Monday, August 20, 2012


Last night my husband & I sat down and watched Moneyball, and oddly, it made me think about being a part of the flipped classroom movement.

For those of you who haven't seen Moneyball, it's a baseball movie.  I'm not a big baseball fan, in general, but I am a sucker for a good sports movie with a happy ending.  In short, it's about the Oakland A's, and how statistics became a huge part of baseball recruitment.  The main character in the movie (Billy Beane) takes a risk on a very unorthodox way of recruiting/scouting baseball players.  He and his assistant decide to use all sorts of statistics that end up giving each player a percentage.  Using numbers allowed the scouts to overcome the bias that used to surround baseball scouting (his swing is too ugly, etc.)

In the movie, Billy Beane takes all kinds of pounding from the press, his coaching staff, the media, etc.  He really goes out on a limb to try something new because he knew that the same old recruiting methods wouldn't work in Oakland because they had a significantly smaller budget than most other teams (like the Yankees, for example).

As I watched, I began to notice a lot of similarities between education and baseball.  Our schools are still running on a very old philosophy.  Students should sit in rows, listen (not speak), and memorize what the teacher says...okay, hopefully that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  Children today are not the same as the children of 50 years ago.  What worked then doesn't work now.  This is not new information...people are well aware of this problem, and yet nothing is changing!  Why?  Because change is hard.

Back to the movie, this new way of thinking about baseball was a huge one thought it would work.  This was only 10 years ago!  Now look at the game.  Statistics plays a huge role in the scouting and recruiting of baseball players.  Because Billy Beane took a risk & tried something different, he changed the face of baseball.

This is what I think is starting to happen with the flipped classroom movement.  Teachers realize that the same old methods aren't cutting it.  When I first heard about the flipped classroom I was at a point of being highly frustrated with the system.  To me, flipped classroom was the answer.  Am I perfect at it yet?  Nope.  Will I ever be perfect at it?  Nope.  And I think that's what makes it work.  It's an ever changing method of teaching that is completely tailored to the teacher & students using it.

Similar to the movie, there is a lot of press surrounding the flipped classroom.  Thankfully, most of it is positive.  However, all this publicity leads to misunderstanding.  Many people who hear about the flipped classroom think it's all about the videos.

Say it with me's not about the videos!  It's about being able to reach kids where they are, and take them farther than they ever dreamed.

Monday, August 13, 2012

All you have to do is ask

In one of my recent posts, I was grumbling about not having funds for Camtasia.  I had gotten a chance to play with it at a conference I went to this summer, but was disappointed when I found out my district didn't have the software.  Well...apparently the spectacular people at TechSmith read my blog & took pity on me.  They gave me a copy of Camtasia to try out this a hearty thank-you goes out to TechSmith, you all are amazing!

Since then, I also got a partner in crime who wants to try this whole flipped/mastery thing out with yeah for me!  She recently came over & we were able to get our entire first unit filmed.  The week that followed allowed me some time to toy around with Camtasia & I am loving it so far :)  I'm still trying to figure out all the in's & out's of the program, but I can record, zoom, highlight & put in notes, which are the most essential pieces to enhancing the videos (in my humble opinion).

I also recently got my youtube channel up & running.  This is where I plan to store all of our flipped classroom videos.  If you're interested in checking out the videos that Jodi & I made, you can access my my channel here.  I've heard there is a way to require the students to answer a question during your video to allow them to move on...if anyone knows how to do that, I'd appreciate the info!

If you watch the videos we've made so far, you'll notice I've had to do a lot of work making the transitions in the slideshow come in at the right time.  I don't have a tablet to write on, which I think would make the process even easier for us & for the kids.  I think there is something to be said for students watching how I actually solve problems by hand.  I asked our tech department if they happened to have a tablet laying around (a girl can dream, right?) & they actually do have one that I can use!

On a less positive note, I found out recently that I do not get my i-pad back next year...they had to give it to a different teacher to be used for a different purpose...It's all tied to the funding that was used to purchase the i-pad.  I understand the why, but it still stinks.  I was hoping to get the students more involved in the video making process this year, and that was going to rely heavily on using the i-pad.  Being the optimistic person that I am, I won't let that stop me.  I'll write a grant for an i-pad...unless anyone has one of those laying around too ;)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Making videos as a first experience

If you remember from some of my past ramblings, I've been trying to figure out a way to get another teacher to flip with me this year.  I am excited to announce that one of the other 5th grade teachers in the district (different building) is also interested.  We got together earlier this week & filmed the entire first unit of videos.  I still have to edit & post them on youtube, but they are recorded, which is a start.  I have one edited & posted, which I've embedded here :)  Keep in mind, I am a rookie at Camtasia, I'm sure there is more I can edit, but I don't totally know how to do it steps :)

After several discussions, this is how we see our day/year starting out.

We'll begin with a video on how to watch a video.  We'll be utilizing a modified WSQ that I learned about from Crystal Kirch.  Then we'll continue into Unit 1.  We plan on watching & completing the WSQ in class for the first unit.  Heavy guiding at first, in hopes of them doing it right the rest of the year.  Mastery will not start in unit one...

Unit 2 we'll start weaning the kids off of us watching the videos in class & them watching at home.  I'm not sure that mastery will start in unit two either...we'll see how things play out.  When I think of mastery teaching in my class, the kids are going to be taking quizzes on each of the learning goals (our "I can" statements).  They must pass the quizzes to move on.  This will allow (to some extent) the ability for the students to pace themselves.

Hopefully, by the time we get to Unit 3, we'll have all the quizzes set up & ready to go :)  That being said, I'm realizing exactly how much we have to do for each unit.  On our to do list:

  1. Make slideshow for each learning goal.
  2. Make video for each learning goal.
  3. Edit video for each learning goal.
  4. Write multiple questions for each learning goal that will be input into Moodle.
  5. Repeat for next unit!

A few things to note (and some concerns too):
  • Positive: I really like us recording the videos together (it's way more fun)!
    • Concern:  How in the world are we going to make this work during the school year when we aren't in the same building.
  • Positive: I particularly like that one of us can ask the questions we know the student will ask, and the other can answer.
    • Concern:  How in the world are we going to make this work during the school year when we aren't in the same building.
  • Positive:  Mastery - I'm very excited by the whole concept, it's exciting where this can take the kids.
    • Concern:  How in the world are we going to make this work during the school year when we aren't in the same building.
We are hoping that our principals will give us some time throughout the year to work on this long list of items...keep your fingers crossed!