Reflections on Flipping the “Flipped Lesson” Lesson

For the final assignment in CEP800, I implemented a Flipped Lesson on the topic of creating Flipped Lessons. The actual lesson plan remained relatively unchanged from the version submitted in module 5 (Flipped Lesson Plan) with the exception of the choice of specific technology provided for the hands-on portion of the lesson. Rather than using laptops, PowerPoint and Jing, when a set of iPads running iOS7 and the newest iMovie app became available, I jumped at the opportunity to employ them for their ease of use and flexibility in learning to create a Flipped Lesson video.

The training was offered as an optional staff development opportunity during parent conference week. Five teachers, the curriculum coordinator and the secondary principal each signed up for an hour long session. The training was actually held twice to accommodate the schedules of the attendees. In the first session, Spanish, English, and Technology teachers from the high school were joined by the secondary principal. In the second session, high school Math and middle school Language Arts teachers were joined by the curriculum coordinator. The small group sizes matched nicely with the kind of personalized training I like to offer as a Technology Coach.

Neither group arrived with any questions regarding the video that had been assigned for viewing prior to the lesson. That said, during the discussion portion of one of the lessons, the topic of how to ensure students view the video prior to class did provide for a lively give and take on interesting techniques for keeping kids accountable in fun and practical ways. During the hands-on portion, the first group was more focused on examining the technical aspects of content curation, while the second group took a greater interest in exploring and using the iMovie app on the iPads for creating their own video content. While both lessons went smoothly, both could have benefitted from more time.

The goals of the training were to establish a baseline understanding for the philosophy underpinning Flipped Lessons and to introduce the practice of creating a video for use in Flipping a lesson. The at-home video assignment helped establish that baseline, whereas the discussion portion of the lesson was useful in allowing me to discover the various levels of familiarity with the philosophy behind Flipping as well as get a better grasp on and possibly enhance educator understanding of that philosophy. Of course, while some of the teachers arrived with prior knowledge of Flipping, it was clear that each was able to build on that knowledge through ideas brought up during the discussion. Almost all who attended indicated that, while they had wanted to try Flipping a lesson for some time, a lack of understanding and training in the technical aspects had presented a significant barrier in the past.

As a major tenet of Flipping is focusing in-class time on non-lecture, inquiry based, problem solving activity, it is not surprising that the hands-on technical portion of each lesson evoked the most energy and involvement by the participants. Being able to practice and apply some of the suggestions from the previously viewed video helped lock in those concepts. Likewise, sharing ideas about curation and then immediately exploring online tools that support content curation were important steps for several of the teachers in the first group. In both lessons, even though a complete video for use in a Flipped Lesson was never finished due to time constraints, at least the initial scaffolding for doing so was established. Comfort levels with the technology were increased. And, perhaps most importantly, teachers acknowledged others on the staff with whom they could potentially collaborate in the process. All that said, I believe future implementation of the lesson could provide greater benefit as a half day or even possibly a full day workshop, particularly if teachers arrived with content (digital or otherwise) they wanted to convert to video.

Using iMovie on the iPads allowed the teachers to see just how simply and easily one could create high quality digital video for use in a Flipped Lesson. While some of the teachers did ask about more advanced effects that were unavailable on the iPad app (such as green screen), generally speaking they recognized the value of being able to create video without a steep learning curve in the initial phase. The curriculum coordinator was especially excited for the opportunity to bring in-coming, new teachers up to speed quickly via the Flipped Lesson model and began discussing plans to develop videos on a range of topics.

The ultimate assessment of the training will be found in the follow up, creation and implementation of a Flipped Lesson using video by each of the participants. Recognizing that this lesson was just a start, I shared my contact details with each of them and encouraged them to enlist my assistance in the completion of the process. Even though I am currently putting the finishing touches on this assignment for CEP800, I am fairly certain that the lesson will continue long after the class has ended. That’s what I love about working with great teachers: they are invariably self-motivated, lifelong learners as well.


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