-class assignment for example. 

After my history flippers lunch and Aaron and Jon slaying their keynote, Marc Seigel finished up my #FlipCon12 experience. His early words about our classrooms being vehicles for critical thinking, not content regurgitators immediately struck a chord with me, for this is how I view my history classroom. Marc also asked us to think about what we would name our class based on how we assign grades in our class – should your class be called ‘history test taking’ or ‘history writing and research’? He also encouraged us to consider if our assessments allowed for creativity and/or choice, and pushed us to consider problem- or inquiry-based assessments. Clearly, lots of great things to ponder.

But, in my mind, Marc’s most important message dealt with the intersection of assessments and learning standards: in any classroom, but particularly in a flipped classroom, we must design our assessments around learning standards and be sure not to force already existing assessments onto learning standards. Coming on the heels of Aaron Sams’ question on the end of his keynote asking us what we would do with all our classtime in a flipped classroom, Marc’s point about learning standards being the basis for assessments and not vice versa is an extremely important one for me to look at this summer as I give assessment in my classroom a serious rethink.

Keynote stylized in Snapseed
In summary, wow. I can’t believe the face-to-face part of #FlipCon12 is over – what a spectacular experience. So much thinking (and collaborating) to do!