"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."
- Attributed to Winston Churchill
The fifth module in the Flipped Certification Level II is focused on learning spaces. Several years ago a trend emerged from a number of the larger multinationals such as Google to move away from offices and cubicles to open-plan office space and hot desking under the concept of open office. This trend took hold and many companies were reported as switchign across; however, lately there has been a trend to move back towards more traditional office structures or to find a middle ground.
This trend also hit education, with many schools investing significant funds in redesigning their buildings to create open learning spaces. Whether this works depends on who you talk to. My experience in a two-class space was that it was brilliant. My teaching partner and I loved it and learned from each other as we developed our pedagogy to suit this new space, resulting in one of us being able to do the explicit teaching as required with the other available to work one on one or with small groups.
I have heard stories of it being terrible. Of the space being open but there being invisible walls with an unwillingness to engage in collaborative teaching from one or more of the teachers in the space. So I was curious to hear the Learning Space expert, David Jakes, had to say about structuring learning spaces specifically for flipped classrooms.
One thing which David said that really stood out, when asked by Jon what a teacher should buy to get the most out ofa space, was that if you have a budget, do not go out and buy things to put in your room. Consider what you want the space to be for each lesson/subject, what the teaching and learning experiences are that will need to occur and then find things and furniture that will facilitate that. It may sound like an obvious response, however, so many schools that I have visited have simpy replaced old traditional furniture for new funky furniture and then then six months down the track discovered that they are not using a significant portion of it, or that they are constantly having to shuffle things out of the way.
This was only a short section of the certification course, so I will stop there and not give away the entirety of the contents, but it was an easy to digest component as there was nothing particularly revelatory. A lot of it was good to hear reframed. That said, having been in a school that has gone through a rebuild in the last few years, I also went looking for ideas, thoughts, and advice on different learning spaces, furniture etc. during the process so that I was ready.
Thank you, as always, for reading. Given the time in the year and how busy things are, I may or may not publish further articles this year (though I do intend for a general reflection article). Please enjoy the remainder of your school term, however long that may be, and stay safe over the coming summer break.
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
-Attributed to George Bernard Shaw
How do you decide whether or not a tool is worth using in the classroom?
I recently stumbled on a retweet from Marco Cimino which was itself a retweet from Carl Miller which was a gif of every front page from the New York Times since 1952. I found watching this to be quite mesmerising, watching the wholly text images gradually introduce images to the front page suddenly explode into being almost wholly images instead.
I feel like this front page encapsulates education's views towards video in the classroom. I remember, as a student in the nineties, getting excited as our teacher rolled in the boxy looking CRT tv on a trolley; Yes, we're watching a video now, that means we don't have to do anything.
That attitude, there is a video on which means we can switch off, was setting a low low bar about the expectations of video use in the classroom. However, it is an attitude which still prevails today. There are fewer people now who believe that, as there has been enough demonstration of effective practice around the use of video in the classroom, but it is still there.
Video is just like pencils, paper, laptops, textbooks, chalk, and science experiments; they are all simply tools and it is how we use them that determines whether or not they are an effective tool. Dismissing video as simply being a babysitting tool is to dismiss the potential to provide your students with the explicit instruction that they need, accessible whenever and wherever they need.
If you use video just as a babysitter, then yes, it is a poor tool reflecting poor practice. If, however, you use video effectively it can be incredibly powerful. The flipped learning movement is contingent on the effective use of video instruction to return class time to teachers for use in practical learning activities that take the concept or skill and apply it.
How will you effectively use video in the classroom?
"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun."
- Mary Poppins
Gamification (also referred to, sometimes interchangeably, as game-based, game-inspired, or game-centered learning) is something that I have written about in the past (such as this article) but not something that I have ever invested time into exploring or implementing. I refer to myself as a gamer, but a casual gamer rather than a hard-core gamer. I will happily escape into (at the moment) the Uncharted world and pretend that I am a treasure hunter, relax into some low-cognitive load FIFA18, or watch my wife play the incredibly beautifully written Final Fantasy series and marvel at how far computer graphics have come in the last thirty years. Take ninety seconds and watch the below video which shows the original Final Fantasy released in 1987 and reminisce about how amazed we were at the time to see these little pixels moving about the screen controlled by us, and then compare it to Final Fantasy 15 released in 2016 and marvel at how photorealistic much of the scenery is, the change in the music quality etc.
However, gamification is not something that I have ever explored more deeply. I had my hands full on developing my pedagogy and classroom management. It was exciting to see that someone I know, Pete Whiting, was facilitating the gamification component of the Flipped Learning Certification Level II course.
Flipped learning is the meta-strategy that supports other pedagogical approaches and Pete makes a very interesting comment early on that he could not see how they could get to gamification without using flipped learning as the backbone as flipped learning allows for the decentralisation of the classroom (i.e. the teacher does not need to be at the front of the class) that is needed for gamification to be implemented.
Gamification, implementation of game mechanics, is also more familiar to us and students than we realise and this makes it easy to implement from an explanatory perspective. Think about your loyalty and rewards cards; buy nine coffees and get the tenth or similar. That is gamification of commerce.
It is important to note that merely changing the mechanics from do this for an A to do this for 10XP is not in itself gamification. Gamification requires more thought than that and needs to be implemented well for it to be effective, both as a tool to generate engagement and as a tool for learning. This comes across in Yu-kai Chou's TEDx talk above when he comments that all games have some form of points, badges or leaderboards, yet not all games are engaging. Gamification should be about changing the focus from academic ability to academic effort.
When students can see that if they put in the effort to complete the mission and therefore get the loot and the associated XP, thus leveling up for the next mission or quest, that changes the way they think about learning. This has ramifications for the I'm no good at [insert subject] so I don't bother trying. When genuinely implemented, it changes that mindset to being about effort, not about how good they are at something. By engaging in the missions and learning through them those students will potentially become more comfortable with the topics and thus change their mindset and openness to further learning.
It is witnessing the eureka! moment that makes, in some ways, teaching such a joy. Paul Andersen says in the below TEDx Talk that it is "[t]hat look of learning, trying something new and failing and trying it again is something that we aspire to see in the eyes of our kids" and I think it is interesting, and somewhat disheartening that when it comes to video games, children are happy to fail and try again over and over until they achieve success, but in the classroom, when it comes to academic learning, our children are often defeated and want the answer when they fail the first time. What has happened that this is so?
One thing that really came through is how the feedback to students and the application of different expectations is critical. This is not particularly revelatory, however, the way in which it is implemented is tweaked. The explicit expectations around students success criteria for the missions, the effort required, is different. Rather than have one expectation for all students and when you complete the mission you get the XP, there are, if you will, different difficulty levels. Those who could be referred to as being good at the game of school might be put on the hard difficulty level and have different expectations to achieve the XP than the student who struggles with a concept. This helps, as Pete remarks, with rewarding effort rather than the genetics and home life.
Jon and Pete are both quite clear that the pedagogy behind gamification is much deeper and broader than the scope for the gamification unit of the flipped learning certification allowed for and that to get a true understanding, more time an exploration through other sources would be needed. One which they recommended was Goblin.Education, an online professional learning course which goes through the elements of gamification in education through game-based learning.
Pete's unit was a little bit more in depth and practical than what I had been exposed to on gamification in the past and is something that I now feel a bit more comfortable with using in the classroom than previously. If you wanted to hear what Pete had to say, then I would encourage you to click on the button above to register for the Level II flipped learning certification (after you have completed the level I certification). I have added Goblin to my list of courses to look at but for now, gamification is something that I do believe has a solid place in the classroom, when it is implemented well.
As always, thank you for reading.
In this flipped teacher professional learning video, I demonstrate how to access and use the My Maps tool available in GSuite. There is a resource that has been put together by Alice Keeler which shows many different ideas for using the tool in the classroom available here.
For more FTPL videos, please click here.
"I would argue that the most important infrastructure we have are minds, educated minds."
- Amel Karboul, Oct 2017, TED@BCG, Milan
Podcasts are a great way to keep up with new ideas and thoughts as well as to broaden the mind and challenge yourself. TED Talks Daily is one of the podcasts I listen to, and occasionally I will skip an episode because the subject is too far away from my interest to engage, or the speaker is not at all engaging. Recently, however, I listened to the global learning crisis and what to do about it. It was just merely the next episode in the list.
When the Dr. Amel Karboul opened by commenting that she is "the product of a bold leadership decision," and goes on to say that the first Tunisian President, Habib Bourguiba, made a decision to invest twenty percent of the country's national budget into education to ensure high-quality, free, education for every child, both girls and boys.
Immediately, my ears perked up. I did not know what percentage of our budget was dedicated to education (I have since looked and for 2017-18, it appears to be 7.28% based on this document) but I did not think it would be anywhere near twenty percent. There were protests, cries of what about...with lots of key infrastructure needs pointed to, however, Amel made an interesting point when she commented that she sees educated minds as the most important infrastructure.
Without an educated populace, how do you advance society?
Our national budget for 2017-18 is $464.3 billion dollars, investing twenty percent of that would be $92.86 billion. What could be achieved in education if that amount was invested? What gaps across early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary could be filled? Personally, I believe there would need to be a mix between investment in paying educators properly, particularly in early childhood, and investment in infrastructure. How many schools have old and ugly demountable buildings? How much more effective would it be to provide more space for the students to run around and play games during breaks if we built up? My school had thirteen demountables. Removing those and going three stories (at one end, only two stories at the other due to slope) provided so much more space for the students.
Forgetting about politics and the discussion around the funding split, what could be achieved if the government decided to invest in the future and value education so highly?
This point about valuing education and how much is invested is not even the most important point from Amel's talk, but it was one that struck me as significant given the current climate around education funding here in Australia.
"There is a fluency and an ease with which true mastery and expertise always expresses itself, whether it be in writing, whether it be in a mathematical proof, whether it be in a dance that you see on stage, really in every domain. But I think the question is, you know, where does that fluency and mastery come from?"
- Attributed to Angela Duckworth
The concept of mastery learning is that you must truly master each layer of knowedge or skill before moving onto the next, thus building your abilities up from a solid foundation. Cara Johnson is the expert who facilitates, along with Jon Bergmann, the Flipped Mastery unit of the Flipped Learning Level II Certification course. Cara acknowledges that mastery learning is not a new concept, however, with the advent of technology that we now have access to, and the pedagogy behind flipped learning; we now have the ability to see the true power of (flipped) mastery learning as students are genuinely able to learn at their own pace.
"When a teacher decides to take the step ito go nto mastery learning they have to embrace the mess and they have to give up a little bit of control. Although it's chaos for the teacher, it's best for the kids."
One idea that came through from working through the flipped mastery unit is how important it is for planning to be completed ahead of time, that winging it or the ten-step method of planning (i.e., doing the planning in the ten steps before the classroom door) just will not work. It requires the breakdown of concepts and skills into discrete building blocks that can be individually taught and then assessed for mastery before the student moves on to the next block of the unit, rather than an assessment task which may cover three or four part of a unit of learning.
Flipped Mastery, says Cara, follows a simple little cycle. Explcit teacing (via learning objects in the individual learning space), practice and application, mastery check (at this point more learning and review may take place if mastery is not achieved), followed by moving onto the next building block when mastery is achieved. Once all building blocks in a unit have been mastered, the overall summative assessment is then undertaken as a final check.
I find this process really interesting, especially in light of a TED talk that I listened to recently We should aim for perfection and stop fearing failure by Jon Bowers
Jon Bowers talks about how the acceptance of good enough has led to a lowering of standards and is why medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States (250,000 deaths per year) and why thirty-four million cars are being recalled globally because a car company installed an airbag that the manufacturers thought was good enough. I do not think that perfection and mastery are necessarily the same thing, however, I think the concept of mastery, of truly knowing an dunderstanding what you are learning is somewhat akin to to perfection. It is certainly not in sync with the good enough mentality that sees everyone get a participation award in athletics, or the drive to ensure that every student passes a course despite not knowing or understanding the concept.
In (flipped) mastery learning, the student must demonstrate that they truly understand the skill or concept being taught before they are allowed to move on. That sounds incredibly similar to perfection.
One idea about mastery learning and having students set their own pace is that you will have an ever-increasing gap between those who will knuckle down and get on with it and those who will procrastinate, as well as those for whom things click and those who struggle. One very simple way to help get around this is to provide some guidance as to how long it should take them to complete each building block. Another alternative to this is to set signpost expectations such as you should aim to be at point x by time y. This provides some accountability for time for students and gives them something to aim for as well as some structure to work within. What this looks like will vary depending on the age of the students. The guidance that John gave was that he used his pre-existing pacing calendar, but broadcast that to students.
The structures within the classroom are also important. Simply having students enter and get on with things will add to the chaos. Jon and Cara both advocate for what Jon termed a triage moment, or what might simply be called a check in point; checking in where students are at as a cohort, noting any red flags that might present themselves, and ensuring that those who need equipment or resources for experiments or similar hands-on activities have them and are aware of safety concerns etc.
At the other end of the spectrum, Cara identified that it is critical to have a plan in place for the students who get ahead, who complete the learning tasks quickly. Jon comments that there are typically two types of early finishers, those who genuinely get the concept and are able to move through the tasks quickly, and the rushers. Rushers are the ones who just run their way through without actually taking anything in and are trying to get the task completed as quick as they can so they can move onto the next thing. How both of these types of students are handled will vary teacher to teacher, but a plan of some sort is needed.
Reflecting on my practice, this is an area where I struggled. The rushers were relatively easy as there would always be something that demonstrated they did not understand the concept, or that they had put no effort into their output making it unreadable. Those who genuinely understood the concept, on the other hand, required a different approach. It was no benefit to nitpick their output (though I have had these students who were also rushers), nor was it fair to them to constantly use them as teacher assistants. Developing meaningful, higher order thinking tasks at the upper end was a skill I was still developing, and an area I needed to invest more forethought and planning.
The Mastery unit was a really interesting one and Cara was an engaging presenter. It makes me want to be back in the classroom to put into practice what I have learned about implementing mastery. If you have not already done so, I strongly recommend you register for the Level II Certification course to take your flipped practice to the next level.
In this FTPL video, I demonstrate one of the newer features in Padlet, the ability to have reactions such as voting up/down, assigning a mark, or giving a post a starred rating.
For more FTPL videos, click here.
“Make feedback normal. Not a performance review.”
– Ed Batista
In NSW classrooms, it is mandatory the Public Schol system, for teachers to have a Performance Development Plan each year to set goals and work towards achieving them to develop your practice.This is osensibly a good idea in cocept, however, the reality is that they are often treated as a compliance tool that must be completed rather than an opportunity for genuine growth and development. Part of the process is to have your lessons observed and feedback provided. Thispractice is fraught with issues, not least of which is that the moment another teacher enters the room, unless having other teachers in the room is the norm, the dynamic will be changed and the lesson observation and therefore the feedback is, is no longer based authentic as it is not based on the norm and is instead based on a changed lesson as the students will change their behaviour and we as teachers do change our practice someone else is there.
In a conference setting, however, it is the norma to have a room full of people that you do not necessarily know well interspersed with people you do know well, and also for conference organiser to come in, taking photos and observing the session before leaving again. So when Matt Burns, a brilliant Primary educator joined in my workshop on flipping the unit at FlipConAus, there were a few nerves. Matt is someone who knowledge and opinion I trust and respect and for me, it felt the same as if my lesson was being observed by my Stage Supervisor. However, it was also somewhat of a relief as it meant there was someone in the room whom I knew, whose opinion I trusted and respected, who was further along their journey and more developed with their flipped pedagogy than I, and who I knew that any feedback offered or given would genuinely come from a place of wanting to help grow and develop my own practice. It also meant that Matt effectively became just a part of the workshop.
I am very conscious of the fact that I am an early career teacher and so do not have authority vis-a-vis talking with fifteen or more years behind me is not something that I can do at this point and I asked Matt, after the workshop and the others had left, for his feedback. I know that receiving feedback, particularly constructive feedback can be a shock to the ego and quite challenging but I am aware that for me, it is what I need to grow and when an opportunity like this was presented I was not itnending to let it go. Feedback was provided and taken on baord, however, the feedback in one area really opened my eyes and changed my approach to planning.
The flipped unit planning tempalte that I had developed was based on the planning process that I had gone through in the past with colleageus in developing units of work; I had not seen a different approach in my conversations with any one. Matt felt that it was almost there, starting with the learning goal and what would be assessed.
What Matt showed me through our conversation and his diagram on the board was that the template needed a small tweak. The template was never, in my view, intended to be a super detailed every lesson mapped out planning tool. It was designed to be a broad brushstrokes, get the skeleton or framework down so that the detail can be hung from it afterwards. So the structure of the template was to have the learning outcomes first, followed by the outlines of the assessments, and then the breakdown od the skills and/or concepts that needed to be learned throughout the unit, and reflection at the end of the unit.
What I was missing was the rubric. When Matt said that he felt it should have the rubric included beforethe teaching and learning seqeuence overview I have to admit that I could not see why it was needed, that was more detail than I felt the planning document needed. Matt's point though was that if you knewwhat the syllabus outcome and learning goal was and you knew the what would be assessed and in what manner, then develeoping the marking rubric and making those decisions about what was important to you and what level of demonstration would achieve whatmark, then the rubric would effectively write the teaching and learning sequence.
This process may be old hat to some of you, but for me it was a revelation. I always felt there was something missing in how I had been shown to develop units or work; but I did not know enough to determine what it was, beyond knowing that I needed to decide what my actual learning outcome was. The process I had been shown and knew was to grab the scope and sequence to check what topic we were doing, plan out the teaching and learning sequence and then write the assessment task and rubric.
I wanted to preface all of that by actually determining the outcome and learning goal that I was trying to achieve. To do otherwise seemed like trying to navigate with a map or compass. I also knew that I wanted to have the assessment tasks known up front as this would ensure that as I developing the teaching and learnign sequence, I could ensure that I had hit each of the things that I had determined I wanted my students to be able to demonstrate in order to know they had achieved the learning goal.
Matt's position, which I have come around to, was that by developing the rubric for the assessments, you would know know not only the learning goal, what was being assessed and how (macro), but also what, within the assessment, were more or less important than other parts of the assessment. I.e. I have seen (and written) so many rubrics where there is a criteria to do with spelling and grammar etc. The level of importance you assign to that in an essay or other writing task is likely to be different than the importance assigned to the same criteria in a maths task.
Once you know what is being assessed and how at the micro level, that then effectively writes the teaching and learning sequence as those are the things that need to be taught and so they must be included in the sequence. This approach actually makes, in my opinion, the process of developing a unit of learning easier and more straightforward.
I have modified the unit planning template to reflect Matt's feedback and it can be downloaded here. As always, it is licensed under creative commons, so feel free to modify and share as needed. If you do make changes though, I would love to see the changes you have made, purely from a curiosity and are they changes that I should be making to the document myself.
Thank you to Matt for his time and feedback; and thank you for reading.
"It doesn't have to be an 'at home' thing. Flipped class means you change the way you use in class time."
As a primary teacher, I had been using the in-class flip model to flip my classroom. If you are not sure what the in-class flip model is, essentially, the students engage with the pre-learning in class rather than at home. This is particularly useful for classes where lots of students do not have reliable internet access, or where they are younger students.
Having been in-flipping for a few years, I felt that I was pretty comfortable with the in-flip and how to use it, however, after attending a workshop by Alfina Jackson at FlipConAus 2017 recently, as well as completing the unit on in-flipping contained within the Flipped Learning Certification Level II course, I realised that I had been dabbling with in-flip rather than using it completely effectively.
I had not utilised flipped this year as I was on a class of year one and two students and in a team-teach/co-teach context. I had not had a year one and two class before other than the occasional casual day and so I had an incredible amount of learning to do about the pedagogy needed to work with this age group, the stratgies for classroom management, and the different relational needs of the students as compared to year five and six which is the age group I had been working with.
Not only was I learning about working with this age group, I was learning about teaching in an open learning space with two classes of students (total of forty) and in a co-teach/team-teach environment, contexts that I had no experience with. I had some ideas for how I felt we could in-flip, however, felt that I still needed to wrap my head around working in this incredibly new (for me) context, and learn from my highly experienced co-teacher before I started to push for inclusion of in-flipping.
Listening to Alfina was interesting. A lot of the ideas that I had for in-flipping with this year's class were in line with what Alfina was saying and she had some good ideas about rolling it out in the class as well as keeping this nice and simple. One of the biggest things that I drew from Alfina's workshop was that the videos need to be super short and simple to access. The short aspect I was not surprised at, I prefer to try and keep my videos short anyway. However keeping them simple to acces was also important.
With older students, they will be quite okay to go to a learning management system, locate the pre-learning and engage with it, or to visit a set website to access it, both optinos requiring students to log in to the computer or device and then to the platform that contains the learning objects. This structure will not work in the kindergarten to year two context, where students are often still finding it a battle to log in to a computer and open an internet browser (my experience this year, anyway).
Alfina's suggestion was to have computers logged in and open with the videos sitting on the desktop making them nice and easy to access. Alternatively, have them loaded onto a device that requires no logging in to access.
I recently sat down and began to work through the Flipped Learning Certification Level II course which contains a unit on the in-flip presented by Carolina Buitrago & Martha Ramirez from Columbia. I was not really expecting to learn too much from this component of the course, not having really stopped to reflect on Alfina's workshop at this point, and was challenged almost immediately. I had assumed that everyone else who was in-flipping was doing things the same, that there was only one way to in-flip and I was wrong. Carolina and Martha through their work have identified several ways to in-flip and a few of them were structures that had not occurred to me.
Of the seven structures (I will let you register for the course and explore them for yourself), I had been using a mixed structure, where some students were working through the learning objects and the associated activities themselves at their own pace, while I moved between guide on the side and pulling together small groups of students to revisit concepts they were challenged by. This approach worked for me with the class that I had last year, though I can certainly see the benefits of some of the other structures.
I found some of their advice challenging, as they are areas that I know I need to work on. One of these areas is keeping instructions clear. I have spent a lot of time having to clarify instructions and processses because I was not clear on the sequence of events that needed to happen, particularly when it comes to transitioning between activities (another part of the most recent TER Podcast that I found helpful to listen to). I am guilty of giving instructions too far in advance. I.e. Giving instructions for this activitiy and the next activity as well.
That was one reason I had found having a much younger age group this year to be helpful for my own practice as it forced me to keep my instructions simple and I had improved this year with that.
Are you using in-flipping? I would love to hear how you implement it and structure your in-flip to ensure that you can be where you need to be - working with students, rather than being caught up in busy work in class.
In this flipped teacher professional learning video, I show you how to find and then use the Share to Class extension for Google Chrome. This extension enables you to very quickly share webpages to students through Google Class.
For more helpful FTPL videos, click here.
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.”
— Charlie Munger, Self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner
Where do you draw the line when it comes to allocating time for your professional learning, outside that provided by your school or institution? How do you prioritise your time when considering professional learning? I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment at the end of this article.
Over the weekend, while holding my daughter and swaying gently to help her get to sleep, I was scrolling through my twitter feed and stumbled on this article (which is also where I pulled the above quote from). The article provokes some interesting thoughtlines. As teachers, we are required to complete professional learning, which is generally done through school-provided in-service professional learning sessions, some of them better run and more useful than others. Some of us might attend the occasional off-site training course funded by the school, or attend a conference, yet that is often, for many, where it stops.
This is completely understandable; we all have lives outside of school, many of us have families, sporting commitments, are involved in community groups etc. We do not want to live our lives by the school bell. There is a need, I believe, to commit some of our time to chasing professional learning according to our own desires and needs outside of that provided by the school.
The challenge, as always, is time. There are so many competing demands on our time in and out of the classroom that often appears that professional learning is one of the first things to be dropped from our schedule. I realised recently that this had occurred for me, I was so busy doing that I had stopped learning and it was the article above onthe five hour rule that made me realise it. I have signed up to a few courses over the last twelve months and most of them remain uncompleted. There are always valid excuses as to why that is, but for me, I have realised that I need to work harder to use my time wisely and remember to continue to learn.
I recently attended FlipConAus (review articles here) and was reminded how much I still have to learn abuot flipped learning, despite having been engaged with it for some time. I have a number of books that I have purchased over the last few years that are stacked up on my waiting to be read pile that I need to get to. Not being in a classroom role at the moment, I need to work harder to keep up to date with contemporary and emerging practices. I have an hour available every morning, outside of my work hours which I have been using to complete administrative work, that I will be reallocating to my own professional learning. I think I do a disservice to my students, both those I have had and those that I will have in the future; as well as to myself, if I do not keep up to date with practice. At the moment, I will be working through the Flipped Learning Certification Level II course and will write some reflections on that (and other learnings as I move forward).
From a time perspective, the article will not often be of the length that I perhaps ordinarily write (not in itself a bad thing), but I feel that that will help keep me accountable.
I will close this article with a question and a request for a favour:
I would very much like to hear your thoughts on points two and three, so please leave a comment or reach out via twitter.
Thank you for reading.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I show you how to use an add on for Google Chrome called CheckMarkClass, made by that allows you to very quickly drop common pieces of feedback into student writing that will save you time.
For more FTPL video click here.
"If passive learning could penetrate across the entire globe, what do we need to do to have flipped learning achieve the same?"
- Errol St. Clair Smith (paraphrased), FlipConAus 2017
As with day one of the conference, I facilitated two workshops. The first was a logical follow on from day one's Flip the Lesson workshop, where we planned to Flip the Unit. This workshop focused on planning out a flipped unit using a template that I developed for the purpose. There were a few more people in for this session than for the Flip the Lesson session, and the vibe seemed to be quite positive and that people found it useful. The straightforward nature of the template appeared to be helpful and for some, I got the impression that they had not encountered backward-mapping before.
Matthew Burns was also in the room for the session, which added a few nerves for me, as he is someone for whom I have a great deal of professional respect for and whose opinion I value. However, I actually managed to forget that Matt Burns the person was in the room and he became Matt Burns the delegate. I did ask him for feedback on the session after the other delegates had left, both on the session as a whole and the template specifically. Matt, being who he is, generously provided me not just with a few quick sentences, but actually spent about fifteen minutes with me walking through feedback that will allow me to strengthen the template and any sessions that I run like this in the future.
If you attended this session, or any of the other sessions that I was involved in during FlipConAus and you would like to offer some constructuive thoughts and feedback on any aspect of my workshop, please do so. I would very much appreciate the feedback to help me strengthen the effectiveness of workshops that I run in terms of the actual content and flow, the resources, my own effectiveness and style in presenting. You can do so via a direct message on Twitter or using the contact me page on this website.
If you wished to access the resources from that workshop, they are linked below.
The second workshop for the day, and my final for FlipConAus 2017, was focused on a screencasting tool called Camtasia, which is what I use for all of my screencasting, green screen, and video editing needs. Camtasia were generous enough to provide a license key that we could auction off as part of the Fun Money auction, and Alex from Masada College was the lucky winner, which is valued at AUD$260 and cost him $330 fun money dollars.
If you wish to access the resources from that workshop, they are linked below. fun-money auction (watch the Periscope of the bidding for that here).
This session, if I am being totally honest, I do not think was as good as it could have been. I think this one for some reason I had significantly more nerves than my other sessions and looking back, I feel that I was moving too fast for some, I jumped around some of the features a bit, and time got away from us a bit. There were, as always is the case when doing a live tech demo, other challenges (some had an older version, some had the Mac version (which I have never used and is quite a bit different), and some were only just downloading it at the start of the session). I persnally do not feel it was as useful as it could have been. If you did attend that session and you want to go deeper into Camtasia than we did, or revisit various features, there are some great tutorial videos available in the launch screen of Camtasia, as you can see below.
Errol St Clair Smith provided the closing keynote and it was pleasing to see that not many people had left early. One of the things that I personally enjoy about conferences is that you get to see people again, acquaintances who have become friends, as it is often put, you get to see your tribe again. However, as Errol reminded us, you do have to go home and return to your school and that is when you will potentially hit the brick wall of interest. He asked us all to indicate the level of support for flipped learning that we would receive and the results were not actually a little surprising for me. The audience indicated a roughly even split between those who would receive not support and encouragement and those who would encounter a lack of interest, support, or encouragement. This indicates that although flipped learning is growing, there is still work to be done to ensure that people know what it is beyond that video thing.
Kelly Hollis wrote in this tweet that that was part of the reason why she started blogging; a lack of support in her won school at the time meant she needed to look elsewhere and so reflecting on practice through writing which was then shared through her online professional learning network enabled her to connect, get feedback, and develop her practice.
Errol then conteinued by sharing the developing picture of the global landscape regarding flipped learning, based on feedback from a worlwide survey that FLGlobal.org ran. the landsacpe globally was not too dissimilar, with some teachers receiving incredible support, encouragement, guidance, and mentoring; while others, received none or even discouragement.
Errol posed a quuestion to the audience then, asking what would be possible if every person there knew that when they returned to their school it would be to an environment where their work in flipped learning would be respected, supported, and appreciated. He remarked that if it is possible for passive learning, modelled on the industrial revolution, to spread to all corners of the world than it is possible for flipped learning, enacted well, to also spread to all corners of the world and positively impact students.
It has now been just over a week since FlipCon and in the intervening time, I have listened to an episode of the Teachers Education Review podcast, or TER (website, twitter), presented by Cameraon Malcher. In the episode I was listening to, episode 102, Cameron had included an off campus segment by Dan Haesler in which Dan reflects on the messages that are sent, consciously and unconsciously when leaders, whether titled leaders or just leaders by influence, do not engage with professional learning sessions and simply leave them, a reflection which Cameron adds to. Cameron noted (severe paraphrasing here) that the message that is sent is that it is not valuable to the leaders who are leaving but if they do not deem it valuable to them, why then is it valuable to the teaching staff.
In relation to FlipCon, however, I think that the message that is sent to teachers when they return from an off-site professional learning event is as important as the message that is given during the on-site experiences. I presented four workshops over the course of FlipCon and asked participants in a few of them if they were expected to present their learning back to the school somehow and there was a surprising number of people who said no. This indicates that either they paid for the conference out of their own pocket, as many teachers do, particularly casual and temporary teachers; or that the school has willingly paid for the conference without expecting any sort of presentation back, which seems odd. I suspect, with no evidence other than my gut, that there is perhaps a correlation between those who are not expected to present and those who feel unsupported in their schools.
Errol than took a slight conceptual turn by showing this video.
Errol asked asked us what was wrong with the story being told. I, like I imagine many of my readers, have seen this video showed before as an example of how quickly something can grow, but Errol's questioned sparked some interested responses. One of those which stuck out for me was what is the purpose of this movement? In the video, we see people....moving (I cannot, in good conscience, use the term dancing) and the growth from one to a large group. The general message that we are given from this is that good intentions and hard work along with data will generate success, but Errol contends that this is not always the case. There are, as Jon discussed in his keynote (review here) other factors that can affect the result of any movement, not least of which is culture. If the culture of a school is not conducive, then a movement will fail before it begins.
This leads back, in my view, to the point that Dan Haesler and Cameron Malcher were both making around the message that school leaders can send in their attitudes to professional learning and movements. For a pedagogical approach like flipped learning, which largely seems to be coming from the ground up as opposed to school leadership dictating that it must be used, the attitude towards it can make or break the success of it across the school and even within the class.
If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to undertake the Level I and Level II Flipped Learning Certification programs. FlipConAus 2017 was again a great chance to reconnect with colleagues from across the country and to learn more from them and their experiences. I can only hope that those who attended my sessions gained something from them.
To keep in touch with others who are flipping, check out the Flipped Learning Network facebook group (the Australia group or the New Zealand group), as well as the FLGI Flipped Learning Community. Find your tribe.
Thank you for reading.
"Why do we accept what other industries would consider malpractice?"
- Jon Bergmann
Day one of FlipCon Australia 2017 has come and gone, with lots of rain and wind, along with the learning, the inspiration, the challenging conversations, the thought provoking ideas, and above all, the fun and sharing.
The first session for me today was Jon Bergmann's keynote (you can read through the storify here) and it was, as always, thought provoking and challenging. One of the key standouts for me, and it provoked a chain of tangential questions, was Jon asking how it is that countries which are so dissimiliar vis-a-vis geography, culture, socio-economic contexts, etc. can be so similar when it comes to education.
It is an intriguing question, actually pondering how it came to be; and it led me to ask the twitter-sphere would classrooms and education have evolved differently without colonial expansion? Would the look as similar? If you consider the vast territory that the various colonial powers occupied through the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and the impact that those colonial powers had on the native cultures and practices, you have to wonder what it would look like without that influence. I particularly wonder about indigenous practices of education here in Australia that were forcibly changed and how different education would have been, even if only the settlement by the Europeans was more peaceful.
Following that was the Primary Panel where I joined Matt Burns and Jon Bergmann to answer questions from the primary educators int he group. There were some interesting questions and some interesting contexts that were mentioned and discussed and I hope that delegates left with their questions answered satisfactorily.
I presented a session then on Starting with Flipped Learning, providing a foundational conversation around flipped learni. We spent time specifically addressing the challenges and the reasons that we are often told show flipped learning does not work and brainstormed as a group ideas and conversation pointers to refute those. We also spent time specifically discussing abuot strategies to gain buy-in from the key stakeholders; students, parents, administrators/management, and colleagues. If you wish to access the resources from that you can find them at the below links.
I had a session in between that workshop and my second workshop and so I spent some time reflecting on the first workshop and actually found that I needed and wanted to make a few changes to improve the flow of the next in order to strenthen the learning experience for the delegates.
That next session was titled Flipping the Unit and was a very hands on workshop where we actually worked through the planning process for flipping a lesson using a backward mapping lesson plan template that I have developed with the goal being that it could then be taken back to school and put into practice. The session, I feel, went well and the delegates certainly indicated, both by the various notes and ideas they had on their templates, as well the questions they were asking nad their body language that they found it useful (always a relief!). If you wanted to access the resources from that session, you can find them below.
For each of the sessions, I encouraged delegates to create some accountability for themselves by setting actions points; what are y ou going to do in the next three days, three weeks, and three months, to develop your flipped practice? I also provided the below links for further learning for those who are interested:
If you attended one of my sessions today (or do so tomorrow), let me know your feedback. What do you think I can do better? Get in touch via twitter or using the Contact page on this website, leave a comment below the line.
"We believe that the industrial age model of purely passive learning is a disservice to students, the profession, and the community.
We believe that students and teachers in every country deserve to teach and learn in flipped schools, flipped school districts, and flipped school systems where active learning is foundational."
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be driving to Cronulla, where I will be staying for the duration of FlipConAus rather than drive the roughly two hours back home each day. This will be my fourth FlipCon (third in Australia and I have attended one in New Zealand), however, this one feels different.
Jon Bergmann, through flipped learning and FLGobal.org, has completely changed how I think about teaching and has shown me how I imagined I wanted my classroom to operate, focusing on doing rather than chalking and talking, with my students applying what we were learning about. There have, however, been some shifts in flipped learning this year as more and more research emerges, which Jon talks abuot below.
The potential for flipped learning is still significant and the impact that it can have on student-teacher relationships and learning outcomes is now unquestionable. The research is quite clear now that flipped learning has a positive impact. I had a conversation with a science teacher today who mentioned in passing that he has a forward board and is dabbling with flipped learning. Cue a conversational direction change for the next fifteen minutes. We have worked out a time when we can catch up to chat more specifically about flipped learning and working together and the conversation left both of us excited for the possibilities.
I still visit a lot of schools where they've not heard of flipped learning or do not believe that it works. I do not, at this point, push flipped learning without an invitation from whomever I am speaking with. There needs to be a willingness to engage in the conversation, however, for those whom I do speak with, there is always a sense of excitement for the potential.
If you are not attending FlipConAus this Thursday and Friday, keep your eyes on #FlipConAus on twitter over the next few days. As Jon reminds us in the above video, leadershpi is not about authority or position; it's about commitment to do what you can wherever you are to make change happen.
If you want to connect with other flippers, but you are not a Twitter user, there is an Australian Flipped Learning Network on Facebook as well as a New Zealand Flipped Learning Network. I daresay there are networks for other countries, however, those are the two that I am familiar with and have contacts within.
As always, feel free to reach out to me via the contact page, or over on Twitter or Facebook.
I look forward to hopefully seeing many of you at FlipConAus this weekend.
In this FLipped Teacher Professional Development video I show you how to set up your GDocs (Or GSheets, GSlides) to enable you to create and then edit new documents offline.
For more helpful FTPL videos, please click here.
As I write this, we are just over a week away from FlipCon Australia 2017 and I've just uplaoded the last of the pre-learning videos for my workshops. If you are attending any of my sessions, please find the relevant learning objects included below.
Please note that I have included some instructions for each session in terms of what you will need to bring with you for the workshop.
Workshop One: A Starting Point for Flipped Learning
For this workshop, please watch the three short videos below (total duration is about eleven minutes and bring with you to the workshop any particular concerns you have about obtaining buy-in from stakeholders, or teaching students how to engage with flipped content.
Workshop Two: Flipping the Lesson
Part of successfully flipping is starting small and manageable and then scaling up, which usually means starting with flipping a single lesson. In this workshop we will be working through how to do that, with a focus on planning for success using my flipped lesson planning template.
Please watch the below learning object, download a copy of the planning template from here and start to bring with you at least one lesson that you have coming up in the next month that you wish to flip.
If you are just beginning to engage with flipped learning, you may find the three learning objects set as pre-learning for my Starting Point with Flipped Learning workshop useful.
Workshop Three: Flipping the Unit
In this workshop, we will be working through the process of planning to flip a unit of learning with a focus on the differences to traditional planning. There is a flipped unit planng template available here for download if you wish to utilise that. Please watch the below learning object and bring with you a unit of learning that you wish to flip either this term or next.
Workshop Four: Flipped Resources Made Simply
The final workshop that I am running is all about making learning objects that are video-based, using a tool called Camtasia which allows you to record and edit video in a range of styles. If you are attendign this workshop, please watch the below video which provides a very brief walkthrough of where to access Camtasia, how to download it, and then how to get started with recording a video. Please bring with you to the workshop one video to work on edit, or be prepared to record one during the workshop.
Please note that although Camtasia is available for both Mac and Windows, that I will be demonstrating using the Windows version.
I'm also excited to announce that thanks to Camtasia, there is ONE free license for Camtasia that will be available during the Fun-Money Auction which can be redeemd for either Mac or Windows. You do not have to have attended this workshop to be eligible for this item in the Fun-Money Auction.
In addition to the above workshops, I willbe joining Jon Bergmann and Matthew Burns on the Panel for the Primary Discussion session, talking about different ways to flip in the K-6 space. Additionally, Steve Griffiths and I will be running a drop in session to allow people to record flipped content using a forward board. Check the FlipCon Program for times.
If you are unable to attend FlipCon at all, keep your eyes open for #FlipConAus on Twitter to stay in the loop. It promises to be an exciting time with Jon Bergmann, Joel Speranza, and Errol Smith providing the three keynote sessions, as well as thirty-four educators sharing their knowledge and experience.
I look forward to seeing you there.
"We believe that the industrial age model of purely passive learning is a disservice to students, the profession, and the community"
- Flipped Learning Global Manifesto. Retrieved from http://flglobal.org/the-manifesto/ on 3 October 2017
Anyone who has spoken to me about education in the last few years has likely heard me mention flipped learning. It has become an entrenched part of my pedagogical belief and also my education philosophy. I have written about flipped learning at length, presented at whole-staff and inter-school professional development sessions, presented at EduTech, and late last term I ran the first of (hopefully) many flipped learning boot camps.
On Friday 20 and Saturday 21 October I will be joining thirty-four of my flipped learning colleagues in presenting at FlipConAus 2017, sharing my knowledge, experience, and mistakes with those wanting to learn more.
I will be presenting four sessions; A starting point for flipped learning, Flip the lesson, Flip the unit, and Flipped resources made simply as well as joining Jon Bergmann and Matt Burns on the Primary Discussion Panel (see full FlipConAus program here).
There are some amazing educators who have put their hands up to share their time, knowledge, and experience with delegates, and I still find that I learn something every time I attend FlipCon. If you have any interest in flipped learning, even if you're just curious, register here and join myself and thirty-four other (far more brilliant) educators as we share our knowlegde, experience and passion.
I hope to see you at FlipConAus, hosted by the amazing educators at Inaburra School, Sydney, in a few weeks time.
"All of a sudden, the car experiences mechanical failure and is unable to stop. If the car continues, it will crash into a bunch of pedestrians crossing the street, but the car may swerve, hitting one bystander, killing them to save the pedestrians. What should the car do, and who should decide? What if instead the car could swerve into a wall, crashing and killing you, the passenger, in order to save those pedestrians?"
- Iyad Rahwan. September 2016 at TEDxCambridge
The interest in artificial intelligence (AI) in society is growing and this is bleeding into education, where there seems to be a new tool, toy, or shiny thing that purports to take AI into the classroom in an authentic way. I have played with AI in the online space, but at this point in time I don't think there is the depth or strength to the technology to make it useful in the classroom. Please note that AI is different to AR (augmented reality), which is outside the scope of this article.
In my current professional role I spend a lot of time in the car driving to different schools around the state which means that I am constantly dropping in and out of different radio stations and so it is easier, and I prefer, to listen to podcasts. One of these is TED Talks Daily (subscribe here) and recently I listened to a talk that addressed AI and driverless cars.
Should your driverless car kill you if it means saving five pedestrians? In this primer on the social dilemmas of driverless cars, Iyad Rahwan explores how the technology will challenge our morality and explains his work collecting data from real people on the ethical trade-offs we're willing (and not willing) to make.
In this TED talk, Iyad Rahwan asks a difficult and challenging question; one that Albus Dumbledore would have loved, what is the greater good; saving yourself or allowing yourself to be killed to save five others? Iyad poses this question as the potential of driverless cars is significant, but as this article from the ABC in March 2017 points out, there are significant other questions around safety, libaility, and of course, morals.
To the main question, however. What do you think?
Two of Iyad's students, Edmond Awad and Sohan Dsouza, built a website to help gather some data about what society thinks of this question, and to help gather data for researchers to make recommendations to legislators about these issues. The website is called Moral Machine and gives you the opportunity to make judgments about who to save in hypothetical scenarios involving driverless cars.
How does this help in the car though? Ethical Understanding is one of the general capabilities outlined in the Australian National Curriculum, yet ethics can be a challenging concept to teach. While ethics are externally driven through social norms and through laws, these social norms and laws are often driven by morals, which is our internal sense of right and wrong. There is something of a circular loop here, with our morals often guided by the social norms (ethics) which are in turn influenced through the collective moral position.
The Moral Machine website is an interesting challenge and can present some highly challenging conversations around morals and ethics such as in the scenario below.
Morals and ethics are an important part of our development as well-rounded humans. Moral Machiens presents some potential real-life scenarios where you need to make a judgement.
What would your choice be in the above situation? Leave a comment to let me know.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video I show you how to use the Restore Previous Version feature in Google Suite to recover previous versions. This feature is great for when you discover old editing errors that you've made, or for group work where there is accidental overwriting of information.
For more helpful FTPL videos, please click here.
"We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome."
- Attributed to Isabel Allende
It is currently the start of week ten, the last week of the school term for NSW schools and the beginning of the downhill run to a two week break from the trials and triumphs of the classroom. There is something about term three. I personally found over the last few years in the classroom that term three felt like the accelerator had been jammed wide open and all you could do was to try and hang on.
I asked a teacher last week how she felt about this, the breakneck pace that pervaded the term, and she indicated that she had been teaching for about twenty years and that term three used to be the quiet term. There used to be very few events that would occur in term three other than the trial HSC exams but that over the last ten years, this empty nature of the term had resulted in everything being dumped into term three leaving it, in many ways, far busier than the rest of the year.
This year, that feeling of just hang on has been compounded by an unusually severe flu season. I have had a number of schools postpone scheduled visits because the person I was meeting with was off sick, I myself have had some days off sick (and those who know will know how rare that is), Youngling picked up bronchiolitis and was sick for a while, and teacher-friends have told me how they've had incredible numbers of absences, beyond anything they've seen in the past.
So take this impending break to rest, recuperate, and be ready for the final term. Get your health sorted and catch up on your sleep. See you next term.
In this FTPL video I show you how simple it can be to insert images into a Google Slide deck, particularly using the inbuilt search function that highlights images labelled with permission to reuse with modification.
For more FTPL videos click here.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I demonstrate the import slides feature in GSlides. For more helpful FTPL videos, click here.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I remind viewers of a feature that was quietly introduced to Google Classroom some time ago - the ability to group posts based on a topic tag.
For more helpful FTPL videos, FTPL Videosclick here.
The Teacher Education Review podcast is a one that I listen to when it comes out because of the well thought out discussions and research-driven conversations it contains. As Cameron Malcher says, it bridges the gap between research, policy, and practice. A recent episode, TER #096, featured an interview that Dan Haesler conducted with Katharine Birbalsingh, the Principal/Head Teacher of the controversial Michaela Community School in the UK.
I have to admit that I know very little about the Michael Community School, other than it is regarded as controversial due to its no excuses approach to education and so I was intrigued to hear about the school from the Principal herself.
The interview with Katharine begins at the 45:11 mark in the episode and I would very much encourage you to listen to it. It is a reasonably lenghty interview and addresses some of the most common critiques that are apparently levelled the school. I found it very interesting. From what I have heard in the media and through social media outlet, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a school run by the wicked witch of the west. Katharine, however, came across as very articulate, passionate, and knowledgable about education. Granted, that does not equate to a good educator, but it is a good base from which to have a conversation with someone.
I found it intriguing that at various points I found myself nodding in agreement with what Katharine was saying. Her thoughts on engagement, that it should be about the subject being engaging in and of itself through the authentic pedagogy rather than engaging because there is a singing and dancing teacher (obviously hyperbole, but the message comes through I believe) is something I think many teachers would agree with. Her comments around behaviour, and I am paraphrasing here, that students behave because they buy into the school and realise they are getting something back (an education) when they behave and that misbehaviour is the result of a disconnect between the teacher and the student through the pedagogy, was intriguing.
This is a perspective on behaviour that I have not heard before and I would be interested in your opinion on this area. Personally, I feel that I can see where Katharine is coming from with this, but that it is only part of the equation. I am a big believer in physics (hard not to be) and that there is a strong connection between physics and the classroom. Newton's third law of motion states:
that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The connection may seem woolly, but my interpreation of this into the classroom is that everything happens for a reason. A student is acting out, misbehaving, for a reason, and often there is some sort of deficiency, either in the classroom or at home, that is causing this. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs should be at the front and centre here, and we should be asking ourselves, when a student is acting out, what has happened that caused this reaction? I do not buy, for one moment, the notion that some kids are just naughty (hat seems as accurate as saying that some people are just racist) and so the notion that misbehaviour is a lack of buy-in into the school is an interesting one.
I think the only real area where I was in outright disagreement was the no excuses policy itself. I can see where Katharine is coming from with this, but I disagree. There are going to be factors outside of a child or parent's control that causes an event or incident that is at odds with school policy or rules. Punishing the child for that seems unjust in my opinion.
I would very much encourage you to listen to the interview and share your thoughts, either here through the comments, or on twitter.