Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Flip It Good...Flip It Real Good...

Are you ready?  Are you ready to try your hand at flipping some learning?  If so, you will need some tools to help you along the way.  There are a myriad of them available and developers are continually coming up with new ones. (Thank goodness for those coders, right?) The old adage one-size fits all does not apply here. What you need to be willing to do is to try a few of them out and see what works for you and your students.  Let's take a look at three tools to get you flippin'.

Feeling a little camera shy? You don't have to record yourself with eduCanon. On this site you start with any pre-created video content such as a TeacherTube or YouTube video and transform it into an interactive learning environment. Time-link activities for students to engage with while a video is playing. No longer do you have students passively watching! Honestly, if you have a video you already use, consider trying this out. You can also read a little more about it here.

Another piece to consider is EDpuzzle. This is a nifty little tool that allows you to add voice and text comments as well questions to any video. Have a video that is way too long for the point you are trying to get to?  No problem, you can crop videos here too.  See what the folks at Edudemic have to say about this one.

Step aside please and make room for one more tool. Consider looking into MoveNote. This tool allows you to add audio and visual narration and explanations to existing presentations. Have you created some awesome slide decks that could use some livening up? This could be the tool for you! Rewind to a November Tuesday Tech Tip to see it in action.

Ready, set, flip. You can do this. Don't go it alone though! Find a teaching buddy, partner in crime, technology guru, or perhaps a family member and jump in.  It does not have to be perfect. What you must do is try. Soon you will be feeling like you flip it good, flip it real good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Flip, Flip Hooray!

It's been a few weeks, how are you feeling about flipped-learning?
So far we have defined blended learning and flipped classrooms and explored some statistics about the topics. This week we will turn to a couple noted experts in the field to see what they have to say. Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams are pioneers in the flipped-learning community. Interesting to note that they both taught in nearby Woodland Park, Colorado. The gentlemen have co-authored a few books through ASCD and ISTE: Flip Your Classroom:  Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day
and Flipped Learning: Gateway to Student Engagement and the soon to be released Flipping the Science Classroom.

Additionally, they have an excellent series of videos on Edutopia as part of the Flipped-Learning Toolkit. Click the picture below to find the toolkit. What are you waiting for? Go grab your favorite beverage, turn up the volume and get ready to further your learning. You will be entertained and glad you took the time to rethink how you share content. Ultimately, your students will be the the ones saying, "Flip, flip, hooray!"  Or something like that!  
 Flipped-Learning Toolkit

Need more?  Check out their YouTube Channel about Flipped Learning.  

Next week we will explore tools that you can consider as you start down this flipping path!  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Think Outside the Cart: Covering Your Bases When Testing Impacts Technology

cc photo courtesy of Max & Dee Bernt
For baseball fans (like me),  March typically means that Spring Training is in full swing and the MLB season is getting closer.  This year, however, March also marked the beginning of our online testing season.  We're hearing concerns about online testing taking classroom technology out of the lineup.  So, to both honor the imminent baseball season and to address those concerns, here are some ideas about keeping the ball in play (apologies for the foul puns).

cc photo courtesy of  Jamie Campbell
Make a Call to the Bullpen.  In baseball, your "bullpen" is your pitching relief  (pitchers who come in to "relieve" or take over for other pitchers). Maybe a Chromebook cart is like your starting pitcher, but if it's not available, you might want to remember other technology at your building,  In our case, Chromebook carts supplemented any existing technology at a school.  That means that school labs, other laptop carts, M&A's, iPads & iPods & other tablets could come back into the game.  Even if you can only bring in a few, you could use them creatively for learning.

The Double or Triple Play.  If you get two or three players taken care of in one play, that's a double or triple play.  It's possible that not every machine is being used for assessment. While people tend to think of needing the whole cart, remember that great stuff can happen when kids collaborate together when sharing a device.  If you can get your hands on 10 devices instead of 30, it might actually be more effective than 1:1, depending on your learning goals.

Put the Shift On.  Sometimes, players in the field will move from their traditional spots and "shift" to specific areas, based on where they think the ball will go.  In a classroom, you can think about this like using learning centers or stations.  If you have as few as 4 or 5 devices, you can "shift" students to different centers/stations in the room, based on the activities you want them to do.  Using centers or stations is good practice anyway, but when faced with limited technology, it can be a game-changer.

The Hidden Ball Trick.  Sometimes, a player will "hide" the ball and deceive the runner into thinking s/he can step off the base, but the ball is still live.  We often ask kids to hide their own technology (mobile devices) or put it away so we don't see it.  But, cell phones are incredibly powerful devices.  If you set some ground rules about using them for learning, you might be surprised at how well students behave when given the chance.  If you teach younger students who don't have cell phones, you may want to ask your parent community if they have any "old" phones to donate.  If you take away the phone functionality, smart phones are just mini tablets with WiFi capability.

The Pinch Hitter.  A pinch hitter is basically a substitute batter -- a player not in your game day lineup who steps into the box.  If testing means that school-provided technology isn't an option, maybe it's time to explore substituting what you have with BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device). Parents are probably well aware that testing is affecting student access to devices, and explaining your need for student-provided technology, even temporarily, could be a way to keep you on your game.

cc photo courtesy of Scott Ableman
The Play at Home Plate (and Instant Replay).  Sometimes, the most exciting plays happen at home plate.  More and more teachers are trying out the concept of the flipped classroom or flipped learning (see our blog posts this month for more about flipped learning).  That term refers to students getting some part of their instruction on a device, often at home or outside of the classroom (maybe from a site like Khan Academy or teacher-created videos).   Besides leveraging time in an efficient way, this also provides students with the option for instant replay if it's video-based.  Didn't quite get the concept?  Just replay the part you need.  And since our district has Schoology, we already have digital spaces that can be used for learning outside of the classroom.

Finally, if you're worried about access at home for students during testing windows, remember that local libraries have computers for student access (and many schools have drop-in locations available during the school day).  Also, remember that anyone with a smart phone has access to the Internet.  If a family doesn't have a desktop or laptop at home, a smart phone is another access point.

Testing doesn't have to mean that technology for learning is benched during our assessment windows.  If you are creative and think outside the cart, you can continue to hit home runs for learning with your students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Flipping Out....

So this concept, flipped classrooms is really a thing.  According to the Flipped Learning Network (FLN), 96% of educators recognize the term.  Teachers near and far are trying their hand at it. An online survey of nearly 2,500 educators indicates that it is gaining in popularity.  Teachers who have  flipped a lesson in their classroom rose from 48% in 2012 to 78% in 2014!  That's impressive. While the vast majority of teachers who flip part of their classroom teach in secondary schools, flipping is gaining in popularity in elementary grades and in higher education.  Whether it be science, social studies, math, language arts, world languages, technology, art, music, or physical education, teachers flip lessons in all content areas.  Think that this is just for the young teachers, think again. About half of the teachers reporting have been teaching for 16+ years.  See, old dogs can learn new tricks!  The students who are part of a flipped environment are more engaged and demonstrate a higher level of success on formative assessments as a result of their experiences.  Need some more information?  Check out this infographic below on the topic created by Knewton and Column Five Media.

Flipped Classroom

Next week we will get some advice from some flipping experts!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bright Spot: 3rd Graders at INR Learn About Personal Financial Literacy in a Unique Way

All 3rd Graders in Colorado learn about Personal Financial Literacy. To be more exact, the standard covered is stated below:

E2 Describe how to meet short term financial goals (PFL) (3rd)
A. Identify sources of income including gifts, allowances, and earnings  
B. Recognize that there are costs and benefits associated with borrowing to meet a short term financial goal 
C. Identify jobs children can do to earn money for personal, philanthropic or entrepreneurial goals 
D. Create a plan for a short term financial goal 
E. Describe various steps necessary to reach short term financial goals

 At Indian Ridge Elementary, students learn about Personal Financial Literacy in an authentic, ongoing way that helps them truly internalize what it means to meet short term financial goals.  Check out the video below to see how they accomplish this: 

For more information about creating a dynamic Personal Financial Literacy Project at your school for 3rd grade or any other grade level, go to myclassroomeconomy.org or contact one of the teachers at Indian Ridge featured in the video: Paige Baumgart, Julie Getchell, Mary KoudelkaBrittany Seidelor Dane Swanson. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cooking Up Some New Ideas for Your Classroom...Exploring Blended and Flipped Learning

Hearing the words blended and flipped might make you think about food and cooking techniques. No, you have not stumbled upon the Food Network. If you have been around the educational table in the past few years, you have seen these words surface in relation to learning. Undoubtedly, you have heard the terms blended and flipped classrooms.  But what exactly are these things?  

Over the next 4 weeks we will explore many aspects of blended and flipped classrooms.  We will share various resources and thoughts about taking your instruction to another level.  

To get started, here are a few links to sites to help ground you in what these terms mean.  

Defining Blended Learning by the Teach Thought Staff:  This article offers some basic understanding of the concepts.

Cheers to you and your new learning about blended and flipped classrooms.  Tune in next week for another installment and assistance with sharpening your skill set.  

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...