I Flipped!

I had read about “reverse teaching” and the “flipped classroom” a while ago. Being an algebra teacher myself, Karl Fisch is one of those teachers I admire and love to learn from.  Check out Fisch Algebra 2010-11 and you will understand why.   And last week, after some discussion on Twitter about it, it piqued my interest again. With yet another snow day looming, I decided to give it a try… so

I Flipped!

The premise of a flipped classroom is that students are watching lectures and videos at home and spending valuable class time working through the most difficult problems together, where there can be support and interactions with the teacher and classmates.

From @jonathanemartin’s post on Connected Principals

“If kids can get the lectures, can get the content delivery and skill modeling as well (or often better) by computer lecture than in person, why do we have use precious class-time for this purpose?  Why do we, in the status quo,  replicate in person in our classrooms what is easily available elsewhere, the content delivery/skill modeling, and then have kids apply their learning to difficult problems at home, without us there to help?”

Makes sense to me!

With a snow day eminent last Thursday, I had my students watch two “lectures” from Khan Academy on Multiplying/ Dividing Rational Expressions, my scheduled lessons for Thursday/ Friday. (Here are the two videos: Video 1 and Video 2) I then assigned them the normal homework.

Sure enough, as this winter’s weather was going, we had a snow day on Thursday. (The 6 – 12 inches predicted actually amounted to 14- 18 inches!)

I was anxious to see what was going to happen when I got to class on Friday. Were the students going to watch the videos? Would I have multiple excuses waiting? Were they going to be able to do their homework?

I began class, as I usually do, projecting the homework solutions on the SMARTBoard. I asked the class if they were able to watch the videos (which actually amounted to under 10 minutes combined) and whether or  not they “got” the homework.  I was amazed at what happened… ALL the students said they watched the videos (and some even gave me an informal commentary about what they liked and disliked about Salman Khan). All but one student had his/her homework completed in class and the student who didn’t said that he did watch the videos and complete it but, left it at home. That’s no better/ worse than a normal day! (Actually, maybe a little better!)

I spent the first 10 minutes going over any initial questions that the students had. Then, I spent the next 20 minutes or so going over  the most difficult problems that were assigned for homework. I anticipated some of these and had them ready to complete together. Some students got these but many didn’t.   I called on random students to walk us through the problems… aside from the normal factoring challenges, the students understood the concept of multiplying/ dividing rational expressions as well, if not, better than if we had school the day before!  We then went over two additional challenging problems, and I sent them on their way with their homework for Monday!

I’d say the “experiment” was a success!

I’m planning to FLIP more often! (and with this week’s weather forecast, it’s a good thing!)

Here are some additional resources about “flipped classrooms”:

How the Flipped Classroom is Radically Transforming Learning
Teachers Doing the Flip To Help Students Become Learners
Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s “Fisch Flip”
Teaching Naked: Why Removing Technology from your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (thanks @bigenhoc)
Flip Your Classroom Through Reverse Instruction
The Fisch Flip or Why Upside Down Thinking Can Drive Innovation
Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US

A new way to review

This year, I decided to try something different with my Algebra 1 class for mid term review. Aside from the traditional review packet, I had my students create review glogs using edu.glogster.com.  Each student chose a topic we studied this semester and they were given these guidelines/rubric. We spent 3 days in the computer lab, doing research using our class Diigo Group.  The students really liked using Diigo, especially because they could have access to the shared resources at home, as well.

Here are some of the final products:





I think they turned out great!!

The final step in the process was teaching them to comment on each other’s glogs. It was unfortunate that the day we were scheduled to do this in the lab together, we were snowed out. Many still commented anyway after watching this short video on commenting from Mrs. Yollis’ class.

Feedback from students has been positive. Some actually took the time to watch all the videos that their peers gathered for them as part of their reviewing process. Others reported that by creating their own glog, they gained a better understanding of their own topic.

Overall, I thought it went well and will do it again next year… hopefully without all the interruptions from snow days/ delays!

#isedchat is born

Last Thursday at a CAIS (Connecticut Association of Independent Schools) Commission on Technology meeting, we had a discussion about Twitter and its impact on professional development. We also talked about where we could find some  independent school hash tags. No one really knew but I said I would look around. The meeting moved on to other topics, we wrapped up and had a wonderful dinner in the charming little town of Washington, CT. Aside from the plow truck that hit the propane line and caused us to evacuate the first restaurant we went to, we had a very relaxing night after a very productive meeting. The commission is made up of some amazing tech people who have inspired me on so many levels.

Driving home, the Twitter conversation popped back into my head. I thought about how much I have enjoyed Tuesday’s #edchat and wondered if there were such a thing for independent school tweeps.  So, when I got home, I hopped on and sent out a tweet inquiring about the hash tags. I was quickly involved in an amazing conversation with @raventech and asked specifically about any independent school chats. Others got involved in the conversation and no one really knew of a weekly chat. I threw the idea out there and a whole bunch of us began talking about what to call it, when it would happen and how we would decide on the topic each week.  It was amazing! In a matter of minutes, #isedchat was born.  Thursday evenings at 7pm EST. We agreed that twtpoll would be a great way to collect the votes on the topic each week. I solicited some topics and by noon on Friday, I had the first poll out: http://twtpoll.com/r/hb535x People were tweeting and retweeting the poll and submitting topics ideas for future chats. Thanks so much to @jonathanemartin who sent me 20 awesome chat suggestions. In the meantime, the #isedchat hashtag allowed me to connect with some outstanding independent school educators.

By Wednesday, the first week’s topic choice was very clear. 52 tweeps voted and most wanted to talk about “What does successful professional development look like at your school?” Thursday at 7pm finally arrived. It was #isedchat time!  I put the question out there… and look what happened: January 18th, 2011 Archive Just amazing!

Thanks to everyone who participated, commented, tweeted, retweeted and made this experience one of the most valuable discussions about professional development I’ve had in 20 years of teaching.

Next week’s poll is out: http://twtpoll.com/r2hwck

Vote today… and pass it on! See you on Thursday at 7pm

Our VoiceThread Project- From the Ground Up

One of our 9th grade History teachers was intrigued with the idea of doing something different than the same old PowerPoint projects this year so…Sarah Ludwig (Academic Tech Coordinator) and I seized the opportunity to introduce VoiceThread. We met with the teacher and created a project description and a rubric so that we had a clear focus and the students knew what to expect. I worked with Period A and Sarah worked with Period G.  Here is the run down of our plan:

Using her wiki, Sarah set up some recommended websites and sample projects to show to the students to get started.

We  introduced VoiceThread and reviewed the requirements for the project using the Rubric we created with Mr. Gonnelly’s (classroom teacher) help.

We talked about using Creative Commons to search for images and explained how to use some of the other databases our school subscribes to. Students searched for the 3 “images” or “collection of images” (each) that they were to use to represent their topic. Finding the “perfect image(s)” proved to be a lot more difficult than they thought. Finding the right map of Roman trade, why one image of St. Paul was better than another…. this took real thought and there were some great conversations surrounding this process. Students then began creating a script of 45 – 60 seconds per image. While, at first, students thought that 45- 60 seconds would be easy, they soon realized that they had TOO much to say and that paring the information down to the most important was very challenging. Mr. Gonnelly worked with each group individually to do this before their storyboard was approved.

After three days of quality writing, excellent collaboration, and some stimulating conversations, the students were ready to record.

We taught students to log into VoiceThread . We reviewed with students how to upload their images to their voice thread (single photo vs. multiple photos) .

This proved to be the easiest part! VoiceThread was very intuitive for the students and they figured it all out with little help.

On the last day, we viewed the student projects. Here are some samples.




The students were very proud of their work! (as they should be)

One of the most interesting parts of the project was the class discussion following it. I asked what they thought of using VoiceThread. Here are some of the things they reported:

“I liked VoiceThread so much better than PowerPoint. PowerPoints go on and on.”

“I really had to LEARN about my topic because I had to think so much about the images and spend so much time writing the script.”

“Recording the script really helped me to understand my topic because I had to keep repeating it over and over until I got it right”.

“This was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” (academically)

Mr. Gonnelly reported that he was thrilled with the way the project went. He felt that students were thinking critically, working collaboratively, and having fun all at the same time. He also said that the viewing of the projects was so much more efficient than spending 3 – 4 days on PowerPoints that could last 15 minutes per group.

For me, personally, this was an amazing project. Watching the students work so hard and seeing their final product was so fulfilling for me. We have been sharing this with other teachers and have many requests to try VoiceThread. How awesome!