Thursday, June 13, 2013

Breaking Through Walls

Early on during Spring Break I decided to flip my classroom. I knew that there were tons of websites that had videos that could teach the concepts to the kids, and then I would supplement the instruction in class. So, I started looking on Kahn Academy, TedEd and YouTube and again I got overwhelmed! There was just WAY TOO MUCH to wrap my head around but other than the volume of videos I found, I ran into another problem. 

I'm going to be honest, some of the videos were good, probably better than I could make, but there was just something that didn't sit well with me about assigning ALL the videos that were created by someone else. I know I'm a control freak and it seemed odd that I would give up my platform for instruction because it was easier for me to find videos than to create my own. Now, I really hope that I'm not offending anyone who is flipping and doesn't create their own videos. As long as the videos offer quality instruction, that's fine. It may be where you are right now. Everyone has their different levels of tech-savvyness (is that a word?) Like I said before, I love educational technology, so I decided to take a different path. If you're flipping right now and are starting out using other videos that are already created you may want to look into slowly creating your own - and hopefully you'll find, that the fun is just beginning!

Another thing that I noticed by watching several Kahn Academy videos and YouTube videos of teachers who were flipping is that there were really only TWO types of flipped videos. A screencast or a teacher video taping him/herself in front of a whiteboard or SMARTboard. Again, there's nothing wrong with this but during my research I read something that gave me another 'aha' moment. I read an article about a 2nd grade teacher in West Virginia who was doing a flipped lesson on traditions. She said that she video taped herself in front of her Christmas tree, spoke about one of her family's traditions and then told the kids to come to school the next day ready to discuss a tradition they have in their own family. So simple - yet so profound! I know it sounds silly but again I felt like angels began to sing:
As educators we always talk about creating 'real world' experiences with our students all the time right? Well, the flipped classroom allows for videos to be created anywhere, at anytime by anybody! My mind immediately started to race to all the places I could find math or science in the 'real world' and how I could create videos that would supplement the lesson I was trying to teach.

Because I was visiting my parents for Spring Break, I didn't have to look far for inspiration. The first 'real world' flipped video that came to mind was that I wanted to show my students what it is like in a coal mine. My dad is a miner in Pennsylvania and for years I've been asking to go down in the mine with him. How cool would it be to do a video IN an actual mine, interviewing REAL coal miners about topics we already study in science. My mom works at a bank and again, how easy would it be to interview her about math related concepts in an actual bank! Unfortunately, I had to put both of these ideas on the back burner because they didn't fit into my curriculum this year, but they are still still a possibilities! 

And really anything is a possibility! That's why flipping became so fun for me. My first focus wasn't on screencasting, or teaching the content in the same manner, just on a video. I got excited about extending their learning beyond the four walls of my classroom....

Recently I've learned the term 'flatting your classroom.' As teachers we need to flatten our classroom walls and bring the real world inside! Through teacher created videos we can do just that! Think about every concept we teach - there's a link to the real world. All we have to do is video tape it and let the students make the connections. 

Of course my mind then went in another great direction! Why would I have to do the flattening? I wanted to excite my students so much about learning that they do the following 

I want them to BUST through the classroom walls and flatten it themselves! I want them to find the real world connections. After creating some of my 'real world' flipped videos, I had students begging to do the same. It was an amazing experience - so if you haven't, try it out! Go for it....the summer is a great time to do something like this. Anywhere you go, have the curriculum in the back of your mind, and your smartphone in your hand! 

I'm sure that other teachers who are flipping have done something like this before, and I'm not the first. But I can say that these videos compared to my screencasts were much more worthwhile. I'm challenging myself this year to make more 'real world flipped videos,' I would challenge you to do the same!

Good luck!

Lesson #3:  Create an environment where you're not only flatting the walls of your classroom, but students are begging to break through them!

In the next post, I'll give a few specific examples of real world videos that I created and some ideas I have for this year! Leave a comment below to offer your own insights about teacher created videos. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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