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Month

July 2014

Don’t be nervous. Go ahead and take the first few steps.

Ok last weeks post was all about the importance of planning.  Now that you have thought about it and have an idea of what you want to achieve it is time to put it all into action.  This post will be one to help get you started and take the first few steps.

You are probably still thinking to yourself this seems like a lot of work I wonder if it will be worth it? From my experience that thought is normal and the answer is yes it will be worth it and YES it will require some hard work. However we all know the saying “when you live for a strong purpose, hard work is not an option it is a necessity.”  It helped me to focus on the fact: once the (content) videos have been created they can be recycled and reused. This makes it easier in the future and worthwhile.

It is important to remember flipping your class is NOT the only way to improve student engagement and learning, there a many other fantastic models out there. A flipped class is only one model and the model that suited my conditions. However if you are stuck at this point and still trying to decide to flip the class or not I would suggest you need to take a good look at what your classroom looks like right now. Evaluate:

  1. the quality and time you have to interact with your students
  2. the time it takes you to deliver the content
  3. the level of inquiry you can see
  4. the different levels of learning that are taking place
  5. your interest in the flipped learning model
  6. your student’s interest in the flipped learning model

Once you have evaluated all of these points you will know if flipping is for you or not and after all of that thinking, if you think it is time to flip your class I suggest you work on 4 things.

  1. Look for or create relevant content (videos, blogs, podcasts). This helps develop your knowledge of the subject matter too.
  2. Find a platform you are comfortable using and get to know how it works. Practice use of the platform before you take it into the classroom.
  3. Use social media to foster collaboration. Tap into your students interests to promote learning and engagement.
  4. Allow your ideas to develop and grow.

I believe a big advantage of the flipped classroom is it provides a way to allow the parents of your learning community to be more active in the learning partnership. Parents may become active participants in the learning process learning with their kids. This was my main motivation for making this change to my teaching. I have included a letter I use at the start of the year to inform parents about what I am doing. I could help you develop your own.   

PE Online stuff

I can say that as I made this change to my teaching I again got lost in the process of trying to figure out how to do it so I am hoping my reflection of points 1 and 2 will help set you in the right direction and save you some time as “one thing you can not recycle is wasted time” (Anon.)

1. Look for or create relevant content (videos, blogs, podcasts). This helps develop your knowledge of the subject matter too.

The first step is to find or develop your content. It saves so much time when you can find content that has been developed already and this will help avoid burnout. When I decided I was in and I was going to flip my class I jumped straight into using YouTube. Many flipped classrooms use YouTube as a means to have students learn at their own pace, on their own time, and with each other. This was a great incentive for me.

I started by looking for content videos I could use however I could not find videos that accurately represented the content I wanted to cover so I found myself making videos for my class.  You can view my videos for HPE here https://www.youtube.com/user/weaverteaches I am more than happy for any teacher to use these videos in their flipped HPE class. I also welcome any feedback about the content I deliver. 

Making my own videos was ok for me as it was like a hobby of mine . . . it is something I like to do. However this can be a hurdle some teachers need to overcome when taking the first step to flipping their classrooms. Most people new to flipping the classroom think the way I did – flipping is all about doing things on video because that is the way Khan Academy has done it (Screencast). Throughout the process I learnt this thinking is not accurate.   

It is important to remember flipping your class is not about the videos it’s about increasing the time you have to interact with your students by removing the lectures from your class. There are plenty of other tools and mediums to use. Slideshare for presentations is good, Evernote or Dropbox for documents are ok.  I like video but audio podcasts are good starting point if videos are not your thing. Really it all comes down to what works best for you and your students.

I do not know what the expert opinion of this is but I think if you like to write letters, write your lecture out on paper and give that to the students to work with. I am not sure how this will attract their attention but it is a starting point that you can develop. As long as it opens up time for quality learning experiences in the classroom any approach is fine.

2. Find a platform you are comfortable using and get to know how it works. Practice use of the platform before you take it into the classroom.

The second step is to figure out how you want to share your content. Because I already had experience using YouTube I started using a YouTube channel as my platform for sharing my videos.  I would: plan my lesson, write a script, create my videos using iMovie and then post them on my Youtube channel.  It is so important to practice and know how to use the technology you take into a classroom. I believe you can learn a lot from students when it comes to technology however when embarking on an approach like the flipped classroom you must make sure you develop your skills before jumping in otherwise you will spend more time dealing with tech issues than teaching and that is not the goal of a flipped classroom.

Along the way I had a number of valuable discussions with our IT Leader of Learning and the Assistant Principal about the pros and cons of using YouTube and best practice for the school environment. These important conversations allowed us to reach agreement that the best place for the videos to be accessed would be via the school PDHPE Moodle page. We could see this was a platform that reduced the number of distractions for the students. By using Moodle students would be less likely to jump to unrelated videos popping up in the suggestion window of YouTube.  I felt this was a valid and important consideration to make. If your school offers a learning management system (LMS) like this I highly recommend using it.

Throughout the semester I continued to create the videos on iMovie, store them on YouTube and share them via Moodle.  This system worked very well but it took a lot of time because I had to build the questioning into each of the videos. Doing this was very difficult from both the planning  and technical perspectives.

At the end of the semester I came across the TEDed website. This website allows you to create flipped lessons from any video you can find on YouTube. It has a great structure and is easy to use and most importantly it cuts your time in about half if not more. I will be using this for my next series of videos that I will use during term 3 of this year. TEDed also has a great online community that share resources and knowledge.  I highly recommend becoming part of that community and checking out what it has to offer.

On twitter I have heard people talking about another app called EDpuzzle. It looks interesting however I have not explored it in detail as I am pretty focused on using TEDed. People within the twitter community are pretty positive about it so it is another one to check out.  Remember it all comes down to what works best for you and your students.

I am an advocate for the flipped classroom and I encourage people to not be nervous and take the first few steps. A fantastic quality of this method of teaching is it can be adapted to suit your own environment. Many different sub cultures of flipped learning enthusiasts are popping up around the word. I am looking to develop a sub culture that uses the flipped learning approach to create time for more movement opportunities with the traditional classroom but that is something I will speak about a bit later.  Let me finish this post by providing you with 3 take away points.

  1. Use the flipped classroom model to develop the parent teacher partnership.
  2. Avoid burnout by trying to use content that has been created – don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Be confident before taking things into the classroom. Practice improves performance.

I am hoping to have another reflective post early next month and reflect on my experience with points 3 and 4. Good luck to anyone leading the way with change.

The importance of planning.

I have been very quiet for the last few months. I am proud to say I have been putting my research and planning into action. Throughout the first semester my students and I have successfully worked through 4 flipped units. I will be using the next few posts to explore my observations and reflections after completing the pilot project. This post will focus on the importance of planning.

Before unpacking my observations and reflections I think it is important to define what I consider a flipped classroom to be as it will provide a better context to understand my reflections. Reading over my previous posts I realise I have failed to do this. I like the line of thinking used by techsmith: http://www.techsmith.com/education-flipped-classroom.html

“The flipped classroom model encompasses any use of using Internet technology to leverage the learning in your classroom, so you can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher created videos (aka vodcasting) that students view outside of class time.

It is called the flipped class because the whole classroom/homework paradigm is “flipped”. What was classwork (the “lecture”) is done at home via teacher-created videos and what was homework (assigned problems) is now done in class.”

The Flipped Classroom is NOT:

  • A synonym for online videos. When most people hear about the flipped class all they think about are the videos.  It is the the interaction and the meaningful learning activities that occur during the face-to-face time that is most important.
  • About replacing teachers with videos.
  • An online course.
  • Students working without structure.
  • Students spending the entire class staring at a computer screen.
  • Students working in isolation.

The Flipped Classroom IS:

  • A means to INCREASE interaction and personalised contact time between students and teachers.
  • An environment where students take responsibility for their own learning.
  • A classroom where the teacher is not the “sage on the stage”, but the “guide on the side”.
  • blending of direct instruction with constructivist learning.
  • A classroom where students who are absent due to illness or extra-curricular activities such as athletics or field-trips, don’t get left behind.
  • A class where content is permanently archived for review or remediation.
  • A class where all students are engaged in their learning.
  • A place where all students can get a personalised education.

For a more detailed overview, check out the article The Flipped Class: What it is and What it is Not  The above points have been taken from this relevant article.

Now the context is clear I think it is important to reflect on what I consider to be the most important phase of anything you do  .  .  . Planning. Everyone knows the saying “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” I believe this quote says it all and is something I often reflect on. If you do not allocate time for planning your learning experiences then moving to flipped learning will not improve the level of success in your classroom. There are other elements of your teaching you should be looking to develop before jumping into the flipped learning model.

You can see from my previous posts I do not think you should sit around planning forever however knowing where you are headed with your teaching and knowing where you want your students to end up is vital to the overall success.

Throughout the pilot program I found the planning of lessons very difficult at the start. A major change came when I began to use a template and organiser. The internet has many templates however I noticed a dramatic improvement in my class when I adapted the well-known 5 min lesson plan to suit what I was doing.

5min Lesson Plan Instructions

Adapted 5 min lesson plan @weaverteaches (This also works very well if you are programming using an Understanding by Design framework.)  

You will notice the template I use still focuses on what happens in my classroom not what is presented in the video. Flipped learning still focuses the connections that happen in the face to face classroom. Another excellent plan can be found on the PE4learning website. The Pe4learning template is a bit too advanced for me at the moment however it will not be long before I will be ready to use it.

PE4learning

(PE4learning flipped lesson plan very useful check out www.pe4learning.com they have heaps of quality resources)

I am an advocate for the flipped classroom and I encourage people to test it out after a little bit of initial planning. A fantastic quality of this method of teaching is it can be adapted to suit your own learning environment. Many different sub cultures of flipped learning enthusiasts are popping up around the word. I will talk about this in a later post.

Let me finish this post by providing you with 3 take away points.

1-   Prepare and make sure you have a goal in mind. It is ok if the learning path changes but it is crucial to set out in an identified direction first.

2-   If something does not work out the first time give it another go and ask the question: is it the product, environment, process or content that needs adaptation?

3-   Plan to take advantage of ‘learning accidents” these can be the most meaningful learning experiences for students. In a flipped classroom you are encouraging these to happen. By flipping the classroom students have more time to reflect and pose questions you normally would not anticipate.

I hope this information is of use to someone. Good luck to anyone leading change.

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