Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pre-Flipping: The Steps I took to Start Flipping US History

This picture is from the last week of summer break; my last days before attempting something new in my classroom.

I am not quite sure why we had a gymnastics unit in junior high PE.  I am sure there was a good reason.  I really did not like it.  I wanted to play basketball or dodge ball or some game I knew and understood.  Gymnastics was way outside of my comfort zone.  I can still remember waiting in line for my turn to attempt a cartwheel or a handstand; knowing I was never going to do it right.  I was very anxious and when it was my turn, I tried.  

This summer was a lot like standing in that line for me.  I had dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about the education buzz - Flipping the Class.  I followed the #flipclass twitter hashtag religiously.  I read the articles being posted and the Blogs I could find.  I bought and read the Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams book. All of this was very overwhelming.  There is a lot of good stuff out there and I learned a lot from many teachers and administrators.  Most of what I found was Math and Science related -  I was going to be flipping a US History classroom.  

The most practical information were the nuts and bolts posts and blogs I read.  That is, not why you do it , but actually how you do it.  I spent the better part of July creating accounts, trying out web tools, figuring out why they were good or not for me, and then repeating.  I looked at iPad apps, free web tools, pay web tools, cameras, etc.    This was time consuming but fun and in the end an excellent use of that time.  Had I been trying to go through the “how to” right now I do not think the why I want to would matter – the logistics of flipping have to be IN PLACE prior to the first day.  By in place I mean researched, tested, piloted, practiced, and reviewed.

A teacher intending to flip their class has to have already wrestled with the why.  

… And then they have to figure out:

  1. What I have been calling the Here/Home cycle.  What is it that students will do HERE (at school) today and what will they be doing HOME (at home/Starbucks/library/bus/etc) later today?
  2. What do I want to deliver to my students for the HOME portion?  Videos, screencasts, voicethreads, discussion boards, etc.
  3. How much of what I want to do will require the students to learn a whole new skill set?  I have to teach that!
  4. How will I record?  Where will I record?  What will I use to record?
  5. Where will I post?  Why there?
  6. How am I going to troubleshoot the snags?  No Internet at home.  Slow connection.  “I couldn’t get it to load.”
  7. What are the victories?
  8. What have I gained by flipping and how am I using it?
  9. Is the course better because of the flip???

Here is a link to my first Flipped “Homework”

These last few items I am still coming to discover.  I have been asking my students for a lot of feedback informally in class and on anonymous google forms.  Almost all of them are liking the concept.  They feel like they’re getting “taught” three times rather than one, which I found interesting.  And they are teaching me a lot about Flipping a class.

When I get a bit further along into this I will share more about the students feedback, my process, and successes and setbacks.  For now, the simplest lesson I am learning, is that it takes a lot of time to plan those meaningful in class enrichment and higher order activities that flipping encourages.  So I am off to create one of those.

Comments to this post are very welcome!