Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's Your Excuse?

Let me start by telling you a little about myself: I am fifty-something years old.  I always have to ask my husband how old he is, then I know I'm one year younger.  I think I began forgetting how old I was in my mid- forties.  Nothing earth shattering happened; I just always seemed to be off 1 year whenever anyone asked me how old I was.  Anyway, I tend to go off on tangents. Some of my friends tell me I need medication.  I prefer to think of it as being able to multitask, which I found out recently is impossible to do. (That was another tangent). I don't consider myself to be technologically gifted; even though I guess I have learned a lot about technology within the last 2 years. I just learned how to take a screenshot on an iPad this year!

What I do possess, however, is a deep driven desire to learn. The last course I took someone actually asked me why was taking the class. I was the oldest person there.  Even older than the instructor.  It was obvious that I could retire from teaching in 2 years and here I was taking what was a grueling 2 year course to get my math endorsement.  I must admit I even asked myself that question more than a few times as the course went on.  "Why am I doing this?"

I'll tell you why I took that course and it's the same reason I started flipping my class two years ago.  I absolutely LOVE teaching and making a difference in the lives of  the children I teach!  I always want to be able to offer my students the best that I have.  And sometimes that means I have to do better.  Sometimes that means I have to stretch myself.  Sometimes that means I have to ask someone else how to do something.  Even if no one in my school building is doing something that I know is good for children, I need to find a way to find out how to do it. 

I was talking with another educator friend of mine and she shared that some teachers were not flipping because no one in their school was doing it and they did not have anyone to show them how.  People, your Professional Learning Community has got to be larger than the building you work in. So if no one in your building is flipping their class, and you really believe it would be best for your students, then you have got to go to the places where it's happening. So, what can you do to get started?


  • Read other teacher's blogs who flip their class.  Even though I teach 5th grade, I learned a heck of a lot about flipping from reading  Crystal Kirch's blog.  I also learned a lot from Delia Bush. I have never met either of these wonderful teachers but I feel like I know them well. There are lots of other teachers who blog about their experiences flipping. 

  • Follow other educators on twitter who are flipping their classes.  Another friend of mine said he would join twitter when Jim Trelease is on twitter.  "Jim Trelease, why aren't you on twitter?" 

  • Go to Sophia and take their course to get Flipped Certified. They also have free webinars to help you get started flipping. Right now you can go to Sophia and register to attend a webinar with Crystal Kirch on March 11. 

  So I ask again:  What's your excuse? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Days - It's No Problem!

Snow Jam 2014
Between snow days, furlough days, and President's Day, my students will have missed 6 consecutive days of school. Not to mention the fact that we are giving the Writing exam in 3 weeks!
Yes! Just 3 short weeks. But I can get by with a little help from my friends. Who are my friends you might ask? They are: Edmodo, Google Drive, Remind101, and Learn Zillion to name a few.

In January our class started using Google Drive during writing workshop. Students shared their writing folder with me and gave me permission to edit their work. I can view their writing "real time" and make comments as they are writing. For several of my students, I can have a virtual writing conference. For others, They will sit beside me and we go over their writing together. They are looking at their work on their iPad and I am looking at it on my laptop/iPad. I can highlight places that I want them to focus on and they can make the necessary changes to their work while I am there.

Not wanting to waste any instructional time, I sent out messages to the students via Edmodo and gave them a writing assignment. I also posted a video from Learn Zillion about using "show don't tell" for them to watch. I usually use the math videos from Learnzillion but they have awesome Language videos as well.  Just to make sure everyone was on board, I sent out a message to the parents on Remind101 telling them to have their child check Edmodo for their writing assignment. Once they completed their assignment I asked them to send me a direct message on Edmodo and I would review their work.

So far, so good. I have already held 5 virtual conferences. Yes, there are some students that may not check their messages. I just might have to make a phone call to those students! Did I mention we only have 3 weeks and I'm feeling the pressure?

The neatest thing just happened.  I clicked to view a student's essay while she just happened to be working on it so were were able to use the chat feature to talk back and forth as she was writing.  Ba Da Ba Ba Ba, I'm Lovin' it!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What is a Flipped Classroom?

Initially, when I was going to write this post it was going to be about how I had just done a short presentation about what happens in my class for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Business-Education Committee, which is a group of about 30 members made up of Business and Educators in our local area. The presentation was to happen on February 5, Digital Learning day.

I was really excited about the thought of sharing the magic that happens in my classroom on a daily basis.  Well, as you have probably guessed by now that didn't quite happen.  To make a long story short, I began to feel sciatica pain on Sunday morning, three days before I was supposed to present.  Each day the pain got progressively worse until I found myself in the emergency room the night before the scheduled presentation begging for something, anything to take the pain away.  My relief was soon found but sadly I was in no shape to present the next morning.

So, In the true spirit of the Flipped Classroom, I did what any flipper would do; I sent my video along with my co-presenter to speak for itself. So, here's a look at what happens in our Flipped Classroom. Oh yea, I forgot to mention that the video was made and edited by my students!