Where Do I Start Flipping?

After wrapping up my UCET2013 Flipped Presentation this question was tweeted, emailed, and asked of me, "where do I start flipping my classroom?" As I thought about my presentation, I told about why I flip and how I flip and even what to do if they wanted to flip, but I really didn't explain how to start. Many of the people that asked this question were unable to attend my presentation. So this is my suggestion. This is not the gospel of flipping. There are many other flippers that might have other ideas and plans to use. Researching this topic will also help finding different ideas and suggestions on flipping the classroom.
The first thing you need to do is think about what you do in your classroom. My idea of the flipped classroom is changing the way I run my classroom so I make it student-based and not teacher-based. As I change how my classroom is, what will I be doing? So the question I ask is "What is the best use of class time with my students?" Then start with one activity that can be modified. If the activity needs a video to be made for students to watch at home or during class, make it. Pick a topic or an activity that takes up a lot of time in class. I started with a vocabulary activity that took a lot of student time writing in class. I made a short video with the information the students needed to have for their assignment and sent it home. That freed up 30 minutes a day of language time. Now came the great part, I found 30 more minutes a day I was able to spend more time working with my students in small groups. Make it something small to get a feel for it and add other things a piece at a time.
Give it time to work out. Any change will be tough, but keep it going for a while. Students and parents will need time to learn the new system and so will you. Make small changes as they a needed. Once it becomes more comfortable in the schedule changing it up, then comes the time to add or change other subjects or activities. As an elementary school teacher, I have a lot of subjects I teach throughout the week. I use video for three subjects only. I think that more than a couple videos a night can be too much for anyone. There are times when I have a vocabulary video, spelling video, and math video on the same night, but I try to keep it to two on a given night. Most nights there is only one and some nights I don't assign any. Whatever is needed is what is assigned.
After I started flipping my class I started reading a book called "Ready, Set, Science" and it helped me define what my core concept was that I wanted the students to know each day in math and spelling(Chapter 4). I also learned more about how to have better discussions in my classroom(Chapter 5).
Let me know how this helps you as you start changing your classroom. If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment.

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Flip Support from Administration

I just wrapped up a presentation about Flipping the Classroom at UCET2013. I did a similar presentation at Suecon in October and there were about 15 teacher in that presentation. This time I did two presentations and they were each filled with teachers sitting on the floor. I went over the basics of what a traditional flipped classroom looks like and then we talked about changing the traditional classroom paradigm of lecture to student centered discussion and investigation of concepts. As I talked and showed how I run my classroom, the teachers were very receptive. In the end I told them that my flipped classroom is an example of what it can look like. It has its problems like most classrooms. But the one thing I want them to take away is to think about how they want their classroom to look like. I posed this question, "What is the best use of your classroom time with your students?"
The one problem that I heard over and over during and after the presentation was about getting administrator help. I have not had much problem with this new use my principal is very supportive in what we do. She wished that more teachers in our school would give it a good look. I say wished because my present principal is retiring. I know the new principal and I am hoping for the best that she will be as supportive in our ideas. So what do you do to get support from your principal? What suggestions do you have to offer these beginning flippers?


Puttering around the Classroom

I was talking with my neighbor about putting in a garden. He has a large farm behind my house and gives me a lot of tips on what and when to grow vegetables. He has a garden that is twice the size of my house and yet he gives away most of his harvest because his children are all gone. As we discussed this fact, he told me that he gardens because it gives him time to relax and putter around in the yard. I wonder if the kids today have something to putter around with when they need to relax? Do video games have the same puttering ability as a garden? Do we as teachers need to provide an opportunity for students to putter around in the classroom? How would we teach them to find their putter activity?

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