Reflections and Contemplations on Education and such...

Education as I see it at Waukesha West and the world...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why do I Read Comments?????

We have all done and article on any of the major internet news sites and what do you see at the end of the artcile......................the dreaded reader comments.

One one hand, the internet is an amazing forum to express ones first amendment rights.  Web 2.0 capablities have given people a voice that were at one time not heard.  It is a great evolution in communication.  It is a great expression and can spur amazing dialogue and discussion.


People/Readers/Commentators think they can say anything and hide behind an anonymous post.  And while I agree with their first amendment rights....I question the basis in which they make comments. Here is an article from the Huffinton Post on 6/14.  The following was a comment about the flipped classroom:

     Since the computers are now "teaching the students" and the teachers are essentially      
     becoming facilitators or babysitters, I don't think they should be receiving high salaries.
     I'd expect to pay teachers who teach the class a higher salary than one who just facilitates. 

There could not be a comment more further from the truth.  I teach MORE with a flipped classroom.  I work with my students individualizing in a one to one format on a daily basis.  I cannot get more exhausting than that!

Just becuase someone stands in front of a classroom and lectures does not mean they are teaching.  

Just becuase someone gives a multiple choice test does not mean they are teaching. 

Lecturing IS babysitting. 

Using the old factory model of schooling is babysitting. 

Denying that students live in a different world and trying to educate them with a square peg and round hole IS educational malpractice. 

I will, however, stake claim to the title of facilitator.  If I were a teacher that "just facilitates", then I would be doing the most important job that a teacher holds, requiring students to think...I'll do that all day!

If computers can teach students well then I will be the first in line to find a new profession...............

I am not a person that leaves comments on news stories.  But I am one that needs to ignore keep my own sanity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Teaching an AP class is an interesting challange.  People think that it must be easy becasue you have all great kids.  And yes...I have great kids but teaching an AP class presents unique challenges.

That is the preface to my rant today.  Each AP class has a College Board run message board/list serve.  I like to read them for curriculur ideas and general conversation about education and speicigcally teaching AP US History.  Today I read some things about the flipped classroom that I think misrepresent what a flipped classroom should look like. goes my venting:

Myth:  Flipped classroom teachers do nothing. Reality:  I work more in a flipped classroom than I did when I lectured to my AP students.  It is easy to stand in front of the class and vomit content.  It is difficult to come up with genuine learning activities that involve higher order thinking skills.

Myth:  The flip classroom is about the videos.  Reality:  The flip classroom is NOT about the videos.  The videos help in content acquisition, but kids can get content anywhere these days.  Ask your students a question and more than half can get their phones out and get the answer within minutes.  Content can be done at home, and the videos help that.

Myth:  Kids wont watch the videos.  Reality:  Some kids wont...those are the ones that tune you out in a lecture.  Most will...I enable the views on my videos and I was astonished how many were being watched.  As with most things in the classroom, if you make it a priority or show it is important the kids will follow.

Myth:  Flipped is a "fad".  Reality:  This one is hard to prove, but this I know for educators we cannot stay in the industrial model of the 19th and 20th centuries.  Kids are changing...and we need to meet them where they are as learners.  Flipped videos allow my students to access me when and where they want.  That includes outside of the 4 walls of my classroom and the 47 minutes I see them  on a daily basis.

Myth:  Flipped classroom is the end all be all of education reform.  Reality:  It still takes great instruction for students to succeed.  A great flipped classroom is one in which students are exposed to high quality instruction that includes 21st Century Skills.  Great teachers are still needed for that to happen.

Finally, I am sure that many of you have seed the Sir Ken Robinson Changing Paradigm video.  If you haven't it is below.  This...for truly the essence of the flipped classroom.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Its Been a While...

I have not been able to sit down and blog for a real excuses other than I have been engulfed in my work.  I give credit to those educators that find time to blog on a regular basis.  It takes a real commitment to run a great blog and I am going to try my best to find the time.... 

Moving on....flipped classroom has been getting a lot of press lately.  From Education Week, to USA Today, to my favorite article from Wired, flipped classroom has become somewhat of a cult phenom in education.  But if you really get into flipping you learn something really fast...its not really about the videos.  Sure...the videos are a part of the puzzle, but it is really about high quality instruction that is NOT lecturing.  Students need to be ENGAGED and a part of their own learning.

In my own crazy little world flipping and video lectures give me the class time and freedom to do this. Flipped classroom is not for everyone or not for every unit.  For is every unit it is how I believe in education and teaching.  I have spent more time with my students one on one, or in small groups than I ever have in my 12 years of teaching.  That is HUGE for the success of my students.  I was just talking to one of my students yesterday and loved being able to access content on our website whenever he wants to watch.  Pause, rewind, rematch are all things that my student can now do for homework and that is a great resource to provide for students. But the real winner in the flipped classroom is engagement and ownership of learning for students. That's the name of the game...

Add in 21st Century Skills like collaboration and creation and my students will be ready for the world...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reflections...or Random Thoughts

So far so good on an AP US History Flip classroom.  I am amazed how much 1 on 1 interaction that I am now able to have with my students with the spectre of lecturing off of my back. While I believe I had a great classroom environment before, it is even better now.  I also think kids appreciate that fact that I am trying to do something different. 

Students reactions have been pretty positive...but some are unhappy because...gasp...they have to apply knowledge in class.  It was easy before...sit and listen to a cool presentation by myself, be entertained, and learn some historical facts.  Now, with more class time for higher level activities, kids must apply knowledge.

Finally...this week has given me one the great benefits of a flipped my students one on one feedback on essay writing.  It has been so great to be able to work with each one of them and give them specific feedback on their writing...why haven't I been flipping all along????

A Great Blog...

Many times I am so excited with the direction of education...

Many times I am dismayed at the direction of education...

Take a read here...this is a great post that really makes you think...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

BYOD....Lets do this thing!

I think BYOD is one of the great advances in education.  Soooooo many kids already have their own deceives.  What if we unleashed them and allowed them to have their own device to help with their own learning?  Let's put the learning in the hands of the kids...

In the days of shrinking budgets lets think smarter not harder.  If a school is equipped for student wifi access then we should encourage them to bring their own devices. 

What if a kid doesn't have a device?????  Schools should provide low-cost tablets or net books for check out for students.  Schools can also have desktops available in and around the school.

Here is a novel concept...lets stop spending so much money on copy machines and more money on computers!  Teachers have tools like Google Docs and any number of LMS's that allow to be as paperless as possible.

Lets stop teaching in the 20th century and move forward to the 21st century!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

So Here’s What I’d Do

So Here’s What I’d Do

My first share comes from a fellow blogger, David Warwick, who explores 10 technology solutions for schools. (His blog by the way is should follow and read)

While not all of these solutions would be practical at the school I teach...I think many would apply and would be great upgrades for all high schools.

My favorite is the first...go as paperless as possible! LMS systems, both paid and free are readily available. In the right circumstances paper copies should become a thing of the past. Students can email or share through Google Docs. In the LMS environment students can upload their work for teachers to see and assess. Memos and other administrative tasks can be accomplished with any of these avenues.

In short...go paperless and reinvest the money into more computers for our students...

The Expansion of this Blog

So lately I have really been into the idea of a PLN.  Plainly put...a Professional Learning Network allows educators to develop their craft outside of the school day.  It allows the teacher to learn on their own, about their craft, and keep up on the important issues of the day as it relates to education.

My main medium for PLN is Twitter.  Twitter is an excellent way to get connect with other educators, hunt and find awesome new resources, and to keep the pulse on educational issues that are not within the building that we teach.

Thus I have been inspired to expand my Flipped Classroom blog and include my own thoughts on the world of education.  Nothing of controversy...just my reflections and thoughts as it relates to the world of education.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It has begun...

Well this week was the beginning of "2nd" semester in my APUSH classes.  We have made the full transition to a content flipped class.  Lectures are now delivered on our class Blackboard site.  I have made the videos unlisted and embedded them within Blackboard through YouTube.  It seemed as if this gave my students the best quality video.

Reactions so far...I feel liberated.  I have always felt like I could never get a handle on lecturing for APUSH.  This format for my class I think will allow for more critical thinking skills to be developed as it relates to APUSH.  For example---today and tomorrow the kids have group work with documents and Friday we will have a class discussion on the current chapter of reading.

There has been much discussion on the flipped classroom.  Here is my take...students can get content lots of ways.  We are dealing with a different generation of learners.  Without a doubt, a high quality teacher is still the number one factor of success for students.  However, the teachers need to change the way we operate with those students.  I think of it this way...doctors  are constantly changing they way they deal with patients based the latest research.  If you are a successful doctor more than likely you are on the cutting edge of medical technology.  Luckily, we do not have doctors treating patients the same way they treated them 25 years ago.  Teachers should be on the cutting edge of the classroom, and not satisfied with the status quo. 

Yet in education we just accept when teachers teach the same way every year.  How many times do I see teachers do things that have been done in the classroom over, and over, and over again.  The common theme here...lack of student engagement. 

I did a student produced video in my Psychology class.  The students had to show me an understanding of conditioning whether it was classical or operant.  After the assignment was finished I did an informal survey and the results were striking.  Students commented that they were happy to apply knowledge rather than spit it out on a test.  Pretty insightful for high school students. 

Is the flipped classroom the final, but I think that one of the things that educators need to do is reexamine if our methods keep up with the current students.  It happens to work well for me so far...