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The episode got me thinking a little bit more about times of failure in my 13+ years as an educator. There are so many that I could probably write an entire book just on failures. However, I don't necessarily remember the circumstances surrounding every failure, and while we should always learn something from failure, that hasn't always been the case.
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However, many of the failures in our lives and careers don't have a definitive solution or a YouTube video tutorial. There are a lot of factors that go into failure at times, so not only am I trying to open myself up and admit failure, I am trying to start some dialogue to include others in a conversation to share ideas in solving said failures.
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In the beginning of the school year, I introduced Flipgrid to my classes with a quick tutorial and had them introduce themselves, well, the very few that completed the activity. After asking a handful of students why they didn't complete it, many of them stated that they weren't comfortable on camera. So to address this concern, I gave students the choice to complete a video with the camera covered or turned off so that it was an audio only recording. I still could not get students to complete Flipgrid activities! And I still cannot! I have given students the option to complete from home, complete in the hallway, a variety of topics and I am at a loss at how to harness the power of this tool in my classes. Most of my students have resorted to completing activities like writing or typing responses rather than using Flipgrid. At this point in the school year, I am relatively content with giving them a few choices for assignments and getting something rather than nothing.
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Full disclosure, I felt so terrible about how it went, I have not created and used another hyperdoc since, and this was over four months ago as of the time of this writing. I wracked my brain over and over again as to what went wrong and why it did not go as planned. I had grand plans to incorporate hyperdocs on a regular basis and my co-teacher loved it. But after reflection and a great conversation with Kelly Hilton, one of the creators of the hyperdoc idea and co-author of The Hyperdoc Handbook with Lisa Highfill and Sarah Landis, I realized that it was a great hyperdoc, for down the road after students have been eased in and understand the process. I put way too many activities into the document, used way too many different strategies and tools (a modified question formulation techinique, or QFT, a Flipgrid response, and a set of vocabulary in Quizlet were all part of it) and completely overwhelmed my students. I'm not going to lie, I'm still a little hesitant to build and use another one, but soon I am going to sit down, build one, take the risk and use it with my students because it's not true learning from failure unless you try something new!
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Sounds like a success, right? Why am I addressing this as a failure? Much like how my students cringe when they hear Flipgrid, it's very similar when they know that these activities are coming as well. Many students especially dislike Flashcard Factory, stating that they would rather be given a list of terms and have them define them. Many especially dislike the drawing part of the slides, which I can understand a little bit if you are not artistic. But what is most frustrating is how well students have done throughout the year using this system for vocabulary. Many times, students will score, on average, about 30-40% on the first quiz, then score about 55-65%, before averaging over 80% as a class on the final quiz of the unit. I emphasize this each time we use these activities and it's so disheartening at times when students don't seem to care about it. While I feel like a failure, I know that it's working, so I will continue to use it and make tweaks as I go, when needed.
As we discussed on our episode of Sons of Technology, embrace failure, share failure, learn from failure, start a conversation about failure. We will all be #BetterTogether if we can have these conversations. And advertise these failures on social media, it's not always rainbows and unicorns out there, we are not the perfect world that social media makes our profession out to be sometimes.
Until next time...