Flip Fails #5 Practice Makes Progress: My Best Answers…So Far

Part 2 of Practice Makes Progress – these are “My Best Answers…So Far”

In ‘Flip Fails #4’, I ended with a list of concepts that my failures had forced me to reflect upon.  Here are the first three as they popped into my head while writing.

  1. How much skill practice does a student need to become proficient?
  2. What type of skill practice is most effective?
  3. Where/when is practice effective?

Click the Mic to listen to the audioblog

Time for my answers

1. How much skill practice does a student need to become proficient?

It varies from student to student, and therefore the practice component needs to be organized in a flexible manner to allow for choice and variety.

In my classroom, I am spoiled by @MrDeltaMath Zach Korsyk whose tireless work on his online math practice site DeltaMath is ABSOFREAKNAWSOMEASTOUNDINGNESS!!!  (caps and exclamation totally justified). I now assign students 3-7 “correct” practice problems. That means that DeltaMath will generate, score, and provide detailed solution and process until the student does correctly the number of problems I assigned. This makes math practice an immediate feedback loop with a Pokemon element where students can practice until they have “caught” all of the points. If you want to hear more about DeltaMath from @MrDeltaMath himself you can listen to this podcast discussion I had with him earlier this year.  By the way did I mention that DeltaMath is FREE, not Freemium, FREE, because it is a labor of love.

2. What type of skill practice is most effective?

That depends on the age of the students, learning style, teacher style, content area, and so much more.  I do think there are a few guiding principles:

  1. Is the practice reflective of the desired outcome? We don’t practice free throws for football.
  2. Is the practice leveled to be both accomplished but challenging?
  3. Is the practice supported with feedback?
  4. _________________________________ (please add your practice attribute in the comments)


3. Where/when is practice effective?

The answer here also varies, but I would argue the “where” needs to be anywhere by making it readily available to students.  Likewise the “when” should reflect availability like the “where” utilizing both digital and non digital tools so that as students are ready (by choice or by force of student schedule) the practice is accessible.  

I explained my use of DeltaMath above, but I also use more traditional paper worksheets, handouts, notes, etc as part of the curriculum mix and ALL classroom elements are compiled for students in a single slideshow of hyperlinks organized by topic and skill. (e.g. bit.ly/18-19PRECALC) I do this across all the classes and ability levels I teach as a means of giving students access to at least digital copies of paper tools 24/7.  This also allows me to add supplemental instruction or tools as I did this week and place a video, notes, and bonus examples in context on the same slide as paper learning tools. This was a request made by a student, and because there is a flexible learning framework in place we completed it together for everyone’s benefit in about fifteen minutes.  Likewise, this flexible structure allows me to add in solutions, answer keys, etc into slides and non-digital practice as necessary without wasting paper copies for those not interested.

UPDATE: In the time between writing this blog and doing the audio recording (1 hour), I had a parent contact me about missing work for their student as we approach the end of the year.  I quickly gathered the data from DeltaMath, Edpuzzle, and my school’s online grade book (all three of which the student can access at anytime), and sent the parent the information.  Her response was a protest from her child that he did not have the requisite worksheets and assignments. Because of the framework discussed above I was able to send her the link to all of his classroom content ( bit.ly/18-19BPA1 ) and give her specific slide numbers where the digital copies were located for her to print or him to simply write on notebook paper.  While productive practice is best when paced and completed as students move consistently through the learning process, not every student is either organized or approaches school in the wisest way.  In this case the parent and student have everything they need to at least re mediate some of the child’s decisions. 


Your Turn

I am sure that my answers to these questions only reflect my personal experience with students from academic and organizational ability levels of 5th grade through high school seniors. Please take a moment to comment more specifically about your answers to these practice questions in the comments.

Your #flipblogs turn:

Having set the course for this series I would like to encourage anyone that has a flip fail story to blog, vlog, pod, tweet, twitch or in some way share your story of Flip Failure.  If you would like to share it at #flipblogs or tweet the link to @flippedlearning we would love to share your story here. One Caveat, as much as we love a good face plant, we want to know how you recovered or learned from that experience.

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