Monday, November 14, 2011

Attempt 1 (Classroom Flipping)

It seems Classroom Flipping has turned some heads and rightfully so. How else would you manage to be in two places at once? If anything grabs a teacher's attention, it's the possibility of that!

Thanks to Ms M and Kristen for the feedback. Their comments from my last post raised a very valid point which I had been wrestling with. In a perfect world, we would all have access to all tools and resources but we don't, so we make do with what we have. The students in my school do not have reliable access to the Internet. Many of them do not have a computer in their home so some serious head scratching and problem solving is in order.

I have been considering a few different approaches, mostly around the idea that a video lesson could be used during class time while I support their learning alongside. I am planning to trial them during the last few weeks of school. Today was Attempt 1.

I've read that Thomas Edison once said "I have not failed. I've simply found 10,000 ways that do not work." I really like that because it emphasises, innovation, creativity, effort, commitment, and positivity. I also like it because if I do my calculations right, I only have 9,999 more tries before I am bound to get it right.

Yesterday, I plotted out my first "Flipped" lesson. I scripted, and rehearsed a video lesson that would be all about diamante poems and the parts of speech. After about 8 hours (off and on) of trying to learn how to use Adobe Visual Communicator 3 and getting the wording and timing just so, I was nearly ready to record. Then it happened.

Something looked a little off. What started out looking like a little bit of a lag evolved into a nonresponsive piece of software. What that I thought was a moment where the computer would freeze and then recover with a little patience turned into a message from Adobe citing a "catostrophical error"! I don't know about anyone else, but when a program uses the word catastrophical, I brace for impact. Not many words grab your attention like that one, let me tell you (especially when it comes from the device that has all your planning and digital resources on it).

To make a long story short, the program needs to be reinstalled and this was a trial version that I cannot afford to pay for (I was hoping to talk the school into purchasing the licence) so the 8 hours I spent on my birthday (did I mention that? Yeah, ON MY BIRTHDAY) were lost to the whims of technological failure. Happy birthday.

The downside is obvious; I had wasted hours learning this software and it amounted to nothing useable. I was lucky, though. The fortunate upside was that, due to all the rehearsing, I walked into my classroom today with a better idea of what I needed to say than I have on any other day.

I guess the whole point I'm trying to make is that we all go gaga for technology in the classroom but let this be a cautionary tale that we can't always rely on it. It makes our lives so much easier but putting all of our eggs in that basket carries a risk of error that can be, well, catastrophic.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flipping out!

Have you heard of this???

I will be the first to admit that I had never heard tell of it before but I am comforted by the fact that as I talk about it with fellow teachers and management staff, they hadn't either. I might even add that they are almost as excited about it as I am (or else they are simply humouring me until I let them be)!

A "flipped classroom" refers to various approaches to teaching but one common theme amongst most applications of the name is that the lessons are delivered in a pocast/video/tutorial-esque manner. My understanding is that the "learning" happens out of the class, while the application of the knowledge and skills is nurtured in class, rather than as homework.

If you are curious, I suggest checking out these links for more info:
If you like words, go here:
and then, (if you are really keen):

I am really excited to be teaching English again next year and have some BIG ideas for how I will incorporate this into my Literacy Passport. If I were to pick a super overarching theme for my class next year, it would be something along the lines of "Developing Independence". Above all, I want my students to be able to seize control of their learning pathway and excel. Like I said, BIG IDEAS and I can see this as a perfect compliment to that direction.

So, have you heard of a flipped classroom? Have you used it or seen it in operation? Let me know what you know! So I can go into this better prepared.

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