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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

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Classroom flipping involves significantly more than merely recording and posting instructional videos online. For starters, this developing approach involves giving students more control over their learning, while allowing teachers more time and freedom to offer quality instruction.

The best, most enterprising flipped champions do so much more. They don’t pay lip service to wanting change. They use evolving technologies to promote self-directed learning. They actively encourage self-reliance over conformity, perseverance over idleness, and care over apathy.

Few defend this stance better than Jason Bretzmann, who recently compiled entries for Flipping 2.0: Practical Strategies for Flipping Your Class. “[Flipping 2.0] is normally characterized by focusing on higher-level thinking as a goal, creating a more student-centered classroom, and determining the best use of face-to-face time with students,” he writes.

Last week, I reached out to Bretzmann to gain deeper insight. He’s also concerned with making students the “lead learners,” as well as helping them develop comfort in—and eventual preference for—pursuing learning on their own, without yearning for traditional, sage-on-the-stage instruction.

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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

      As fellow teachers know, there's no such thing as a "normal" week. However, this one has been free of assemblies, testing, snow days(!), and other craziness. Therefore it seems useful to describe my current week to illustrate one type of flipped-classroom model.

      First the basics: I teach Social Studies to four daily sections of 8th-graders, always in the same classroom for 48 minutes a period (38 mins on Tuesdays). About 30% of my students have an IEP or 504 plan for learning disabilities, but I only have in-class support for two of the four sections. Therefore I have to design class activities that keep everybody engaged for every minute. You can witness my amazing(ly pathetic) classroom decoration skills here.


  • Students received their results from last Thursday's quiz about nationalism, because I was absent on Friday. There are details about that quiz and its related video on my other blog. Then I told them that a new video was posted about the opposite of nationalism: sectionalism in the same time period. Quiz on Friday!
  • Next, I announced this week we will use primary sources to explore the Indian Removal period (which we started last week). Students received a packet with 8 different documents. The first was Andrew Jackson's 1830 message to Congress, in which he explains and defends the Indian Removal Act.  That's a challenging document, so I wanted students to focus on certain elements in Jackson's message and in the other documents.
  • Then I gave students 3 colored pencils: a red, a yellow, and a blue. For the next 15 minutes they watched the video below and followed along. A few days earlier, I filmed it with an iPad Mini and a shotgun microphone in two takes. I combined the clips with iMovie, but the simple Youtube editor would have worked too.

  • While they watched on the big screen, I could walk around and make sure they were coloring properly. I paused a couple times to keep them on-track and briefly answer questions. That was a whole lot easier than repeating the same coloring routine 4 times today. 


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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

jigsaws I always liked the concept of jigsaw activtities: to give students more ownership of their learning, to use class time differently, to invite some creativity, etc. The Expert Groups meet for 1 or more class periods to learn about a sub-topic and to prepare a short presentation about it. Then students break into the Home Groups to spend another class period or two teaching each other. However, in real life these activities can quickly get messy and unproductive: 

  • Some students read their material more slowly than others; other students rush through the individual work in their Expert Group. 
  • The volume level in the classroom distracts some students as they try to learn their topic for the first time.
  • What about students that were absent on the learning day? Jigsaws typically take 2 or 3 days to complete, so you get the problem of a student who missed the time in their Expert Group... what's he/she supposed to do now?

 If you flip your jigsaws, then the Expert Groups can learn the material outside the classroom, at their own pace and with as much multimedia as you provide. Give them a couple nights to watch / listen to / read whatever you provide. Each student takes the time he/she needs, in a more appropriate location, regardless of their attendance at school. The small group peer pressure should help ensure that most or all come to class prepared. Let the Expert Groups meet briefly (less than a class period) to prepare and align their mini-presentations -- this is an important quality assurance step.  Then break student into the Home Groups and let the teaching begin!   


organizationThe Civil War Trust has a fantastic set of informational videos about various aspects of the war.  Last June, I used these topics for the Expert Groups in a flipped jigsaw. I'm very glad that I assigned such short videos, because students re-watched them to improve their understanding. We use Schoology, which allowed me to individually assign videos. On a regular website you could list all the video links on the same page, and then list the names of individuals or groups next to their assigned video.

 I believe this strategy will work for veteran flippers AND any first-timers.  You don't need to establish a special grading policy, quiz format, or website.  It can be a good way to try different video formats and providers (some watch a Youtube clip, others view a TEDTalk, etc.), and introduce your students to this kind of homework. If the flipping flops, then you can walk away without having wasted much time and effort. If it flipping rocks, then build on the strengths and lessons of this experience to try again with your next unit!

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Posted by on in Flipped Classroom

Most educators who consider flipping develop angst beginning with the fear of making videos. The concerns typically center on the time necessary to make the videos, the technological skills to produce the videos or the where with all to put voice and/or face on public display.  And of course there is the option to use the million or so videos that are already available through, YouTube, Vimeo, Teacher Tube, etc… But I shout from the highest blog post, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE VIDEO!!!

flippedWhile videos do play a roll in most “Flipped” classrooms, the videos are simply a tool that can be employed for delivery of content.  Articles, documentaries, textbooks, websites are also valuable tools to disseminate content.

The success of any classroom but specially a “Flipped” classroom is in the building of relationships.  There are three primary relationships that are central to the success of the flipped classroom.  These are, in no particular order: Student to Subject, Student to Student and Student to Teacher.

The Student to Subject Relationship

Just because I now flip my class, I still get the occasional, “When am I going to use this in real life?” response from a student. However, this has diminished significantly as a result of focusing my classroom on three key aspects, a more inquiry based hands on approach, more peer teaching and learning and more exposure to the subject matter in the real world.  Each of these aspects have immersed students in the material in a way that they see greater value in the subject. 

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