FTPL – How to set up GDrive on an iPad

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”
– Attributed to Nancy Kassebaum

The next few videos in the FTPL series will cover some skills that we have already looked at on the computer from the point of view of using them on the iPad. We begin with setting up Google Drive on your iPad.

#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 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.

Jump to the next article.

#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.