flipped classroom

Flipped Speech Instruction

I have made another discovery about flipped learning. You can use flipped learning to increase the amount of “coaching time” in a classroom, however utilizing this approach also makes sense in a busy classroom with students coming and going in different frequencies and at different times. A flipped instructional approach allows students to learn when learning in most convenient for them. Allow me to explain.

In my classroom over the last two weeks, we have had a few interruptions to our normal schedule. Last week, I had students leave my classroom for a volleyball game, a swim meet, to watch a hockey day, to film a movie, to attend a pep rally, to tour around new students, and to train up north on a ski hill. When we value students’ diverse interests, we often struggle with finding the time to ensure that academic expectations can also be met. I pride myself in being able to problem solve in challenging situations and I’m especially thrilled with how I was able to ensure my students received basic instruction on how to craft a speech, while recognizing the multiple schedules of my girls.


just a tasting of the fullness of the week…

And so I applied my new magical flipped classroom strategies.

I created short (no more than 5 minute) clips about how to write the intro, body, opposing side, and conclusion of the graphic organizer, as well as how to turn the organizer into a script. I posted these clips on YouTube (thankfully much easier than last time) and gave the girls the clips on their Blackboard site. Instead of having the girls watch at home on the first day, I started the class by having them watch the short clips on iPads and start to craft their topics and arguments, while I was able to coach and support students in small groups and one-on-one.

Having these videos easily available has meant that when a child missed a class, they could watch the video at home. When the templates was not completed to expectations, I asked girls to re-watch the video and then conference with me one-one-one.


I also sent these videos to tutors to better support their children with their homework and allow these key educational allies to know what is expected of the student for this project. I was also able to share these clips with my Grade 5 literacy partner so that she could show her students these clips and we could have a consistent message about what makes an outstanding speech.

Recognizing that my students work at different paces and on different schedules has allowed me to better meet the needs of each of my students for this literacy experience. And looking forward, just the idea that if I teach persuasive writing again, I could possibly reuse these clips makes my prefrontal cortex sparkle with excitement. In a busy, fast paced educational setting, any little thing that makes teaching a little more stress-free is worth sharing!

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.