Sunday, December 22, 2013

Flipped History Google Hangouts

I work in a school where I practically the entire Social Studies Department. I crave collaboration. Twitter has been a wonderful gift in that regard. About a year ago, I noticed a link to a Flipped History discussion. I even sat and watched several, either live or posted on YouTube. Since then I have been invited to participate in them and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a great group of educators and I love the opportunity to discuss what is going on in my classroom and get new ideas.

One of the more interesting trends of these discussions is that we all claim to be be "flipped" history teachers but we all have a different way of implementing it. I think it speaks to the truth that the flipped classroom is a mindset, not a strict list of rules. I think most of us started with Flipped 101 and then it evolved into the various ways we help the students take more ownership in their education. I think it develops differently for each of us based on our personalities and the students we serve.

Below you'll can check out some of the Hangouts I have been a part of.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Just in Time" Learning and Part-Time Flipping

It has been awhile since my last update. Last time I was wrestling with helping my students find balance. They are overwhelmed with school and the National History Day projects. As far as the Middle Ages project, I did some "traditional" lecturing for two days instead of having students research and dig for information from a variety of resources. And then I had them actively apply it in project format. I gave them the choice of a board game, timeline, or European trip itinerary. Students could chose what project interested them and what felt manageable in terms of their strengths. They could work alone or in groups. I was able to lighten the load of the timeline student by directing them to this awesome tool. I felt happy about the "compromise." Although the accumulating information was teacher-driven, the application allowed the students to process the information and included student-choice.

For the next short chapter, I went back to the way I had been teaching it for years. Basically, in the past it had been a really fun unit for the students and resulted in learning. We had "Oprah: Crisis in the Church" skits, a Black Plague simulation, and a history bowl. It also helped keep homework loads light as students were working toward a big deadline for the NHD project. I was feeling a little guilty about not flipping this unit, but in the #flipping20 chat on Twitter, @kennybosch talked about the idea of Part-Time flipping, which he discussed in a chapter of the Flipping 2.0 book (Kenny's blog and book ordering information here). Basically, it boils down to the fact that you don't have to flip every unit. Just give it a try, get started, and you might find it works better for some units and not others.

Now we are back to flipping. I would call it flipped inquiry, but it is also taking on traits of Explore-Flip-Apply. My approach is based off of a Google Hangout I had with other flipped history teachers, in particular, @phillige. Students are trying to answer the question, "how did the Renaissance bring people both back to the past and into the future?" Students have been exploring websites and watching some videos to uncover the answer to that question. As they were exploring today, trying to come up with solid examples of "past" and "future," I was getting a lot of common questions. I talked over those key points aloud. But this is where the flip is needed. I plan to make a screencast going over those points I said in class today. Why make a video of it? Firstly, students researching at computers aren't always the best listeners. Secondly, maybe they didn't need that information yet. Carolyn Durley's awesome post talked about providing "just in time learning," rather than "just in case learning." Students are learning at different speeds. I noticed some kids struggling in the lab today, but some may not have been struggling yet and may need that information later. When I said it in the lab today, it may not have been relevant to those students. Even for the students that needed it at that moment, maybe they will need it again later. So I will "flip" that lecture, not because I planned to, but because that is what these students needed. Next, they will work to apply their knowledge by answering the focus question through an Art Gallery Tour. I look forward to seeing the results.

Enjoy the links above. The Flipped Community is about sharing, I would not be in this place, if it weren't for the inspiration of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). #thanksgiving

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

National History Day and Flipped Class Doubts

This is my first year ever, being involved in National History Day. I have been aware of it since my teacher ed days. The focus this year for our school's Open House is history, so I though it would be a great opportunity to try it out (kind of like a Science Fair for history). I attended a workshop about it a few weeks ago at the University of Washington and that only got me more excited. I love the historical, critical thinking skills it develops. NHD's website has many great resources for teachers. I am getting students started on it now and even tried to break it down nicely for them, handing out a weekly timeline from now until the end of January (the due date).

In stress surveys I handed out this week (something we are trying to do weekly for each of our classes this year), many students were positive. Saying they were nervous about the project, but appreciated the break down I gave them today. However, just one student wrote some nasty words to me, including "why are we doing this, again?" Ouch, it stings.

So now I start thinking about priorities. How do I continue in my "flipped" classroom? I have been planning for the upcoming Middle Ages unit already. I wanted them to crowd source information and then in groups make a Medieval Game of "Life" or "Monopoly." But I'm worried. Is the thought of another project, granted, mostly in-class, going push them over the edge? Do I resort to passive, teacher-centered lessons? Is there some happy medium in-between?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Quick Update

I know that I rarely have a brief post, but I am really going to try with this one. I haven't updated in awhile because the craziness of the school year is in full swing!

Western Civilization--For Greece we looked at this article from "The Onion." It claimed that Greece was made up my historians, there is no way that one Ancient Civilization did all those things that have such a lasting impact on us today. We built some schema and then students researched and presented on a particular area they were interested in. It was successful, but I heard the first rumblings of dissatisfaction from a student that prefers to hear lectures (he is a motivated student that loves history). I did explain my aversion to lecturing and he seemed to understand. So, now with Rome, I am doing a few more "teacher-directed" things and we'll see how it goes. So far, I don't like it.

US History--After taking some time to model, we are getting in the full swing of Flipped 101. Students are watching some lectures at home and it opens up time to do some great stuff in class. What stuff? Check out this and this from this awesome site.

Teacher's Convention--Last week I attended the NWCSI convention of Christian school teachers from around Washington and British Columbia. I presented on the flipped classroom. I was really happy with the turn-out, the great questions, and overall enthusiasm from teachers in the room. I was worried I would have a room full of skeptics that might "attack," but that was not the case.

Wow, I really was brief! Check out those great links and I hope to update you on my slightly more "teacher-centered" Rome unit soon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Student Ownership

One of the main principles of the flipped classroom is student ownership. Students should own the content by being more active in discovering and learning it. The teacher should step aside in order to guide and coach students.

This week I continued my flipped inquiry teaching. Students were to decide who was the "greatest" of ancient, Mesopotamian civilizations. They began in teams of their own choosing and researched their civilization. Again, this went well. I checked in often, guiding them to points they may have overlooked and pushing them to dig deeper when they though they were "done." I laughed as one student felt he took "like, the most notes ever." Funny because it was not prompted by me, he was just motivated by his teammate and his learning. I loved hearing students say things like, "We should look that up." Then as I prompted students to figure out how to combine notes and make sure it was easy to read (for when they would be separated from their partner), a student said "we should think about this." With these comments, I felt like students were owning their learning.

On Friday they were separated from their partner and participated in mini-match-ups with another civilization. One-to-one they debated who was the greatest. Walking around the room there was excitement and engagement. When finished they needed to chat with their teammate about information they felt they still needed as well as ways to counter the civilization they had just faced. Rather than digging very deep here, they asked for another round of mini-match-ups. I was a little disappointed, but happy about their enthusiasm. I had originally planned to have the match-ups on Friday and Monday, hoping the students would refine and revise over the weekend. However, I got the feeling they were ready to go and I wasn't going to convince them they needed to dig deeper, and perhaps they knew better than I that they were ready.

Monday we had the open discussion. We had seven students in the inner circle (one for each civilization) and seven in the outer circle. Originally, I want the outer circle to have a backchannel discussion. I had never tried this before and unfortunately "Today's Meet" was blocked. Instead the kids in the outer circle took notes down and then switched places for round two. The discussions were great. Students had good content and helped draw quieter kids into the discussion. Everyone was very prepared.

Finally, students posted power rankings (NFL style) on Edmodo. Students did a great job with this. Here's an example:

#1. Persians: Having the biggest empire in the area until Alexander the Great conquered the Persians certainly makes the Persians the favorites in the power rankings. Tolerance of the conquered, excellent road systems, standardized coinage and not to mention the invention of ice cream makes Persia the undisputed king of the power rankings.,
#2. New Babylonians/ Chaldeans:The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Gate of Ishtar, Tower of Babel, what more can I say? How about this, the Chaldeans had a great double wall and an army that conquered the mighty Assyrians. Combined with great knowledge of the skies, time and mathematics, the New Babylonians firmly state their case for their #2 ranking. 
#3. Assyrians: Tough fighters, the Assyrians fight their way up to the #3 spot. Equipped with iron, siege weapons, and the most disciplined army in the world, the Assyrians ruled Mesopotamia with a literal Iron Fist. On the flip side, in the capital city of Nineveh contained the world's largest library. Proving once again that you need brains as well as brawn to rule Mesopotamia.
#4. Sumerians: Sometimes being the first to do something doesn't mean you get to be #1 in the power rankings. This is true of the Sumerians. Although they were the first civilization, created a writing system and sparked the beginning of the Bronze Age, the constant warfare that Sumer succumbed to in the real world also puts them at #4 in the power rankings. 
#5. Phoenicians: It's hard to judge where exactly Phoenicia fits on the rankings due to their different nature. The Phoenicians' vast trading of their snail's purple dye and their abundant cedar trees benefited every civilization. The great ships and command over the sea edges the Phoenicians over the Amorites because of it's strong fleets which allowed for trade in far away lands. 
#6 Amorites: We have to give the Amorites and Hammurabi for creating the first unified code of law, but there's not much else to write home about. They did conquer all of Mesopotamia for the first time though.
#7 Israelites: Rounding out our list is the Israelites. Known as God's chosen people, the Israelites have been through their share of history. They built a grand temple which was pretty impressive. Maybe if they had only listened and followed god's commandments they would be higher up this list.

Excellent, right? I followed that with a quiz today where accomplishments were listed and they had to identify the correct civilization. Many students expressed frustration that some of the items on the quiz weren't in anyone's power rankings. Some said they wanted a study guide or continued to struggle to know what is expected. This leaves me wondering about student ownership. Do they have it? Its seems a bit like they still want to know what the "right" answer is. Perhaps, I didn't need to give them a quiz. Maybe the power rankings were enough to assess their learning. I'm not sure. I have not graded them yet, which may give me a better read. But certainly, I am left with questions. Questions about what I am doing and how I am teaching.  The Flipped classroom and increased student ownership is definitely an adjustment for the student and for the teacher.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is "Flipped Inquiry"?

Today I introduced my second "flipped inquiry" unit of the year. What is "flipped inquiry," you might ask. Good question. I like to frame any of my flipped definitions from the "Flipped Mindset" blog post. Off the cuff, I would say it includes:

  • High-level thinking--investigation of non-googleable questions (in my case historical);
  • involving student choice with resources (which might involve video clips/screencasts), product, and/or questions,
  • Best use of face-to-face class time--coached & guided by teacher, 
  • refined and revised with peer and teacher feedback
In this unit we are looking at Ancient Mesopotamian Civilizations. Students are in self-selected pairs. In random order they were able to select their top choice based on availability. They have a variety of sources to help them defend their group as the "greatest." In the first steps today, students did a pretty good job of identifying the "best" parts of their civilization. However, something felt off, they were not going deep enough. Next class I will encourage them to face the aspects of their civilization that don't seem as great and get them to attempt to spin it in a positive light. 

Some potential EduFails with this one:
  • How can I get them to dig deeper? They seem to be satisfied finding a few positive accomplishments and ignoring the rest.
  • I can't shake the feeling (stemming from the last project) that I want more student choice with the questions/investigations. Can I let go (of control)?
I'll try to keep this process updated as we proceed with this unit/process/investigation. In the meantime, how might you define, "Flipped inquiry"?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Learning is a Process

Two weeks of school down! Now in my second year of a flipped classroom, thing are going well. I started my first inquiry question with my Western Civilization class. After watching John Green's Crash Course video on the Agricultural Revolution, I posed the question "How did the Agricultural Revolution lead to the $0.99 Double Cheeseburger?" After posing the question, a student said quietly, "I think it would be more interesting to trace it to the schools." A reminder to me of the importance of student choice and how I need to continue working on that.

They were to answer the question by creating a flow chart. Then they had a lot of questions and I took a moment to remind them of the marshmallow challenge we did in the first week of school. One of the lessons of that activity is that school tends to teach us there is only one right answer, only one way to do things. The Ted Talk asserts that the mindset that there is only one right method does not lead to success in the challenge. I reminded them that there is not one way to do this, which seemed to help settle them, and allowed them to draft without fear of failing.

As for resources, I gave them a list of possibilities. Some were video links, some were articles from, and even the textbook. I told them they could use what ever resource(s) they need. If they don't like videos, they don't need to watch them. If they love the textbook, they can use it.

The drafting and revision process was very refreshing. This is not something that was common in my classroom before. Students arrived with drafts on Monday and compared with others at their table. I visited each table clarifying points I viewed as essential and seeing how they were progressing. I loved hearing things like, "I wasn't really sure what to do, but this helped clear things up for me." They continued to refine their drafts with help from me and their classmates. The final drafts were great. I was pleased with the products, but even happier about the process. Again this is a big shift for me in my classroom.

On a side note, I played the Hawaiian Folk play list on while they worked. It really helped facilitate a calm, productive work time.

Even more importantly, learning seemed to happen. One student reflected, "we had to find our own flow and that involved going over materials many times." I like the sense of ownership this allowed her in her learning. Overall students had positive comments about the learning activity.

So, a quick assessment of how "flipped" this was:

  • Higher-order thinking emphasis--Students had to master the content and then reorganize it in a logical manner. Learning was also a process that was adjusted as needed, not just a race to "get it done."
  • Best use of face to face class time--students were actively working to put together knowledge in class. They had their classmates and teacher around to clear up confusion as it presented itself.
  • Student-centered--I still need to work on allowing students to develop their own questions. But students were able to use the sources that worked best for them, using as many or as little as needed. They could also emphasize various events on their timeline based on their interest.
I will continue to refine as learning is a process for the students and the teacher.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Flipped Inquiry, the Way of the Future

As I stated in the last blog post, my attempt at inquiry learning last year turned out really well. On this day before the 2013-2014 school year begins, I am reminded that this is the pathway I want to continue on. Throughout the school year I hope to reflect on the process and outcomes. Below, I will paste in full the reflections I made last year as we worked through this unit in class. Hopefully this will inspire you to give it a try as well.

After dabbling with a flipped-mastery model, I was left looking for something more. After a Twitter conversation with @historyfriend, I was re-invigorated by the idea of an inquiry-based lesson. This has always intrigued me, but I have never been sure how to structure this somewhat unstructured process. My Twitter colleague was kind enough to provide me with examples of how she structures her class and it really helped me get a vision for it. Not only that, but this model seemed to encompass many “flipped” principles even though I don’t believe @historyfriend is a self-proclaimed history flipper. In this inquiry model, students are very active in class researching answers to questions and then coming up with even more questions (great use of face to face time). Throughout the investigation they are actively trying to construct meaning (not just memorization). Finally, in this process, much of the content is student-created and not just read from the textbook or heard in a lecture, so it seems very student-centered.

Some steps in the process,along with reflections:

Creating a driving question. I tossed many ideas in my head about what the questions should be. I chatted with @history friend and brainstormed with my husband. In the end, I found a great question on It was: How influential was the United States in determining the outcome of the war? First of all, it couldn’t be answered with an easy “yes” or “no.” And in order to answer this question, they would need to examine the war before and after the United States entered. Each groups examined this question from a different lense of the war: Europe, Africa, Pacific, and Homefront. For my first attempt with inquiry learning, I am happy to create the questions, but I could envision coming up with questions as a class or student developing their own questions in the future.

The Research Process. Throughout this week students have brainstormed questions they need to answer in order to answer the driving question and collaboratively researched answers. They have complied all these ideas on large piece of butcher paper. Ss could use textbooks, library books, or the internet (in the future I could record some lectures or post videos from other sources). All group members were involved. As they did this, I walked around to groups seeing where they were at and discussing their learning. They rotated the paper around, reading responses from each other, asking clarifying questions. When they felt like they were “done” I asked them to try to answer the driving question and then assess what else they needed to look up. They were working together to help each other understand.

Drafting Day. I explained they are drafting so they have a more polished copy for the rest of their classmates to read. They also have the benefit of having the piece of butcher paper (would be even better with Google Doc) and their fellow researchers. They started today by sharing important points and they asked questions of each other along they way as they drafted.  Each person responsible to create their own response, with the support of their collaborators.

I like the differentiation opportunities. Students that know a lot about WWII can go above and beyond and research new things. Peer editing, “wanna look it over?”

Blog Posts. Students posted their response on Edmodo. Members from the same war theater had similar events but all seemed to have a slightly different emphasis. I felt like the understanding of each student was excellent. I was also happy to see that much of the content I would have taught through lectures or activities was covered adequately and then some!

Commenting. The students then had to comment on a post from all four of the “lenses.” I did a little modeling in class about what an excellent comment would look like (comparing your lense to another) and many of them did that very well. More higher-level thinking! Very few comments just said “good job.” Another positive outcome, was peer feedback. One student stated, incorrectly that the Soviet Union was part of the Axis powers. In the comments another student, very kindly pointed out the mistake.

Final Steps. In class, split up the groups so that each had a representative from all four lenses or fronts. I had them come up with a list of the main events/people/ideas from each front. I tried to emphasize that the Homefront expert should try to forget he/she is the homefront rep and they should all be contributing for each topic. I collected these lists to create a study guide for the students, to my delight, the terms were very much in line with the questions I would ask on the test. Then I had them decide on a turning point in the war. I had hoped this would lead to interesting discussions and debates about the significance of each front, but unfortunately it did not. Word got around that a few groups were picking the Battle of Stalingrad and then everyone seemed satisfied that it was the “right” answer. This little letdown may be due in part to it being that last moments of an afternoon class, on the first day back from a long weekend, and the last thing they had to think about before going to their last class of the day, gym.

Review. After the mini-failure of the last class, I was nervous about how review day would go. Did they want to slip back into their passive habits? So I handed out their study guide, compiled of terms from the day before. In entirely new groups, they took those terms from the study guide a created a web. I loved that students were collaborating and actively creating meaning of the content. Reviewing what they needed to and getting some prodding from me to think a little harder to create those connections. We ended with a short whiteboard review in groups. And I felt that overall students were in a better place than they usually are in the class before the test. I suppose in more traditional models, it wouldn’t be until the night before that students would be reviewing information that they had heard me babble on about a week ago. Why would they review beforehand, they were just trying to cram the knowledge in to get through the test. I feel like in this model, students had been so active in the process of learning it, that there was little to review the night before the test.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Experimenting with Flipped Mastery

One "brand" of a flipped classroom is a Flipped Mastery model. This usually pairs well with standards based grading. In many cases the class is not synchronous, each student is going at his or her own pace.

I certainly had my doubts about how this might work in my classroom. Firstly, I can envision some kids flying through the materials and others barely getting started. But more importantly, I'm not sure how well it would work for my particular school environment. I work in a small, Christian school. My Western Civilization class is taken by all of the Juniors (about 16-20 students) during one period. In larger public or private schools, kids may know a few good friends in their class period. But in my school, all of them know each other like brother and sister. This is great in many ways, they like to explore things together. I don't think they would be too fond of this model.

However, I gave it a try with my Imperialism unit last year. Here's a brief look at how it worked (from my PGP again):

"In this unit on Imperialism, students were given a list of assignments aligned with section objectives. A few of the assignments they were required to chose, but for the most part they could choose whichever activities added up to the right number of points. Some of the choices involved watching lectures online, interpreting primary sources, or reading the textbook and answering questions. As they worked, I checked in and asked them about what they were learning. And as they turned things in, I talked ideas over with them that did not seem clear or I had them redo sections that did not seem mastered. Once they were done with this basic level, they could move on to the next level assignment, where again they had to choice to apply their learning in a creative way. In the final level, there was one overarching question that they could chose to answer in any format they wanted.

There were several things I liked about this flipped-mastery model. First of all, students were the most active in class, and I acted as a coach, helping and correcting as needed. When I would ask students questions about a finished assignment and they did not really know the answer, they just wrote something down. In those cases, we could talk one on one to clear up the confusion. Students were also able to chose from many activities, they could avoid assignments that really did not fit their learning style or attention span. Finally, students were working individually they could collaborate and ask questions of fellow students. I think this model could work very well in a standards-based grading environment in which students are practicing and forming knowledge and then summatively assessed."

Although this went pretty well. In practice I made a few mistakes. Mainly, I gave them too much work. Perhaps I had too many objectives or maybe mastery assignments could cover multiple objectives. I found that it was easy to check in when students first got started, but as I got more bogged down with assignments, I did not have the time to check in with the students while they were completing assignments, thus eliminating a key pillar of flipped learning. Instead of making use of face-to-face time, I was managing papers while they essentially did worksheets (not quite that bad, but close!)

Furthermore, I felt like flipped-mastery was very textbook-content driven. As I look to flip this year, I don't have plans to incorporate this model on a regular basis. Maybe one or two units per year. Instead, I am hoping to focus more on inquiry, group investigations, research, etc. In my next post I will share my attempt at this from last year and hopefully you will be able to see why I fell in love with this model.

Friday, August 23, 2013

It is so much more than the video!

Last year was my first year implementing the flipped classroom. At about mid-year I reflected on how it was going. Here's an excerpt from my PGP:

"I have been creating several videos over the course of the semester. In November, I surveyed students on their feelings about the videos. Students were very positive about being able to access the lectures anywhere and anytime. Student appreciated that they could rewind and re-watch whenever they needed to. They could watch it in an environment where they could have better focus. Students also understood and could articulate that we are able to do more interactive activities in class. The main problem students had with this method is that they would often forget to do it because its not “traditional” homework. Also, they sometimes ran into technical difficulties which would cause undue stress."

I really do have some terrific students. I did not have very many issues with students not watching videos. If they did have technical difficulties with the video they would come to me ahead of time and I would let them watch it on my computer at break or lunch. Flipped 101 (putting lectures online) really did work well. I feel like I had so much more time and opportunity for interactive, higher-level thinking activities in class. It is also important that they can view a lecture at their own pace. At my school we have several international, Korean student with language difficulties and little background knowledge in American History. I can only imagine how difficult in-class lectures would be for them. When students have a lecture online, they can go as fast or slow as they need.

But of course, as time goes on as a flipped teacher, many of us begin to realize its not about the video. Its about putting the learning in the hands of the students. Below is an excerpt about an activity I used that helps to exemplify the flipped mindset: student choice, higher level thinking, and a great use of face to face time:

"One of the more “interactive” assignments I discovered by reading blogs, was the EdCafe. Each student received an article that they became an expert on. They summarized it and developed discussion questions. Then each student could choose another cafe to attend (when they weren’t presenting). Student surveyed said that they enjoyed the casual, discussion environment. They enjoyed “teaching” other students, trying to make the topic relevant and interesting for the people attending. They also enjoyed the food and drink provided. This was a really successful assignment that I would like to again. If I could find enough articles on enough topics, I would consider doing it monthly."

An EdCafe is modeled after EdCamps. I learned about it through #sschat on Twitter. Its a great activity that I used several times last year.

Finally, as much as I wanted to focus on only one of my preps to flip, I found that I couldn't do it. As I planned for my other classes, it seemed so wrong for me to plan teacher-centered lessons. My lesson-planning brain wanted to create lessons that made the students more active in their learning. Here's an excerpt:

"Although I tried to focus on only one class at a time, the flipped classroom philosophy that students are most active in the classroom and take ownership in their learning spilled over to my other classes. Three of these projects included a Cold War timeline, Medieval Village Game of Life, and Reformation Trading Cards. For two of these assignments, many students tried Google Apps for the first time and found success. In reflections by students, many could articulate that they needed to take more responsibility for the knowledge and felt like they knew it better because of this. In these assignments I enjoyed being able to have face-to-face contact with each student, each day. I was able to act as a coach, rather than a “sage on the stage.”  In the future I would do even more coaching and guiding. I would also like to give students more choice in assignments like these so it is more student-centered."

This is the direction I moved in as the year progressed and as I plan for the upcoming school year. Coaching and guiding on the side, finding out where the students are at in their knowledge and helping them figure out what they are missing or where they need to go next. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How it all began

So, why did I embrace this flipped learning mindset? I was able to reflect on this at the beginning of last school year. I was able to participate in Washington state's Professional Growth Plan (PGP) pilot program. Its really a great model for professional growth, you reflect on an area you would like to grow in as a teacher and make a plan to focus on researching and implementing those ideas. You reflect on your progress mid-year and at the end of the year. The process earned me 30 clock hours! Best of all, it was a great way for me to reflect on my flipped journey. I'll include some excerpts below.

In my own evaluation of my classroom, I am frustrated that students have become too dependent on teacher-directed knowledge and instruction. Students lack initiative for learning and do not articulate their knowledge and learning enough. I want students to become more independent learners. I believe the flipped classroom model should be integrated into my classroom to solve this problem. The pillars of the flipped classroom is to make the best use of face-to-face class time, higher-order thinking skills in the classroom & lower-order at home, and a classroom that is student-centered where the students are the most active in the classroom.

High School students are digital natives. They seem to be more engaged with information when they are receiving it through media. Moving direct instruction to an at-home internet task will make available more time for higher-level thinking, creating and engagement in the classroom in a collaborative way. As our school moves to a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy, I will need to learn ways to allow kids to create and present their learning with technology.

As you can see, I started with Flipped 101. I recorded lectures that would normally by given in the classroom and I put them online. We started by watching videos together, in class with questions to answer. I modeled how students needed to read the questions ahead of time, pause the video, and rewind as necessary. I spoke about how we really didn't need to do this together in the classroom, that it would be best for them to do on their own time and at their own pace. Then I started assigning video lectures at home, usually once or twice per chapter. Often, this would be accompanied by an online quiz. At first it was from a Google Form and then it was on Edmodo. Looking back, and after reading Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom by Rick Wormeli, I wish I would not have graded those quizzes. Rather taking notes, summarizing, and/or submitting their own questions about the topic would have been more appropriate. At the very least the quiz should not have been graded, but used by me to understand what I needed to clarify.

Flipped 101 did allow me to do many of the things I had always wanted to do in my classroom, debates, simulations, and primary source analysis. Not that those things did not take place in my classroom before, but they happened less frequently because I had to spend lecturing time for background information. So, Flipped 101 was successful for me, but over time I moved away from that model. Now as I re-vamp my Western Civilization course, I am not planning to have any videos, or at least very few. For the most part, I plan to record mini-videos on the fly when I see a common misconception or problem out of several students.

That is where my flipped learning journey began. Come back and visit later when I post my mid-year reflection as to how it was all going.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Welcome! I teach Social Studies in a small, Christian school in the Seattle area. I am about to embark on my eighth year of teaching. Last year I began to dabble in flipped learning. I teach five preps a day so when decided to flip, I was only going to focus on my tenth grade American History class. I soon discovered the "flipped mindset" and found that it couldn't help but pour over into my other classes. I'll post some of my non-blogged reflections from last year at a later date. As I jump into the year ahead, focused on flipping my Western Civilization course, I am starting this blog as a reflection tool for myself and as a tool for other teachers interested in flipping. I know how valuable the blogs of other teachers were for me, so here I am to share my successes and failures.

One last thing I should mention, what is flipped learning? Or better yet, what is a flipped mindset? The definition I like is that of Twitter people (Cheryl Morris @guster4lovers, Andrew Thomasson @thomasson_engl, Karl Lindgren-Streicher @LS_Karl, Crystal Kirch @crystalkirch, and Kate Baker @KtBkr4---follow them) before me and originally stated and explained more in-depth here, is as follows:

  • What is the best use of your face-to-face class time (in my opinion, NOT lecturing)
  • Emphasize on higher-order thinking, not rote memorization
  • Student-centered classroom--What are the students doing in class? Just sitting there staring into space? Or are they working, thinking, creating? It should be less about what the teacher is doing and more about what the students are doing.
And if you are really eager to learn more, get on Twitter and check out the #flipclass hashtag. The chat is on Mondays at 5pm PT. Twitter is basically where I learned everything I know about flipped learning, you can follow me @kaelynbullock.