Sunday, 22 March 2015

Flipclass 2.0: It's not about you or your videos

In my previous #flipclass post, Four ways to make your flipclass awesome, I shared four ideas that I had at the end of a term of my first class flipping experience.  These were not ideas I had done and tested, but more, thoughts that I had about what I should have done and committed to do in the next term.  In keeping with my Cut the Cool Card philosophy, I was pretty open about the need for much more work done on my videos and better communication with parents.  In fact, I made four claims about how to make the #flippedlearning experience awesome:

1) Make concise engaging videos
2) Start the year with the students creating the videos
3) Create an online culture of questions and learning
4) Make a flipped class parent video

What follows is my work on each of these points since that post:

Make concise engaging videos

I have begun to really hone in on the concept I would like the students to get from the video.  The video that follows is less than 3 minutes long.  I explain the concept I'm teaching, share some visuals and a question, explain the answer, and get out. 

An example of my Flipclass videos to date: Referents in Measurement 

I am hoping that I can continue keeping the videos short and relevant.

Start the year with the students creating the videos

This next point is really the kicker of this blog.  I carved time out of a busy provincially examable course to have students make their own videos this term.  It was well worth it.

One of the many student videos; this one is on trigonometry
First, seeing these students wrestle with finding screencasting apps and editing video was great.  I watched as students solved issues around recording, editing, and presenting. I loved seeing the variety of apps the students used.  I asked them what resources they used to make their videos and this is what they told me:

But second, as students participate in the video-making process, they become co-creators of the online learning space.  They take more ownership of the class and I am hoping get more involved in watching and commenting on all the videos...including the ones I have made for them.  This to me is Flipclass 2.0.

Create an online culture of questions and learning

The idea around creating a quality online culture is still something that needs some work.  At this point, I use Edmodo to deliver the videos.  I have students watch them and then then make a comment back to me.  I have always hoped that the comments would create conversation among the students.  Unfortunately, the dialogue has only been between the student and myself.  I would love to hear any suggestions as to how other educators foster this.

Make a flipped class parent video

Often my blogs become commitments.  If I share it here, it makes it tough for me not to at least make an attempt.  So I followed my own recommendations and made a parent video.  I thought to have it fulfill a couple of needs, not only explaining what the Flipped Classroom is but also what it looks like at home.  Here it is below:

Parent video on Flipped Learning

I put a QR code on the course outline that I handed out Day 1 to be signed by all the parents.  The code led to this video.  Although I didn't get much feedback from parents about it right away, I knew that it "got out there" when I was talking to a parent.  "We'll see how this flipped class goes" was her comment.  To me, regardless of the parent response at this stage, I at least have had a chance to give my side of the story, to set the tone.

So that is where I am at today: my version of Flipclass 2.0.  And I'm excited to see what Flipclass 3.0 is as I keep at it!!!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cut the cool card...even online

I recently had a conversation with a co-worker about twitter.  I was sharing how it and other social media has helped me become a better teacher.  She agreed that that was possible but her experience was that often the posts were simply showboating or lofty quotes.  Not really that useful to her.

She had a point.  Who wants to scroll through a bunch of people putting on their best, eliciting a response of either some kind of disdain or jealousy?  Who wants to have the idea that you could (and should) be better than you are thrown at you.  That caused me to wonder: how could two people's experiences be so different?  What is it about the posts I focus on that lead me to be a better teacher, a better person?

I began to reflect back to posts that recently had affected me, that led me to respond and change.  I didn't have to look very far.  Within the last weeks several posts stood out to me.  These were not the posts of jaw dropping successes but more so of risks, and failures (some quite drastic), and vulnerability.  It was the sharing of these that stirred me, affected me, and led me to act, to respond.  I share them here.  And I implore you: be real.  Be real online; be real in your communities, in your home.  It is that reality that makes THE difference. . .that makes A difference.

Share Setbacks

A couple of days ago, I stumbled onto a post by Roni Loren -- Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog - My Story. I had to tweet it out.

In her post, Roni was open about a situation that happened to her.  She took her readers through the story of this huge setback and how she learned from it.  There were no excuses.  Punches weren't pulled.  And she had me.  I poured through her recommendations; I evaluated my practices; I made personal commitments.

I also recently commented on Chris Kennedy's Culture of Yes blog: The Size of the Device. He shared about a leadership discussion he had with a class of Grade 11's and 12's.  His lesson didn't go as planned and though his blog was focused on device size, he readily admitted he could have been more engaging and put more effort into classroom management.  The superintendent of West Vancouver School District admitted he could have been better.  Not only does that draw me in but it adds credibility to what he says.

Take Risks

Another thing that pushed me to act was this vid tweet here:

George talks about it here: New Project: #EDUin30.  He had an idea to use the new twitter video feature to prompt educators to share their ideas.  He admitted: "To be honest, it felt a little uncomfortable to share myself in a video. That was actually kind of the point. To stretch myself in this format as well."  I can appreciate that.  And it was a great idea.  I, and many other educators, jumped on this.  I loved hearing what others were doing in this new format.  And I was able to share of myself looking at a camera, which is a little more exposing than a tweet or blog post.  But it was the idea that he was stretching himself and taking a risk that drew me in.  It is seeing these kinds of risks over and over again that lead me to take more risks in my classroom, in my life.

Be Vulnerable

This morning I read Dean Shareski's post: My Community Story.  In it he re-caps his last ten years of making connections.  One thing he says here:
While the journey and story of community continues I realize once again why we share. Those that read this story and relate are sharers too. They’ve been vulnerable enough at some point to take a chance and participate in community. They’ve been able to tell stories of moments that made them realize they weren’t alone, stories of insights they would never have considered, stories of people that have made a difference in their lives. - Dean Shareski

Dean lives it out.  He seems to be a cheerleader of vulnerability.  Just yesterday, he applauded Beth Woof who shared of something she did that she knew she could have done better in her post: I wish I hadn't reacted so quickly....  Vulnerability begets vulnerability.  And this leads to change.  Thanks Dean for beckoning us to share, instilling in us the notion that we are not alone.

 A while back I had read this tweet by Chris Wejr.  I couldn't agree more.

To me, we can't share change unless we are open with the before and the after, the successes and the failures.  When I was a kid, we had this saying: cut the cool card.  It basically meant: be real.  We're all human so don't take yourself so seriously.  We all put our pants on one leg at a time.  In this new era of social media, the need to be genuine hasn't changed a bit.