Friday Freebie

As part of my own development, I decided that I wanted a place to store resources in a central place that I could easily access from any location, irrespective of whether I was in my own classroom, someone else’s classroom or at home. I like the convenience of Google Drive, however, I did not want to have to go through the process of signing into my own account on someone else’s computer.

This line of thinking led me, in part, to set up my website and add a link on the homepage to my public resources folder within Google Drive that is set so that anyone can view and download the resources contained therein. The resource I want to draw attention to in this article is called Powerpoint Karaoke. I must acknowledge that this is not an original idea. I first came across Powerpoint Karaoke at FlipConAus in 2015 when Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann ran it as part of the Social Dinner.

Essentially, it is about delivering an impromptu speech. The catch is that as the speaker, you do not know your topic until you walk into the room (speakers wait in a separate from the audience). The second catch is that not only do you need to present an impromptu speech on an unknown topic but that you need to weave into your speech six images, each of which appears on a separate slide and you do not know what the image is until you move to that slide. I put myself down to take part for some fun and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I have taken that premise and modified for my current Stage Three class. I have pasted below the overview/instructions within the Powerpoint Karaoke slide deck I have made available to anyone.

Powerpoint Karaoke is a short way of encouraging students to practice their public speaking skills and their ability to think on their feet in a fun situation. I explicitly tell my students that this is a fun task with no marks or pressure attached to it and that it is simply to give them more chances to practice speaking in front of a crowd. There are currently two Cycles of speeches, with students selected at random for both.

Cycle A
The topic of their speech is not revealed until they stand up and come to the front of the room. They have thirty seconds to think about the topic. Then they are shown the first of three random images that must be included contextually into their speech somehow. The format of the slide deck is a blank slide, the topic slide followed by three images, one on each slide. Students do not know what the image is until it appears on the screen.

Cycle B
Cycle B is a series of persuasive speeches, with the speaker required to speak for or against the topic, as designated by the teacher, that appears on their slide. There are no images for this cycle, only the topic. The format of Cycle B is blank slide, topic slide, blank slide, topic slide etc.

The vast majority of students love this task and are always asking if we can do some more of it. I have also asked students to prepare powerpoint karaoke slide decks for me, to show that I am willing to take part as well and have delivered an impromptu speech using all of the images in the first ten sets using a random topic provided by a student at the time. I set an expectation of speeches of one minute in length when introducing this activity to my class. You can adapt it to suit your context.

I use this every day with my students and it has fast become a favourite. I have also introduced it to the stage as a time filler when appropriate such as waiting for a presenter to set up, or when waiting for another class to arrive for a whole-Stage event. There are, at the time of writing, twenty-nine sets of Cycle A speeches and twenty-four persuasive topics, though I do plan to continue to grow and expand the slide deck.

Feel free to share the joy of impromptu speaking with anyone. The activity can be adapted easily for different age groups and can be a lot of fun.

View and download the slide deck from my Google Drive Public Resources folder or from this article by clicking here.

My FlipLearnCon Keynote

Yesterday I published an article containing Heather Davis‘ keynote presentation from FlipLearnCon in Sydney, broken into bite-size sections. This article provides my keynote presentation, also broken into sections. Given that this was my first keynote presentation, I would appreciate any constructive feedback people would like to share, positive or otherwise.

My role at FlipLearnCon generated some useful discussion with my students. In the week prior to the event, students had been presenting speeches of their own, which were required to be between three and five minutes in length, as an end-of-unit assessment task. Many of the students were incredibly nervous but actually spoke quite well. Many of them sat down afterwards, convinced their speech was terrible and struggled to take on board the positive feedback from peers. I had told the students why I would be away for two days, and when they found out it was to deliver a twenty-minute speech they were horrified at the very thoughts.

Interestingly enough, when I returned to class the day after FlipLearnCon, they wanted to know how it went. So I turned it back to them, asking for a show of hands as to who sat down after their speech and thought it was terrible,with a large number of hands going up. I then asked for a show of hands as to who heard a speech they thought was terrible, not difficult to hear because of volume or annunciation (a common issue we found), but actually terrible. Not a single hand went up. I then shared with them that my presentation ended up going longer than twenty minutes, that there were some technical issues and that I stood up feeling incredibly nervous with the adrenaline pumping. I was seeing lots of heads nodding at this point as much of the class, other than technical issues, felt the same when presenting their speeches.

Like them, I continued, I persisted, despite feeling nervous, and gave the speech. I finished it and felt that it was not particularly great (unlike my Graduate Address, which I am still very proud of, and sat down afterwards feeling that I had nailed it) but that I had been given positive feedback which means that despite what I thought, the speech was good. I pointed out to them that with practice, public speaking becomes easier, but that being nervous is ok, as long as we do not allow the nerves to control us and stop us from taking opportunities.

Below, you will find my keynote presentation at FlipLearnCon. If you are interested in having a copy of the slide deck, you will find it here.

Part One

  • My initial exposure to Flipped Learning.
  • My first attempt to flip.
  • Flipping TPL.
  • My current place in the Flipped Class continuum.

Part Two

  • Flip based on your context.
  • Considering workflow.

Part Three

  • Demonstration of developing flipped content using Camtasia.

Part Four

  • Fast food time (takeaways)
  • Question and Answer session.

Again, I would appreciate any feedback on the usefulness, structure, delivery or content of my keynote so that I can make my next presentation stronger and more useful for the audience.

Consolidated list of #FlipConAus 2015 Articles

In conversations with various people today, the subject of flipped learning came up on numerous occasions. To make it easier for those people to read about the topic here is a consolidated list of articles from FlipConAus 2015.

  1. Day One Part One – Masterclass with Joel Speranza
  2. Day One Part Two – Masterclass with Joel Speranza
  3. Day Two Part One – Keynote from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams
  4. Day Two Part Two– Flipping Primary Education Panel discussion
  5. Day Two Part Three – Warren McMahon – Flipping: Can I really Do It? Katie Jackson – How to Run a Maths Flipped Classroom
  6. Day Three Part One – Crystal Caton – How We Flipped and You Can Too and Jeremy LeCornu – My Flipped Classroom
  7. Day Three Part Two – Keynote from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams
  8. Day Three Part Three – Matt Burns – Flipping the K-6 Classroom and K-12 Leadership

I would also recommend those people seek out and connect with, amongst others, Joel Speranza, Jeremy LeCornu, Alfina Jackson and Matt Burns, who are all doing great work, in different contexts, within the flipped learning space.

#FlipConAus Review – Day Three Part Three

“The worst screencast is better than the best lesson”
– Matt Burns

Welcome back for this final article in my series looking back on my time at the first FlipConAus, my conference wrapped up, as it did for a number of people, with a double session with Matt Burns (@BurnsMatthew) speaking under the titles Flipping the K-6 Classroom and then The Flipped Classroom: K-12 Leadership. If you have missed the previous articles in this series, you can find the links to them below:

Matt spoke initially about some of the resources that he has made available to aid others in understanding flipped learning and how to implement it via his website (which also includes a link to his blog); as well as his twitter handle (which I have included at the beginning of this article).

Matt made two very important points at the beginning of his presentation. Firstly, that flipping should build stronger relationships and that what flipping is has changed in meaning over time and means different things to different people. That flipping should build stronger relationships was not, by this stage in the conference, a new idea. Hearing it reiterated, however, helps to reinforce that it is an important benefit of flipped pedagogies. It goes back to the point that was made by Jon and Aaron during their keynote the prior day

It seems, to me at least, that content, content, content is forced down our throats as if we are undergoing gavage, with the relationship and curiosity components of our profession discarded to the wayside, and hearing from so many presenters about the importance of flipping to the relationships they have been able to build with their students, over and above what they have been under traditional pedagogical model. It seems to me to be distinct that although the general discussion is about the relationships that can be built with students is the focus, relationship-building with parents and colleagues is a theme that has cropped up a few times over the course of the conference.

After this opening, Matt then took some time to speak about the research and indicated that there is a dearth of it that is contextually relevant to us as primary and secondary teachers; that much of the research focuses on tertiary education and that there is a need for a comparative study. I know that there were, at least, three research-based attendees (Marijne Slager being one with whom I connected over the course of the conference), however, the research, at this point in time, is not readily available in the primary space, and you can only extrapolate the findings from studies done at the tertiary-level so far before you begin to lose validity. That said, Clintondale High School in Detroit, USA, experimented with flipping a year group of one hundred and forty students. Academically, the results can be seen in two ways.

This set of data that Matt showed us gives an indication of the academic changes that the school saw in this cohort. You can also read about the changes on the Clintondale High School website:

“We have reduced the failure rate by 33% in English Language Arts, 31% in Mathematics, 22% in Science and 19% in Social Studies in just one semester. In addition, we have seen a dramatic reduction of 66% in our total discipline for our freshman group as well.”

One discussion point that arose from this was that when the teacher is no longer the sole gatekeeper of knowledge and students can access the knowledge any time and anywhere, then students’ target their frustration around learning across multiple sources which removes some emotional and social barriers between the teacher and student, allowing the teacher to work more closely with the student, providing the required assistance.

Matt indicated that quantitative data can be difficult to obtain, but that informal qualitative feedback is relatively easy, and shared some examples of feedback his students had provided:

Matt then spoke about flipping little things, like the spelling test, introducing new writing genres, instructions for projects, explanations of projects and rubrics, handwriting and times tables. This allows students to hear what the word should sound like, which can also benefit students with Non-English speaking Backgrounds (NESB) in developing their English. Flipping allows students to ask questions without the fear of being embarrassed, and if you put structures in place, without needing to wait for the teacher.

Matt reiterated that point that the videos should not be perfect, asking do you need the screencast perfect or by Tuesday? We are not perfect teachers in the classroom, we make mistakes and goof up, and we should be the same on the video as in the classroom. I say that with the caveat that we should fix up any conceptual or factual mistakes may confuse students. Matt also indicated that if you have the Smart Notebook software, then it has inbuilt recording and screencasting functions, which I was not aware of, and that that can be one way of making your videos.

Matt also made the point that this (flipping) is a learning curve, both for you and the students and that open communication should be sought to ensure that any issues are addressed quickly and that your classroom grows comfortable with what is expected, on both sides of the coin, from flipped learning.

Matt’s final point in this session was that the video, as an instructional tool, allows for experiencing the learning in different ways. Some students may watch the video, others may read the textbook, whilst others will work it out collaboratively.

While the majority of the room then moved on to their next session, myself and a few others stayed comfortable in our seats, or stood up and stretched, as we were staying in for Matt’s follow up presentation, around leadership in a K-12 flipped classroom context. Matt opened this up by indicating that he had a range of topics that he could speak to for this presentation, but was aware that it was the afternoon on the last day of the conference and wanted to avoid repeating what we had already heard. To get around this, he crowd-sourced the direction the topic would take by listing out the topics and asking us to vote on the ones we wanted to hear about.

One of the topics that the audience selected was hearing about some research results. It was rather interesting, that the first study Matt spoke about found that students were doing more learning, were not happy about that fact, did not enjoy flipping, but achieved better results.

I found this rather intriguing, as we are often told that higher engagement, often seemingly used as a proxy for enjoyment, leads to improved results, ergo, lower engagement (read lower enjoyment) leads to lower results. I wonder what impact the school culture around learning and mindsets would have on this particular result. It also brings to mind an article that Greg Ashman (@Greg_Ashman) recently published, Motivating students about mathsdiscussing a study which was recently published about the relationship between motivation and achievement in mathematics. Greg’s view, or rather my interpretation of Greg’s view, is that we should not be targeting our learning activities based on what we think will engage them as this is a superficial motivation which will not last under the difficulty of more complex cognitive loads. Greg posits that we should be aiming for learning activities that maximise learning, creating a feeling of mastery, as this internal sense of achievement with concepts will lead to greater engagement with the subject more organically than simple engagement with the concepts.

“Don’t misunderstand me. I am not the fun police. If you can make the learning more interesting without diluting it then go for it. It is even appropriate to take a break from time-to-time just to have some fun with your students. Not a problem. Just remember what you’re here for; to teach a subject.

You are not a clown.”
– Greg Ashman, Student Motivation

Greg Ashman’s view on motivation in science and mathematics. Retrieved from on 13/11/2015

Matt spoke about four studies (which I erroneously referred to as a meta-study on Twitter. I should have called it a literature review) which he had read, where all the studies showed that the academic achievements were improved across all four, but with contrasting results in students satisfaction. Reading deeper into the studies, the study where students reported lower satisfaction with flipped learning had the ‘extra’ class time used poorly, with no apparent change from traditional pedagogies. This reinforces the critical nature of the use of the class time. You cannot ‘hide’ behind the teacher’s desk and let the students go about their activities, you need to be getting in amongst the students and providing the close support you may not ordinarily be able to offer due to time constraints. If you wish to read further on that, Matt has included the references on his website on this page.

Some students, Matt related, indicated that they liked having an alternate perspective from another teacher (which lends credence to curating in addition to creating your instructional videos) as all teachers have different teaching styles and slightly different ways of explaining things. This allows those students who do grasp a concept from your explanation to view an alternate explanation (which you have, of course, vetted) to gain the conceptual understanding they need.

There are some students who do not like flipped pedagogies, and this may be for a few reasons. They may have experienced bad flipping, where the teacher misused the class time, or they may be more senior students who know and understand the game of school and do not want to change how they go about doing school.

Matt finished by mentioning two adaptive learning systems (ALS) that he has come across; the AITSL Self-Assessment tool and Smart Sparrow. This is something which I thought would become more visible and mainstream in education sooner than it has, but which the 2015 NMC Horizon Report (K-12 Edition) predicts as a mid-term trend.

There was one final session, a conference closing led by Jon and Aaron, where they challenged us to consider what we would do with our learning from the conference over the ensuing five days, five weeks and five months, and to write it down. Within the ensuing week, my plan was to turn my notes into articles, which I did get done, but it has taken longer than five days. Within the ensuing five weeks, I wanted to begin planning for next year, which I have begun doing conceptually. Solid planning will need to wait for another few weeks as I am job-sharing next year and my partner needs to get her reports finished for this year before she can sit down and think about next year. Within the ensuing five months, I wanted to have planned, resourced and flipped my class in one area, and be looking to move on to another area. At this point in time, I am tossing up between mathematics and literacy. I can see great scope for using flipped pedagogies for teaching grammar and spelling, as well as many mathematical concepts.

I want to thank you for reading through this and (hopefully) the other articles in this series.FlipConAus was a fantastic and tiring experience, and it was late on Saturday night (Sunday morning) before I got to sleep as my mind was whizzing with ideas and inspiration to the point where I turned the light on around three in the morning and jotted down the outline for a research project. This process of turning my notes into articles has been useful and reinforced some ideas for next year. I want to thank Jon, Aaron, Val and Margo for their efforts in putting the conference together, as well as St Stephen’s College for opening up their school to all of us for the three days. I greatly valued my time at FlipConAus, and have every intention of attending in November next year, when it will be held at Brighton Secondary College in Adelaide.

If you want to engage in the discussion around flipped learning further, keep an eye on #ausflipchat as well as #flipconaus as both tick over reasonably regularly.

#FlipConAus Review: Day Two Part Three

“Students can probably get information quicker than I can give it to them”
-Warren McMahon

Welcome back for a special Saturday edition of the blog, today I am continuing my review of day two of FlipConAus. If you have missed the previous articles in this series, they can be found below.

In the previous article, I explored the Primary Panel discussion session. After the panel discussion, I headed off to listen to Warren McMahon speak under the title Flipping – Can I really do it? After having everyone introduce themselves, Warren’s first point was that flipping works in different ways for different people according to their specific context. What works for one teacher in one subject area will not necessarily work for another teacher of the same grade level in the same subject area as the specific context will be different.

Part of the conversation was around the support for flipped learning that can be found within AITSL, within the Illustrations of Practice as part of the Highly Accomplished Teacher and that it is a recognised pedagogical approach by those charged with certifying teachers in Australia. One of the biggest benefits, in my view, of flipped learning, and it has come up in previous articles in this series, is the improved relationships with students that result, if the teacher puts in the effort to utilise the extra class time. Lisa Pluis, in the AITSL video, discusses that in her chemistry lessons she is able to provide more assistance to her students in tutorial-style lessons rather than the lecture style which she had been employing. What she does not explicitly discuss as a result of this, is the deeper relationships  that would result from increased time side-by-side with students helping them learn.

Warren reminded us that our students are flipping their learning without us. It is now quite natural for many students to go to YouTube to learn how to do something in a non-school context, and we should embrace this. It must be acknowledged that being a digital native does not necessarily equate to being digitally savvy, as has been pointed out here, here and here, as well as some research. This has strong implications for the classroom, where it cannot be assumed that any student is digitally savvy, and that time needs to be invested in teaching students how to get the most out of their technology.

It was also pointed out that we need to set the expectation that students are responsible for their own learning. As Antonio Porchia has been quoted as saying “I know what I have given you…I do not know what you have received,” or to use the vernacular, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Some teachers have labelled flipped learning as a failure when students do not engage with the home learning and they have simply delivered it traditionally in the classroom to get them up to speed. The onus needs to be put on the student to engage with their learning and there are a range of ways of dealing with this issue, as I wrote about yesterday, but student accountability is key. Further to this, educating parents about flipped learning is also key. Before flipping the class, educate the parents what it is, and why you are doing it so that you do not get an angry phone call fro ma parent asking “why aren’t you teaching John’s class anymore?”

Warren was also adamant that you cannot be the technical support person for a teacher who is interested in flipping. You are a teacher, not a technical support person. This will be much harder in those schools which do not have a technical support staff, where, if you know anything more advanced than how to turn a computer on, you seem to become the technical support team by default, but this may be an area where flipped professional development can be useful. This is (partly) why I have been delivering Flipped Teacher Professional Learning to colleagues, to alleviate the time required to find a suitable time with those teachers wishing to engage with the technology individually.

Warren’s final point is an important one; we need to define what success will look like for us before we begin. Consider this as an action research project, and determine what a successful flipped classroom will look like for your students, prior to implementing flipped learning. Doing this, along with determining barrier to implementation and how to overcome them, will increase the chances of flipped learning being successful.

Katie Jackson was leading the next session on my agenda, How to run a maths flipped classroom. Katie spoke about some of the great reasons she saw for flipping, which were echoes of Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, in that there were always students away for various things, and that flipping allowed those students to keep up with the learning. Katie provided some good advice, I thought, when she commented that it is still useful to prepare your lesson plan as per normal. Katie said she uses this as her script for her videos to ensure that the video is focused on the learning goal.

Katie also made the point that not only is it important to teach students how to engage with the videos, but it is equally important to teach them how to take notes, or to ask questions when implementing flipped learning. Katie was also adamant that there needs to be more than drill and skill, that learning in the classroom time needs to be authentic and deeper to make best use of the flipped model, and that where possible, learning should be made visible, which can be done, for example, by using liquid chalk and allowing students to show their learning by writing on the windows. At this point, Katie indicated that she uses MyEdApp, and handed over to Rowan and Yohan from MyEd and they walked the audience through how to use the site. I have written about myEd in the past, and I still believe it to be a fantastically useful tool to use in conjunction with flipped learning.

Katie’s session was the last one for the day that was structured. The final time slot for the day was devoted to subject-specific networking. This was to be self-driven by the participants, and in the primary cohort, at least, there was some excellent discussion and networking, and I was able to catch up with a few educators that I have interacted with on Twitter for some time, but not actually met in person, which was great.

I am unlikely to get an article out tomorrow due to prior commitments. If that is the case, the review of day three at FlipConAus will begin on Wednesday. Until then, thank you for reading, and please, leave your questions and comments below.

Jump to the next article.

#FlipConAus Review – Day Two Part Two

“Start flipping, don’t wait.”
– Warren McMahon

After Jon and Aaron’s keynote speech, I was registered to attend a panel discussion on flipping in the Primary School context. Jon Bergmann facilitated the panel, which was made up of Warren McMahon, Matt Burns and June Wall (I have been unable to find June on Twitter). There were, according to my notes, thirteen questions over the course of the session. Some of these questions were somewhat expected, and others were rather unexpected.

The first question was about equity and access to devices and content. In-flipping (watching the video’s in class) is a great way to overcome this obstacle, however, beyond this, there are some great options. Utilising USB/flash drives, DVDs or cheap MP4 players will allow you to send the video content home with the students. Another option, which I had forgotten about at the time, and only recently re-discovered, is iTunesU. It allows you to build courses or units of work, and to either link to videos (or other content) outside of iTunesU, but you can also upload the content into a post. This means that those students who have a device, but no internet access at home (which is still sadly common in 2015) can download the content they need during the school day, ready to go when they are at home that night.

The second question is a common question; what if they fail to watch the video? It is, in my opinion, both a great and a terrible question at the same time. It  is a great question because the concept of the videos being watched at home is often the only thing that teachers and parents alike know about flipped learning, and so they see not watching the videos as ‘breaking’ the system. On the other hand, It is a terrible question because what if they (students) fail to do their homework now? In conversations with teachers who are already flipping their classrooms, they have indicated that this is rarely a problem, for a number of reasons. Initially, you gain traction from the novelty factor. Beyond that, however, students often will not only need less time to do the homework, but they will be able to do the homework as it is cognitively easier than what is currently being set as homework. The point was also made that if your videos are enticing, through being short, concise, clear, and interactive (such as I wrote about here), then students will want to engage with them.

Beyond that, if you set, and hold to, the expectation that the videos have been engaged with at home, prior to school, and that the higher order learning tasks may not be done until the required understanding has been demonstrated (Jon and Aaron have said in the past that they have used a range of methods to do this, including conceptual check lists that are ticked off after reviewing student notes, or through conversation) than students will quickly learn that they need to watch the videos. It was noted that some students will not engage with the videos outside of class irrespective of the consequences, and will only engage with them in class. When (part of) the point of flipped learning is that not all students need to be on the same page and doing the same thing, then that is ok. As long as those students are engaging with the skills and concepts, and are moving through the required learning, then their choice not to engage with the videos outside of the classroom is potentially not detrimental to themselves, or to their classmates.

Here is a short video from a secondary teacher, Katie Gumbar, about her thoughts on this very question.

Someone then asked about the investment in time to train students how to engage with learning in this new and different way, compared to the normal game of school. There were two key points to the responses to this question. Firstly, it needs to be done, you need to invest the time to teach students how to engage with flipped learning, as it is so vastly different, and many will not engage, without the training, for fear of getting it wrong. So the investment in time, initially, is significant and involves heavy scaffolding. The exact amount of time with vary from context to context. Upper secondary students fill need far less time to acclimate to this new way of learning than lower primary, but even within the same cohort, there will be differences. You need to make a professional judgement as to when your students are au fait with flipped learning.

The second point that was made was that having interactive videos will make a large difference. Tools like Educannon (which I have previously discussed) and VersoApp can add a layer of interest which helps drive engagement with the learning. I do not recall where I heard it, but someone told an anecdote about a teacher who taught a class how to engage with flipped learning by asking them to learn a card trick. A link was provided to a video tutorial (perhaps something like this), and students were asked to learn how to do the card trick. Afterwards, the teacher engaged students in a discussion about how they went about using the video to learn the trick, discussing the use of pausing and rewinding to re-watch sections of the tutorial. This had the students engaged in a metacognitive discussion, and facilitated the introduction of flipped learning to the students and showed them how it works without the need for a long explanation.

What does success look like in a flipped classroom was answered quite simply. It varies context to context, both across cohorts of students, across different subject areas, across the grade levels, but the important thing is to determine a measure of success that will be SMART for your specific context.

The impact on teacher time as a result of flipping generated a significant amount of discussion. The initial investment is significant and unavoidable, however it is also transformational, and the long-term gains outweigh the initial lost time. The comment was made by someone that implementing flipped learning, initially, is like being a first-year teacher all over again. Do not flip because you think it will save you time, it will certainly not do that, not initially. The time benefit is in the classroom where instead of doing lower-order thinking teaching, you are able to engage with students, either one-on-one or in small groups to drive deeper learning, thus building stronger relationships and developing your understanding of how students learn. This is something that should be part of our professional knowledge; flipped learning allows us to develop that knowledge more authentically, and more deeply.

The additional point made about the impact on teacher time was in relation to re-using videos that you have developed. All panellists agreed that you absolutely can and should re-use videos (though I would personally recommend re-watching just to double check that it is the video you want) in order to save time, however, there is a very important factor to remember, in this regard, when it comes to creating your videos.

You may create sequences or playlists of videos in a specific order for specific concepts, however, avoiding numbering the videos allows you to drop any video into the students’ learning at any point in the particular unit of learning.

How do you flip all the KLAs in a primary context was answered succinctly, one brick at a time. Jon made the observation that in primary classes which he and Aaron have visited, there seems to be a tendency for primary teachers to flip mathematics in the first instance. I can certainly understand that tendency, as my first exposure to flipped learning was in a Year Five and Six class, where mathematics was being in-flipped, and it seems, to my mind, to be naturally suited to being flipped. That said, having spoken to a number of teachers from across primary and secondary over the course of FlipConAus, I can certainly see scope for flipping other areas, including EnglishCreative Arts, the Parent-Teacher night, or Physical Education.

Why should teachers record their own videos was the subject of a long discussion, however, the key point is that you are the students’ teacher, not Khan Academy, or any other resource; it is you.

Not only will it build relationships with students, and those parents engaging with their child’s learning by helping them at home, but it also ensure that the concept is taught the way that you want it taught.

How critical reflection is embedded within flipped learning is something that I only took one note for, flipping allows for it to happen naturally, which reading that note a few weeks after the fact, is not particularly clear. Thinking it through, however, I believe that embedding critical reflection is a part of teaching students how to engage with the learning in this context. Part of your expectation could be a metacognitive discussion in class or through a writing task of some type (class blog, in learning journals etc.)

When someone asked whether flipping removed grouping structures, such as maths groups or reading groups, the answer was, essentially, no. Traditional grouping structure can be, and often are still utilised, however the way they are utilised may change as students may be at various points along the learning continuum any given concept.

One person or a whole school can work was the response when someone asked if flipping needs to be implemented across the board to be successful. The caveat is that flipping works best when it is implemented from the bottom up, and spreads through the school organically as teachers see what is happening, see the benefits to students and take it into their own classroom. It is also highly beneficial to have someone with whom you can collaborate your flipping who is in a similar context to yourself. Whether this is a teacher in your own school, or someone on the other side of the country teaching the same grade or subject as you is not particularly relevant. It is the ability to discuss barriers, wins and new techniques and ideas with someone who is in a similar context that matters.

How do you engage parents? was a topic of interest for many, and the biggest suggestion from the panel was communication and education around what flipped learning is about, how it works and why you are implementing it, beginning with flipping the parent-teacher night. Sending home a video introducing yourself and going through the basics that you would cover in person allows the parents to engage with your ideas and come to the evening with questions as they will have had time to think about and process what you have said.

In a job-share context (where two teachers share the load of one class with one teaching three days and the other teaching two days), where one teacher wants to flip and the other does not, communication before the year begins and during the year is absolutely critical. If the teaching load is split down subject or concept lines, with one teacher being responsible for the arts; or dividing mathematics up by concept area, then it will be relatively simple to implement flipped learning. If any other arrangement is made vis-a-vis splitting the teaching load, then it will be significantly more difficult.

In closing, all panellists were asked to offer one practical piece of advice to the audience. Warren advised everyone not to wait to start flipping, but to just do it. Matt backed this up with the caveat of doing it one brick at a time. June also reiterated Warren’s advice but cautioned the audience to identify the learning scaffolds needed and ensure they are available or in place beforehand, and Jon closed out the session by advising to flip with someone in some way if it is at all possible.

Thank you for reading through this rather lengthy article. I found the panel session very worthwhile. There was also a secondary panel that took place at the same time, and if someone has written a review on that, please send me a link so that I can include it here, with credit to the author (you can find the twitter discussion around it in the day’s Storify). My next article is likely to appear tomorrow, and will include a review of sessions from Warren McMahon, Katie Jackson and Crystal Caton.

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#FlipConAus Review – Day Two Part One

“Why do we make our students demonstrate what they learned by making them take a test?”
– Jon Bergmann

What I am referring to as day two of FlipConAus (Friday Storify)was actually day one of the conference proper, and it began with a networking (full continental) breakfast, which was a great way to start the day. Day Two will be split across, most likely, three articles, in order to allow proper depth of exploration from each session.

The conference opened with the standard housekeeping information, and then Jon and Aaron started proceedings with an interesting, thought-provoking and challenging keynote presentation, starting with this (in)famous clip from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with Ben Stein as the teacher that we both all been, and all suffered through.

The point was two-fold here; both that we should strive to not be like this teacher, but that the way in which students are able to access information is now fundamentally different to what it was when this film was made, but that our pedagogy is still largely the same. Students no longer require the teacher to access information as they used to. Jon and Aaron showed us a clip of a teacher, Steve Kelly, they met at FlipCon in the US a few years ago, and Steve made this point.

This is an interesting thought, and I think reinforces the connotations for teachers from the Ferris Bueller clip. How many of us have not kept up with the times and changed our pedagogy as technology and the way in which students engage with and use technology to learn has changed? Aaron related how his son defaults to using YouTube to learn things and that in a particular origami video he was learning from, the instruction was to make a particular fold. Aaron said that his son asked him for help but that he did not know how to do this fold and asked his son how he would solve the problem. His son’s solution was to rewind the video and pause it just before that instruction, open a new tab and search for an instructional video on YouTube to learn how to make the particular fold type, return to the original video, click play and continue on. This is not something that we could have done ten years ago, but it is common practice for many to do so now.

Then Jon and Aaron showed us this slide:

They acknowledge that the data was from US classrooms, but was from over a thousand classrooms across a range of states with various learning contexts. It is rather scary to consider that the majority of time is spent interacting with new content, which is the term used to indicate the teacher lectured about the new content. The point here is that despite all the rhetoric about the need and valuing of higher order thinking seen across various policies and statements, that, generally speaking, the need for higher order thinking is not being met.

Jon stated that we need to acknowledge that education is the intersection between content, curiosity and relationships and should look like this

Unfortunately, it was pointed out, it often looks like this:

Dr Margerison (who tweeted the above photo) also noted that “content cannot be abandoned but we need to make room for curiosity and relationships” which is an important point to note. Our teaching is heavily driven by the stipulated curriculum, and the testing to which our students are subjected, however we still have sufficient independence in our practice to include learning activities that hit the ‘sweet spot’ where content, curiosity and relationships meet.

Jon and Aaron’s next point is potentially quite contentious. They said that “…we do Bloom’s Taxonomy wrong. We do the bottom two sections at school, and ask our students to do the middle three at home, and rarely get to do the top section at all, we send the kids home with the hard stuff.” This is an interesting assertion and speaks to the heart  of one reason why some teachers flip their classrooms. Their stated that we need to not flip Bloom’s Taxonomy, but to reshape it.

Remembering and understanding should be what is done at home, the basic cognition, with the more difficult cognition, requiring support and scaffolding done in class, where the teacher is able to provide the support required to allow the learning to appropriately apply, analyse and then evaluate and create. John and Aaron pointed out that simply flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy results in a Ph.D. Bloom, they explained did a lot of research into mastery learning and found that for those students who don’t get it, mastery learning can be quite demoralising.This makes a lot of sense, as students with low resilience will give up after only one or two attempts, citing the learning task as being too hard. By modifying the shape of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and flipping the classroom, whereby remembering and understanding activities are completed at home, this frees up class time for the more cognitively demanding and complex tasks and ensures that the teacher is available to provide needed assistance and scaffolding. Jon and Aaron also indicated that the inquiry approach to learning, typically used in science, is particularly well suited to flipped learning.

The above tweet shows an amalgam of two photos. Both are from the same event, taken eight years separately. They are both from the announcement of the new Pope. In the top photo, you can see one early adopter, one lone nut in the bottom right-hand corner. The lower photo, only eight years later, shows a completely different scene. There are as many glowing screens, almost, as there are people. Our students now are as different to the students of eight years ago, as these two images are different to each other. They learn differently, socialise differently and utilise technology differently.

The above three tweets all capture the sentiment that Aaron and Jon were trying to get across nicely. (The UDL that is referred to in Alfina’s tweet is Universal Design for Learning, which sounds similar to Understanding by Design, which I have (briefly) written about previously). They were trying to get across the point that our students learn differently, and therefore, we need to be teaching differently. While there is research debunking differing learning styles (here, for example), most teachers will comfortably tell you about how they’ve noticed that different types of learning activities better suit different students in their class, and the point here is that flipping, and modern pedagogy, allows for the flexibility to offer ways of learning the same skill or concept, and different ways of demonstrating their learning.

Aaron related a story about a student who was failing his class and just did not seem to get chemistry. This student’s passion was welding, and he approached Aaron and after a conversation, this student then spent the next few weeks in the welding workshop rather than the chemistry lab, researching through exploratory application the chemistry principles that Aaron had been teaching, and wrote a highly detailed paper about the experiments that he had been conducting.  This flexibility was only possible through utilisation of flipped learning, however, it turned this student around.

This session was told through the lens of the below continuum:

Jon and Aaron both started their teaching career in the bottom left -hand corner, and the journey of developing flipped learning, taking them to somewhere closer towards the top right-hand corner (both not all the way there) took around six years. Jon and Aaron were adamant that not every teacher should aim for the same place as them, and that different teachers will travel at different rates as they change their teaching  styles. Everyone should start with Flipped-101, and then, as is appropriate for them in their specific context, move to other levels. Aaron said that if you just flip without moving deeper over time, then you are doing it wrong. The below image is an example of the differing pathways that can be taken on the flipped learning pathway.

Jon and Aaron’s keynote was a challenging, exciting and inspiring way to open AusFlipCon. They set the stage with some challenging ideas, explored their own journey with us a little and set the stage for some of the concepts that would be explored throughout the day.

I invite you to explore the Storify of the day, and to engage with #AusFlipCon, which still sees action with conference attendees sharing their journey and learning about flipped learning.

Jump to the next article.

#FlipConAus – Review Day One Part Two

I don’t want my videos to be videos; I want them to be lessons”
-Joel Speranza

In part one of my FlipConAus Review, I began exploring the learning from the FlipConAus Pre-Conference workshop I attended, which was led by Joel Speranza (@JoelBSperanza). This article will finish that,and set the stage for Day Two of FlipConAus. I closed out Part One with Joel’s video cheat sheet and a brief look at some video analytics. After Joel finished talking to us about tips for video creation, we moved on to a general discussion around the various tools that can be utilised for the purpose of flipping a classroom.

Joel posits that there are five categories of tools critical for flipped learning:

  1. Presentation surface
  2. Capture device / software
  3. Video hosting
  4. Interactive video tools and lastly, a
  5. Learning Management System (LMS)

Joel indicated that having a formative diagnostic and feedback system within the flipped system (differentiated from your normal processes) and / or subject specific websites and programs are optional, but will enhance your flipping. Joel also indicated that if you want to compare tools in a particular category against others in the same category, then Googling X vs  (where X represents the name of one of the tool options you want to compare) will bring up a comparison of that tool with its direct competitors.

Presentation Surface
This can be anything from your current tools including whiteboard/blackboard, butcher’s paper, workbooks etc, as long as you can capture what is being done in some way.

Capture device / software
There is such a huge range of options here, from a webcam, your smart phone or tablet, a DSLR camera, camcorder etc in regards to the device, and software also sees a plethora of options from my personal tool of choice (Camtasia), to screen-cast-o-matic and a number of others. Guido Gautsch (@gheedough) has put together a useful article that covers some of the various options (both hardware and software) in more depth than I can include here.

Video Hosting
This , typically, is either YouTube, TeacherTube or Vimeo. Unfortunately, those three sites are all blocked for State schools in NSW and in many other regions both domestically and internationally, making video hosting and then access problematic. Some options to get around the blocks include MyEdApp with their proxy, iTunesU where you can upload the video file directly into the course for students to download onto their device (which has other inherent issues), and the trusty USB or DVD. Some schools utilise the internal server for hosting which is fine for accessing at school, but problematic for access otherwise. If you have come across another video hosting option, particularly one that bypasses general blocks, please let me know in the comments section.

Interactive Video Tools
Again, this is an area that has a vast array of options, and I would encourage you to explore them for yourself and determine which ones you like. Some of the tools that we discussed included EduCannon, Zaption and EdPuzzle.

Another area with an array of options, including super low-tech (using a workbook) to high tech using tools such as GClass, Edmodo, MyEdApp, or Moodle. This is another area in which you will need to do some exploration and testing to decide what your preference is.

This discussion of the various tools available to use with flipping led to a discussion around workflow, or the process by which you flip a lesson and Joel showed us a rough sketch of his own workflow:

This is screen-capped from Joel's presentation and is his rough sketch of his own workflow when flipping his mathematics classes.
This is screen-capped from Joel’s presentation and is his rough sketch of his own workflow when flipping his mathematics classes.

This takes each of the categories of tools, and arranges them in order of use for the workflow and is designed to help you crystallised exactly what you need to use for your specific context. He then asked us to consider this image:

Image screen-capped from Joel's presentation.
Image screen-capped from Joel’s presentation.

Joel’s contention was that when deciding what tools you planned to use in your flipping, that you limit the number of tools that the students were expected to have the ability to use to the school standard plus two additional tools. For example, if your school is a Google Apps for Education school, then your students would already have the expertise to utilise those apps, and you only be adding, at most, two further websites requiring expertise. Joel’s theory here is that by keeping the technical skills needed to manageable limits that we increase the ability of our students to master using the tools that we require them to use, resulting in a higher probability of engagement with the tools and the learning. You will notice in Joel’s image that the list of tools requiring teacher expertise is substantial relative to the other two columns. This is deliberate, and reflective of the processes involved in presenting, recording, hosting and delivering the flipped learning lesson.

Joel also indicated that he has on occasion allowed students to demonstrate their learning using the tools in the workflow. For example, allowing students to create a ‘bulb’ within EduCannon as the process of creating the bulb requires students to have the conceptual understanding of the topic, in order to create not only their video, but also the interactive elements, with conceptual accuracy.

We then entered a discussion around Flipped Learning experts. Joel reminded us of the research popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers indicating that it takes around ten thousand hours of focused practice to master something indicating that there has not been enough time for anyone to be considered an expert flipper. The point here is to remind us that flipping a new craft, and thus has only limited research behind us, and that as the leaders in flipping, in time as there is a greater weight of research and pedagogical practice behind flipping, that we will be considered poor flippers. This was not meant to be discouraging, and Joel likened it to the advent of the chalkboard.

The chalkboard has been around, as a pedagogical tool for approximately two hundred years, and has a vast amount of research and pedagogical experience behind it to help us know what good use of a blackboard looks like (which I think transfers naturally to a whiteboard). Teachers in the mid-twentieth century were better teachers when it came to utilising the blackboard then the pioneers who first used it as they had the experience of their forebears to learn from, bring this famous quote to mind:

Retrieved from on 2/11/15

We are making the mistakes in flipping that our descendants will (hopefully) not make, as they will have learnt from our experience; we are setting the stage for them to use flipping as a pedagogical tool in better ways than we are able to currently with our dearth of experience and research to guide us. This is an important point I believe. It seems to be forgotten (or perhaps just not made explicit?) that when you are leading the way in a field, that you only have a limited amount of experience and mistakes from predecessors to guide you, and that it is in fact you who are making the mistakes for others to learn from. As early adopters of flipped learning, we will be the giants upon whose shoulders others will stand.

Joel closed with a critical discussion focused on questioning the norms around why things are done the way they are; why do we do what we do? We began by talking briefly about classroom layouts, and quickly moved on to schooling norms such as two straight lines outside the class before going in, how we move around the school etc, with some discussion around what people do differently, before moving onto the focus question for this segment, which is how do we make learning goals clear in a flipped class? Typically, in a traditional learning session, students are told up front what they will be learning and why, but doing this in a video is not necessarily a normal process yet.

Ideas discussed included having the goal appear on screen, either consistently throughout the video, or at intervals, verbalising it as you traditionally would or some combination thereof. Joel indicated that he asks his students to “write down your goal and do it” or, if not the goal, then the learning focus. This led to a discussion of how we can utilise the what does success look like? as a strong differentiation tool when flipping, and what motivates people. The final comment was that everyone learns differently. This means we need to teach differently. Flipped learning as a pedagogical practice enables us to do this.

The below video is an amusing scene from West Wing and encapsulates common feelings about change quite nicely. Joel showed us this while talking about the fear of change that some people have and the common question of “why do I need to change?”

Thank you for reading. The next article will begin looking at the conference proper, which began with a keynote address from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams.

#FlipConAus15 Review – Day One Part One

“What is the best use of your face-to-face time ?”
– Jon Bergmann

EDIT: I forgot to add in the link for Thursday’s Storify that I put together. I learnt something new about Storify last night; it will only give you the thousand most recent Tweets. Unfortunately, this means that I missed about half of Thursday as there were well over a thousand tweets during the three days.

I know that I do not normally publish over the weekend, however there is a lot to talk about from FlipConAus, and I do not want to drag it on for too long, so here we are. In March of this year I made the choice to attend a masterclass with Jon Bergmann about Flipped Learning as part of my time at the FutureSchools conference and expo. Flipped Learning was something I was only passingly familiar with at the time, but which intrigued me. Jon mentioned as part of his closing remarks that FlipCon, which had been held in the US for several years was branching out internationally, and that he and the team would be bringing FlipConAus to Australia in October. I made the decision then, full of verve, to attend. FlipConAus was held at Saint Stephen’s College, Coomera on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October, with three optional full-day Pre-Conference workshops to select from, in addition to the Flipped Learning boot camp, all of which took place on Thursday 22nd October.

Given the distance that I was travelling, it seemed logical to me to attend as much as possible, and accordingly registered for a pre-conference workshop, Flipped Teaching: The Next Level with Joel Speranza (@JoelBSperanza), a secondary mathematics teacher. I am not sure, exactly, what I was expecting from the day. I have not been flipping my teaching due to a lack of infrastructure (hardware and wi-fi density), but I have been providing flipped professional development via this blog and YouTube to colleagues, so I feel like I am further along the flipped journey than a true novice, but not as far along as someone who has been flipping their own teaching.

This is a photo I took whilst on a school tour at St. Stephen's College, Coomera. It is the same layout as the space in which Joel Speranza ran his workshop.
This is a photo I took whilst on a school tour at St. Stephen’s College, Coomera. It is the same layout as the space in which Joel Speranza ran his workshop.

Re-digesting the day while I spoke with my wife on the phone at the end of Thursday, I commented something along the lines of “I feel like I got nothing, but at the same time, a lot, out of the day.” That is not meant to be disparaging of Joel or his efforts, but indicative of my (self-conceptualised) odd position on the flipped learning pathway. Looking back at my notes, which are plentiful, I can see that I learned a great deal that day. Much of it, I feel, was reinforcing a flagging confidence in my own ability to flip.

I attempted to flip my classroom, earlier in the year, beginning with in-flipping, however, I found that it was not working, and this hurt my confidence significantly, being a new teacher and on my first block of teaching I felt, to be honest, like a complete goose. The brand new, gung-ho, more excitement and passion than common sense teacher that proceeds to fall flat on his face. Looking back, I can see where I went wrong, and it was in the planning stages. So for me, I feel like one of the biggest gains out of the workshop was revived confidence and faith in flipping; and in my ability to implement flipped learning with the right infrastructure.

The first thing that Joel did  was an ice-breaker, with the usual name and location as well as what your experience with flipped learning was at that point. This was something I really appreciated, realising as we went around, that our group consisted of a broad cross-section of educators. I think I was in the running to be the youngest person there; there were educators from primary, secondary, vocational, Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Hong Kong, and a fairly even gender split. From conversations both then and throughout the day, I noticed a common theme and it caused this realisation:

I am not alone in wanting to flip and in hitting obstacles to doing so, and not being sure how to go about overcoming them.

This alone, in my eyes, made it worth attending the workshop. I often, within my school, felt like the lone nut in this now classic video:

But no longer. Or rather, I am still the lone nut, but I am not the only lone nut. I have connections now with other lone nuts and some others who are leaders and are leading a movement, and I cannot explain how much that means to me.

I had to laugh a little at Joel’s first activity though it had merit. He asked us to brainstorm, as a group, on a piece of butchers paper, all the reasons why flipping would not / does not work. We dug into the remarks heard on a regular basis. and came up with quite a number of (supposed) reason why flipped learning does not work relatively quickly; and as quickly, were able to list a range of reasons why flipped learning can and does work.

Having ‘gotten that out of our systems,’ we moved on and went through an in-flipped lesson, about folding shirts the fast way.We went through this in the way that Joel would expect his students to progress through a lesson, with the exception that we watched the video then, rather than at home. After watching the video, he had us all go outside and explained that he asks every student in his flipped classes “what are you doing today?” as they enter the room. This question prompts cognition about the student’s learning goal for the session, making it clear to the student and to Joel, what the aim is for the session. This also builds on the relationship between Joel and each student, whereby this process is now normal for them. We then proceeded to work through the lesson, with much peer-teaching and collaboration going on.

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”
– Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters (Letter 16, 1657)”

Joel commented that there is no right way to make a video, but, that there are some important considerations to factor in.

  • Having your face in the video is important due to how much we communicate using our body language and to build and strengthen the relationship between you and the student (and the parent if they watch the videos with their child).
  • We should pace our video for the student that is at the top for the topic/subject/concept: “The differentiation is two buttons called pause and rewind.”
  • Try to harness the Game of Thrones effect; when you finish watching one, you want to watch another.
  • You are not perfect teaching in the classroom, do not aim to be perfect on the video. Embrace and utilise the mistakes.
  • Video making does take time….in the planning and set-up phase.
    • This rings true for me. My videos take around ten to fifteen minutes to record. The planning and setting up for each video takes around fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Make the videos short, fast, chunked conceptually, ensure you look into the camera and embrace your mistakes.

Returning back to the length of the video for a moment, one of Jon’s tips was that they should be no more than one to one-and-a-half minutes per grade level. E.g. Year Five videos should be no longer than five to seven-and-a-half minutes, whilst year twelve videos should be no longer than twelve to eighteen minutes. Joel took this concept and explained that the first ten seconds of a video is crucial to the subsequent engagement. He indicated that if you do not capture the interest in the first ten seconds, then you likely will not capture it at all. This sounds familiar, when I consider my own YouTube watching habits, especially when considered in conjunction with the below graphic. I have included the description written in the source article (which is interesting in its own right) to explain what you are looking at.

Wistia Video Analystics Exhibit B. Retrieved from 1/11/15

“On to Exhibit B, where the x-axis represents the percentage of a video viewed (think of each line as the average engagement graph for a video of that length range in Wistia, one of the bars of Exhibit A over time, with each line representing the average video for that bin, with the lengths normalized), and the y-axis represents audience engagement. In this case, you could compare the engagement graph line of your own video to the appropriate line of this graph to compare yourself to the average.

A possible takeaway from this graph would be to organize the content of your videos journalistically, placing the most important, essential information first, then following with supporting details. For longer videos, notice that the dropoff at the beginning is extremely steep; it seems that most viewers decide quickly whether or not to watch, and once that decision is made, they tend to stick around until the end of the video, when they detect that the video is wrapping up and another drop off occurs.”

Jon and Joel’s advice would appear to stack up against the analytics; shorter is better.

I will stop there for this article as it is already quite lengthy, and there is still much to explore from the day. Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave any feedback or questions in the comments section below. Part Two will appear on Wednesday afternoon.

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Heading to #FlipConAus

“Investing time to learn something in your professional make you RICH in your KNOWLEDGE, if you are not then it will make you POOR in your PERFORMANCE.”
– Attributed to Sivaprakash Sidhu

This afternoon I am heading off to the Gold Coast for a few days to attend FlipConAus, the first time that Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams have brought the long-running US conference dedicated to flipped learning to Australian educators. My flight leaves this afternoon (I will be mid-point when this article posts) as I am attending a Masterclass on Thursday, followed by the conference itself on Friday and Saturday, returning home Sunday morning.

I look forward to meeting up with some of my readers and members of my online professional learning network face-to-face for the first time I still have article from #TMSpaces to write, and so my review of FlipCon likely won’t begin until the end of next week, if not the week after. Have a great weekend, and I hope to see you at FlipCon