#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 https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/motivation-in-science-and-mathematics/ 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 Three Part Two

“Flipping is somewhere between didactic instruction and constructivism”
– Aaron Sams

Welcome back for part two of day three of the FlipConAus review. If you have missed the previous articles, you can find them here:

Jon and Aaron began their second keynote of the conference by saying that we, those in attendance, were all early adopters and that our job was to flip well and be lighthouses for those who would come later, to be examples of what flipping can achieve. I thought this was an interesting way of beginning, as personally, I do not feel like an early adopter, I feel like I am late to the game, so to speak, of flipped learning, given that it has been around since around 2007.

Adopter categories based on innovation characteristic. Retrieved from https://www.ntt-review.jp/archive/ntttechnical.php?contents=ntr200804le1.html 11/11/15

Thinking about it further, though, there is no real timeline defined for what constitutes the movement between the stages of adoption. Statistically speaking, when you overlay the adoption of new technologies, you do still end up with the regular bell-curve, and I certainly would not consider flipping to be mainstream, meaning it has not reached the early or late majority phases (or the laggard phase, for that matter). I also do not think I am an innovator which means that I am an early adopter. Our feeling of where we sit in the adoption bell-curve does not necessarily represent reality, and wherever we sit, we need to be aiming to flip well to show what flipping can do for education.

Jon and Aaron made the point again that flipping is between didactic pedagogy and constructivism, and that the elephant in the room is assessment, with the enormous pressures on teachers and students to ‘perform’ (as though we are all seals at an amusement park balancing beach balls on our noses for treats) well in the standardised testing to which we, students and teachers alike, are subjected through NAPLAN and the HSC, and from what I understand in some states, the School Certificate in Year Ten.

Their advice was to operate within the constraints in which you find yourself; manipulate your assessment as you are able to within your context. Marijne Slager put it slightly differently when she tweeted this:

This is a fair point, as there is a substantial amount of pressure on both teachers and students to perform ‘well,’ whatever that means, and I recall when the NAPLAN results for this year were posted on the staffroom wall that there was much discussion about where we had done well and done poorly. There is much debate about the validity and purpose of standardised testing, particularly NAPLAN (for example, here and here), however for better or worse, it is a significant part of education, and much funding goes into the delivery of the tests, and we as teachers need to negotiate our way through this in the context of implementing flipped learning.

After a brief note about assessment, Jon and Aaron spoke about Bloom’s Taxonomy, reiterating the point that there are so many different shapes (as seen here), that we need to not get hung up on the appearance, but to remember the goal is to engage students in deeper learning and thinking. We also need to remember that just like the SAMR model, Bloom’s Taxonomy is not a ladder to climb. It is a tool to help us consider what kind of learning activity our students are engaging with and there are valid and useful occasions where students should be at the remembering phase just as there are valid and useful times when students should be at the creation phase, and the two occasions are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It should be used contextually, as a guide for designing and thinking about learning activities.

A discussion of some subject-specific ideas for flipping followed this, which I will summarise below.

  • Reading
    • Curriculet and ActivelyLearn are two useful tools for reading that track time spent reading as well as allowing for note-taking and highlighting within texts.
    • This was around the point that flipping does not have to be done via video.

  • History and Social Sciences
    • Tend to be the subject with the longest lectures.
    • Use the what happened as the home learning, and the why as the class learning

  • Mathematics
    • Think about more than just videos and problems.
    • Ripe for project-based learning using real-world issues.
      • My school is having a site rebuild, with construction taking place next year, and I fully intend to utilise the learning opportunities therein in the classroom.

  • Language
    • Lots of opportunities to turn home into the learning and the class into the practice space, with all interactions in the language being studied

The key though is to ensure that content is correct and to remember that you do not need to out-flip, that is, do the flipping at home. In-flipping is perfectly valid, particularly as a starting place. To gain the most benefit for your students learning out of flipping, the aim should be to out-flip, eventually.

Another point is that the discussion around flipping often centers around the videos and the home-learning. We need, however, to talk about the class-time and how we, as teachers, utilise that. There have been teachers who have flipped their classes and then left the students to do the in-class learning on their own, sitting at their desk. This is not flipping well. We need to use the in-class time better, and we can do this in a range of ways, from instituting weekly student-led conferences to talk about how they are are doing in general or in specific areas, whether it be academic or social, to deliver small group tutoring or mentoring, to do more hands-on active learning such as experiments in science or making/tinkering in other learning areas. How you use the time is, of course, up to you, but it needs to be used effectively for flipped learning to be worthwhile.

It was also observed that although there is a tendency to think of flipped learning as being high-tech, it can be done with low-tech tools. Rather than using a complicated Learning Management System to outline what students need to do and where to access the content required, there are some teachers flipping quite successfully who are using a physical workbook as their LMS. They note down what needs to be covered with timeline expectations as a guideline, and then include QR codes for the online content, and each student is given a copy

In conjunction with this, it was also observed that instructions can be flipped successfully, freeing up time in class for the doing and that flipping staff meetings or professional development is also often a very successful way of introducing flipping to staff. I deliver flipped professional development for colleagues quite simply because everyone is time-poor and they can access the learning whenever and wherever they want, and then ask follow-up questions later on as needed.

The Phet was offered up as a useful website to allow students to complete many experiments through simulation, rather than only one or two due to the time required to set up and conduct some experiments. There was a discussion about the benefits of flipping student feedback when marking students learning output.

Flipping also allows greater opportunity for student choice, though it should be relatively structured, and be choice from defined options as many students freeze like the proverbial deer-in-headlights when presented with free choice. I have been doing that with my Stage Three classes as part of our end of unit assessment. We have been learning about the Cornell Note Taking strategy, and as I did not feel like reading a hundred of the same submission, I have had discussions with the classes about the options they have to demonstrate that they understand and can use the strategy. With each class, we discussed the options available to them. Some students have elected to record a video explaining what it is and then demonstrating how to use it, some to use the strategy, and submit their notes about a self-selected topic with annotations, and some to create a Kahoot. We then discussed, in each class group, what success would look like in each of these options, which I then turned into a digital rubric on Google Docs and distributed via Google Class. We also negotiated when it would be due.

Jon and Aaron reminded us of a very important fact that we need to consider when flipping and where we add the value as professionals:

Our value as professionals in the guidance during the more cognitively demanding portions of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and we need to ensure, when we flip, that we do add value to the students learning. so that we do not create the situation where students are overloaded with homework that has no value in the classroom. We should be providing students with opportunities to apply and analyse and create, using real-world contexts that are relevant to the students lives’.

The final point was that the metaphorical train of flipped learning has already left the station and we should not get left behind.

Before we moved off for the afternoon break, Jon and Aaron made an exciting announcement. I had asked Aaron over drinks during Thursday night’s social event whether there were plans to make FlipConAus an annual event, and he confirmed that it was the plan, and a venue for next year was being sought. The announcement made before we moved off to afternoon tea was that the venue had been located and confirmed:

Jeremy LeCornu’s school, Brighton Secondary School would be the site of next year’s conference and by proposing to my wife that she come with me to the conference as she will be able to visit some family she has in Adelaide she has not seen since our wedding while I am at the conference, I already have tacit approval to attend.

Thank you for reading this penultimate article in the FlipConAus review series. Tomorrow’s article will see out the end of the conference with presentations from Matt Burns. As always, thank you for reading, and please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section.

#FlipConAus Review – Day Three Part One

““If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
– Unknown, attributed to various people.

This article begins the review of the third and final day of the first FlipConAus. It was another big day, and will likely be spread across two or perhaps three articles. If you have missed the previous articles in this review series, please see the links below

My day began with Crystal Caton (@cmcaton) speaking under the title How we flipped and you can too, and her first point was one that I had not heard made up til that point. Planning your flip is critical to its success. There are lots of ways to begin planning and thinking about your flip, but Crystal contended that asking yourself what is your need or purpose for flipping is a useful starting point. Identify why it is that you want to flip, and what you hope to gain from it. Each teacher will have potentially a different rationale for flipping their classroom, but it needs to be explicitly understood as that will drive how you utilise flipped learning. She asked us to think about it, in the session, and to consider why it is that we wanted to flip. Personally, I want to flip so that I am able to spend more time with individual students and build the relationships that will allow me to understand their needs as learners better. I also would like to utilise it to, over the long term, create more time in class for more involved learning tasks that take students deeper.

Crystal acknowledged that there will be lots of barriers, but pointed out that investing some time in identifying these barriers before you flip will allow you to have a range of strategies available to you for overcoming them when they occur. Having a range of strategies available to you will increase the likelihood of sticking with flipped learning as a pedagogical practice,  as there will be less stress involved in overcoming those challenges than without preparation. Crystal also pointed out that many of the challenges in a flipped learning context are also challenges in a regular learning context, and so leaning on those as reasons to not flip make very little sense.

Crystal was also adamant that we need to sell flipped learning to our students as much as to their parents and our colleagues or supervisors. Many students are used to the game of school, and understand how to play it successfully, and changing the game on them mid-way through will create a significant amount of anxiety for some students. Selling it to them; explaining the what, how and why of flipped learning to students prior to implementing it will help to relieve much of that angst. This can be done via flipped pedagogies as well, much as you can sell and explain flipped learning to many parents by flipping the parent-teacher meeting.

Crystal reiterated a point made often during the conference, which is that there are no experts in flipped learning at this point in time, as we are all still learning the craft of flipping and refining our pedagogical practice, however, part of the challenge of implementing flipped learning is determining what successful implementation will look like for you in your context. This is, again, something that will look different for different teachers, and success in your context may well be considered to be a failure in another, however if it means success in your context, then it means success. This is the same as differentiating the success criteria for our students in class.

Crystal’s final point was in regards to forward-planning. She indicated that as part of our planning that we should also consider where we would like to be in one year in regards to our flipping (this is in reference to the flipping journey beginning with Flipping 101 as discussed by John and Aaron in their keynote speech, discussed here). This will allow us to backward map what we need to do to achieve that goal, in relation to professional development, to flipping new or different units of subject areas and in relation to critical reflection.

My next session was in the schools language building, and I saw the sign in my tweet above taped to one of the walls and seeing Sean Bean, in yet One does not simply… meme made me laugh, particularly given the truth behind it (though Google Translate is getting better). My next session was with Jeremy LeCornu (@MrLeCornu, Jeremy’s website) under the heading  My Flipped Classroom.

Jeremy began by speaking about some logistical issues around flipping, pointing out that Technical Support and Digital Learning Coordinator (or similar titled positions) are very different roles, and that if you are not the technical support person, then you are not the technical support person. Jeremy was open that flipping, and building up a bank of flipped resources takes time as you can only film one video at a time, no matter how good your time management of planning skills. One thing which Jeremy showed us which I thought was an excellent idea, is the use of two cameras. Jeremy’s little studio utilised a camera, set up in the regular position to record Jeremy’s face, while he has another, mounted above him pointing straight down, to capture what he is doing / writing in front of him.

The finished product looks like this:

This has lots of benefits, including the ability to show exactly what you are doing, as well as describing it. It also alleviates the issue which faces many flippers which is when you film in front of a whiteboard, you are then facing away from the camera (there is another solution to this, which I will discuss later*). This takes a little bit of planning in setting up, and is best done once, and then in-situ.

One obstacle which many teachers face is students ability to access their videos, as most students are unable to access YouTube and most other video-hosting sites due to internet filters at schools, whether private or public. One way of getting around this is to utilise the school server to store videos which then enables students to save the videos they need for that night to a USB if they do not have internet access at home. This also works if your school 1:1 program is laptops rather than tablets (or your tablets have USB ports).

Part of teaching students to engage with flipped learning is teaching them to write down their questions about the explanation. The explanation does not change simply by clicking pause or rewind, and those students who are unable to understand the concept or skill after re-watching the video will need further assistance. Teaching them to write down their questions allows you to identify exactly where the students need support, and provide it to them. This is where flipped learning is beneficial in that while other students are moving on and do not need your assistance, you can give the one to one or small group help that is required, without holding up other students.

Jeremy also discussed the negative connotations surrounding homework, generating a discussion around renaming it as home learning. While for some this will seem like a superficial exercise in semantics, through education of parents and students, it will, in fact, change the conception of the process now known as homework.

Jeremy next showed us VersoApp, a tool that he utilises in class for discussions. Students post comments, questions or replies, which to them, are all anonymous, protecting those who are too shy to verbalise in a traditional class discussion. In teacher view, however, all the names are shown which allows the teacher to stay on top of inappropriate postings.

We, as an audience, utilised Verso to respond to a question, generating the conversation about how Verso functioned and could be utlilised in class. Jeremy then led a discussion about why creating your own videos is a better option than curating others’ videos and made the point that you should be, as much as possible, the same on camera as you are in the classroom. He made an observation that many teachers tend to become rigid and staid in their delivery when on camera, even if that is not their teaching personality in the classroom. Being the same on video is an important part of building the relationships with our students.

Both Crystal’s and Jeremy’s sessions were very well delivered, and also well attended. I really appreciated the observations that both Crystal and Jeremy made and some of the tools and ideas they presented to help flip a classroom. Thank you for reading and if you have any follow-up questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section. Tomorrow, I will explore Jon and Aaron’s second keynote speech and begin to wrap up the conference.

*Another alternative is the lightboard. For examples of what this looks like and how to make one, watch this video, this video or this video. Joel Speranza has made one since FlipConAus, and I thought he had posted a video showing how he made it, but I cannot find where it is.

Jump to the next article in the series.

#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.

LMS
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 http://www.injoewetrust.com.au/2015/09/14/standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants/ 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 http://embed.wistia.com/deliveries/2f3e7ed99420e27f034a8da15f8bda77381ed2a5/length-matters-2.gif 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.

Jump straight to the next article.

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