My Final Cohort Presentation

My Final Cohort21 Presentation

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Some Finishing Thoughts

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If you click this link you can watch my thoughts and opinions about my blogs.



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My Cohort 21 Experience and Flipped Teaching

My Beliefs

As the world of educators spends an abundance of time, energy, and money on researching best practices in order set students up for the needs of the 21st century, three beliefs have become cemented as truth:

1)     That homework should be meaningful and not too time consuming

2)     That a classroom should be a place where students have ownership over their own learning.

3)     That what constitutes best teaching practices is more and more helping students evaluate, communicate and apply information and less the role of supplying them with knowledge.

After my Cohort21 experience, I am confident in saying that the flipped teaching method applied with thought and care, makes it easier to do these things.

The Learning Process

Right before I stated this experience I had briefly heard about “Flipped Teahing.” I wanted to learn more. Through the help of Garth Nichols and Justin Medved I was able to quench my wish to learn more with research like this:

As read in the above articles (all most of what is said about Flipped Teaching), and through conversations with colleagues like Steve Baumgartner, Rita Iafrate, Anthony ChuterCkrish, Garth Nichols, and Justin Medved, there came to be a common theme: that when you curate well thought out flipped videos/tasks, you give yourself the gift of time. As any teacher knows, time is precious, and the more you have the better you can teach.

With this in mind, I took on the flipping experience with a positive attitude. I love the gift of time.

The Implementation

I chose to teach fractions in math.

I set out to make videos.

I set up the slides on my smartboard.

I made notes.

I practiced the notes.

I set up my video recorder and started.

I tried to make a video….

I fumbled through and sounded awkward.

This happened repeatedly.

As I reviewed what I had created I pictured the parents of my students standing over their children saying things like, “Why am I paying for this guy to teach my child?” And that is the truth, I felt very naked doing this.

I had never been in front of a camera and I always want to be giving my students the best.  I want to make sure that the product I deliver is of a high quality.  These videos were not. This is why I went out to sites like, and To find videos that worked for me.

There I found teachers that were able to convey a more relaxed tone while providing concise and clear video explanations that covered the material I wanted to teach. So although, I was not the one on screen (which I felt guilty about) I moved to the next phase.

I provided the families of my students knowledge of what flipped teaching is.

I then planned out following day’s “Gourmet lessons”, which I poured a lot of thought and care into how I could best leverage the videos to make the classroom experience optimal.

The Results

  • 95% of my students said they enjoyed the homework experience more than traditional homework.
  • 95% of my students said they enjoyed the classroom activities more than lessons where there has not been flipping.
  • 95% of my students would want to do more of this homework
  • 95% of my students liked the differentiated nature of the following day lessons.
  • 17 of 18 parents really liked the experience, one family said they were undecided.
  • The students did better on the end of unit assessments than on any other unit taught to date.
  • I really enjoyed the experience and have since then sought to expand my knowledge of flipped teaching and want to do more of it.

(both students and parents willingly took part in anonymous surveys)

 The Conclusion

The positive reinforcement from the parents and the students were the result of a lot of time and energy. It is important to unfold flipped teaching properly. Like most worthwhile activities, is time consuming at first.

It is important to learn about flipped teaching for yourself.

If you want to go down this avenue, teach the parents. They are major stakeholders in their children’s education and when new concepts are introduced, they need to be brought into the loop. This is especially true at a younger age, in which parents or guardians are needed to use technologies.

Find or create videos that are not too long, have enthusiastic voices that are clear and have good visuals.  Here is a list of tips that techsmith suggests: ( that I have been using and have found myself getting more confident in creating flipped videos.

Provide different points of entry into the curriculum that are based on your students’ knowledge and confidence with the work.

Go around to the students and help them direct their own learning.

If you are prepared to spend some time at  the start, and go through these steps suggested, you will be providing homework that is meaningful and not too time consuming; create a classroom environment where students have ownership over their own learning; and free up time to help students evaluate, communicate and apply information in meaningful ways.

Isn’t that great?

I think so!






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Flipped Classroom Pt. 3 The Parents’ Point of View

Last time I checked in, I talked about the research and feedback from my students’ flipped classroom experience. A lot of their experiences hinged on their parents’ ability to access the information/videos needed for the flipped classroom experience.

For this reason, I asked the parents of my students to help me with this research. The following are the responses to a questionnaire I asked them to complete.

  • Question 1 and 4 had optional boxes to expand in writing on their answers.
  •  At the end, I gave the parents an opportunity to expand on any points they wanted to make about the flipped classroom experience from their point of view.
  • The questionnaire was optional. Of the 23 families given one 16 handed were handed back.
  • From the results, I believe the students who had challenges viewing the videos did not hand in the questionnaire. The majority that were returned were kept anonymous.

Here are the questions:

1)      Was it easy to access the homework videos?



If ‘No’, please explain what was challenging.

All 16 parents said it was easy to access the video.

2)      Did your child grasp the concepts without assistance from you or another member of your family?

–          All of the time

–          Some of the time

–          None of the time

8 answered, ‘All of the time’ and 8 answered, ‘Some of the time’.

3)      Did a member of the family sit with the L4A student while the videos were watched?

–          All of the time

–          Some of the time

–          None of the time

3 answered all of the time, 9 answered some of the time, and 4 answered some of the time.

4)      Do you feel that “flipped homework” (where students watch videos investigating new concepts instead of work reinforcing the day’s lessons) is a productive use of homework time?

–          Yes

–          No

15 said yes and 1 created a third category and wrote, “undecided.”

8 questionnaires came back with comments further extrapolating on their yes answers. The survey that wrote “undecided” did not comment. Here are the comments:

1)      The explanations in the video were well presented, in a simplified way and well organized.

2)      I believe it is very productive as they learn the concept with no distractions. They can repeat the video if they don’t understand part of the concept. It works very well for those who are “visual”.

3)      I think it is helpful to watch the video, but they are more effective if followed up by a hands-on practice activity.

4)      It is nice that the child can watch the video, pause  and/or  replay as he/she wishes, therefore, learning at his/her own pace.

I do believe that once the child has been exposed to the concept, it will make learning in a group environment the next day more meaningful.

5)      My son was pretty much willing to follow always follow up with a “part 2” if it was available. I would say that most kids are comfortable using this tool and the pace at which the video lesson is shown is very easy to work with. 

6)      My son gravitates to electronics. Computers makes him think it isn’t really homework. He was more likely to do it. However, once he was done learning, if I didn’t sit next to him, he would surf the net or do something else.

7)      After doing the flipped homework, students can easily master the concepts in the day’s lessons.

8)      Watching videos to reinforce the day’s lessons with this method is great. However, I’m not sure how this would work to investigate new concepts. A lot would depend on the quality of the videos and their consistency with the mathematical strategies. For example, they (the video homework) teach and that what is being taught in class. Otherwise, the videos may run the risk of confusing the child rather than clarifying.

5)      Would you like to see more flipped homework?



15 of the 16 said, ‘Yes’, and one wrote, “not sure”.

6)      Do you think the flipped homework activities were better when there were some actual questions for the students to practice after watching the homework video?



15 of the 16 questionnaires replied “Yes”. One did not put an answer. This was the same questionnaire that wrote undecided and not sure for questions 4 and 5 respectively.

Here are the comments at the end of the questionnaires. 7 questionnaires had responses:

1)      I believe the flipped homework will be more effective if they have some related questions or homework to do right after watching the video.

This method works very well for kids who get distracted easily, who are active and have problems focusing or even shy to ask questions.

I hope to see more flipped homework in the future.

Thank you.

2)      Some of the teachers (in the videos) were more effective than others: the children seemed to follow instructions better if the teacher sounded fun and upbeat.

3)      Definitely yes to question #6. When my son tells me that he understood the concept presented in the video after watching it, it is difficult for me to determine whether he is telling the truth. He may understand that specific example being introduced in the video, but may have trouble applying this skill to a different scenario. Therefore, having practice questions afterwards would definitely help determining if a concept has been truly grasped.

4)      Perhaps if you gave a “Parent Guide Manual” to use with it, would greatly help prepare the parents for what they are about to watch and learn.

5)      We really like the “flipped homework” on math units. It would be great if you can continue this process in the whole school, specifically at the higher grade levels.

This activity can strengthen student’s knowledge and confidence on learning new things!

6)      I feel that the flipped homework strategy works great as a reinforcement technique. If used solely on their own without for e.g. questions to practice afterwards, the students often takes a more ‘relaxed’ approach to watching these videos. In my opinion, the videos work only when the student knows that some questions will come after that they might be answering using these videos or the will be questioned about them in class. Otherwise, students watch them with less ‘alertness’, often paying very little attention to them—basically not taking them seriously. I have also heard, “Yeah, yeah, I don’t really need to watch this. We’ve done this in school already.”

7)      I’m not sure I like the entire concept of curriculum being explained this way. IT DOES NOT ALLOW FOR IMMEDIATE QUESTIONS. Especially in a private schhol- I would expect the teacher to explain the curriculum in person/in class. I can understand using this technique in addition to… to reinforce the lesson and method…BUT NOT to replace the curriculum target in class.

As an educator, this is really interesting stuff.  I will dedicate the next blog entry to dealing with the comments sections of this questionnaire.

Here are some basic conclusions:

  • Parents, whose children had challenges accessing the homework, didn’t bring back the survey.
  • All who returned the survey found it easy to access.
  • The overwhelming majority of those surveyed would like to see more of this type of homework—most with follow up activities to do at home.

This also left me with a few questions:

  • Did those who didn’t return the questionnaire not do so because they didn’t like the type of homework?
  •  If I put an “undecided” option on questions 4 and 5, would it have changed the results more?
  • If I hadn’t explained what ‘flipped homework’ was before presenting it, and providing websites for parents to learn more about it, would the results have been as positive?

All in all, I am very thankful to my very committed families in our class. I will ponder a lot on this information in combination with my own experience and the students’ response.

Like I said earlier; I will dedicate another blog to the written-out component of the parents’ responses.


That is all for now.


See you on the flipside!


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Flipped Classroom Pt. 2

After completing trying 3 flipped lessons I asked my class some multiple choice and yes or no questions. Here is the questions and the responses:


1) Watching the videos for homework was:

–          Interesting

–          Boring

–          Neither

65% of the students answered interesting, 5% clicked boring and 30% said neither.


2) The videos were easy to access from home:

–          Yes

–          No

90% said yes and 10% said no.

3) I liked this type of homework better than typical “non-flipped” homework:

–          Yes

–          No

95% said yes to this and 5% said no.

4) I enjoyed the following days class after flipped homework:

–          Yes

–          No

95% said yes and 5% said no.

5) I re-watched some videos to help understand the concept:



-A couple times

45% said always, 10% said never and 45% said occasionally

6) The Videos were boring:



40% said yes and 60% said no.

7) I like that there were different entry levels in the next lesson that were based on how much I knew about the concept:

95% said yes and 5% said no.

8) I would like to do more “flipped” homework instead of traditional homework:

95% said yes and 5% said no.


20 students took the assessment. These results were very interesting. I was blown away with how popular “flipping” the classroom was amongst the students. Again, I admit that I spent a lot more time on these lessons than I do on every lesson I teach and I wonder if I spent this much time on traditionally shaped lessons if the results would be the same.

It is also important to note that how you word a question can formulate certain results. Questions 1 and 6 are very similar. It could be argued that the first question is talking about the experience and the sixth question is speaking to the actual video. But it may be that how I worded the question changed the response.

1) Watching the videos for homework was:

–          Interesting

–          Boring

–          Neither

65% of the students answered interesting, 5% clicked boring and 30% said neither.

6) The Videos were boring:



40% said yes and 60% said no.



Here are some of my conclusions from this survey:

That the majority of students enjoyed flipping a classroom.

That offering different learning starting points the following day is important.

That accessing the videos is not too great a challenge.

That students will often take the opportunity to re-watch a lesson if they have that option.

That students like this kind of homework more than traditional homework

That I may have to look at my other homework opportunities with more scrutiny.

Until next time,






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Flipped Teaching Pt 1

A flipped classroom Pt 1: The implementation

When I first attempted to create a flipped classroom, I spent a long time making videos:

–videos in which I screen cast the smartboard I was using

–videos in which I set up the camera in front of the smartboard

In both instances, the videos I created seemed forced. Like most people, I don’t love the sound of my own voice  when it is played for me—the irony that I am a teacher is not lost on me here.

As for the screen casts, the videos I created were okay, but I felt that there were already better suited “flipped” videos readily available online that covered the same material. For instance, the website: is just one of many readily available video banks that have a lot well done flipped videos.

For this reason, I decided to choose from the library of pre-existing videos to try out flipped teaching.

For the lesson on equivalent fractions I chose this video for the students homework to watch:

The next day I started with 3 questions and a quick assessment task:

Who watched the video? 20 of the 23 students watched the video.

Was it easy to access the video? 19 students found it easy…one student’s internet was acting up, so they went next door to their friend’s house. The other 3students didn’t have their parents check their email.

Ranking the video from 1 to 5 ( 5 being amazing),  what would you rank your enjoyment? Most said 3 (this is math we are talking about, not Wreck it Ralph)

At this point (4 minutes into the class) I had all the students who watched the video and felt comfortable with the concepts go on computers and try playing one of the two following links:

Students who didn’t understand the concept, or hadn’t watched the video re-watched it with me, going over the points that needed clarification; mostly, how fractions with different numbers can be the same size.

Once this was grasped, these students also went on the computers to “play”( their term not mine).

Watching the students perform I categorized students into 3 loose categories:  gets the concept and needs greater challenges, is starting to grasp the concept independently, and needs further teacher instruction.

For the duration of the letter lesson( another 25 minutes) Those from the first category were challenged by finding equivalent fractions with mixed and improper numbers, the second group worked on mastering the skill of matching normal equivalent fractions  and those of the third category worked around the smartboard with me giving my lions share to this group. We reviewed what a fraction is and used diagrams and blocks to examine how two fractions with different amounts could be equal.


I found the lesson fulfilling. I have it in my bank of “gourmet lessons” for future years and I will use it again. I probably put 3 to 4 hours into planning this lesson. It is my belief, that any lesson a competent teacher places that amount of time into developing, whether it is ‘flipped’ or not, should probably go over better than most.

That being said, the kids really took to the flipped model. I did two other lessons very similar to this; one on comparing and ordering fractions and another on adding and subtracting numbers. I have had a positive experience with it so far.

The next step will be investigating how the students felt they did.

Until then, see you on the flip side!

Jesse Denison

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Making sure the Flip isn’t a Flop

After doing reading on “Flipping” a classroom and talking with peers like Celeste–who has also taken on the task of Flipping part of her Language program–I have decided to make sure I post the four lesson videos.

With the videos I would like to create them with just the screen and with me in front of the camera.

Also, after reading blogs like The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture, I will put a lot of focus on making sure that the time freed up with the flipped videos is used wisely in the class.

Documenting and creating follow up reviews with students, parents, and myself.


With Class Dojo I am going to change up the system and do the next two months in which students can only give each other Class Dojo points (I cannot and students cannot award themselves) and compare that to the findings I have found so far. Upon the students feedback and reading Michele’s comment, I also think I am going do this within the parameters of grouped work.

I am also going to be reflecting on my last bit of research.

I also plan on blogging at least 4 more times before the April face 2 face meeting–if I write something down, I have a much better chance of following through.

Until then…..







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Silent Blog, Active Thoughts

I have been a bit slow to re-engage on the Cohort21 Blog.

This does not mean I have not mentally been engaged. Between life, school, and extra curricular activities, I had many a thought about Cohort21 and what I should be doing with Cohort 21st century learning.

Moving forward with Cohort 21 myplan of action for this term is going to be done on two parts.

1)    Continue analyzing and observing the facts research with Class Dojo. Contining to refine how I use and create Class Dojo points.

2)    Execute, observe and analyze “flipping” 4 fraction and decimal lessons.




Class Dojo

With class Dojo I have begun the process of surveying students in classes who have used the Class Dojo system we have designed for our students.


The following are the results:


  1. When you get a Class Dojo point, how does it make you feel?

A)   Good

B)   Bad

C)   Smart

D)   Dumb

E)   Nothing different

59% said A-good, 13% said C-smart and 22% said E—nothing different.


  1. Do you think it is fair when someone gets a Class Dojo Point for doing something similar to what you are doing and you don’t?

A)   Yes

B)   No

55% said no and 45% said yes




  1. Do you like getting a class dojo point because it:


a)    proves to other students that you are doing well

b)    you think it will help you get more break

c)    proves to yourself that you are doing a good job

d)    helps you understand what behaviors you are really good at and what behaviors you need work on

50% chose D-helps you understand what behaviors you are really good at and what behaviors you need work on

45% said C—proves to yourself that you are doing a good job

5% said A—proves to other students that you are doing well


  1. What is your favorite type of Class Dojo point?

a)    Responsibility point

b)    Collaboration point

c)    Creative Imagination Point

d)    Independence Point

e)    Initiation Point

f)     Organization Point

50% said B-Collaboration Point, 31% said C-Creative Imagination Point, 9% said F-Organization Point, and 6% said E-Independence Point


  1. When do you think it is the best for you to actually receive a Class Dojo point?

a)    When the actual good behavior happens

b)    At the end of the lesson

c)    At lunch time break

d)    At the end of the day

e)    At the start of the next day

81% said A-when the actual behavior happens, 13% said B, and 6% said D-at the end of the day


  1. Do you think class is better without class dojo points?

a)    Yes

b)    No

64% said no and 36% said yes



  1. Do you like when:


a)    the teacher giving the Class Dojo point

b)    giving yourself the Class Dojo point

c)    It doesn’t matter who gives me a point

68% said C—it doesn’t matter, 27% said A-the teacher giving the Class Dojo point and 5% said B—giving yourself the Class Dojo point


  1. Do you think there should be a negative point system?

a)    Yes

b)    No

63% said yes, 37 % said no


  1. Should a teacher try and make sure all students are rewarded equally (within 5 points of each other at all times)?

a)    Yes

b)    No


55% said yes, 45% said no



Currently I am working at thinking about these results and what they mean. I will save these thoughts for another blog post.



Flipping my Classroom

Since I decided to experiment with “flipping a classroom” I have done some research on  the history of flipped classrooms, watched videos of classrooms that have been flipped, spoken to fellow Bayview Glen teachers who have used the Kahn Academy, and interviewed students who participated in the Khan Academy.

While doing this, two questions kept running through my head.


How can I do this right?

What should I flip?


So I figured that the more I learned about “flipping a classroom,” the better chance I’d have at doing it right.

As to, ‘what should I flip?’. I have chosen fractions and decimals and will be doing 4 lessons on Fractions and Decimals:

1)      Equivalent Fractions.

2)      Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers

3)      Comparing and Ordering Fractions

4)      Relating Fractions to Decimals

The reasoning was that Fractions visual nature can be easily manipulated on screen and that students I have taught in the past need a lot of practice working on this subject.


In the up and coming weeks I will continue to post my results.


Until next time here’s to warm classrooms on cold days!


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Class Dojo…a new sticker chart?

When critically thinking about Class Dojo  it can be argued that it is simply a fancy sticker chart, a extrinsic reward system that much research has shown we should avoid in our teaching.

The arguments I have heard  against Class Dojo go something like this:

Learning should come from wanting to learn, making the curriculum exciting and finding connections to the student so the prime objective is to learn for learning sake and not to get a shiny sticker (or in this case a nice sounding beep and a point).

To the above argument I would agree that learning should come from intrinsic motivations. I don’t think class dojo should be used to reward work, that would be horrible.

What it should do is help make students explicitly aware of their behaviour. In our school we have identified 8 pillars of student learning skills:

Initiation: Being able to recognize one’s thoughts to get started on a task.

Flexibility: Learning to adapt by shifting one’s focus and pace in various situations.

Attention: Focusing long enough and accurately enough to learn important information

Organization: Manging space

Planning: Managing time

Working Memory: Retaining information long enough for it to be stored in long term memory.

Self Awareness: Having both sufficient self knowledge and an understanding of how one is seen by others.

Managing emotions: Expressing one’s feelings in proportion to the events that excited them.

These 8 pillars along with the school’s values of responsibility, respect, balance, compassion and integrity have been the foundation for the categories I have used for Class Dojo

None of these have to do with the actual quality of work. If someone does a 4+ job, they do not get a point.

What Class Dojo does is allow students to monitor their success. I have put an I pad at the back of the class so the students can go put points there. This avoids large comparisons and students continually staring at the smartboard instead of working.  This has worked at improving students awareness of their behaviour.  I am not the only one.

As written here:

“There’s this whole other half of education that is currently unaddressed by education technology; the half that goes beyond just building good test scores to building character strengths that are essential for lifetime success,” says Chaudhary. “There’s 40 years of academic research, as well as practical evidence from some of the best-performing schools in the country, that when you build character and behavioral skills it leads to two to four times the improvement in academic results, graduation rates, health outcomes and other socioeconomic measures. However, ed-tech hasn’t given this space the same level of rigor and data-driven tools that we currently see for academic content. Behavior is the first step to building these broader character strengths….

Teachers are seeing incredible results from kindergarten to high school. A nationwide survey of ClassDojo users showed a 45% – 90% increase in incidents of positive behavior and a 50% – 85% decrease in incidents of negative behavior. Jed Dearybury, a 2nd grade teacher in Spartanburg, South Carolina had this to say: “ClassDojo completely transformed my classroom. As I implemented it midyear, the focus became positive reinforcement because of ClassDojo’s easy, user-friendly style of displaying and rewarding positive behaviors of my choice. The class became so positive and compassionate to one another that we became known as the ‘Class of Encouragers!’ I cannot wait to start back so I can use this wonderful, free, online tool for the benefit of my students.”


This program allows you to help take ownership over their own behaviour and see where they need to work at. In the negative behaviour side I just have one tab called “correction.” It is only used if I, or a student has made an error hitting a point in someone else’s box.

So far the use of class dojo has worked.

As well, here is a link to a grade 8 teacher using it: this is an excellent instruction manual.

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ICT for Kids…and Teachers!

The website, is an excellent resource for teachers looking to find explicit instruction in a bunch of different technologies that could be used affectingly in the class.

Especially if you use a smartboard.

Here is are 2 links to tips I have taken and used regularly

Smartboard highlighter:

Here is a 2 minute tip on how to use spotlight with a smartboard.

Graphic organizers:

This is a link to learning how integrate graphic organizers into the class:

Popplet is a wonderful website that allows students to work on thought webs. In my teaching experience it is a great tool for cumulative projects that incorporate a lot of different information about a single point.  We have used it for the Grade 4 research project in Canadian studies.

The following picture is a cumulative popplet to a project on The Canadian Shield. The initial question was, “How does weather affect the culture of a region?”


Until next time,




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