Are You Flipping Kidding Me? Why Would I Flip?

Are You Flippin’ Kidding Me?

Why Would I Flip?

@joe_edtech & @LisaBerghoff

This article is co-written and cross posted by Joe & Lisa. You can also find it on Joe’s Blog: WarriorEdTech

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It isn’t about using technology because it is flashy, and it definitely isn’t about more industrial age efficiency. Integrating instructional technology is about being able to do something that you’ve never been able to do before. It is about re-imagining the classroom, and everything else about school.

 Last Saturday, we had an opportunity to host a Google Education On Air Hangout on the “Flipped Classroom” during which we provided our participants with a description and history of the Flipped Classroom teaching model, clear reasons why each of us tried it with our students, and some evidence of it’s effectiveness. If you are interested in reading more about that as well as accessing some tools to help you get started, you are welcome to visit the “Flipped Classroom Resources” webpage we created.

 However, we don’t want to take up our blog space and inundate our loyal readers (a.k.a. – Joe’s Mom) with a lot of information about what and how. We think it is really important to start with why. Why would you take the time to flip your class? Probably the best way to explain it is through the eyes of a few students. First, we want you to see class through the eyes of Lisa’s Special Ed US History students.

 

@LisaBerghoff:

 My US History students all have IEPs.  Reading and writing is challenging for them and US History is dense with written information. Our textbook, while adapted for reluctant readers, is very long and intimidating. I wanted my students to be able to access the information but then do something with that information. I wanted them to apply their learning, make connections and predictions for the future based on what they are learning about the past. I wanted them to participate in activities that require them to think critically, make a claim, and support it with evidence. However, most of our class time was being used to read the material, talk about the content, and reach for a basic level of understanding. I was assigning homework activities that required them to extend their learning but I quickly became frustrated because many of my students were not completing the homework. The students who were completing it often missed the mark and the quality was nowhere near what I thought they could do.

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 I decided to take a risk and assign a video for homework. The students would watch the video to get the information and then we could use our class time to work in small groups to apply what they learned. I was amazed when all of my students watched the 5 minute video. I gave them a short survey and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  Watching a video for homework was a low-stakes activity.  Everyone could access the video and it was much easier for them to get the information in this manner.  I was so encouraged I tried several other approaches.  For one assignment, I read the lesson from the text and recorded myself while highlighting the important information.  I then took it one step further and created a Zaption “tour” with this video by embedding questions. I could check the analytics to see who had watched the video and their answers were recorded and even graded for me! I could see how long the students spent on the videos.  One student clearly forwarded the video and just answered the questions.  Another student watched it more than once. This was exactly the kind of differentiation I was looking for.  The students had some control, everyone was able to get what they needed, and our class time was spent doing the kinds of activities that push their thinking and maintain the high standards that I have for my students.

 @joe_edtech:

That’s the success story. On the flip side – pun intended – my daughter spends hours and hours struggling with her math homework. It is no fun, and I fear that the constant frustration will lead her to dislike math, or worse, school. When she is in class, the teacher explains the concepts and the skills, and it all makes perfect sense. But by the time she gets home, she has forgotten much of the teacher’s instruction. It is just one of many classes and activities she participates in every day. More than once Katherine has said, “Ugh, I just wish I could see her work this problem again.” And that kind of thinking shouldn’t surprise us. She is used to looking up instruction on YouTube. When she wants to learn how to fix her hair a certain way, or create something new with her Rainbow Loom, or generate ideas for building in Mine Craft, she turns FIRST to YouTube and other digital resources available to her. Imagine how empowered she would be if she could review her math, or science, or music lessons in the same way.

 From a Technology Director’s perspective, I love the Flipped Classroom idea because it can act as a “Gateway Drug” to the integration of much more instructional technology, and can help facilitate the shift from teaching-centered classrooms to learning-centered classrooms. And as Lisa mentioned before, you don’t have to invest hundreds of hours to try it. All you have to do is “Flip” one lesson, one time.

You can still be a part of the conversation. Our Google Hangout Webinar “Flipped & Blended Learning for the Chromebook Classroom” is embedded below. If you have any questions, please contact us via Twitter or leave a comment in the box below.

 

 

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In Defense of Year-Round Schools (aka there’s too much left to do before summer)

Spring is in the air! The weather is slowly starting to warm up, little green buds are sprouting on the trees, and my allergies are starting to kick in. Also, this week we began 4th quarter. It’s also known as “the light at the end of the tunnel” for both students and teachers.  The nice thing about 4th quarter is that everyone gets a little extra boost of energy. It’s like when you are running a race and you can see the finish line and you suddenly notice that you actually do have more energy than you thought because you are able to sprint to the end. There is one major flaw with 4th quarter… I feel like we’re just getting started. We’re on a roll, in a groove, and everyone is making nice progress. This would be the perfect time to get involved in some amazing projects, except the end of the school year is fast approaching.  What to do?   Year-round school is sounding more and more inviting!

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photo credit: The Start and Finish Line of the “Inishowen 100” Scenic Drive via photopin (license)

Here is the list of things I’d still like to accomplish this year (and why it would be so much easier if we were in school all year).

1. Connect with a class from another school. 

I think my students could really benefit from using technology to connect with students from a different school.  This would be a wonderful way to practice our digital citizenship skills, get feedback in a new way, and learn about a different place. There are so many options available from mystery skype to edublogs and google plus communities and more and more teachers seem to be jumping on board with inter-class connections.  This project requires long-term commitment to really establish a relationship. Summer is definitely getting in the way!

 

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A Letter To My First Year Teaching Self

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photo credit: Mail Box via photopin (license)

DearFirst Year Teaching Self,

You thought it was a mistake. They didn’t really mean to hire you. Or, they did mean to hire you because you convinced them that you knew what you were doing.  You were very convincing. But you didn’t feel like you knew what you were doing.  You felt like you were faking it. You sat quiet in department meetings trying to keep all of the acronyms and focus strands straight.  You wrote lesson plans for kids you did not know  very well and you wrote IEP goals that you thought were going to change lives.  You got so nervous when you called parents, even if it was to deliver good news.  You did the things that you thought a teacher was supposed to do. You wore sensible shoes and brought treats on Fridays. You waited, scared, for someone to discover your secret.

Well you were wrong.  It was not a mistake.

You really did know what you were doing but you had to wait until you found your voice.

Your voice.

Your teacher voice.  Not the voice that you thought everyone wanted to hear. It is the voice that has been there all along but needed to be convinced to come out.  You learned how to get to know kids from their core, from their heart. You learned that working with kids has a huge benefit: you get to have fun and laugh and watch “ah-ha” moments and make mistakes and let your students watch how you correct them.  You learned that boundaries are important but some walls have to come down to form relationships and those relationships mean more than any lesson plan or IEP goal.  You will always be learning because to be a teacher you must know how to learn, push out of your comfort zone, and grow.  You will always be nervous calling parents because you care so much.  But you know now, because you are a parent, that parents get upset and confused because they are scared for their kids and every single one of them just wants to do what is right for their child and they will each have different ideas of what that is.

It was not a mistake, you were meant to be here.  You will always feel like it’s a privilege and an incredible honor to be with students every day. You will come out of your shell. You will make mistakes, some really big ones that you will never forget.  But you will learn and grow from them.  You will watch some students exceed your expectations beyond your wildest dreams and you will watch some very capable students fall on their faces over and over.

Don’t ever forget what you teach.  You teach students, not subjects.  They will learn from you by how they feel when they are in your class, not by the assessments you give or the goals you write. You are also not alone. You have incredible colleagues and connections around the world who will share, problem-solve, and celebrate with you.

It was definitely not a mistake.  Just trust that voice and listen because this is where you belong.

Sincerely,

Your 19 Year Veteran Teaching Self

Like Riding A Bike

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photo credit: 1960 Schwinn Cruiser via photopin (license)
Do you remember how you learned to ride a bike? Have you ever watched someone try to learn?  It’s hard!  Really, really hard.  It’s often painful and extremely frustrating.  Eventually, you start to just get the feel of it and once you learn, you can’t un-learn how to ride a bike.  The phrase “just like riding a bike” resonates with me because the process of learning bike riding can be so different for each individual and yet regardless of HOW they learned, once they can do it they can always do it.  I have heard so many varied bike riding stories with different methods to get the kids to balance just right.  Some parents start their kids with training wheels, some start with a bike with no pedals at all. One popular method in my neighborhood is to take kids to a grassy hill and let them roll down it on their bikes until they are able to stay upright.  Then there are always a few kids who can simply climb on and ride around the block.

The same principle holds true of most learning.  It’s hard, and can be very frustrating.  It may take many different methods to accomplish “getting it”, but once you truly learn something it cannot be taken from you.  In the end it doesn’t really matter what methods were used as long as the end results in learning.  Think about how many different methods we have for teaching reading, writing, and math concepts.  With the use of technology, our toolbox just got infinitely bigger.  We also can’t discount the fact that kids learning to ride a bike are typically very motivated.  That motivation drops off considerably at a very early age for many of our students, especially those who struggle. Keeping learning fresh and fun is also a big part of the role of teachers and kids can be very picky consumers when it comes to classroom activities.

As a special educator I am passionate about searching for new ways to teach old tricks.  My students constantly surprise and amaze me and I’ve learned to always keep exploring new options.  I’m also beyond thrilled to share what I learn with other educators.

This blog will be a place for me to share tools, tips, tricks, and ideas as they relate to the science and the art of teaching.  Welcome! Now let’s go for a ride.