Flipped Classroom: Beyond the Videos

Last week, I read an interesting blog post by Shelley Blake-Plock titled “The Problem with TED ed.” It got me thinking about the flipped classroom model and how it is being defined.

As a blended learning enthusiast, I have played with the flipped classroom model, seen presentations by inspiring educators who flip their classrooms, and even have a chapter dedicated to this topic in my book. However, I am disheartened to hear so many people describe the flipped classroom as a model where teachers must record videos or podcasts for students to view at home. 

There are many teachers who do not want to record videos either because they don’t have the necessary skills or equipment, their classes don’t include a lot of lecture that can be captured in recordings, or they are camera shy.

Too often the conversation surrounding the flipped classroom focuses on the videos- creating them, hosting them, and assessing student understanding of the content via simple questions or summary assignments.

I wish the conversation focused more on what actually happens in a flipped classroom. If we move lecture or the transfer of knowledge online to create time and space in the physical classroom, how are we using that time to improve learning for students? What is our role as the teacher in the flipped classroom? How are we maximizing the potential of the group when students are together to design collaborative, creative, student-centered activities and assignments? This is the part I want to hear more about!

For me, the beauty of the flipped classroom lies in the simple realization that instruction can take place in different mediums. We are no longer limited to a class period or a physical classroom. We have the opportunity to match the instructional activity with the environment that makes the most sense. Ramsey Musallam, defines “flip teaching” as “leveraging technology to appropriately pair the learning activity with the learning environment.” This flexibility is why technology has the potential to be so transformative in education.

The goal of the flipped classroom should be to shift lessons from “consumables” to “produceables.” (Okay, I realize I just made that word up, but I hope my meaning is clear.) Students today must be generators and producers. They must be able to question, problem solve, think outside of the box, and create innovative solutions to be competitive and successful in our rapidly changing global economy.

Blake-Plock makes a strong point when he says we learn by “doing.” He points out that many of the lessons students are given are “consumables” and this is my concern about the current language being used to describe the flipped classroom. Too often the flipped classroom requires students to watch videos, which is passive learning, but what are they asked to do with this information?

 Often the homework described in the flipped classroom model only engages the lower level thinking skills described in Bloom’s Taxonomy – remembering and understanding. The application, analysis, evaluation and creation are rarely engaged at home. There is an opportunity to get students thinking at a higher level at home if we pair content with extension activities that require that they think critically about what they have viewed. The important element is to connect students online outside of class so they have a support network of peers to ask questions, bounce ideas around with and learn from. This is why I am such a big supporter of integrating online discussions into the traditional curriculum. 

 In my presentations on the flipped classroom, I’ve advocated for 3 things that I think would make this model more appealing to most of educators:

 1. Take advantage of the ready-to-use content available. There is so much ready-to-use content on the web that teachers shouldn’t feel pressure produce videos (unless they want to or it works for their subject area). Let’s use what is out there and save time when we can.

I hate to limit the potential of the flipped model by telling teachers they have to record their own video lectures. Instead, I encourage teachers to flip all kinds of ready-to-use media.

These are sites are great resources for media ranging from documentaries, interviews, demonstrations, tutorials, primary/secondary sources, articles, biographies, photography, graphs, artwork, etc.

 If you are wondering…can I really flip my class with photos or images? I say yes. If students have time to really sit and appreciate the nuances of an image or graph and think deeply about the details, they will get much more from that then if it is projected for 3 minutes as a teacher talks. There is not time in class for students to control the pace of their learning. This is a clear advantage of moving information that needs to be “consumed” online.

For example, consider the example below that presents a painting, then asks students to analyze the different aspects of the painting to select the art movement they think it was produced during. Students have time to evaluate the various elements of the painting then articulate an explanation supporting their position. They also benefit from reading what their peers have said.

*This topic is available in the Collaborize Classroom topic library, click here to view

2. Don’t just show them. Make them do something with that information that requires higher- order thinking. I encourage teachers to wrap the content presented at home in dynamic online discussions, debates, and/or collaborative group work. This way students must think critically about the content, engage with their peers, and produce something (an argument, a clear analytical explanation, formulate questions, synthesize information from multiple sources, etc.).

I agree with Blake-Plock’s assertion that “It is perfectly fine to watch a video. It is perfectly fine to view a lecture. It is perfectly fine to quiz yourself on what you remember from the video or the lecture. It is perfectly fine to write a brief response about a big question. But let’s not call that a lesson. That’s just a starting point. Lessons come from doing.”  So why not pair the content with an activity that gets them “doing” then imagine where you could start the actual class activity?

For example, consider the debate question below. Students are asked to view a Khan Academy tutorial then debate whether or not they think Napoleon could have successfully won the Peninsular Campaign. This forces students to think critically about what they have watched, articulate a position and support that position with information and analysis.  

*This topic is available in the Collaborize Classroom topic library, click here to view

3. Use the flipped model to create a student-centered classroom. Focus class time on getting students practicing where there is a subject area expert in the room. Get students actively engaging in the learning process. Do more:

      • labs, experiments, and fieldwork
      • creative writing assignments 
      • collaborative research projects
      • acting, dramatic readings, tableaus
      • project based learning
      • art work
      • reenactments
      •  debates
      •  model construction

The class period has the potential to shift from a space where students are passive observers and consumers in the learning process to a space where they’re actively engaged in a dynamic learning community.

I’d love for other educators to share the innovative things they are doing inside their flipped classrooms! How are you using your class time to build on content presented at home?

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92 Responses to Flipped Classroom: Beyond the Videos

  1. Jackie Gerstein says:

    I appreciate your post as I, too, am becoming concerned that the flipped classroom is being discussed in terms of watching videos, that the videos at at the core of the learning process. As such, a while back I work a post entitled The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture which describes a full cycle of learning where videos and other online content SUPPORT the learning process. See http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/the-flipped-classroom-model-a-full-picture/

    I also wrote a piece last week after the release of Ted-Ed entitled Is the Educational Revolution About Videos: Ted-Ed and Khan Academy? See http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/is-the-educational-revolution-about-videos-teded-and-khan-academy/ . . . It actually got a few comments by the TED Curator, Chris Anderson.

    I also added your post to my Scoop.it of Flipped Classroom resources at http://www.scoop.it/t/the-flipped-classroom

    Thanks for posting this!

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Jackie,

      I agree with your point that the videos should not be the focus or at the core of learning in the flipped model. They are way to create time and space. Let’s focus more on the strategies we use as teachers to maximize that class time we have created to engage more students.

      Thank you for sharing your blogs! We definitely share several of the same concerns. Congrats on getting recognized by some Key players at TED. It’s great to have passionate educators getting their concerns heard.

      Thank you for taking the time to post a comment. It is nice to connect with other educators.

      Catlin

  2. Ian says:

    I am very suspicious of the enthusiasm over the flipped classroom model among a certain cohort of “ed reformers” as a way to outsource subject knowledge to a few authorities, like the Khan Academy, de-skill teachers, and cram more kids into classrooms for test prep drilling. As with any process or tool, the flipped classroom can be used well or used poorly. I am experimenting with screencasting as a way to model writing for my students (or for any student with an Internet connection) and to expose my thinking as I write. In terms of teaching any skill or performance task, video models combined with real-life performance, feedback, revision, and reflection offer a rich ecosystem for learning. Additionally, video models become a resource that kids can return to again and again as they have questions or as they seek solutions to problems they encounter, which is how I often use Youtube. Your third point is spot on in this regard. Thanks for your post.

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Ian,

      I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts here. I, too, feel some concern about “outsourcing” subject knowledge to a few. I believe resources like the Khan Academy are valuable and should be used to support students who need additional help or another explanation of a topic. Sometimes the way I explain something may not make sense but having another person describe the same topic may be more effective. That said, I do not want those online resources to take the place of great teachers teaching. I am leery of online teaching tools (note: I consider Khan Academy to be what they say they are “tutorials” not virtual teaching programs) because I don’t want to see students sitting in classrooms while computers spit information at them (sounds very Fahrenheit 451). This does not shift the traditional teaching paradigm. Instead it simply replaces the actual teacher with a machine. This is a scary prospect for anyone in education who knows that teachers bring expertise, life experience, humor, variety and compassion to the classroom that can never be replaced by a computer.

      I, too, use media from a variety of sources. YouTube is blocked by my campus, but I grab videos from History.com and PBS.org all of the time and embed them into my discussion topics. It makes it so easy to expose students to a variety of incredible media.

      Take care.
      Catlin

  3. Hello Catlin. What a great post! Thanks! I agree so much with what you have said. I teach Spanish and have been flipping/blending for some time now. I am in the process of writing a journal about my experience to share it with other foreign language teachers. In one of my entries I mention that I consider myself a “flipper-blender”. It is what has worked for me, as I also have difficulty with only using videos. I also agree very much with the fact that teachers should not feel pressured to create their own material, especially when there is so much of it out there. My journal: http://spanish4teachers.org/SpanishFlippedClassroom.html

    • Catlin says:

      Thank you, Emilia. I appreciate you sharing your journal so other Spanish teachers can learn from the work you are doing.

      The flipped classroom falls under the big umbrella of “blended learning.” I also combine flipping and blending because the work happening online must be continually woven back into the physical classroom to create a cohesive learning experience for students. I want to refocus the conversation around flipped instruction on what is happening in the classroom to build on the content presented online. To me, that feels like the part of the discussion that is too often neglected; yet, it has the potential to be the most inspiring and transformative piece of the puzzle.

      Catlin

  4. Nancy C says:

    Hi Caitlin,
    I feel this is the first post I’ve come across with some real and practical information on ‘flipping a classroom’. How easy would it be for students just to watch a video. Your suggestions about extending that part of the flipping makes so much sense. It has to be more – about higher level thinking. We want them thinking!

    Have been thinking about trying this in a fourth grade classroom but wasn’t too comfortable with the idea. Perhaps I’ll try as you suggest in one area and see how it goes. I want the students engaged and actively learning during class and homework to be meaningful and challenging. Your suggestions just may provide the best of both worlds.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Nancy,

      I’m so glad that you found the information in this blog post practical. That is what most teachers need – concrete strategies we can use with kids today.

      An easy way to start with 4th grade students, would be to find an interesting video (no more than 10 min), then ask students to watch the video and discuss it. What was most interesting? What surprised you? What fact did you learn that you didn’t know before? How does this relate to…?

      I use my Collaborize Classroom site for discussion, but you could create a shared Google doc with questions or even set up a super simple back channel like TodaysMeet.com for kids to use.

      Good luck!

      Catlin

  5. Jeanette says:

    I love, love, love this post! Thank you! I could not agree more.

  6. Part of the issue with the flipped classroom is in the name. Not all lessons need to be (or should be) flipped. It goes back to the age-old questions “What do I want students know know and be able to do?” and “How will I know if the students have achieved those things?”

    Limiting flipped lessons to at-home sessions seems short-sighted. First, the videos will be in lecture format. Knowing that students can only handle 5-15 minutes of talk before they need to process, a long video defeats the purpose. If we make videos that allow students to stop and process in pairs, the videos will be more highly effective. And, groups of students could be watching and discussing videos while the teacher is working with a separate group of students (a more differentiated model).

    I wrote a post on how I think we should talk in terms of flipped lessons rather than flipped classrooms: http://wp.me/p1Dq2f-i9

    • Catlin says:

      That is a great point, Janet.

      I only flip my English class occasionally, so “flipped lesson” actually a lot of sense. I usually refer to it as “flipped instruction” as opposed to the “flipped classroom” for that same reason.

      I agree that each lesson should be evaluated in terms of the intended goals or outcomes. Then a teacher can decide if the flipped approach makes sense.

      Thanks for sharing your post!

      Catlin

  7. Sean Lancaster says:

    My concern about flipped classrooms is that schools seem to be stuck on a cycle of bandwagon jumping and this stretches back many decades. Flipped classrooms seems to be the latest bandwagon. I read the scholarly journals and I have yet to see the evidence that teachers or schools should be jumping on the flipped classroom bandwagon. I appreciate blog posts like Catlin’s where she is trying to focus on how flipped classrooms can be improved, but I also hope that we see research emerge that analyzes flipped classrooms to move the field beyond the anecdotes that seem to drive the current enthusiasm. Even with the anecdotes that promote flipping classrooms, Caitlin is able to point to concerns with the status quo of this movement. I’d prefer not to see so many educators jumping on the flipped classroom bandwagon until we know that it is instructionally validated as a viable alternative to educate our students.

    • Catlin says:

      Thank you for voicing your thoughts and concerns about the flipped classroom, Sean. I agree that it is important to analyze the research around educational trends to make sure the strategies we are using with students are actually working.

      Catlin

    • Roger says:

      I totally agree that it is important to investigate how different teaching methods translate into the classroom. But I think things will move too slowly in school if we have to wait for proven teaching methods before we can jump on things we believe in.
      The education system as it is today is far from perfect. It has been shown in many studies that enthusiastic teachers are one of the most important criteria for success. When teachers testing new models they really believe in, we often get enthusiastic educators and effective learners.
      One of the worst things we could do is pushing a “normal” teacher into a system he/she doesnt believe in. But let those who believe and are enthusiastic try it out – and record research data!

      • Catlin says:

        Hello Roger,

        I agree that innovative and excited teachers should be encouraged to try new teaching methodologies and break new ground! Teachers who try new things will discover the benefits and drawbacks with their students which is the best evidence for whether a teaching model or method is truly effective.

        Thank you for adding your voice to this conversation.

        Catlin

  8. David Walp says:

    Hi Caitlin,

    I found this post through #edtech on Twitter. I am only just getting into 2.0 applications, but I think that you pose some very thoughtful critiques to what seems to be the most prevalent flipped classroom model (e.g. make/post lecture videos to watch at home). Tapping into the libraries at Khan, Academic Earth, etc. makes a lot of sense, especially if you modify to add your own analysis and reflective questions.

    BTW, I LOVED the Bloom’s pyramid of social media. It is a great starting point to available technologies for a noob like me. I am looking into Yahoo pipes now. I facilitate a lot of student independent projects, and I think pipes would be awesome to help them conduct their research.

    • Catlin says:

      Hi David,

      I’m glad you loved the Bloom’ Pyramid. I discovered that at a conference last year. It has been fun to explore the tools on it. I hope Pipes is useful for your independent projects!

      Catlin

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Caitlin!

    Thanks for the great post! I have flipped my history classroom this year, and I too was concerned that most of the literature on flipping focused on the “videos.” I decided to use my now “freed-up” class time to do project based learning with the kids. Each week students have five projects to pick from the delve deeper into a topic discussed in the videos for the week. Some students create posters, others models, still others write, it is all based on their interests and talents. They research, plan, and execute the projects during class time, and we recently had a Greek festival where they presented all of their projects to the school (http://flippinghistory.blogspot.com/2012/04/greek-festival.html) . I have found the project by and far more beneficial than the videos. For the upcoming school year I am going to continue to “flip” and work on creating even more interesting and insightful projects for the students. I think when looked at correctly we should laud flipping for giving us the ability to rethink our class time and learning models with students, and having more hands on work for them. I am so glad people like you are highlighting how the videos are just one part (and I would argue the least important part) of a comprehensive and engaging classroom! Thanks for the post!

    • Catlin says:

      Thank you for taking the time to post this comment, Elizabeth! I loved reading about how you are using the time you create in your classroom for project based learning. This is a topic I extremely interested in as well. I could not agree more that the focus should be on the creative ways we are using the extra time we have in class as a result of flipping. A blended learning model, using strategies like flipping instruction, can make a project based approach so much more manageable because kids can connect- discuss, collaborate and create – both inside and outside of the physical classroom.

      I look forward to following your blog. I’d love to talk more about the projects you have done with your students.

      Catlin

  10. Catlin,

    Nice post – I have to admit I have stopped reading most ‘flipped classroom’ posts because they talk about the ‘lectures’ and the ‘videos’. I am NOT a proponent of the flipped classroom from a math teacher perspective because I think the reliance on lecture and algorithms this model seems to promote (i.e. Khan Academy type videos) goes against everything I believe mathematics learning and teaching should be. Inquiry, hands-on, not being told what to memorize, but exploring and using math to solve real-world situations.

    I think there are people out there who are doing the ‘flipped model’ the right way, as you describe, which is terrific and I applaud that. But my fear is that most are using it as a crutch to continue to do what has traditionally been done – lecture and drill and kill – more time for ‘homework’ and skill review in the class time does not make for better learning. I wrote my own blog post on this back in April because I was so over hearing about the ‘lecture at home’ and help in school (again, math related). http://greenhauseducation.blogspot.com/2012/04/math-anxiety-and-flipped-classroom.html

    Anyway, you did a great job of providing some concrete examples and really explaining how the model should be implemented. Appreciate it.

    • Catlin says:

      Thank you, Karen.

      It sounds like we share very common concerns about the flipped classroom model. I totally agree that this model should not be used to create more time for lecture and drill and kill handouts. Students are far more likely to enjoy math, understand it and use it if they have an opportunity to explore and discuss concepts with hands on activities, as you say. It is important that kids see the relevance between mathematical concepts and their lives. This is best done with student-centered activities and trial and error. I also like to encourage math teachers to integrate discussions and collaborative group work online instead of just using the online space to transfer knowledge. So often conversation is not viewed as an essential component of the math classroom, but I think it absolutely should be a critical component. If students have the time and space to discuss and explore concepts online and in class with student-centered activities, then I think this model could be a wonderful approach. It does take more creativity and time to design these types of valuable activities, which may be challenging for some educators. Hopefully educators having success with this model will continue to share their ideas, so we all benefit.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your blog post!

      Catlin

  11. Rich says:

    Those of us who have been around education long enough and want to improve it often reach the following three conclusions:
    1. No single technique or tool is guaranteed to produce learning.
    2. Politicians, commentators, and administrators often refuse to accept Point 1 because they think their job is to devise or cheerlead for the one, new solution to the multifaceted challenges teachers face.
    3. It is impossible to ignore the fads those folks embrace, and resisting them is exhausting, so the best approach is to co-opt them, leverage them, or otherwise twist them to legitimate educational purposes.

    Bravo to Catlin Tucker for trying to turn the flipped classroom into a positive tool for education. I share the skepticism of commenter Sean Lancaster, above; I doubt having kids watch videos for homework will fix American education, although, of course, it certainly may help in some classrooms. What schools need is complicated and what teachers should do is a function of their subject, their skills, their students, and other variables. So, until the country drops this educational hula hoop and rushes to the pet rock of pedagogical fads, if what we need to do with the flipped classroom is to redefine it as project-based learning or student-centered classes or collaboration or another approach with a greater chance of succeeding, let’s go for it.

    • Catlin says:

      Great points, Rich.

      I, too, don’t think there are any quick fixes and no single solution when it comes to the challenges that exist in education. I agree that the best bet for teachers is to evaluate new approaches and see what works for them and their students.

      For me, producing countless videos was not appealing. I have no desire to be on camera, and I don’t lecture much in my class to begin with. In fact the only content I record to flip is my SAT vocabulary list which I use to present every 1.5 weeks and go through (at my transparency machine) for all 6 of my classes. I realized that to record this process would take about 10-12 minutes using QuickTime or Educreations. The old way I was doing vocabulary took me closer to 20 minutes per class x 6 classes = 120 minutes! To me, that made it worthwhile, but for everything else I look to experts or film makers who have already created great stuff. I took the fundamental idea then figured out how it could work for me.

      As an educator, I want to stay open-minded to new techniques and approaches, but it can be overwhelming to follow all of the fads that come and go!

      Catlin

  12. Marcy says:

    Thank you, Caitlin, for pointing out how the flipped classroom allows students a departure point, if you will, to come to class more ready to use the content actively. I appreciated learning how using videos is not the sole method of flipping, and I especially appreciated the idea that the videos that I do use do not necessarily have to be mine. I have been wanting to make short video lessons of grammar points I teach so that students can watch them away from class and then we can use the the grammar points more efficiently in class. The time and effort that I need to put into making the videos has have been obstacles to employing this method. Now I will start to be a bit more creative about finding those videos elsewhere. Additionally, I am excited to try some online methods of connecting my students when they are not in class so that they can try communicating via conversation or correspondence (I am a language teacher) for practice, reinforcement, and relevant use of the subject matter.
    I am enjoying reading your thoughtful and sensible blog.
    -Marcy

    • Catlin says:

      I would definitely encourage you to check out content that has already been produced, Marcy.

      It takes time digging through videos, but in the long run it is easier than producing your own. The filming is just one aspect of creating a video. The best videos are both informative and entertaining, which requires time and preparation that you may not have.

      I have found some decent grammar videos at YouTube.com/edu (specifically: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL280BB04AEEADE821&feature=plcp).

      If you are working with younger students or just want to make your older students laugh. Check out the videos at http://www.grammaropolis.com/

      The FreeTech4Teachers site also did a blog post with 10 grammar resources that is worth taking a look at: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/08/ten-grammar-games-and-lesson-resources.html

      I love this video because the music is hilarious and students love working to find the mistakes. It can be a great way to spark interest and discussion. I have had students watch this and discuss the problems. They enjoy it. (Note: I found this by searching “grammar” on the schooltube.com).

      Because the flipped model can work with other kinds of media, I would also suggest posting links from your class website or blog to English resources and let students explore and discuss them. For example, I love the Grammar Girl Website for her “quick and dirty grammar tips” but kids could easily explore a page and discuss it. Then we could apply that the next day in class with a student-centered grammar challenge!

      Good luck hunting for videos! Let me know if you find any gems.

      Catlin

  13. Ingrid says:

    Hi Catlin:

    I really enjoyed reading your post and latched onto your assertion of shifting from “consumables” to “produceables.” I think that many in education see increased technology use as a black hole of limited attention spans, multitasking devices, fragmented application and superficial responses to assignments. I think this is true to some extent if we emphasize “consumable” homework and don’t rethink how and what we teach alongside greater technology use. To me, blended learning has the potential to greatly increase deep analysis and careful reflection on the part of our students.

    The biggest advantage for the teacher, as I see it, is that EVERY student in the class has an opportunity to respond, create, participate, and interact with peers and the teacher. The larger the class size the fewer students have the chance to meaningfully take part in discussion and share ideas in a traditional classroom setting. In the case of the most reticent students, the teacher may be the only person who is ever privy to their ideas (when they turn in their homework). In a blended environment, there are ideally many ways in which a student can contribute, share, collaborate, and receive feedback from teacher and peers alike.

    From a student’s perspective, the greatest advantage is the ability to take their time. Most of us produce our best work with time and space to think, usually on our own. Traditional schedules, and even block classes, often don’t allow for meaningful and deep discussion on a regular basis with full participation. By offering online versions of discussions, projects, and other interactive assignments students can take their time thinking, crafting their responses, or creating, but then still having the benefit of receiving feedback from the teacher AND their classmates. What better way to encourage careful reflection and deep thinking!

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Ingrid,

      I smiled when I read your statement that “To me, blended learning has the potential to greatly increase deep analysis and careful reflection on the part of our students.” I could not agree more! Using games or online instructional resources are easy things to add to traditional curriculum, but I do not think they are transformative or will, in many cases, lead to higher-order thinking. I believe the more challenging task for educators interested in blended learning is to figure out how to really engage students in active learning online. I don’t think that many of these online consumables will retain attention or interest for very long. If a blended learning model is going to be successful long term, I passionately believe that we must use the online space for much more than disseminating and collecting information. It must be a space used to connect students to resources and each other so they can learn collaboratively.

      I appreciate that you included reflection as a benefit of blended learning. Reflection is such a critical aspect of learning and growth, but it is often overlooked or neglected because it requires time. Learning how to engage students in personal reflection and group reflection using technology is a wonderful benefit of the time, space and flexibility created when we use a blended approach to teaching.

      We agree on the biggest benefit of blended learning being that every student gets an equal voice in the larger class dialogue. This is why discussion is at the heart of my teacher-designed approach to blended learning. As soon as students feel they can contribute in a space that is safe, supportive and respectful (online and face-to-face), they automatically become more invested in the class and the learning taking place.

      Thank you for your thoughtful post! It is encouraging to hear other teachers articulating the benefits of blended learning in the same way I am. Too often the conversation around blended learning turns to online content (and there are tons of companies trying to corner that market), but I want the focus to be on active and engaged LEARNING online. I think it would be a shame for the online space to only be used as a place to transfer knowledge. Instead, I hope more teachers will use the space to get students discussing, debating, exploring, problem solving and creating!

      Catlin

  14. Mark says:

    To begin, I really appreciate your sharing Ms. Penney’s Bloom’s (technological) Taxonomy. One of my biggest concerns has been, “What am I going to do with my students that is ‘advanced’ enough for the 21st century learner?” The sheer number of resources that were unknown to me is almost overwhelming. I am relieved that I won’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ as I develop new (to me and my teaching) activities for the students. I look forward to exploring how these tools achieve their prescribed levels of the taxonomy.

    To continue, when I reflect on your point that it is ‘OK’ to use videos created by others instead of creating class/teacher/project specific videos in the flipped model, I become concerned about the future. My concern relates to the idea that produced videos and content can be controlled by publishing houses, special interest groups, etc., so that we would end up creating 21st century textbooks in video form.

    As well, much like Rich, I worry that politicians, pundits, or special-interest groups may grab hold of the idea that one person or one entity can create the ‘ perfect’ material for the classroom. Building on my idea that ‘video textbooks’ are possible, the use computers and the Internet to distribute this ‘controlled’ vision worries me because it makes it easier for two possibilities. First, the teachers ‘on the ground’ and in the classroom will become ‘teaching assistants’ and only be there to aid the students along the path that has been chosen and created by someone else for ALL students. Second, parents can become ‘educators’ for their children and remove them from the classroom and the schools and simply have them sit down in front of a computer and receive their education. In this instance, the reasoning beyond home-schooling is lost as it is not unique or individualized for the child.

    While I understand that many teachers are shy and nervous about presenting themselves on video, the call to control and create what is appropriate for their classroom should override this trepidation. Life is too unique, too complex, too rich to allow it to be homogenized by a ‘one size fits all’ mentality.

    Caitlin, I am not attacking your comments or your tactics in the classroom. I am looking more generally and more into a crystal ball. I hope you do not take offense.

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Mark,

      You voice a concern I also share about the idea of “outsourcing” our teaching. I recently wrote a blog titled “Blended Learning: Is the New Definition Alienating Teachers?” in response to the most recent white paper on blended learning by Innosight Institute. In it I discussed my concern about the emphasis placed on “delivery of online content” which still places students in the role of consumers of information. I state that I want the focus to be on active and engaged learning online.

      I also have serious reservations about the idea of companies designing content to be consumed by students sitting in front of computers for hours. In fact, in my book I do not even discuss pre-canned/paid for content. Instead, my approach is to model and coach teachers on strategies for adapting their current curriculum for a blended learning model using (almost entirely free) tools. I made this choice because online content is not something that most schools can afford, and I have not seen any online pre-canned English content that I would want to use myself with students. I enjoy designing my curriculum and feel that my unique approach to teaching is part of what makes my class fun for students.

      When I suggest that teachers make use of ready-to-use content, I am referring to videos that other teachers have produced for topics you want to cover or grabbing PBS.org or History.com clips to show. I enjoy taking clips of documentaries, debates, interviews, etc. to share with students in a flipped model. I am not the expert on everything (as much as I would love to be!) so I like to pull from a variety of sources to connect students with quality information. That said, I am still picking and choosing what works for my students and for me. This, to me, feel different than signing up for a program and using a collection of ready made content produced by large companies.

      I think personalizing videos to meet your specific needs is wonderful for those with the tools, time, and energy. Teacher produced videos is the way the flipped classroom is usually discussed. I offer another perspective that I hope will encourage teachers who do not want to record videos to try flipping with content that is available.

      I appreciate you sharing your ideas and concerns! This type of thoughtful dialogue is an important as we test new pedagogical approaches and new methodologies.

      Catlin

  15. Kim Duncan says:

    Hi Catlin!

    Thanks for well-written article on the flipped classroom. I, too, am disheartened that the focus of most discussions on this topic is the video. Most people think that the video is the most important aspect of this approach to leaning. However, my experience has shown that the video is the least important part of the process – and I view it as a means to an end.

    I spent much time during this past year flipping my 10th grade chemistry classes and it was an enlightening process. I took a lot of time reviewing my materials and really streamlined the content. I decided that I wanted to present the content through videos and created guided notes for the students to use when watching the videos. I believe that the guided notes were instrumental in keeping the students on task while viewing the videos. The biggest portion of my time was spent creating hands on activities for the students to participate in during class time that supported and expanded upon the content of the videos. I strongly feel that those activities, along with the one-on-one time that I spent with each of my students during each class meeting, were the most important and meaningful components of the flipped classroom.

    Thanks so much for pointing out that we should be focusing on what happens IN the classroom when we move the presentation of content OUT of that space. Flipping your classroom in a way that is appropriate for your students and your content will give you the opportunity to spend much more time guiding students to analyze and evaluate information and understand it at a much deeper level.

    Kim Duncan

    • Catlin says:

      Hi Kim,

      I totally agree with you about the videos being a means to an end. It saves me time and there is little benefit at times to me introducing information live (6 times to 6 classes).

      I really like the idea of guided notes! How do you do this? I’d love to hear more about the strategies you use when designing your notes. I’m intrigued by this idea.

      My apologies for the delay in responding! I’m not sure how I missed this. I appreciate you posting a comment.

      Catlin

  16. Lynnae Boudreau says:

    Thank you, Caitlin, for several things: the tech triangle (like Mark said, I find the menu of digital options overwhelming); the selection of specific ways to create blended learning in a classroom; and the list of things to consider when creating that classroom. It’s sort of like one-stop shopping.

    I myself have a short-ish list of things I consider when planning anything for my math classrooms. Everything I’ve read about flipped/ blended classrooms leads me to think the philosophy fits closely with what I value in learning.

    1. What do I hope my students get from this, specifically, what or how do I hope students will learn?
    2. What larger skills, like critical thinking, communication, or collaboration will this support?
    3. Where does it land on Bloom’s?
    4. Is it integrated into the larger whole, or does it feel like a plug-in activity? (Sometimes it’s okay to have something new folded in as a one-time experiment, but I explain this to my students, and hopefully they like being part of a larger quest toward good teaching and learning.)
    5. Does it give students a chance to think creatively, maybe to make something of their own, and to practice being “mathematicians?” (This has been called “authentic learning,” helping students work as members of the community, in this case, the community of mathematicians.)
    6. How to asses learning here? (Sometimes these are formal paper and pencil tests, sometimes alternative assessments, and sometimes quicker and less formal formative assessments.)
    7. Does it promote risk-taking, and if so, does it provide a space for students to fail and recover?

    (Maybe the list isn’t so short after all.)

    I’ve only dipped my toe in the waters, by making a set of trig videos to watch outside of class, followed by challenging problems done collaboratively in class. Next time, when knee-deep, I think I’ll focus on a set-up that emphasizes more authentic learning and doing. I imagine there are ways to get students working together to tease out patterns in a series of equations, or look at a set of objects and design a definition. I imagine these ways could be challenging, so that students would have to work together, make mistakes, and regroup, much like “real” mathematicians do. I think I’ll try to make my focus, not the type of delivery I give my students, but rather the things they turn around and do.

    • Catlin says:

      I love your list of questions, Lynnae, and will probably direct other educators to them!

      Defining what is important to us in our teaching practice and approaching curriculum design with intention is crucial to success. So many teachers dive in and ask those questions later. Or they don’t experience success and give up on technology.

      I also recommend you be patient with yourself. Dipping your toes in and starting slow is smart. I did the same thing. It took time for me to move past engaging students online effectively before I was able to really focus on weaving the online work back into the classroom. Shifting to a blended learning model takes time and scaffolding.

      Thank you for posting your comment.

      Catlin

  17. Kelly says:

    Catlin,
    I really enjoyed reading your post and appreciate how you blended the philosophy with the practical. I found it reassuring that you are advocating for using what is already available to teachers. As a social studies teacher, I am already a big fan of PBS.org [and some of the other sites you listed]. It’s curious to me that while a “traditional” teacher/classroom model typically relied on textbooks created by someone else, there seems to be a sense that teachers today need to create their own on-line content. Good teachers never settle for using solely a textbook, and the way I see it, good teachers now don’t have to settle for simply presenting on-line content “as is.”
    In considering how I will make changes to my classroom for this coming year, I look forward to finding ways to have my students reflect on what they’re learning and share with me what they are not understanding. Saying “I don’t get it” in class doesn’t provide me with enough information to really help the student. But writing a few lines to me [and classmates] from home may be more effective.
    I look forward to continuing to reading your blog in the future. Teacher-to-teacher collaboration is essential to keeping us all on track as we evaluate our pedagogical approaches and the uses of new technologies.

    Kelly

    • Catlin says:

      Hi Kelly,

      I like your point that teachers have relied on textbooks created by someone else for years, but many teachers feel the need to create their own online content. I also agree that good teachers don’t just settle for a textbook. The beauty of the resources available to us online is that it makes it even easier than ever before to supplement our curriculum with multimedia resources.

      I hope some of my own musings on how to engage my own students will be helpful to you. I enjoy collaborating with other teachers because it keeps me thinking about my process and motivates me to continually improve on my craft. If you are on Twitter, find me @CTuckerEnglish and send me a note. That is an easy way to stay in touch and build our PLNs.

      Take care.

      Catlin

  18. Sally Sefamí says:

    Caitlin,
    Your post highlights a concern about both the nature of the online portion of the flipped/blended class and how this feeds into the F2F environment. I am a Spanish teacher and have been scouring the web for materials that I could use in a blended course. I am a non-native speaker of Spanish and while my language skills are considered superior, I feel that students should be exposed to a variety of authentic speakers in authentic contexts. I don’t foresee myself making videos to post for my students. I am sure that I can find quality resources to spare online. Thanks for your “blessing” on this matter.
    I agree that we need to make sure of two things: first, that the online portion of our course invites students to do more than just watch content (your “consumable”) and design ways to challenge students to use critical thinking skills, collaborate effectively and reflect on questions that are still unanswered or connections that they have made. It simply can’t be static. I have perused some of the courses available through iTunesU and other online universities and have even taken a stab at listening to the lectures. Inevitably, I get bored and find something else to do. I can’t imagine a high school student feeling any different. Second, you write about rethinking the classroom experience. Many teachers complain about the lack of time to do the engaging and exciting activities that motivate and connect students to the material since there is so much material to cover. This is our chance to make this happen and infuse excitement and discovery into our classes. I think this is the most compelling reason to adopt this method of teaching.
    Finally, I wanted to comment on the Ted initiative that you mentioned at the beginning of the post. I had the incredible opportunity to attend Ted Active this year in Palm Spring and as one of only a handful of educators in attendance, I was approached by the Ted ed folks to make a video. I had a lengthy conversation with the young man who is heading up this initiative and from the beginning it seemed disconnected and random. I found it curious and a bit annoying that the organization chose non-educators to run the program. I hope that they rethink this and get some people on board who know what a classroom looks like and how it might be framed in the context of a complete lesson.
    I will be following your blog, Caitlin. Thanks for your ideas.

    • Catlin says:

      I’m glad my post made you feel better about using quality resources you are finding online, Sally.

      In foreign language, it is so critical, as you say, to expose kids to authentic speakers. As anyone who speaks Spanish can attest, it is a very different experience speaking in Mexico, compared to Northern Spain or the lisp quality of speakers in Granada. It can be so hopeful to hear a language spoken by people of different socioeconomic groups and geographic locations.

      I, like you, have listened to lectures. Even as an adult learner with focus and motivation, it can be hard to stay tuned for any length of time if I know I will not be asked to do anything with that information. Students definitely need an incentive to stay attentive. I also think they benefit so much from applying the information sooner (rather than later) so they don’t lose pieces before the next class period.

      Interesting information about the TED initiative. I actually don’t know a ton about it, but I, too, am very disappointed that educators are not involved in running the program. It is hard to know what teachers and students need without involving them in the conversation. I hope that changes.

      Thanks for your interest in my blog. I will continue to share what I am learning!

      Catlin

  19. Marees Choppin says:

    Hi Catlin. I was refreshed to hear you say in your flipped classroom article that the work outside of class does not have to be generated by the teacher, but rather the teacher can use other available content. We are a laptop school, and I am comfortable with project based learning, collaborative research, creative writing, acting, etc. However, I struggle with flipping the classroom for a grammar lesson, but now have solid ideas. I am a Spanish teacher, and my textbook has online screencasts for grammar lessons, and I have used you tube videos to supplement. If the students can use these resources for homework to teach themselves the grammar, then they can return to class to collaborative with groups and create written work or role play, which will demonstrates their understanding of the material. Since you are an English teacher, I am interested to see if you have other ideas for grammar, or if you agree with my supposition above. Sincerely, Marees

    • Catlin says:

      It sounds like you are on the right track with your approach, Marees.

      If you have strong resources you like to use to flip your classroom, then I would suggest using those. Only create videos if you find a topic you want to present and do not find a video to help you introduce it.

      In my reply to Marcy, I highlighted some grammar resources that might also be helpful to you. I have not found an entire collection of grammar resources that does it all, but I have been able to pick and choose the ones I want to use. I also will do as you suggested and ask students to research a grammar rule and find examples online for HW, then class time can be use for more creative tasks that allow students time to practice, apply and cement that information. Role playing is a great idea, I also use things comic strips, poetry/song lyrics, creative stories, etc. to demonstrate grammatical rules we are learning.

      Good luck! If you find a great grammar resource, please let me know.

      Catlin

  20. Heather says:

    Hi Catlin-

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments on the flipped classroom. My school is investing a lot of time and energy on the flipped classroom and it was interesting to hear an argument against the focus which is placed on the videos. I completely agree with the importance of what happens IN the classroom and I think the strength and beauty of the model lies in your third point about creating a student-centered classroom.

    However, as a physics teacher I feel a bit stuck on the video part of it. There are a certain number of concepts that need to be understood before students can dig deeper into interesting hands-on projects that are student-centered. I have viewed a number of the Kahn videos and worry about using them because the information is presented with slightly different notation and emphasis than I like to use and is used by our online textbook. While different presentations of concepts can be useful, I worry that this will just be confusing to the students. I have yet to find a video resource that I feel good about using and have spent A LOT of time searching for a good video to use to no avail. This has left me with the feeling that to do this right, my colleagues and I need to create the videos ourselves, which I have to admit I find to be a daunting task, as you mention yourself. Do you have any good resources or suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Heather

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Heather,

      The flipped classroom has been incredibly popular with math and science teachers, because, as you say, there is a lot of info that must be understood prior to diving into a lesson. I do not mean to devalue creating videos if that is an option that appeals to you. In fact, I hope an increasing number of teachers will design and created quality videos that other teachers can reference and use. I find that teacher created content tend to feel more authentic to me anyway. I applaud you and your colleagues for taking on the task of creating vidos for your students.

      There is a chemistry teacher in Northern California who is doing incredible things with the flipped classroom. His name is Ramsey Musallam who has a site http://flipteaching.com/ that delves into the details of screen casting. I have used Educreations which has an iPad app that is awesome for creating Khan style videos with the ability to upload images, add text, draw, etc.

      I am not an expert at creating video lectures as I never appear in my recordings but instead record a screen. Ramsey is a master at recording demos, experiments, explanations, etc. so he his website should be super helpful.

      Good luck!

      Catlin

  21. Pat says:

    Caitlin,
    You pose important questions about the role of the teacher in the F2F classroom. What are we doing with the extra time delivering content online allows us? Are we using that time in ways that improve our students’ understanding of content or are we just cramming in more facts and information into the course? I love that you included Bloom’s taxonomy in your assessment of online instruction. Students need experience with the higher level thinking skills of analyzing, synthesizing, evalualting, applying, and creating. If they are given the opportunity to think about and respond to questions and assignments beyond the lower level thinking skills the classroom can come alive with their fresh and innovative ideas. Then they will become “producers” not only “consumers” of information.
    I like your term “flipped instruction” as it seems less daunting to a teacher who would like to try a new approach to helping students learn. I, too , believe there are good instructional videos that teachers can use but, just as we are asking our students to be discerning in their assessment of information online, so too, the teachers need to be discerning in what they select for their students to watch. We are trying to use technology to personalize instruction and not make it a “one size fits all” approach. The vast array of resources available online allow us to do that, but it is time consuming!
    Thank you for your thoughtful work on behalf of educating our children in the 21st century.
    Pat

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Pat,

      I’m glad you enjoyed seeing Samantha Penney’s Blooms Digital Taxonomy (URL: goo.gl/NaCcV). It is fun to see what tools can inspire specific lower and higher level thinking.

      My goal in flipping instruction is to transform my physical classroom into a student-centered experience to make learning more relevant and meaningful. This is much easier to do if students are comfortable in their role as producers or generators of information. At first many may student resist this move from a passive to an active role as it requires more energy, thought and focus, but they soon discover how rewarding it can be to work with their peers and tackle challenges together. The reward of completing complex tasks together in a student-centered activity is worth the hard work for most kids.

      I love your comment about being “discerning” the quality of online media. This is so important for us as teachers selecting ready-to-use media as well as for students in evaluating the quality of media they encounter. Too often kids take media at face value allowing it to wash over them. I want them to thinking critically about what they have seen…what is the motivation, what is the impact, etc.?

      Thank you for the compliment and thoughtful comment. I feel lucky to have a job I find so challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling!

      Catlin

  22. Steve McKibben says:

    I am currently taking an online class on blended learning and, I have found it to be a frustrating experience. I want to be clear that my frustration has nothing to do with the intentional, thoughtful, and provocative design of the course, and everything to do w/my my own proclivities as a student and the myriad demands on my time that compete w/my work in the class. Since most of the reading I’ve done is from an educator’s, administrator’s, or policy wonk’s perspective, I’m concerned w/the lack of student voice in the discussions about the viability of the blended learning model, and so i’ll try to frame my thinking from the perspective of a student.
    I know that one of the ways I learn best in when I am engaged face-to-face w/teachers and classmates; there is a physical immediacy and an emotional intimacy to being proximate to other learners that reinforces what I learn in the classroom. I know that I have a tendency to tune out during conference calls and I have struggled with ways to be more productive when I am not in the same room as the person/people w/whom I’m talking. I also have short attention span, and I find it much easier to multi-task when no one is watching me. Just in the brief span of this post, I’ve surfed a few other websites.
    Having said all this, I believe in the potential of flipped lessons and, to a lesser degree, flipped classrooms. Any pedagogy that encourages students to explore and to utilize their own–higher order–thinking skills is worth actively pursuing. And, as you point out, the idea that “instruction can take place in different mediums” (and in different media) is liberating. The fact is that–based purely on economic realities–flipped education will become more and more prevalent, and thus we are on the cusp of potentially dramatic revolution in how accessible an asynchronous education will be for our students and for our children.
    However, all of us are different, and what may work for a self-motivated, focused student may not work for me. And i am concerned about those students for whom flipped simply allows for more opportunities to indulge in their ADD-tendancies or who cannot be held to the basic standards of polite and educated social discourse.
    Thank you for stimulating my thinking.
    Best,
    –Steve

    • Catlin says:

      You make an important point, Steve. Everyone learns differently. One approach is not going to work for everyone as you are discovering with your course. That said, I think that actually makes a strong argument for integrating a variety of approaches.

      I, too, enjoy the face-to-face connections that happen in a physical space, which is why I place so much emphasis on maintaining the teacher’s role as a critical part of the learning process in a blended model. In fact, my approach to blended learning is a little unique because my focus is supporting everyday teachers in traditional schools and encouraging them to adopt and integrate technologies to engage students in active learning online. My hope is they will be able to use class time and their physical space to foster more of the student-centered activities that have the potential to interest and engage students while developing higher-order thinking.

      It seems ironic to me that even though teachers have students in a physical space, many rarely use this physical proximity to enhance student learning and tap into the collective potential of the group. Instead many classes ask students to sit quietly and listen, which seems a waste. Transforming this by flipping instruction and blending learning makes me hopeful that these new approaches will give students more time to connect with their teacher and peers during the learning process.

      Great points. I appreciate you taking the students perspective as they are too often left out of these conversations.

      Catlin

  23. Letty says:

    Hi Catlin,

    Thank you for this blog. I appreciate reading from someone who is so committed to making education better for our students. I am a huge proponent of “doing.” For it is only through trying, doing, tweaking, struggling that we really learn something. Doing these things individually, on our own, at our own pace is one of the real benefits of online learning. I also think that doing these things collaboratively with others in a student-centered classroom is a really good exercise and a useful experience to have for the working world. As a math teacher I am trying to figure out how to best use the idea of a flipped classroom at the boarding school where I teach. Your blog is getting me to think outside the box about my teaching and I really appreciate that. thank you.

    • Catlin says:

      That is wonderful to hear, Letty!

      I’m so glad this blog post was helpful to you. I agree that balancing individual self-paced learning and collaborative group work has the potential to improve student learning. I appreciate the flexibility that technology provides in allowing me to determine which educational medium will best support each type of learning.

      Take care.
      Catlin

  24. I believe your second point, “Make them do something with that information that requires higher- order thinking” is incredibly important. Participation in a three year literacy grant through SREB (Southern REgion Educaton Board) and the work by Cris Tovani has taught me the significance of having students reflect on and grapple with their learning.

    If a student simply watches a video and does nothing more, no learning will occur. If students use a variety of literacy and comprehension strategies, they can absorb and comprehend material from videos or other sources. They can then ask questions in class and they will be prepared for class activities that emphasize the higher levels of Bloom’s.

    Keep up the great work.
    Gary
    http://stricklandscience.weebly.com/blog.html

    • Catlin says:

      Hi Gary,

      I agree that driving higher-order thinking and building in opportunities for reflection are key. These are important elements to build into our lesson design.

      Thanks for posting a comment!

      Catlin

  25. Juliane Danielski says:

    Hi Caitlin, thank you for the work you are doing on blended and flipped instruction. I would love to speak with other teachers in my field (French and Spanish teachers) who have some experience with different techniques in blended classrooms. Is there a website where teachers can select the field they teach and then leave a synopsis of their blended learning/ flipped instruction strategies?

  26. Ginny Faus says:

    Dear Caitlin,
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog about the flipped classroom model. Clearly you are dedicated to your profession and to your students! I have also followed the many links in your blog and I would like to read your book! Once again I am reminded that there is so much more that I need to learn about teaching so that my students’ experience learning chemistry is more thoughtful and interactive. I approach each new school year by trying something new with my teaching. Sometimes my “experiments” work and sometimes they don’t work. Last year I did try a flipped class with my chemistry students and it did not work as I had expected. I now realize (after all of the reading I have done today!) that it will take more thought on my part to make it work well. It will also take trial and error and help from my students to find out what works well and what doesn’t. I am committed to giving the flipped classroom and blended learning a try this year. And I am excited to try something new. I have been concerned about students with different learning styles and how this model would work for them, but I now realize that the flipped model could actually afford more time to work individually with students during the class time.

    I followed one of the links to a video of a panel discussion on the flipped classroom. Many good ideas were expressed and I especially liked hearing and reading Ramsey Musallam’s ideas.

    Thank you for your hard work and your willingness to share your insights and ideas.

    Sincerely,
    Ginny

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Ginny,

      Ramsey Musallam is a very inspiring chemistry teacher! I’ve had the pleasure of working with him. If you have not been to his website http://cyclesoflearning.com, it’s worth checking out.

      As with everything, trying something new takes time, practice and patience. You are so right when you say that we can learn what works and what doesn’t from our students.

      In my book, I break down my approach to planning a flipped lesson. I encourage educators to begin by sparking curiosity and driving inquiry (in class), transfer knowledge (online), and build on that knowledge with student-centered activities (in class). Breaking down a lesson to weave the in class pieces with online components can make it easier to ensure that we are able to allow students to learn at their own pace while being more available in class to support students at different levels.

      Good luck continuing to explore blended learning and flipped classroom models!

      Catlin

      • Ginny Faus says:

        Hi Caitlin.
        I have spent some time at his website and it gave me some great ideas. I have also continued to read your blog and I have gotten some great ideas from what others have written and your responses to them. There are a couple of topics in chemistry that I don’t like teaching because I feel that I am standing in front of the class too much. Some of the historical aspects are not as interesting to my students as the explosions we are able to demonstrate. I have already changed the way I teach these topics by using puzzling and other collaborative exercises but I could embed a video clip (I don’t like the idea of it being me…but have not been able to find exactly what I want elsewhere), but I would have no idea of how to go about doing this. I grew up using sliderules so technology is not intuitive to me in any way and takes me longer to understand. I am lucky that my school provides many opportunities for professional development. And there are younger faculty that would help me, but I worry about taking up too much of their time. Any suggestions for professional development opportunities? I like your idea about tech Tuesdays or something like that and I may suggest it to someone at our school.
        Thanks!
        Ginny

        • Catlin says:

          Hi Ginny,

          Professional development is a great option for building confidence. I present a lot for Simple K12 and have found their collection of online PD webinars really wonderful. I regularly watch their webinars for my own continued education. If you watch them in real time when they are presented, it is usually free. If you are a paid member, you can watch the on-demand videos anytime. I like being able to pick and choose the videos that work best for me, so I can spend my time where I feel it is most valuable. I know there are several companies that offer virtual PD, so I would suggest exploring that option.

          If there are people on your campus willing to walk you through stuff, then I would suggest taking them up on it! It is amazing how much knowledge is on a campus, but we rarely have opportunities to collaborate because of time.

          Good luck.

          Catlin

  27. Corinne says:

    Hi Caitlin,
    I have enjoyed reading your post and see the debate set right. All this hype about flipped classroom revolving about the tool (the video) and not what it really means from a teacher’s perspective : an opportunity to focus on the collective as well as individual needs of students for learning to happen.
    As a teacher in a bilingual school (French-American), I have made a couple of shy attempts to flipped instruction with mixed results and I look forward to try again with more understanding about what went wrong. Unfortunately, teaching Math in a different language doesn’t allow me to use a lot of resources. To my knowledge, Khan Academy hasn’t made it to France… So I have to create my own videos and to be honest, I don’t mind that much. It allows me to introduce the concepts with the angle and emphasis I want, to insist on and explain the vocabulary that may pose difficulties to non-native French speakers, in a nut shell, to taylor it to my listeners.
    I would be happy if you could give me the name of the iPad app that will allow me to make them as engaging as possible. But I keep in mind that what happens after the video is the real added value of a teacher : make the connections happen, give meaning to the concept.
    Unfortunately my middle school students’ feedback about this experience (delivery of the content online) was not very positive. All the examples I hear from are from high school and upper education, and my school is a K-8. I am looking for success stories for middle school and elementary school flipped classroom. Do you have any examples for me?

  28. Emma Wynn says:

    Dear Catlin,

    I really appreciated your comment that, “Students today must be generators and producers.” I think that our students are inundated all day long with media that situates them as consumers, which encourages them to think of themselves primarily as consumers when they construct their identities. Or perhaps they are thinking of themselves as the “product” that they construct by consuming various goods and then presenting a certain style to the world (a style which they then feel is “me”). However, it isn’t in the interest of the large media companies (who gain their revenue from the advertising of other large companies) to encourage students to see themselves as the ones who could tell the stories and create the styles themselves, in ways that are not centered around consumer goods. The online technologies that do excite me are those that help students realize and share their creativity with others – sites like Youtube, where students can share video and comment on each other’s work, or websites constructed by classes/students to showcase art or research and network with others for feedback and interchange. Blogs can work for this, too – to showcase sewing talents and ask others for help with certain techniques, for example (something I love to use). What I like about these resources is their open-endedness. Some flipped classroom resources are so linear – they essentially tell the student exactly what to do, step by step, and don’t allow the student to really “do” anything in any meaningful or deep way that involves true thinking, even if they look like “active” learning. I really appreciated your emphasis on “doing.” Do you have any thoughts about how we can recognize resources that are really “active” and distinguish them from others that only appear to be asking the student to “do” something?

    Thanks so much!
    Emma

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Emma,

      Your statement that “Some flipped classroom resources are so linear – they essentially tell the student exactly what to do, step by step, and don’t allow the student to really “do” anything in any meaningful or deep way” really resonated with me. I had not articulated it in this way myself, but you are so right when you say that many approaches are so linear and don’t leave room for creativity. If students are consuming videos, where are they able to really engage?

      A big distinguishing factor when it comes to evaluating the quality of online resources and technology is deciding whether this technology is going to disseminate and collect information OR is it going to actively engage students in dynamic learning. I’m looking for tools that will help me to effectively engage students in collaboration, communication and creation. If a blended learning model is going to be equal to or exceed the potential of the traditional classroom, then we need to be able to utilize the online space for more than just transferring knowledge or engaging students in games to hit bottom of Bloom’s taxonomy. I am driving higher order thinking skills when I engage my students online using Collaborize Classroom and Google apps.

      Take care.

      Catlin

  29. Shauna Callahan says:

    Hi Catlin,

    You articulate the potential of flipped classrooms beautifully! I really connect to your overarching message of selecting mediums that support the needs of the students involved, rather than simply applying a perscriptive, formulaic model to define what a flipped classroom is. I feel that you eloquently describe the pedagogical future at its best. How have you communicated your experiences and philosophy to colleagues at your school? What have their responses been?

    Thank you, Caitlin.

    Best,
    Shauna

    • Catlin says:

      Hello Shauna,

      Thank you for your kind words. It’s ironic but I have shared my ideas more with educators beyond my school district. I’ve spoken at conferences all over the country, led workshops and facilitated PD (virtual and in person). I work in a school district without a lot of technology, so the reaction to my experiences and my excitement is, at times, skeptical. Many teachers ask “what if kids don’t have access?” and I’m making the argument that we have to start asking “how can we get them access?”

      There is interest at my school. Many would like to learn more, but there is little, to no, funding for professional development on my campus. During budget cuts (which are severe in CA right now), funding for PD is usually the first to go. I’m planning to lead informal “Techy Teacher Tuesday” in my rooms during lunch. This way teachers can come and talk tech integration if that interests them. I plan to introduce tech in bite sized pieces so as not to overwhelm. I’m hopeful that will help me to connect with teachers in my district to share my ideas and knowledge.

      Catlin

  30. Kim Caston says:

    Caitlin,

    I sit on the Richardson Texas ISD School Board. You have knocked my socks off with this post! We are heavily invested in digital learning and flipped curriculum in our district and I am going to forward this to our folks.

    Would you like to move to Texas? A little warm right now, but we do have two weeks of fall!

    Thanks for inspiring me to continue to work put into place strategies to engage our children in the classroom and prepare them for THEIR future – not MY past!

    Kindest Regards,
    Kim Caston

    • Catlin says:

      Thank you for the kind note, Kim!

      I’m so glad you found the post inspiring. I believe the flipped model, and blended learning in general, have so much potential to improve learning for students while empowering teachers. The goal of my technology integration (as stated in my book) is to create a student-centered classroom to actively engage students in dynamic learning. It has been SO freeing for me as an educator to blend instructional mediums.

      It is pretty hot in Northern California. I cannot even imagine how stifling it is in Texas!

      Thanks for sharing this post. I hope others in your district find it helpful.

      Take care.

      Catlin

  31. Hi Catlin! Very impressive work and dialogue! I am a PD Provider and have begun demonstrating how to create a flipped classroom! I am presenting to a provincial conference of Math Teachers in Alberta and would love to use your blog post! Teachers need this information beyond just creating videos! So you have identified the real benefits of creating more productive classroom time, and what to do with it!

  32. Cheryl says:

    The students did a great job!! Thanks Mrs. Izzard

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  34. Miriam says:

    Catlin,

    Super blog post. I’m excited to explore this topic as well as your blog more. I already texted my cooperating teacher about dabbling in some flipped instruction. Since, we teach ELA and do a lot of academic vocabulary lessons, do you publish your educreations videos? I’d love to get an idea of what you do.

    Thanks a bunch!
    Miriam

    • Catlin says:

      Hi Miriam,

      I actually transitioned from using Educreations to recording with Quicktime on my Mac. A few students had issues because they needed Adobe Flash to watch the Educreation videos. You can see all of my vocabulary videos on my YouTube Channel.

      I just designed a resource for KQED called “Teacher’s Ultimate Guide to Using Videos,” which might be helpful.

      I hope you find the videos and guide helpful!

      Catlin

  35. Nancy says:

    Could you suggest how I could I use the flipped classroom to teach ESL to Chinese students living in China?

    • Hello Nancy,

      You can flip images using an LMS or discussion platform to post the image, then have students do any one of the following online for homework/practice:
      -Explain what is happening in the picture.
      -Discuss cultural art.
      -Tell a story inspired by a picture.
      -Explain a sequence of events or actions (i.e. comic strip).
      -Write a dialogue based on a photo or illustration.
      -Write a news article based on a photograph.
      -Write a day-in-the-life story based on a portrait.
      -Write a dialogue based on a photo of two people using details from the photo to bring your story to life.

      You can flip with video by posting the video and asking students to do any of the following online:

      -Watch a clip from a TV show in the foreign language and explain what happened.
      -Watch documentaries on regions that speak the language to explore history.
      -Watch travel videos on regions that speak the language to examine culture.
      -Watch a music video of a song in another language and translate lyrics.
      -Watch instructional videos on language and discuss.

      Even documents can be flipped and presented online. Then students can:

      -Create a story/folktale (using vocabulary from the current unit).
      -Collaborate on conjugation charts
      -Discuss topics presented in the documents.
      -Debate issues via online discussions or virtual hangouts.

      I encourage teachers to think about all of the different types of media they can flip, then figure out how to flip and engage students around that media online to make the learning more meaningful and effective.

      Good luck, Nancy.

      Catlin

  36. HenryNNN says:

    Dear Catlin,

    Guess you pretty much let the cat outta bag, it’s what Teachers are good at all this while. You cannot ‘live without’ a Teacher in a Flipped Classroom model, they are critcial !
    The tech affordance is just a means to ‘buy’ more TIME for Teachers to do excellent F2F in class !
    Veteran Flippers can tell you straight in the face that Tech component is ‘small’ compare to the F2F.

    In fact, when you are more into the Flipped Classroom model, you start to ‘dump’ Technology, ooops ! the Techies gonna jump on me, which might explain why so little is coming for the F2F. (Guess, the more you are know, it gets scary)

    My 2 cents worth …

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  45. Catlin says:

    You are welcome to share this post. Thanks for asking Andreas.

    Catlin

  46. Catlin says:

    Hello Tom,

    In the past, I often assigned homework that consisted of reading and writing. Even though I designed analysis questions to gage what kids were learning, I realize now it was not an effective way to engage students or determine their level of understanding. I rarely even had time to read their work until a few days after the class, so questions and confusions were left unaddressed for days. When I began posting 2 thought provoking discussion topics for homework instead of sending home handouts, I was stunned by the insights my students shared, questions they asked and connections they made. They enjoyed the social nature of the discussions and learned so much from one another. Instead of tackling a pen and paper assignment alone, they were connected to their classmates where they had a 24 hour support network of peers to lean on.

    It was exponentially easier to read their contributions to the online discussions prior to class so I knew what they were understanding and what questions still needed to be addressed. Finally, the mountains of paperwork that had kept me feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed were gone. My creative energy went into designing student-centered extension activities instead.

    This coming year, I plan to begin my classes by allowing students time to have small group discussions (guided by their annotations) to build further on their understanding of the reading. My hope is this will help develop their face-to-face conversation skills and provide opportunities for them to discuss aspects of the text I had not asked them to discuss.

    I think combining reading, writing and discussing in different contexts is, as you say, very beneficial. I also think you are correct that a reflective piece is important. As a proponent of matching the activity with the best environment, I would suggest doing reflective writing alone so I like online journals (Penzu is a great one) for this purpose.

    Catlin

  47. Catlin says:

    Hi Tom,

    I agree with your statement about the Blooms pyramid highlighting the problems in the traditional approach to teaching. Clearly, teachers do not always have the time transfer knowledge and engage students in hands on activities. This is the beauty of weaving together instructional mediums with a blended approach. The time, space and flexibility provides more opportunity to climb the pyramid with students!

    You also highlight a common criticism of the flipped model, which is that it simply replicates the lecture model virtually. I argue that to combat the “virtual sage on the stage” criticism, we must actively engage students in learning online. In fact, if any blended learning model is to be truly transformative, it must prioritize engaged active learning online over using the online space to simply disseminate and collect information. My biggest concerns about how blended learning is being defined center on these points. The definition of blended learning focuses on “online instruction” and “delivery of content” which I feel is misplaced emphasis. I want to see the “learning” in both the classroom and online emphasized instead. I am a realist though and understand that this active learning online is harder to achieve and big companies hoping to make money from this transition to work online want to push online content and programs.

    If we wrap the content we present online in dynamic discussions, debates, collaborative tasks, and writing assignments, then we are transferring knowledge, creating a community of learners online, and driving higher-order thinking.

    In response to your story about the socratic seminar, I applaud you for allowing students to draw it to a conclusion on their own. When students uncover, discover or construct knowledge on their own or together, those moments are powerful and empowering for them. It is so much easier to reach the conclusions for them and to give them the right answers, but that is not nearly as rewarding as allowing students to grapple with a topic and reach their own conclusions. It comes back to frequent debate over teaching breadth vs. depth. If we want our students to become independent thinkers, confident problem solvers and strong communicators, I don’t think we can “afford” not to allow them this time to uncover knowledge in a student-centered class. I know there are plenty of people who would disagree with me, and it is easier said than done at times, but it is the ideal I strive for in my class.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns!

    Catlin

  48. Catlin says:

    Hello Toby,

    I agree many students thrive when they receive timely feedback. What is nice about creating a student-centered classroom by flipping instruction and blending your learning mediums is that you have so many more informal opportunities to check in with kids. Students have greater access to me online and in the classroom without it taking more time for me to facilitate the course (quite the opposite, in fact).

    The 30 minute limit will require some creativity and perhaps breaking up an assignment into a couple of nights. If you flip your classroom or pair videos with online discussion, I would suggest keeping videos to around 10 minutes (which I advocate for anyway because of attention issues) then ask them to do something to apply that content in 20 minutes. Perhaps that is a reflective writing piece, engaging in a discussion online or answering some questions. If I was limited to 30 minutes, I would ask kids to view the 10 min video and answer the discussion prompt online. Then the next night I would have them read the responses of their peers and reply thoughtfully to 2-3 peers to engage with one another. This is just an example of how I would adapt my approach.

    Good luck.

    Catlin

  49. Catlin says:

    Hi Bridget,

    I apologize for not responding to your post sooner. I just posted a blog last week on addressing the Common Core Standards with tech tools. That might be a resource for finding tech tools to help you blend your instruction to drive higher-order thinking. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the tools I mentioned in that blog.

    Thank you for leaving a comment.

    Catlin

  50. Catlin says:

    Hi Todd,

    Ultimately, I hope that what my students learn is a desire to learn. To cultivate life-long learners, it is important for teachers to model learning. Part of modeling our own desire to learn is to experiment with different teaching methods and projects. Trying new things and learning what works and what doesn’t work is key to keeping our teaching fresh and interesting. That is also transparent to students.

    Thank you for your comments!

    Catlin

  51. Catlin says:

    You make a great point, Todd, about accommodating a variety learners when we use a variety of tools and approaches. The more educators experiment and engage students both in person and online, the better chance that we will allow students to excel in the educational medium that best suits their learning styles and needs.

    Catlin

  52. Catlin says:

    Hello Ashleigh,

    Glad to hear my tips were encouraging and made the idea of flipping your English class more manageable.

    Here are a couple of examples:

    First, I love flipping vocabulary instruction in my English class. It is such a mundane example it took a lot of time. I introduce 15 SAT vocabulary words every week and a half (we are on block schedule), which takes approximately 20 minutes per class. I go through saying the words, highlighting roots, providing examples and breaking down convoluted definitions. I teach 6 classes so that is 120 minutes of me standing at my projector talking. I decided to spark inquiry in class by putting students into small groups (of 4) and giving them the words used in context (no definitions). As a group they had to use context clues to try to figure out what the words meant. They responded to this like it was a game and I could tell they were invested in finding out the answers. Then for homework, I recorded myself going through the list like I would in front of the class. It takes 10-12 minutes to record because I am not waiting for slower students to catch up. Instead, they control the pace of their work by pausing and rewinding. I wrap this video in an online discussion where they have to write a poem, story, etc. using 10 of the 15 words. That usually sparks a fun dialogue online between students. Then I follow that up with a student-centered in-class activity where they work in small groups to fill in a synonym and antonym grid (also great for SAT prep) using their mobile devices to find the synonyms and antonyms.

    Second, I like to use History.com or PBS.org clips to provide historical context before reading a novel (ie. Great depression, dust bowl, etc. before we read Of Mice and Men). I embed those videos into a discussion topic or creative writing prompt online. Then in class we follow up with small group discussions, creative writing activities or group research projects.

    In my book, I approach all of the curriculum by thinking about how to 1) engage students online (since this is new for many teachers) and 2) how to build on that with a dynamic student-centered activity that will work in a low-tech or high-tech classroom. Tackling a flipped lesson by identifying the pieces done in class to spark inquiry, then designing the online work to both transfer knowledge and engage, and finally follow that with a student-centered activity or practice is the easiest way to ensure we are blending instructional mediums effectively.

    I hope that is helpful!

    Take care.

    Catlin

  53. Catlin says:

    Dear Barbara,

    I can relate to how you are feeling in some ways. I believe I was a strong and effective teacher prior to shifting to a blended learning model. I would not have considered myself very tech savvy either. That said, it only took one small success engaging students online to get excited about the power of technology.

    My advice is threefold: 1) Start small. Find one technology that you think will complement your curriculum. For me it was online discussions using Collaborize Classroom. 2) Start slow and be patient with yourself. Starting anything new takes time. Use your students. Many of our kids are very tech savvy. They can be fabulous resources. 3) Don’t add technology as something additional. Instead, replace and improve what you already do so that it does not end up adding to your work load.

    I wish you luck!

    Catlin

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