I find myself at the end of a road. I know that my journey is not over. I will continue to explore new tools, reflect on my teaching and strive to grow and change along with my students and the technology.

As my year long adventure as a participant of Cohort 21 comes to an end, it's a great opportunity to pause and share some final thoughts on the experience and my action plan.

In the spirit of Cohort 21, I've decided to use a new tool in order to share my findings. Attracted to the layout and simplicity of infographics, I went for it. Here's my published work: Flipped Classroom 2.0.

Flipped Class Infographic



In late March, early April I will be putting my plan into action with my AP Chemistry class during the Electrochemistry unit. The basic idea: I am testing out some new strategies for the follow up of a flipped class. In the past, the students have watched the video prior to coming to class. When they arrive to class we debrief practice a few questions together and then they get to work on independent practice. How will I change it? Each day, I will take a different approach and at the end I will gather feedback from students about what they liked and didn't like. Here is the plan.

Day 1: Oxidation Numbers, Balancing Equations & Redox Titrations

Upon their arrival to class students will do a quick Socrative quiz and I will use that to divide them into two groups.  Group 1 (Advanced): Extend their understanding by working through a redox titration problem and then writing reactions from word equations. Group 2: We will work through examples together and they will practice, building toward solving redox problems at the end.

Day 2: Galvanic Cells

I will use Edpuzzle to track student learning as they watch the video. Upon their arrival to class, I will address specific problem areas and misconceptions. They will complete an online simulation in teams and build a galvanic cell in the lab. Once finished they will do some practice problems in teams and then on their own. During the work time, I will work with individuals that were identified during Edpuzzle as having greater difficulty with the concepts.

Day 3: Electrolytic Cells

Upon arrival to class, students will complete a self-reflection on their learning and identify what parts of the topic are straightforward and which ones are challenging. We will do this same survey at the end of class so they can track their own progress (and I can too!). The follow up lesson will be a lab activity where students make predictions using theory and test their predictions. They will then work through some traditional problems.

Day 4: Equilibrium & Electrochemistry

Upon arrival to class students will be placed into teams. We will work through a Socrative quiz (teacher directed) and then we will finish with a space race working through similar problems.

The students in this class love the flipped classroom and I am hopeful that by making it dynamic and fun, students will get a lot out of it. I am really interested to see which of the 4 strategies they prefer and how I they compare it to their experience with the Acid-Base unit we did in November.


WordleI have been lucky enough to teach the same courses (Grade 11 & 12 Chemistry) for my entire 15 year career, which may sound like an absolute nightmare, but I have seen it as an opportunity to refine my craft. Intentional reflection has allowed me to develop my courses and increase the quality of delivery with each passing year.  I continually work on understanding the material at the highest level, revise student materials to ensure their quality and try new techniques (cooperative learningPOGIL activities, inquiry-based learning) to improve student learning. My teaching career has been one big action plan in teaching Chemistry. Question. Reflect. Explore. Test. Re-Test. Repeat.


A few times in my career I have made paradigm shifts and there has been a catalyst. It was a Kagan conference that blew my mind and opened me up to the possibilities of cooperative learning.  The addition of POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) to my practice was sparked by a conference session. Teaching AP Chemistry changed my approach to teaching by allowing me to work as a Chemistry "coach" and has pushed me to place greater emphasis on inquiry.

My most recent paradigm shift was a BIG one. At the time, the questions I had about my teaching were: How can provide students greater access to my explanations without feeling like a broken record? How can I support kids who miss class? How can I get through more in less time (critical for AP)? How can I allow students more opportunity to practice skills and be available while they do so?  As a member of the AP Chemistry Community, I came across educator Jonathan Bergmann. He was touting the success he had been having with what he referred to as the flipped classroom (he it's pioneer!). Intrigued by the possibilities, I attended an online webinar he hosted in June 2008 and was hooked. By creating videos, Bergmann and his colleague Sams, flipped the conventional classroom. Rather than lecturing to students and asking them to do practice for homework, students were asked to watch videos for homework. In class, they spent time doing activities that allowed them to consolidate their understanding and work with their peers and teacher through a variety of activities. My mind was blown and my journey began: Flipped Classroom 1.0

Over the next two years, I developed videos for my courses, for every topic. It took commitment but I was determined and now have a full set of videos that students can access through their course databases.  On their own, the videos immediately answered two of my questions. I am available to students 24-7 for explanations and support and I no longer worry if students miss class (the onus is on them to get caught up). I refer students to the videos often and they take full advantage of them. Making the videos, regardless of the time it took initially, has paid dividends and in the long run has saved me time and energy.

In addition, in that first year, I flipped my AP Chemistry class, for one unit as a trial. I chose a unit (Acid-Base Equilibrium) where practice is critical and the topics build significantly on one another. In the past, the traditional lecture approach had failed miserably for students that didn't keep up with their homework. It was an incredibly positive experience for both me and the students. When they came to class, we reviewed some of the key concepts from the video, I answered their questions, modelled a problem or two and then they got down to work, practising questions. Not only were students more successful in the unit test, I was better able to assess their learning throughout the unit informally, by simply working with them one-on-one and in small groups. The biggest win wasn't apparent until it came time to review for the exam. Students had retained what they had learned to an extent I could have never imagined. The icing on the cake: they performed best in that topic in the AP exam. The cherry on top: it took less time then it did teaching traditionally! Bottom line: it worked.

Flipped classroom2

So you might be thinking, it was so wildly successful, she must now flip every class, all year. The answer is no. At the moment, I flip two units in AP Chemistry, I flip sporadically in Grade 11 Chemistry and I use videos for a personalized learning unit in Grade 11. I am very intentional about when I do it. Students need to be motivated to watch the videos and I am not convinced they would be, for an entire course. I also think it has it's place. I love variety and think students do to. I am all about mixing it up, keeping things fresh; it keeps us all on our toes.

After a few years, it's time for Flipped Classroom 2.0. With the big job of making videos done, it's time to take a fresh look at how I use them. My Cohort 21 Action Plan is the perfect opportunity for me to take a step back and find ways to improve the implementation. What I am doing works, but can it be even better? My questions:

How can I better assess where students are at after they've watched the video? How can I personalize the follow up lesson depending on individual student needs? Is is possible to use gamification coupled with the flipped classroom in a personalized unit?

My plan is to do some reading about the Flipped Classroom and learn ways that other teachers are doing their follow up lessons. I want to try tech tools such as Zaption and Edpuzzle. Gamification may or may not be in the cards this time around but I will do some exploration before I decide. I am excited about the possibilities and open to new ideas.

Do you flip your class or thought about doing so? What has your experience been? What approach do you take on the follow up?


breaking the glass ceiling

After the first Face-to-Face session, many people talked about feeling overwhelmed. We met  inspiring educators and were shown awesome tools. We were sent on our way to explore and connect. I think at the time I was a bit too stunned to feel anything. My mind felt flooded. In a good way. Twitter? Diigo? Google +? WordPress? I needed to sift through all of the information that I had gathered, and I wasn't quite sure where to begin.

I felt a bit stuck. I found myself reflecting more intentionally, searching for a blogging topic. What is unique about the way I teach? What tools do I use that work? What are the struggles that I have in my classroom? What can I share? My ideas became partially developed titles saved in my phone:

  1. Renewing my faith in buzz words: growth mindset vs fixed mindset.
  2. Flipping my classroom: when it works, it's beautiful.
  3. Jumping over hurdles and through hoops in an attempt to implement technology.
  4. Goodbye Facebook, Hello Twitter.

And that is as far as I got. "Cohort Blog" has been on my to-do list for a long time and has nagged at me, but I couldn't bring myself to log in and start writing.

What was holding me back? I told myself that I needed a lot of time to process. I told myself that I wasn't a strong writer and that it would be a tedious process to write it and perfect it before publishing. I worried about what picture I would include. I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough to say or that my thoughts were not important.

Then it struck me! I had a fixed mindset about blogging- gah!


I was avoiding the challenge. I was intimidated by the success of others. I feared criticism.

What I needed to do was change my mindset. And that I did. So here I am, putting myself out there. I am embracing the challenge. I am going to find inspiration in the greatness of others. I am going to learn from the criticism and persist in the face of setbacks. I am going to have a growth mindset about blogging.

I just needed to do it-to break the glass ceiling- to get the first one out there.

Glass ceiling broken. Whew! Here's to letting my ideas flow "up" into the blogosphere.

Is a fixed mindset holding you back from accomplishing something on your to-do-list? How can you change your thinking to help you to break through the glass ceiling?

Welcome to Cohort 21. This is the first post on your new blog. This journal is an integral part of your Cohort 21 experience. Here you will reflect, share and collaborate as you move through the C21 learning cycle towards your action plan.

Cohort 21 is a unique professional development opportunity open to CIS Ontario teachers and school leaders who are seeking to explore  what it means to a teacher in the 21st century.