Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Flipping Your English Class to Reach All Learners

I just finished my first book about flipping - this one by Troy Cockrum.

Flipping Your English Class to Reach All Learners is a quick read. Troy begins with the WHY - why should anyone consider flipping (parts of, even) their English classes? My two favorite reasons - flipping helps your class become student-centered, and it helps you develop better relationships with your students. This is a result of more one-on-one conferencing with students, which is the reason I love Genius Hour and the reason I want to give more feedback, and fewer grades. I was sold before I even purchased the book because of these simple reasons.

What IS flipping? One simple way to put it - flipping is “moving the direct instruction from the public space to the private space.” (Bergmann, p10) The simple things you teach can be shared with students on their own time, and not take up time in class. These short lessons or ideas must be accessible to all students - at ANY time. This way, students can access the information whenever they like - especially great if they become confused and need a refresher.


Troy writes about WHY flipping works, and then goes into the different TYPES of flipping. Many people are familiar with the "watch the video at home and come back to school and do activities" type of flipping, but that's just not it. He explains the
Traditional Flip
Writing Workshop Flip
Explore-Flip-Apply
Flip-Mastery
Peer Instruction Flip
...and because this book was published in 2014, there are probably different iterations of these out in the fast-paced teaching world now! (My next "flipping" book is Flipping 2.0.)

There are then four chapters of sample lessons, showing the different types of flips, and going through the different portions of ELA - writing, language (grammar and vocabulary), reading, speaking & listening. Here are lessons you can put into your curriculum easily - especially the ones that include links to actual videos used. I think half the battle of flipping is creating your own videos, because you just can't find the right ones on the Internet. (I went to the site Troy created for his students - Engliteo.com - and it was not working for him. He now has a playlist of student-created videos here. YES!!) I am aware that the best videos probably come from our own, as we use our own voices at the very least, to make that personal connection with the students. However... if I want to try flipping without the stress, it will be nice to have some videos ready-made for beginners. Troy has let me know of a few others - Instructional Videos for Students and Teacher Instructional Videos are two more playlists he has put together! (Soon after I posted this, another tweet directed me to WatchKnowLearn... Free educational videos - organized!)

I did fold over the tabs on five specific lessons I would like to try. I'll have to search for the best videos first, however, and that takes some time. Three of these lessons come from the "Speaking & Listening" chapter. I have been thinking a ton about how we teach speaking and listening since Sandy Otto's presentation at USMSpark - she kept referencing Erik Palmer's book Well Spoken: Teaching speaking to all students, and she impressed upon us that we need to teach those small skills specifically - eye contact, gestures, etc. I do believe I could take some of Erik's ideas and flip them...

In chapter nine, I thought of an idea for giving feedback - what do you think? What if, while viewing a student's Google Doc, you highlighted a spot where you'd like to leave a "somewhat longer" comment than just a sentence or two? Highlight it, then go to Croak.it. Leave a 30-second voice message. Copy the url, and put THAT in the comment that goes along with the highlight!? That way, your comment stays with the document (a problem Troy had with using Explain Everything and Google forms), and students can hear your actual voice and intonation!

A useful chapter is chapter ten - tips on how to make engaging videos. I had thought of many of these tips, but never all at once. It's good to have these on hand when you're planning your videos. Have a checklist and go through to see which of these 13 you can include. (Doing this reminds me - I need to do the same for Dave Burgess's tips in Teach Like a Pirate on "pimping" lessons!)

After reading his tips, I went straight to my class website to check out the ONE video I made last year regarding Genius Hour. I created it because I had four students absent the day I introduced Genius Hour, and I needed to get the information to them. I thought I was doing a great job - getting a 40-minute lesson into one 16-minute video. One of Troy's tips stuck with me, though - try to make your video only as long as the grade of your students... I have 7th graders. My videos need to be 7 minutes or shorter in order to keep their attention. I know this is just a guideline, but even I was getting antsy watching my own video again! I took the time - right at that moment - to create a shorter video. I took the portion explaining the Habitudes, and created this video using MoveNote. (Thank you, Patti Strukel! I will forever be grateful for that tidbit!) I also included a survey for students when they are finished! This video does not have a lot of the interaction, and no pictures, but it is "done," which right now is better than "perfect." It has my photo, my gestures, my voice. It is for my students, so it doesn't matter if anyone else enjoys it or not (it would be nice, but it's not a concern of mine). My message is there, my energy is there, and it is in the seven-minute range! ;)

Ideas regarding flipped classroom get me excited and anxious. I am excited because I have the tools (I even have Camtasia - I won it at an EdCamp!) and the "how to," but I'm anxious because, knowing me, I will think of the lessons AFTER I teach them in the classroom. Sigh.

The last chapter gives answers to FAQs and more resources for all of us - thank you, Troy - This will be another of those resources that will stick in my head while I plan during the year...

Want to know more about flipping your classroom? Troy also has a playlist of videos/podcasts ABOUT flipping! Flipping is just another piece of the classroom puzzle. I love having so many tools in the toolbox to fit the needs of our learners!

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