Flippin’ Flipped Learning, Yo!

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Hey there, dear reader! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I spent the past month traveling to San Diego and Denver, partaking in Netflix binges (Sense8, anyone?) and brewery shenanigans, and researching how to implement the flipped classroom model for the first time: all very important summer activities for a teacher blogger.

But now the first day of school is nearly upon us, which means it is time to get back to work. As you may already know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to flip some of my lessons this summer. Since I’m to teach ninth grade for the first time this year, I figure this is the best time to flip since I need to develop new curriculum resources anyway.

Initially, I didn’t think flipping would be too much of a shift. I’ve always been a tech savvy teacher, so flipping some of my lessons seemed like a natural next step in my professional development. Alas, the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned; the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized what a large task I have in front of me.

Have I wavered? No! Have I procrastinated? Yes! But I’m done with that now, so bring on the flip!

The first thing I’ve discovered on my flippin’ journey are Twitter hashtags #fliplearning and #flippedlearning. Why are there two (or more) hashtags and not one? Because it’s Twitter, and the hashtag you use depends on how many characters you have remaining in your sweet little tweet. As a novice Tweeter, I’m amazed at the number of (free!) resources available to teachers swimming around the Twitterverse.

People have a lot to say about the flipped classroom model, and many educators have taken it further than I ever imagined. When used with fidelity, flipped learning changes much more than content delivery. I’ll admit, it’s a bit intimidating: kind of like watching a professional skateboarder land a Stalefish Grab when you’re barely able to stand up without banging your head into the concrete (and yes, I did just Google “fancy skateboarding trick” to come up with Stalefish Grab).

Skateboard Slay
Reading about the flipped classroom model on Twitter
How I imagine my first flipped lesson IRL
How I imagine my first flipped lesson IRL

But, since success is almost always a product of failure, I’ve brushed my survival instincts aside and made three major adjustments to my plans for the first few weeks to allow for flippin’ scaffolding!

Flippin’ Adjustment #1: Watch the first few videos in class

One of my prized Twitter finds is a podcast called The Flip Side with Jon Bergmann. The episodes titled “Flipping Your Class? Do This, Puh-Leeze Don’t Do That” Parts One through Five have been extremely helpful by answering my questions about video length and the importance of making them interactive and whatnot (more on this later). Most importantly, however, Bergmann stresses the importance of teaching students how to watch and learn from the videos. He suggests watching the first few videos in class so the teacher can model how to pause and rewind the video to clarify important points, show the students how to take notes, and teach them how to develop meaningful questions to bring to class the next day.

Flippin’ Adjustment #2: Hold the students accountable

Once you’ve taught the students how to learn from your videos, Bergmann urges his listeners to resist the urge to reteach the content from the video the night before. Since some of our darling students may not watch the videos on time (just as they don’t always complete their homework on time) we may be tempted to teach the content again in class, but that completely negates the flipped learning ideology. Plus, it encourages students who have watched the video to blow off the next one. Why watch it at home when you’re going to teach the same thing in class tomorrow?

Flippin’ Adjustment #3: Dedicate class time to applying concepts

Bergmann also cautions against the temptation to assign a video without in-class application. Yes, we have too much content to get through and too little time to get through it, but if students don’t have the opportunity to practice the concepts discussed in the video while their teacher is available to support their learning, they might as well not watch the video at all. The whole point of the flipped classroom model is to increase your one-on-one time with the students as they partake in hands-on learning in the classroom. Don’t treat your videos as substitutes for real learning.

Now that I’ve explored the flippin’ concept and adjusted my lesson plans, I can no longer delay the inevitable: I need to create my first flippin’ video. Gulp. So, to synthesize my learning and practice using iMovie (and procrastinate making an actual video to use with my students) I created a flippin’ video on how to make a flipped video! You can see the video below, or if you don’t have six minutes and thirty-eight seconds to spare just skip ahead to my checklist below.

Seven Flippin’ Video Tips

  1. Show your flippin’ face! Disembodied voices are creepy and boring and lack nonverbal cues that aid effective communication. Get over yourself and get in front of the camera.
  2. Vary your flippin’ speech! Avoid the “Bueller” effect and actually sound excited about your content. If you’re excited, the kids will be excited too. They’re just pretending to be bored.
  3. Record flippin’ everywhere! Have you ever been on vacation somewhere and thought, “Man, I wish my kids could see this.” Well, thanks to that handy-dandy smartphone in your pocket, they can! Pull out a video and record your thoughts. You can edit them down later.
  4. Make your own flippin’ videos! You know what your students need to succeed on your end-of-unit assessment, so you should be the one teaching in your videos. Students prefer to learn from their teacher. If there is an awesome video on YouTube that is completely perfect for your lesson, download it and cut to it in your video.
  5. Make them inter-flippin’-active! Accountability, accountability, accountability! Use programs like EDPuzzle (read my post on EDPuzzle here), TodaysMeet, PollEverywhere, or your favorite learning management system to give your students a reason to watch the video, formatively assess their learning, and give them a safe place to discuss the concepts from your videos online with their peers outside of class. Bonus: if you have the kids ask questions the night before class, you can review them and tailor your lessons and individualize your instruction.
  6. Include flippin’ note reminders! Students are kids, and they need constant skill reinforcement. Remind them to pause the video and jot down important information using your preferred note-taking system.
  7. Keep them flippin’ short! Again, students are kids, and they have limited attention spans. I’ve read that the average medical student has an attention span of only twenty minutes. Med students! They’re like, the cream of the crop! Bergmann suggests sixty to ninety seconds per grade level maximum, so if you teach tenth grade, keep your videos no longer than fifteen minutes. Also, don’t forget that students will have to pause the video to take notes, which will add to their viewing time. If they’ll need to take a lot of notes, try to keep it between five and eight minutes.

That’s all for today, folks! I’m going to attempt a video introducing Greek and Latin roots. Wish me luck!

If you want to read more about strategies using technology and the SAMR Model, check out my post on EDpuzzle or my post on updating EdTech PD. You can also read the first post in this series here.

Check out my next post: My First Flippin’ Video!

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