Month: December 2012

Declaration of intention

Here is my current plan for researching the flipped classroom in the context of 6th grade literacy.

My research questions:

  • What are best practices when “flipping” a classroom?
  • Why should teachers consider using this teaching method in a literacy classroom?
  • How are other teachers at my school already using online videos to leverage technology for effective instruction?

 How I will conduct my research:

Each week, I will post different videos for our weekly writing workshops, based on trends emerging in my students’ writing samples. When students come to class for their writing workshop, the skills they learned through the video will be practiced, with individual and group support.

I will analyze my students’ writing to note progress and growth, as well as conduct informal interviews with students (and their parents) to gauge the effectiveness of this program.

While researching in the classroom, I will also investigate best practice globally and also in my more immediate communities. I will article and share these resources through my blog, as well as an annotated diigo list to share with other educators interested in flipping their classroom.

 How I will evidence my learning:

I will create and install documentation posters in Learning Commons for my Junior School community. I will also document progress through my Cohort 21 blog, and in keeping with my theme of making videos for educational purposes, I hope to archive my learning through a video for the larger education community about how literacy instruction can be differentiated using a flipped classroom approach.

Currently, my school is collectively investigating best practices around differentiation. I hope to share this video about flipping classroom instruction as a precursor to a Monday staff meeting, sparking conversation and dialogue about various differentiation strategies and practices available to teachers to experiment with.

More thoughts on Flippery

Well, if I am going to experiment with this, it only makes sense that I learn from the source, Mr. Khan. This visionary is one behind the classroom flipping movement.

After watching this clip from 60 minutes, I was struck by a few things that may (or may not) influence my next steps with my action plan:

1) Most of the classrooms seemed to be using the “lecture videos” for math or science (at times, history it seems) concepts. Literacy never seemed to come up at all. Are literacy and writing concepts able to be transferred over to this approach? Why does it seem to be an untapped subject area for flipping?

2) Mr. Khan himself doesn’t actually film his face, so perhaps this is actually not very important. I should try both and see what feedback I receive from the students.

3) Knowing what to actually do with the new found class time seems to be the most interesting and pivotal shift. Thoughtfully changing the structure of the class day is actually what changes the nature of learning. The videos are great, but if you don’t do something useful with the gained time in the classroom, you are not leveraging this tool effectively.  I already pride myself in being the kind of teacher who doesn’t employ the lecture style method (I teach in a school with an inquiry based program), so I’m not entirely worried about this challenge.

4) I’m also curious after watching this clip if there has ever been any challenges having the children actually watching the videos. Ruth McArthur made an interesting suggestion in the comments section of this blog about how to help make this easier and the students more accountable. Having parents and students watch the videos together could be a fantastic way to keep parents in the loop about classroom learning and potentially empower them with the same tools to assist their children when working on concepts at home. I should also be cognizant about building in time in the classroom to allow students to watch the videos at the start of class (or lunch recess) if they didn’t do the watching at home.


and the internet stalking begins!

I feel my status as a teaching geek has now been confirmed, as I have been voraciously researching flipped classrooms (among other topics) in the first few days of my Christmas vacation. Some people prefer the beach or the slopes, but I prefer research geekery. In all honesty though, I love the lavish vacations teachers receive simply because it allows me to research, learn, reflect, and just generally figure out ways to be awesome. I think all professions should have mandatory “research” days where we just learn more about our profession.

And I digress…

I wanted to share some information I’ve been gleaning about flipped classrooms. Although I know the general concept, I don’t know a great deal about how other teachers have worked with the flip and how they have navigated potential challenges. I have officially started internet stalking experts on classroom-flippery, trying to learn more at all costs. Here is my first one:

Joel Cohen from the French American International School in San Francisco. 

Joel Cohen is a science teacher who has started a website for teachers contemplating the flip. From his writing, Joel seems like a teacher who has successfully inverted his class model and has a great deal to share about his experiences.

I think the most useful pieces I’ve pulled from Joel is the idea that the videos don’t have to be perfect…they should just be functional. Getting wrapped up in making the final products polished or beautiful will hold you back from actually creating a video. Get it done. Make it perfect later.

I was surprised that he recommended video taping your face so your students can connect with you. I would never have considered this important, but of course it makes a great deal of sense. If you watched the first two comma videos I’ve created, you clearly have noted that it is just my voice. I’m wondering if other videos I create with me talking would be more effective? I will just have to experiment to find out!

Also, on more of a curious note, I really loved how Joel included some historical facts and faces (see above) of differentiation. I was fascinated by the notion of The Dalton Plan.

The goal was to tailor every student’s program to his or her individual needs, abilities and interests. The students would meet with a mentor at the beginning of the academic year in order to identify their weak and strong subjects and a contract was established. Students would have access to laboratories (one per subject) where there would find a teacher and other students to engage in collaborative work according to their needs. The goal of the teacher was shifted from “sage on the stage” to “coach on the side” and the priority given to student learning. This student centered approach has since been visited by many famous pedagogues from Celestin Freinet to John Dewey and others. It can be described like this: “Providing instruction in a variety of ways to meet the needs of a variety of learners”.

This, obviously historical approach, could not be more modern if it tried. I must read more about this. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard of this.


Contemplating the Flipped Classroom

I am curious about how to better serve my students’ unique learning needs and how I can allow them to more effectively access the grade six curriculum. I consider myself to be not just a teacher-researcher, but a teacher-experimenter and my classroom is my lab. My hypothesis is that a flipped classroom will allow my students to more effectively engage in concepts and better utilize classroom time in order to receive more support.

Presently, I have recorded two trial videos on commas (part one and part two) that I will assign my students to watch for homework next week. I have also created a Google Form for them to complete after they have watched the video to show their consolidation of learning and more effectively allow me to group students for instruction: if they rock the mini-quiz, they may get put in a support group to simply check in and ensure they understand the new writing concept. If their quiz shows they need some support, they will be placed in a smaller group and receive more focused following up to review the concepts in punctuation.

In order to slowly ease in to this experiment, I will start with basic writing concepts to allow their creative writing to improve through small-group workshops. I will collect feedback from students (and parents, if possible) to decide whether other subject areas (reading skills, social studies) could also get flipped.

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media