Let's Focus on Flexing Out

One of the most common questions that I am asked about blended learning is, "What are flex days are how do you use them?"
Flex days are a defining feature of blended learning at my school.  A flex day is a period in which the student has an assignment to be completed, but they can work on it at home or elsewhere in the building.

I use flex days to provide the students the opportunity to develop their executive functioning skills, provide them with flexibility within their school day, and increase student agency.  It also provides me with time to provide individualized support to students. I am always in the classroom and available to my students during this time.

Flex day assignments are designed to build on previously acquired knowledge, are self-paced and provide the students choice about when, where and how they will complete the assignment.

I use the following assignment as a flex day assignment in AP Psychology when we learn about Erik Erikson's theory of Psychosoci…

Tackling Testing and Individual Differences Using Station-Rotation

This past November, I had the honor of presenting about blended learning at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Austin, Texas.  I was happy to see that there was a great deal of interest in this model of teaching! In my presentation, I differentiated between different models of blended learning and shared how I use the Station-Rotation model in my own classroom.

I have found the Station-Rotation model to be my "go-to" model for blended lesson design.  The essence of the Station-Rotation model is that students rotate between different stations within the classroom walls.  However, as you will see in my example, they can also use flex time to complete some of their learning tasks.  The key to a well-designed, station-rotation lesson is balance.  One of the most helpful resources that I have found in my blended learning journey are a book and blog by Catlin Tucker.  According to Tucker, a strong lesson balances teacher-led stations with online and offline…

Gender, Uber and Research Methods

I am always looking for creative, engaging and meaningful ways to introduce my students to psychological research.  To be honest, I spend a lot of time on social media, but most of that time is following other teachers and discussion boards on the teaching of psychology.  A few weeks ago, Ellen Carpenter shared a great idea on the Society for the Teaching of Psychology page. She was using  an episode from the podcast Freakonomics to introduce research.  I was instantly intrigued.  I LOVE the book Freakonomics and I am always looking for ways to improve my unit.  The episode that I used for this lesson was "What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap?"  It asks the question, "Does a gender pay gap exist in the gig economy?"

Lesson Overview
As a class, we listened to the first 12 minutes of the episode.  The students then identified the research question being studied, the initial hypothesis, the null hypothesis, and the variables of the study.

Spoiler alert: There …

A Meeting of Minds - Student-Teacher Conferences

There are a number of reasons to implement blended learning.  It helps the students develop executive functioning skills, can provide a more "college-like" experience, allows for flexibility in scheduling and can lead to increases in student satisfaction levels.  When I first sought to pilot a blended learning class, my primary goal was to provide my students with more flexibility in their schedules. Many of my students take a rigorous course load and sacrifice study halls and lunch hours to fit in all of their coursework.  This can create a logistical nightmare when the students are absent. When they return, they are not only stressed about all of the work that they need to make up; but they don't have time built in their day to see their teachers, makeup quizzes and tests, or even take a deep breath!

With this is mind, I designed my flex days to include activities that the students could complete in or out of the classroom.  I utilized videos, online discussions and p…

Utilizing the Station Rotation Model for the 1st Day of Class

I cannot wait to welcome my new students to class next week!  The beginning of each year is filled with excitement, promise, and a wee bit of awkwardness.  For me, the first day of school is typically filled with class policies and procedures.  By the end of the first day, I can practically see my students' eyes roll back in their heads the moment they hear the word "syllabus."  Not exactly the most auspicious of starts, right?  This year I am flipping my 1st day lesson on it's head and implementing the Station-Rotation model of blended learning to present my course policies, procedures and student introductions.

The practice of stations, as an instructional tool, has been around a long time.  The Station-Rotation model operates on the same general principles; the students rotate between different activities in a set period of time.  The Station-Rotation model differs from traditional stations in that at least one of the stations is an online learning station.  You ca…

Harnessing the Power of Retrieval: Purposeful & Effective Reading Notes

Summer is a time for family, reflection, and ... professional development. This week, I had the opportunity to meet with the other AP Psychology teacher at my school, Mindy Garis.  During our discussion, we identified potential areas of improvement in our classes.  One aspect that we kept circling back to was our weekly reading assignments. My students have become more and more resistant to completing the assignments and I have not seen any data that suggesting that they are having a long-term, positive impact on my students' learning.  This is a problem.  

My Current Practice (aka Reading Notes are the Bane of My Existence)
I'll be honest, I am a HUGE fan of Cornell notes.  I was introduced to them at an AVID conference years ago and I was all in (or "pig in" for you "Grey's Anatomy" fans or District 155 folks).  I love that they provide opportunities for spacing, dual coding and summarizing.  The students have to do something with the notes!  The curse …
Using EdPuzzle in a Blended ClassroomUsing Ed Puzzle to "Flip" a ClassEdPuzzle is one of my favorite blended learning tools. I have been using it to disseminate videos to my classes for the past four years.  I love it because it allows me to embed different types of questions within each video and I can easily track each student's progress.   Plus, I can stop the students from fast-forwarding the video and it prevents them from opening another tab while the video is playing.  How awesome is that?!

When I flip lessons for AP Psychology, I tend to use the Crash Course Psychology videos (I love Hank Green!), Khan Academy videos (there are a lot more now that the MCAT is assessing "psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior") and TED/TED-ED talks.  I like to keep the videos short and sweet.  I'd recommend keeping the videos under 20 minutes.

It Just Got Even Better!EdPuzzle is now fully integrated with Canvas. Why is this a big deal?  Students …