Monday, June 30, 2014

Onto my Second Iteration of Flipped Learning: A Post FlipCon14 reflection

If my personal lessons learned from FlipCon13 were about the logistics of video making and setting up a flipped class, then this year's lessons were all about the "second iteration" (as Troy Crockum frequently mentions) or tweaks to my flipped class and connecting with the community of flipped educators.

Last year during FlipCon 13, so many flipped veterans said over and over again that flipped learning is not about the videos but it was a message that a baby flipper, like myself, could not internalize. But now that I have a YouTube library of good but not great videos and I'm primed to tackle more important questions of inquiry, project based learning, standards based grading, student blogging and 20 percent time, I really have internalized that mantra.

This year during FlipCon 14, I strategically selected sessions that would help me improve my second iteration of flipping. This meant that most sessions were part of the "Beyond Flip class" strand. Some of my thoughts and take-home lessons regarding a few sessions are below.

Keynote: "Living in Beta" with Molly Schroeder
This was a wonderful keynote that challenged me to further promote working in beta, or experimentation and revision in my class. Since I use a mastery model, I feel pretty confident that my students are usually working in beta. They're encouraged and even mandated to revise their work until proficiency. The real lesson I took away from Molly's session is that I need to be comfortable with allowing myself to work in beta. If companies like Google can fail with tons of unpolished products and still be seen as a successful company, then surely I can dare to fail as well.

Flipping DI with Lee Dewitt
This was a timely session for me since one of next year's goals is to differentiate instruction. The pre work and the session gave me some neat ideas about how to differentiate instruction. Although I'm happy with the Mastery Choice boards as my main vehicle to offer student choices, I can see the benefit of mixing things up. Perhaps some learning cycles will work best with choice boards, a 2-5-8 menu, a RAFT assignment, tiering or cubing. I'll play around with these options during the summer.
The most exciting thing I learned from Lee's session is how she scaffolds mastery in her course. My 8th graders struggled with staying on track and I'm hoping a better transition to self paced learning will minimize these issues.

Making the Grade with Jennifer Haze
This session was advertised primarily about standards based grading, although I learned some neat tricks about formative assessment as well. I really like her peer to peer techniques in formative assessment like "quiz, quiz, trade" and "find the matching answer." Adding these techniques to peer instruction will enhance the synchronous offerings in my asynchronous course.

Engaging videos with Jonathan Thomas-Palmer
My videos are serviceable and usually get good ratings in terms of learning. However, my videos are not particularly engaging. I do use the engaging design techniques Jonathan mentioned in his session, like changing the screen every few seconds, use transitions sparingly, purchase an external microphone or limit background light for the picture in picture feature. After the first few videos, I even included questions throughout the video to encourage students to pause and think. The most important thing Jonathan said that I needed to hear was that I need to enjoy myself in the videos, like I usually did during live direct instruction in the past. I'm too formal in my videos and need to make sure I'm having fun when I record the videos. I don't see videos as the most important aspect of my class and will most likely avoid redoing most on my videos; however, I will use that important piece of advice to make new videos.

Innovative Pedagogies with Julie Schell
I've been looking forward to Julie's presentation since I missed her during FlipCon 13. I already incorporate peer instruction into my class at least once per learning cycle. It has been successful and most students rated this strategy favorable, even more so than flipping. In this presentation, Julie explained and demonstrated how Just in Time Teaching and Peer Instruction work together. The Just in Time Teaching (JITT) technique requires students to answer two conceptual questions and submit one feedback question (e.g. what they found most difficult or what they still wonder about) regarding a concept they learned in a coverage assignment outside of class (e.g. flipped video or a reading.) The teacher reviews these responses prior to class and uses the responses to generate ConcepTests to be used for peer instruction. The hardest part about Peer Instruction is generating the higher order engaging questions. JITT can help me generate more of these questions.

In addition to these wonderful sessions, I met great people whom I already follow on twitter. What a wonderful community of welcoming educators. I look forward to further connecting and learning with my PLN and incorporating lessons learned from FlipCon14 into my class.