Thursday, December 27, 2012

It Takes Two

In FlipYour Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Everday one of the many suggestion Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams give for making videos your students will love is to "create the video with another teacher".   I will admit that I hadn't actually read "the book" before I began flipping my classroom this year. After my initial introduction to Flipped Learning at the Model Schools Conference 2012, all of my flipping research was done online. The Fizz Institute, The Flipped Learning Network, and Crystal Kirch's website were my "go to" resources for what to do.  

When I first started making my videos (just a few short months ago), I made them all by myself.  Then one day after school I was talking with another fifth grade teacher who was taking steps towards flipping his classroom.  He was saying that he needed to make a video for his class.  The more we talked we decided to make one together.  After we made our video, it was easy to see why Bergmann and Sams say you should make your videos with another teacher.  It seems more natural to have a conversation about the strategy as we are talking to each other.   Mr. Young also adds humor to the videos to keep you laughing as you learn.

One of my students wrote this post on Edmodo after watching a couple of the videos we had made together: "Hey Mrs. Fisher are you going to start having Mr.Young with you when we are doing math? I don't mind."  I guess that says it all.  Two heads are better than one!


What do you think?  Click here to watch one of my solo videos. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 14th

Normally December 14th is a happy day for me.  You see it's my birthday.  This year I was blessed to be able to spend a quiet evening at home with my husband and my three grown boys enjoying a lovely dinner.  A dinner that had been prepared by the wonderful parents in my classroom. 

But this year was different.  I could not stop thinking about the families whose lives were forever changed.  Families that could not sit down together at the dinner table. There are no words that can adequately express my sympathy for their loss. . . .  My heart goes out to those families, teachers, and the entire community!

For suggestions on ways to help your students cope with this tragedy click here,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Love Math!!!

That message was posted by one of my students after submitting their assignment on Edmodo. This couldn't have come at a better time. And here I was feeling a little overwhelmed because a little video was not loading properly.  Not to mention the fact that after re-reading Delia Bush's post, "How am I Making This Work?", I have come to the realization that I need to create a calendar, a chart or something with their assignments and video schedules for the entire unit. Which means I need to plan ahead... way ahead.  (and if you know me, you know that is really out of my character).

If you are thinking about flipping your class, I would also recommend you check out Crystal Kirch's FAQ's on her blog.  I have mentioned before how her students use WSQ when completing their assignments.  I really want to give a "shout-out" to Crystal for commenting on my last post!  Just those little suggestions you made have made a big difference in such a short time with my students.  Thank you!

Now, I really need to get on that calendar.  Ugh!

Using Egg Cartons to Add Fractions
1/2 + 1/3



And the answer is . . . 5/6!
 

This activity came from  Actions With Fractions
1998 AIMS Education Foundation

P.S. I just finished a fanstastic webinar with Crystal Kirch! I can't tell you how excited I was to learn that I don't have to have the entire chart filled in before I give it to the students. I can't say how important it is to "hook up" with other teachers if you are flipping. Whether it be in person or online; it is so important to have a resource you can learn from. Thanks again Crystal!

Monday, November 26, 2012

I've watched the video, now what?

I don't know how else I need to say it or what I need to do to help my students understand they are expected to complete a WSQ reflection (Watch, Summarize, Question) each time they watch a video. This idea came from Crystal Kirch.  After the assignment has been posted, I will usually get 1 or 2 posts on Edmodo asking if the WSQ is optional or do they even have to do a WSQ.  I have said it over and over. I have even written it as part of the instructions for completing the assignment. Granted, I don't write it every time. I really shouldn't have to, should I?

I have given them the choice of using a Google Document or completing the form in their math notebooks. I am also thinking whether or not students should be required to use the Google document each time or should they just write their responses in their notebooks or type them on a Word template and then print and glue them in their notebooks.

I am starting to think that requiring them to use the Google Document is more for my convenience than it is for their benefit since I can quickly check their response online rather than looking at 24 spiral notebooks.  The downside is when they use the Google Document, they don't have their video notes with them... And aren't the notes for them to use? 

What are your expectations for your students once they have finished watching the video? 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Are You Thankful For?

In light of the approaching holiday season, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about all the things I am thankful for in my flipped classroom rather than focus on the things I want to improve. So here is my thankful list:

I am thankful for...

Students that watch their videos and complete their WSQ forms after watching (and the ones who don't).

Parents that are supportive of our flipped classroom.

Administration that supports what I am trying to do in my classroom.

Tech Support that is always so helpful when I call (and I call a lot) with technical issues.

A tech savvy teacher next door that is always eager to help when I can't wait for Tech Support.

An online community of flippers and educators that are so willing and eager
to share their experiences with others to help make all of our classrooms better!

What are you thankful for?

Happy Holidays!
Sincerely,
Sheila

Monday, November 12, 2012

Creating a Cube


To begin our unit on volume the students created a cubic meter using meter sticks.
 

We combined our squares to make a cubic meter.
 



How many of the large Base-10 cubes will fill in our cubic meter?
 
This activity was adapted from K5 Math Teaching Resources.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hard at Work!


Decimal Addition to 500

It's amazing how hard students will work when a game and a little friendly competition are involved.  

My students practiced adding decimal numbers with a game I found on Math Teaching Resources called Decimal Addition to 500.  This site has several games and hands-on activities all aligned with the Common Core Standards.   

All you needed to play this game was a deck of playing cards.  I added the red counters, so my students could separate the whole number from the decimal.  The students draw 3 cards and make a 3 digit decimal number.  Even numbers are whole numbers and odd numbers are decimals.  They draw 3 more cards and add their two numbers together.  The first player to reach 500 is the winner.  The complete instructions can be found on the web site. 
Hard at Work
 I really like that there are games using Base 10 blocks to really teach the concepts of place value.  We also played Base Ten Decimal Bag Addition and Subtraction.  It was very easy to see why place value is important when you are subtracting decimals (that was our Essential Question). I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I kept getting the wrong answer to a student's problem.  Then it finally dawned on me that I was subtracting .02 on paper when the student had actually pulled out .2 from the bag.  Talk about a teachable moment!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Last week was conference week. The students also had to complete their Benchmark test in math.  The test was spread out over 3 days, so between me trying to make sure I had documentation and observations ready for conferences,  and the students completing their tests and other missing assignments/videos, I wasn't too thrilled with the activities during math class. In my opinion, the level of students engagement was not what it had been in previous weeks. 

With that being said, almost 100% of my parents mentioned how pleased they were with the format of our class.  They seemed to feel that they actually understood what they kids were learning because of the videos.  I did say almost didn't I?  I had one parent express concern because their child was NOT bringing home math worksheets (like their sibling).  I explained the format of my flipped class and the reasons I have decided to organize my class this way. In the end, I did suggest they have their child use IXL for more practice items.  Hopefully, I was able to help them understand my reasons for flipping. Now that I think about it, I can also send them the link to my web page about flipped classrooms.  

I did make a Google form for the students to fill out while watching a video.  I liked having all of their responses on 1 spreadsheet.  While walking to lunch, one of my students mentioned how they liked the Google form better than having to attach a WSQ document and could I do that from now on.  Now I'm wondering did he think it was easier to because submitting the google document was easier than uploading the WSQ or was it because he did not have to summarize the video on his own, but respond to 3 questions on the document? 

I also made a QR Code sheet for adding and subtracting decimals and I have some different activities planned for partner and group work, so maybe we can get back on track next week. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reflecting

The first 9 week period is over.  I really should be working on my report cards but working on my blog is a welcome distraction.   So I figure this is a good time to reflect on what things have gone well and what things I will revise?

The WSQ Form
I got this idea from Crystal Kirch.  It is a way for students to show what they have learned from watching the videos.  I still have some children that prefer to write their WSQ responses in their notebooks rather than type them and attach them online.  This means I have to physically check their individual notebooks rather than checking their assignments on line. On our last assignment  I attached a Google form with 3 questions they had to respond to.  I like having all their responses in 1 place.  This is something I will continue to use.

Videos
I still have a few students that are not watching their videos at home.  About 3 of them do not have Internet access at home and the other 2 or 3 always seem to forget.  Right now, when they first come in class in the morning they use the desk top computers to complete their assignment.  I will also let some of them go to the media center to work on their assignment.  When I post a video, I usually give them 2 days before the assignment is due.  That helps but there are still some students that I have to speak with individually about completing their assignments.  I have a feeling this would probably be true no matter what the assignment.

When I started flipping this year, I focused mainly on math.  I have used screencast-o-maticEducreations, and Smartboard to record my videos. I like Educreations for explaining math concepts. The screen is small on the IPad, but you can have more than 1 page in your video.  The down side is that you can not edit your videos. When I watch the video I usually find some silly mistake that I've made (like calling the dividend the divisor).  In class you can correct your mistake and move on but on a video you have to rerecord the entire video, and being the perfectionists that I am I rerecord the video.  There have been times  when I have recorded the video 5, maybe 6 times before I was satisfied.  I got a 30 day trial for Camtasia, but I have not had time to try it out.  It allows for editing.  I am anxious to see how using this software will make a difference.  I ultimately want to record my videos with picture in a picture technique.  That will come. 

One suggestion I have is to watch the entire video before posting it to Edmodo as an assignment.  I usually post assignments later in the evenings, so I can make sure it is correct before my students view it the next day.  What I didn't realize was every time I create an assignment my parents get an email.  When I delete and re-post the assignment, they get another email. One night I had deleted and re-posted the assignment so many times that a parent sent me an email because they thought someone had hacked into my Edmodo account. 

Moving On
Eventually I want to add a form so the students can check off their videos and WSQ forms as they complete them. I would have the concepts for the entire unit along with the assignment.  This would allow students to work ahead if they wanted to.  I recently participated in a webinar hosted by Crystal Kirch and she shared a form that she uses.  She has the entire unit mapped out with the videos and assignments in advance.  This will take some discipline on my part.  But it is something to work towards.  Now back to those report cards!

In memory of Sweet Sadie

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Edmodo - Easy as 1-2-3


Last year one of my students asked me to set up an Edmodo account for the class.  I told her I would look into it, but somehow I never really found the time.  Looking back, I wish I had made the time.  I had no idea  what Edmodo was not to mention what a difference it could make in my classroom.  So I thought I would give you step by step on how I started implementing Edmodo as an integral part of my flipped classroom,  then maybe you will find the time to make it work in your classroom.  

1. First, I joined Edmodo using my district's Join code.  Then I created a group for my class.  I had to get parental permission for each student to set up their account on Edmodo.   While waiting on the permission forms (it didn't take long- 1 day to be exact) we discussed the importance of good digital citizenship, and the rules they would need to follow to keep their posting privileges:  using respectful language and being courteous when posting, using school language not texting language, posting school related topics only.  Edmodo has a great resource on their site for developing digital citizenship. 

2. Once that was done, I checked out one of our laptop carts. (I like calling them COWS - computers on wheels).  I used the Smart board to show them how to join our group.  I wrote the join code on the board and students logged in and joined our group.   After everyone joined our group, I "closed" the group.  If a new student moves in it is easy to reopen access. I would not recommend emailing the join code to your students or sending it home. 


3.  I posted a question to the class, something like "what are your expectations for this school year?" and the students began responding. We learned the difference between replying to a previous post and creating a new one. 

And we have been using it ever since. I would also recommend that you create a fake student account.  That way you can see exactly what the page looks like to the students.  It is also a good idea to use the fake student's account when modeling procedures to the students . . . like where to look for videos, how to add items to their backpacks etc.  This has been a "learn as I go" process. I am still learning . . . everyday!

I am going to try and post a poll at least once a week.  This week I polled the students to see which method of multiplying multi-digit numbers they preferred to use.  I am still learning what is the best method for posting videos for the students. The great thing about Edmodo is there are plenty of professionals who are more than willing to lend a helping hand!

If you are still not sure you want to use it with your students, I would recommend setting up your own teacher account and hanging out for a while.  You will find so many useful teaching resources just from reading the post of other teachers.  It will change your thinking?
What can I say....I love using Edmodo.  The support community is the best!  Whenever you have a question or concern, they always respond very quickly.  I really can't imagine flipping my class without Edmodo! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Factor Tic-Tac-Toe


Standard Algorithm

 We learned that you can use the area model, partial products, and the standard algorithm to solve multi-digit multiplication problems.  So today we played Factor Tic-Tac-Toe to practice using those strategies. Each group of partners had a tic-tac-toe game board, 2 or 3 dice, a white board, and a calculator.  The first partner placed a counter on one of the 2 digit numbers on the board.  Then they rolled 2 dice to determine  what their other factor would be. If they rolled a 6 and a 3, their number could be 63 or 36. Next, they chose one of the strategies to  solve their problem on the white board while the other partner used the calculator to check their  work.

While watching the students playing the game, I realized some students weren't too comfortable with the standard algorithm and preferred to use the area model or partial products.  That really surprised me.  .  .I thought that would be the strategy most of them would choose. This evening I made a video reviewing each strategy.  Now if I could just get that thing loaded to Edmodo correctly my life would be a piece of cake. 


Area Model



This game can easily be differentiated by rolling 1, 2, or even 3 dice to get the second factor.  Of course, the object is to get 3 in a row!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Child Will Lead Them

What's holding you back from flipping?  If you are worried that you don't know enough about technology to stick your toes into the flipping pool, don't let that stop you.  I call the tech department in our county at least once a week because I can't figure something out. Maybe more.  They are always very helpful. Today was different though. 

Today a couple of my students took the lead.  They used my laptop and Smart Board to show students how to upload files to their backpack and attach a file in Edmodo. Two students took it upon themselves to write a follow-up post reminding their classmates of the procedures after they got home.

Tonight I added a poll to Edmodo asking students what they thought they still needed help with on Edmodo. I will take those results and form small technology groups, lead by students of course! When I was checking assignments tonight, I saw that another one of my students had used something to do her work on the computer and then she attached it to her W-S-Q form before submitting it!  Wow!  Needless to say, she will be modeling a lesson on how to do that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's More Than Just the Videos

Watching Videos

I know I keep stressing out about making these videos.  But flipping the class is not just about finding and making videos for your students to watch at night.  How will "flipping my class" be different from what I did last year?  When I think about it, I had some content videos linked on my class website last year, still do. I often reminded my students, "you know, you can watch these at home" or "If you need to review, you can go on-line during independent reading and watch that video".  The closer we got to our end-of-the-year assessment, I found myself encouraging my students to watch the content videos whenever they had time; especially the students who needed review or who were absent during instruction for whatever reason: illness, small group pull-out, or whatever. 

I am beginning to understand what Brett Wilie meant when he said "Flipping is not just about the videos"!  I had videos last year. One way my flipped class will be different this year is that I will make some, eventually most, of the videos I post for my students to watch. (See "Why it Has to Be Me").  But I think the biggest difference will be that I will have more in class time for the students to practice with supervision, to put what they are learning into action through games, projects, solving problems, etc. and I will have more time to work with individual students and small groups. Not a bad trade off, wouldn't you say?

"Order Up" Game Board
 
"Order Up"
Each student wrote a 3 digit decimal number between 2 and 3 on an index card.  Their cards are then placed in random order on the side of a strip of adding machine tape. Their task was to arrange the cards in order from least to greated by moving only 1 card at a time.  They can only move 1 card to the  empy space on the board (see the smiley sticker). They could not talk while playing the game. Can you see the student covering their mouth to keep from talking in the picture? Too cute!

The Videos Are Coming!

Have I mentioned before that Edmodo is a wonderful social platform for flipping your class?  And I don't mean just for communicating with students and parents, for posting assignments, grades, quizzes, videos and what have you.  NO, I am constantly finding it to be a powerful site for professional development!  Just yesterday I read a post from Mrs. Kennedy.  She posted a link to Learn Zillion, a site that has videos based on the common core standards for grades 3-5.  Just about every standard has videos that can be easily used if you are flipping your classroom.  Did I say it has videos?  I mean really good videos! 

Even though Learn Zillion has wonderful videos (and I do mean wonderful) I still want to make my own.  But do I even need to make my own videos? In Why It Has to Be Me Katie Gimbar gives the following reasons teachers should invest the time and energy to create videos for their students: there is a level of trust between the students and teacher, there is accountability that is not there when you outsource your videos, videos can be personalized for your students, and creating your own videos empowers you, the teacher, to effectively make a shift in the way you teach.  So . . . I will continue to work on my videos but while I am perfecting my technological skills, I can still use videos like the ones on Learn Zillion. . . can't I?

By the way, I realized that my video in the previous post will play - it just takes forever to load. I also had better luck posting a video I made for Sneak-A-Peek to School Tube.  One that I had been trying to embed on my class website since school started. I almost gave up since it has been about 4 weeks but I have had 2 new students join our class and the video was a good way to introduce their family to our class.  I don't know why it finally decided to work but I'm glad it did.

"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn"  ~John Cotton Dana

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Finally Did It!

This is the beginning of the third week of school and I was finally able to post a video to School Tube and link it directly to my Edmodo library! I am doing my "happy dance"! That was a major accomplishment.  I can't tell you how many times I have tried to upload a video.  Just when I thought I had it, I would get a message from one of my students saying "I can't see the video".  So I would have them watch the video in class the next day.  I finally ended up using Screencast-O-Matic to record directly from my laptop. So today I decided to try, try again and BAM!  There it is.  I was able to use the School Tube app that was directly on the Edmodo site.  Ultimately I want to record my videos with a picture in a picture.  I have read articles that the students are more engaged when they can actually see the teacher teaching in the video.  Well, this is my video.  It's very basic, but Hey!  It's a start.  I know my videos can only get better. Now if I can only attach it to this blog post!




YEA!!!  I DID IT!! . . . Doing the Happy Dance!!

OK, this is really strange. I can watch the video when I am on the compose screen of this post but it won't play when I am on the blog page. Does anyone know what I am doing wrong?  Click here to view video.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My First Video

I am trying to post my first video and I have encountered a few problems.  Nothing that serious, but it's a little frustrating.  Originally I wanted to post a video for sneak-a-peek, but around 10:00 A.M. I realized that was not going to happen!  Did I mention that Sneak-A-Peek started at 12:30?  I quickly realized it would have been a little awkward for parents to be watching a video while I was standing right there in the room. 

So move on to Plan B.  I decided that I would still make the video, but it would be for the parents that were not able to attend.  Good idea, huh?  OK . . .  I have made the video but I am still waiting for it to be approved by Teacher Tube so I can get an embed code to post it on my class web page.  I have it in my Edmodo library, but that won't do any good since my parents have not joined my group yet.  I will have to wait until all of my parent permission forms are returned and by that time it will be a moot point. So I thought I would post it on my class web page and any parents that were not able to attend could watch it immediately.  Right! Wrong! I just checked and it is still "being reviewed by a moderator". . . Are you kidding me? So what would you suggest I do at this point?

On to Plan C . . . I figure any students that enroll in my class during the year will benefit from watching the video. Moving on. . . I hope to have all the permission forms this week so my students can join our class group.   Most of the advice I have gotten up to this point is to "take it slow"!  It looks like that is not going to be a problem.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

QR Codes . . Take 2

I was having lunch with a friend of mine today and asked her had she read my recent post on using QR Codes in school.  She said "I read that thing, but it was too complicated!"   When I asked her what she meant by that, she told me when she "clicked" on the QR code at the top of my last post, nothing happened. "The thing just got bigger". (Insert chuckle) :-) You see I had made an assumption about the prior knowledge of people who may have read my post.  Kind of like when teaching children and we sometimes make assumptions about their prior knowledge by assuming they know or have had similar  experiences with something that is crucial to their comprehension.  That's when I realized I had not done my job correctly and  some reteaching was needed.

So let's back up a bit.  Where do the codes come from?   A Teacher's Guide on the use of QR Codes in the Classroom has a list of code generators. I have used Kaywa Code and it was pretty easy.  You can  use Google to generate a code.  This video shows how to create a code from a url address in the address bar.  You can also create a code for text, or a phone number.

Now what?  Once you have the code, just copy and paste it into your document.  I save my codes in a folder on my desk top. 

In order to read a QR code, you  need to have a QR code reader, you can't just click on it.  Well you can, but nothing happens.   The reader on my cell phone is called a "Barcode Scanner".  Most android or Iphones have them.  I found out the other day that these code readers are already on  IPads.  ooh, how I need an IPad!  Anyhow, I found you can also download QR code readers.   Once you have one, you don't click  . . . you hoover over the code with the reader or hold the code up to the reader (watch below). 




Once the reader reads the code, it will give you the information you are searching for.   It could direct you to another web page, take you to a video, reveal a secret message, direct someone to your class website, read a book review, send a student to a game to review a skill, take you on a scavenger hunt around your school, and get this you can even generate a code for a synthesized  voice  message. Thats' right, QR Codes that talk! I know I couldn't believe that one myself, but it works.   Imagine what you could do with that feature alone!

If you are lucky enough to be in a BYOD (bring your own devices) school, students literally have the world at their fingertips. Please give this a try.  There is so much you can do with these codes! Try it!  I dare you! 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

QR Codes

I am so excited!  I have just stumbled upon a ton of new ways to use QR Codes (quick response codes) with my students this year.  I know, I know, I'm kind of slow.  Just last year I discovered I could add the code to newsletters and handouts for parents and they would quickly be directed to my website or a video. 

 But now I find these codes can be beneficial for my students as well.  Imagine that by just adding this code to a handout you can literally send students to videos and other resources to help them review concepts or expand their knowledge.  See for yourself . . . Mrs. White adds QR Codes directly to her review sheets.  Click here to see students using the codes when responding to literature.  Not convinced yet?  There are several videos on YouTube showing other ways to use these codes in elementary classes.  Who knew? If you are already using QR Codes, please share how you are using them in your class.

Education is changing and we're in for a fun ride!!  Are you ready to get on board? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flip Sneak-A-Peek!

I had a light bulb moment early this morning!  Our school has Sneak-A-Peek before the school year begins.  Parents and students are given an opportunity to meet their new teachers and see their classrooms for the first time. It is very informal. What a wonderful opportunity for me to introduce flipping to my parents!

I am going to record a video for Sneak-A-Peek, have laptops set up, so parents can view the short video as part of their visit.  Then I will only have to  say those things I usually have to repeat over and over 1 time!  That will free me up to actually meet and greet the parents and students while they meander through the class. I won't have that nagging feeling that I forgot to tell a parent something.  I will make sure I include instructions on how to join our Edmodo group on the video.  I think this will be a great opportunity for parents to experience the flip for themselves!  What do you think?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

I still get a chuckle, when I think about the response I got from my co-worker after asking for her opinion on an external microphone I was going to order.  Megan is my "next door teacher", who is also our resident computer expert.  Whenever I experience a technology problem in class, whether it be with the Smartboard, document camera, or even my laptop, I head next door.  Without giving it a second thought, she walks in my class and with a click here and a click there, magically fixes the problem. It had gotten to the point that whenever something went wrong, as it often does with technology, the students would say, "Do you want me to go next door and get Mrs. Huss?" 

So, originally I was thinking that I needed to order an external microphone to record the videos.   I would like to start flipping right off the bat with a video on class routines and procedures.  Of course, we will discuss what they learned together in class.  Then the videos can be used whenever new students join our class.    I would also need access to a camera.

I think I need to check with our Media Specialists before spending money.  I know it is possible to record lesson directly from the Smartboard.  That would be perfect for students who are absent or students who need to review concepts.  Now, if I only knew how. . . I think I'll call Megan.

P.S.  I just found the video link I was looking for earlier that shows you how to record videos using lecture boards, a flip camera, and a tripod.  That's the method used to record videos for the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.  You can check that out here.  Another option is to use something like Screencast-o-matic or Jing to record directly from your laptop.  I was really surprised at how easy it was to record using Screencast-o-matic.  I didn't even have to download anything.  There is also a good video on YouTube showing how to create a screencast using Screencast-o-matic.  Since I don't have administrative rights on my school laptop, I wasn't able to try Jing yet.  That will have to wait until I return to school. . . . guess I won't need that mic after all.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Common Core, Flipping the Class . . .Help!!

In a little more than 4 weeks I will be officially returning to the classroom facing new changes and challenges.  I love a challenge!  As if implementing the new Common Core Standards were not enough, I have made a decision to flip my classroom this year. Why you might ask? 

Flipping my class will free up more time to work with my students both individually and in small groups throughout the day. Students will view and review material at home or at computer stations in class if needed.  Instead of spending precious class time spoon-feeding my students content information, they will spend more in-class time applying what they have leaned while engaged in activities designed to enhance rigor and relevance.  In a nutshell, flipping my class will free up time so I can meet the needs of all of my students.  Will these changes mean I have to completely change everything I currently do?  Absolutely not!

One practice I will continue is reading picture books to my fifth grade students.  Yes!  I said picture books.  They are a great vehicle to integrate content lessons into an already jammed packed instructional day.  They can be easily read in 1 or 2 sittings and are an excellent way to teach the ELA College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards.

The Easy reader section in our library (which has been more appropriately renamed the “Everyone” Section by our librarian, Mrs. Buro) contains some of my favorite read aloud books.  Here are a few of my favorites that I will use at the beginning of the school year to enhance my study of the Civil War.
· Pink and Say, written by Patricia Polacco, has proven to be the perfect book to introduce the Civil War to my students.  Through this biography I can easily introduce many historical concepts about the war such as: the Civil War was fought between the confederate and union states, Lincoln was president during this time in history, and during this war (commonly referred to as “The War Between the States”) many young boys and men suffered and died. 
· Nettie's Trip South, by Ann Turner, is a story of a young girl’s first glimpse into the world of slavery.  Through deeper reading one can discover the analogy between the physical sickness Nettie experiences to how slavery was a vile sickness in our country.   
·  The soul stirring Moses: When Harriet Tubman led Her People to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.  This biography not only provides an opportunity to teach about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman’s role in freeing over 300 slaves, but also lends itself to explore the author’s craft of using different fonts to add meaning to a story.   
These books provide the perfect vehicle to explore Common Core themes such as how two or more texts address similar themes to build content knowledge and how characters and ideas change and develop over texts. Will it be necessary to make changes as I begin to implement the new Common Core and flipping? Of Course!  Will these changes mean I have to change everything I am currently doing?  Absolutely not!

If you are not already using picture books in your intermediate class, I challenge you to visit “The Everyone” section in your school media center.  Please let me know how your students respond.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Where Do I Start?

Since I returned from the 2012 Model Schools Conference in Orlando, I have been reading everything I can find about flipping my class. For those of you that don't know what I mean when I say "flip my class" it involves students completing activities they typically do for homework (that often requires teacher assistance) during the school day.

"What will they do for homework?", you might ask.  Simply put, students will watch videos I have selected or created to teach or review content area lessons.  By doing this at home (or in small groups throughout the day) time is available for students to be engaged in activities to practice and apply what they have learned.   In Flipping the Elementary Classroom, Jon Bergmann's advice for teachers who want to begin this is "Don't flip a class...flip a lesson". 

I know I will need to take baby steps towards this goal.  The first thing I need to do is identify the software I am going to use.  It will be important to have a rotation during the day so students who don't have access to the Internet at night can view the videos at school.  I have joined Edmodo.  I plan on using that site to communicate with my students and to post videos and assignments.  Click here for a  video showing  20 different ideas for using Edmodo with students. Note to self: I think I will start with videos that explain our class procedures and routines.  Then when new students join our class, I can direct them to those videos.   That seems like a good place to start. Even though I have taught for 30+ years, there is still sooo much I need to learn. 


"Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase".   Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy Fourth of July!