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.


Flippin’ Training

As part of my “Learning in School and Other Settings” course for the MAET I am pursuing at MSU, I have created a lesson plan for training teachers about creating and using video in a Flipped Lesson. I will be testing out this lesson plan in just over a week at the Cayman International School with teachers who sign up for the training.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

For now, here is my lesson on creating a Flipped Lesson.

Today on Podcast Lab

My current project in CEP800 – Learning in School and Other Settings is the creation of a podcast exploring student understanding. As a Technology Coach, my students are administration, teachers and staff. The understanding that I chose to explore is the Flipped Classroom. I also happen to be a huge fan of Radio Lab on NPR as you may guess from the title of my project, Podcast Lab. I hope you enjoy it, but I welcome your comments in any case.

Not so fast, Mr. Burgam!

A bit of bad news came my way last week. While playing tennis I tore my Achilles’ tendon and had surgery to repair it last Thursday. But the thing to remember here is that I do still live in paradise. So even being confined to the couch for the next two to three weeks isn’t really all that bad. The view is still spectacular. The weather is still warm. The pain is, thankfully, minimal. The worst of it will be the cabin fever and coping with a cast (or a series of casts) over the next ten or eleven weeks. I will practice patience, gratitude and living one day at a time.

I did decide to drop the reading course (TE846) until the summer semester as my limited mobility and the effects of the pain meds have seriously cut into my ability to get all my classwork finished in a timely fashion. Besides that and the fact that I am on crutches now, not a whole lot has changed for me. For now, Angie has taken over the cooking and cleaning. But, once I am ambulatory again, I hope to resume my previous status as master of the house.

And once the leg heals, I should be back out on the courts, better than ever.

Out Where a Friend is a Friend

As Gene Autry most famously sang, I’m back in the saddle again!

I have returned for another semester of fun and merriment with two more online classes through MSU’s MAET program. Actually, one of the classes is a reading course required by the State of Michigan to regain my certification (TE 846: Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners), and the other is a required class in the MAET program (CEP 800: Psychology of Learning in School and Other Settings). In spite of the “required” nature of both, I am looking forward to learning a lot in each of them.

Well, since class has already begun, I suppose I should quit editing this blog and pay attention to what the instructors have to say. In any case, dear reader, fear not. “I came through and I shall return.” (Douglas MacArthur, right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)

By the way, I found the cheese. Isn’t it funny how things always turn up in the last place you look for them? </wink>

To Whom It May Concern… in other words

I have often thought about what fires my passion and my curiosity, and I keep coming back to the same idea. Apple. While my passion for and curiosity about technology certainly precedes my introduction to computers, it clearly exploded once I got my hands on my first Apple IIe. For me, that initial experience (and the IIgs that followed it and the very, very long string of Macs and iDevices that have followed since) defined (and continues to define) my professional life. Moreover, as anyone who knows me well can attest, they have an enduring and profound positive effect on my personal life as well.

Had there never been an Apple Computer, I would certainly still be interested in technology (see my previous post). But I am just as certain it would not be with the same enthusiasm and zeal. For me, Apple is a company that inspires. As one might expect, I know quite a number of people involved with technology, both through my years in education and through my years in the private sector. But, of those hundreds (perhaps thousands) of self-described “geeks,” I cannot name one who expresses the same passion, the same excitement for their Dell or HP or Lenovo that I have for my Mac.

In the late 90s, when Steve Jobs returned to lead Apple Computer, the company adopted the famous “Think different” ad campaign. At the heart of this campaign was a kind of mission statement aligning creativity, genius and change titled “To the crazy ones.” This manifesto spoke to me at a very basic level. While I suppose I may have always known, it brought forward in my consciousness the fact that I could use technology to change the world.

So I do.

As a technology coach, my passion and curiosity are the backbone of how I work. Those with whom I have worked express appreciation for the joy and excitement I bring to teaching technology. I have been told that my love of computers has an infectious quality (I believe they meant that in a good way…) And I suspect it is that love that allows me to be so patient with people learning new skills. I want to share the joy I feel when I locate the perfect font or find a keystroke command to make the job just that much easier, the wonder of tables and the beauty of charts, the creative freedom of Photoshop and Final Cut. Just as technology simplifies complex tasks, I want to simplify technology for others. And I want them to feel even a small part of the excitement and power I feel when I create using these elegant and glorious tools.

In order to express both my passion and curiosity for technology as well as how I attempt to inspire passion and curiosity in those with whom I work, I have recreated Apple’s iconic “To the crazy ones” print ad. While the structure might remain Apple’s, the passion, the emotion and the intention are all mine. Note that I have replaced the nine images of genius with nine icons characteristic of skills deemed important by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (If you are not yet familiar with, I highly recommend becoming so. They share my passion for technology.) As ever, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.



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