Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?

Like I said in my first post, during Spring Break I went a little overboard. I loved the idea of the flipped classroom so much that I couldn't wait until the next school year. I thought it would be a lot of work but I hoped the benefits were worth it!

Just in case you're not aware of the basics of the flipped class model it's pretty simple. The definition I like best is that in a flipped classroom what occurs in the 'individual learning environment' (home) is switched with what typically occurs in the 'shared learning environment' (school). Students receive direct instruction typically through teacher created videos at home. Then, students have more time to collaborate with their peers and teachers at school to work on assignments that typically would be assigned for homework.

Although I had used Twitter in the past, I never used it for educational purposes. It's funny now, but I never thought to look up anything teaching related on twitter. However, toward the beginning of Spring Break I randomly typed in #flipclass in a twitter search. I have no idea how I knew exactly what to search but it must have been fate. As I quickly scrolled through all the posts I felt like the heavens opened and this is what I heard:

Ok, that may be an exaggeration - but you get the point!

There was just too much to click on, too much to read, too much to favorite, too much to research. I knew I was on to something, and Twitter quickly became my best friend.

One of the first tweets I read was from Crystal Kirch about a flipclass webinar that she was going to conduct in TWO days on (I recommend participating in any Sophia webinars - They're very helpful and FREE!) Again, I figured it must be fate, so I decided if I was going to flip my class in less than a week, I might as well learn from teachers who are currently flipping. So, I participated in my first webinar and learned so much. I learned all the basics of flipping, some basic tools I would need to create videos and much more.

I also began internet stalking Todd Nesloney (don't be scared Todd, I'm harmless...) I read as much of Todd's flipped classroom blog as I could. (Check it out if you haven't already:  And I began to use many of the resources on another one of his websites as a starting point. (

 It was pretty amazing that through Twitter I found so many teachers who felt just like I did. We want the focus to be taken off 'the test' and put back on 'the student' - each student individually. We want the students to have ownership of their learning and focus more on their passions than the standards. I think all teachers feel this way, but on Twitter I found teachers who were doing something about it!

What I discovered on Twitter during that weeklong Spring Break changed me as an educator. I saw that teachers out there were doing the things that I wanted to do in my classroom. By flipping the classroom, you are able to have more of that very precious commodity of TIME. And I realized that flipping my class this school year would involve a great risk - but TIME is exactly what I needed.

See, one of the craziest things about this story is that I decided to START flipping three weeks before my state's standardized test, when I typically would be in major 'test prep mode.' However, not only did I still need to review, but I was very behind on the content I still needed to teach. So I decided to go for it. If flipping could help me save time, and possibly increase student engagement, I thought it was worth a shot. In the end I knew it was a risky decision, but one I decided was worth taking.

I knew that I had to start creating videos for the first week back from Spring Break as quickly as I could.  In my next post, I'll explain how I took an unconventional approach to creating my first videos. The ones I created over Spring Break are by far my favorites and I'm excited to share some of my ideas.

So if you're contemplating flipping, I recommend weighing your options. In future posts I'll give my opinions on the pros and cons, but for now here are my two cents on taking risks... :)

Lesson #2:
Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is? - Frank Scully

Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first." - Frederick Wilcox 

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