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Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge
Prime your mind for creative thinking every week with the Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge! Check out the rules for the weekly challenge before playing.
A small percentage of writing happens with a pen in your hand or a keyboard under your fingers. In fact, the bulk of writing happens through new experiences both profound and mundane. After all, how can you write about exciting new adventures without having a few adventures yourself? Continue reading →
Your first writing prompt will require pre-writing using a nifty method I like to call a “five-minute burn.” Here’s how it works: I’ll set a timer for five minutes. As soon as I say go, you will start writing without stopping until the five minutes are up. If you run out of things to write about, simply write “IDK IDK IDK” over and over again until something comes to you. The trick is to keep your pencil moving. Don’t worry about erasing errors or scratching out mistakes. Just ignore them and KEEP WRITING!
Ready for your prompt? Here it is: How would you define writing and why is it important to you?
If you’re following along at home, use the video below to keep track of your time.
Time is up! How did you do? Take a moment to reread your burn. If you come across a phrase or word that you really like, underline it.
Now, we’re going to revise our burn to be a publishable piece of writing. Here’s your new prompt: Use imagery and figurative language to define the importance of writing in your life.
Before you start revising your burn, check out two tricks of the writing trade below to help you jazz up your writing a bit.
Thank you for an awesome second week of school. Today we set up our interactive student notebooks and made our first root word foldable for our first vocabulary unit of the year. Some of you still need to set up your interactive student notebook. If so, find those directions here. Many of you also need to create your Unit 1 root word foldable. Watch the directions explaining how to create the foldable in the video below!
I recorded some of the footage using QuickTime Player’s video recording and screen recording features on my school-issued MacBook Pro, and the rest of the footage came from YouTube. Finally, I edited the video using iMovie and PowerPoint. All free software!
I’m currently trying to get a more robust video editing software so I don’t have to use PowerPoint to create a picture-in-picture effect, but I’m hoping to get the software through my school so I don’t have to pay for it out of pocket.
Teaching Students to Learn from Videos
If you watched/read my seven tips for creating your own flipped videos, you may remember that you should teach your students how to learn from a video by showing flipped videos in class before assigning them as homework. Well, today I taught (most) of my students how to learn from videos using the video you see above.
Overall, I think it was a success! The students used visual cues to let me know when to pause the video, play the video, or rewind the video. Sometimes I paused the video myself and explained why I paused it, other times they told me to pause the video by holding up their hands. It worked pretty well, and it allowed the students to become familiar with the structure of my (soon to be created) videos, which will help them become more efficient and effective note-takers.
I learned quite a bit today as well. First of all, the video was only 15 minutes long, but between pausing, rewinding, rewatching, and note-taking, we needed a full 50 minutes to get through it. I’m sure the students will become more efficient with practice, but I will need to make sure future videos are no longer than 10 minutes if I expect the students to take thorough notes.
I also learned that visual cues within the video are very helpful for the students, but those cues don’t necessarily have to be text-based. In future videos, I may hold up a pencil when I want the students to write something down. That way I don’t have to do as much post-production editing, but the students will still know what they need to copy down. That’s a trick to perform later in the year as a way to scaffold good note-taking skills, and to teach the students how to differentiate between important information and fluff.
No Tech at Home? No Problem!
Since coming back to school and sharing my flippin’ aspirations with my colleagues, many of them have raised a very valid concern about flipped learning for students who are unable to watch videos at home due to a lack of technology. I also had a handful of my new students express the same concern. In response, I created this Tech Letter for Parents which addresses those concerns. I’ve welcomed students to come into my class during lunch to watch the videos on the big screen, and I’ve also highlighted some of the resources within our community that students can use evenings and weekends, such as the public library and public transportation. Feel free to steal my letter and modify it to meet your own needs.
That’s all for today! Back to work for this busy teacher. If you want to read more about strategies using technology and the SAMR Model, check out my post on using Animoto in the classroom or my post on EDpuzzle. You can also read the first post in this series here.
Hey there, dear reader! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I spent the past month traveling to San Diego and Denver, partaking in Netflix binges (Sense8, anyone?) and brewery shenanigans, and researching how to implement the flipped classroom model for the first time: all very important summer activities for a teacher blogger.
But now the first day of school is nearly upon us, which means it is time to get back to work. As you may already know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to flip some of my lessons this summer. Since I’m to teach ninth grade for the first time this year, I figure this is the best time to flip since I need to develop new curriculum resources anyway.
Initially, I didn’t think flipping would be too much of a shift. I’ve always been a tech savvy teacher, so flipping some of my lessons seemed like a natural next step in my professional development. Alas, the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned; the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized what a large task I have in front of me.
Have I wavered? No! Have I procrastinated? Yes! But I’m done with that now, so bring on the flip!
The first thing I’ve discovered on my flippin’ journey are Twitter hashtags #fliplearning and #flippedlearning. Why are there two (or more) hashtags and not one? Because it’s Twitter, and the hashtag you use depends on how many characters you have remaining in your sweet little tweet. As a novice Tweeter, I’m amazed at the number of (free!) resources available to teachers swimming around the Twitterverse.
People have a lot to say about the flipped classroom model, and many educators have taken it further than I ever imagined. When used with fidelity, flipped learning changes much more than content delivery. I’ll admit, it’s a bit intimidating: kind of like watching a professional skateboarder land a Stalefish Grab when you’re barely able to stand up without banging your head into the concrete (and yes, I did just Google “fancy skateboarding trick” to come up with Stalefish Grab).
But, since success is almost always a product of failure, I’ve brushed my survival instincts aside and made three major adjustments to my plans for the first few weeks to allow for flippin’ scaffolding!
Flippin’ Adjustment #1: Watch the first few videos in class
One of my prized Twitter finds is a podcast called The Flip Side with Jon Bergmann. The episodes titled “Flipping Your Class? Do This, Puh-Leeze Don’t Do That” Parts One through Five have been extremely helpful by answering my questions about video length and the importance of making them interactive and whatnot (more on this later). Most importantly, however, Bergmann stresses the importance of teaching students how to watch and learn from the videos. He suggests watching the first few videos in class so the teacher can model how to pause and rewind the video to clarify important points, show the students how to take notes, and teach them how to develop meaningful questions to bring to class the next day.
Flippin’ Adjustment #2: Hold the students accountable
Once you’ve taught the students how to learn from your videos, Bergmann urges his listeners to resist the urge to reteach the content from the video the night before. Since some of our darling students may not watch the videos on time (just as they don’t always complete their homework on time) we may be tempted to teach the content again in class, but that completely negates the flipped learning ideology. Plus, it encourages students who have watched the video to blow off the next one. Why watch it at home when you’re going to teach the same thing in class tomorrow?
Flippin’ Adjustment #3: Dedicate class time to applying concepts
Bergmann also cautions against the temptation to assign a video without in-class application. Yes, we have too much content to get through and too little time to get through it, but if students don’t have the opportunity to practice the concepts discussed in the video while their teacher is available to support their learning, they might as well not watch the video at all. The whole point of the flipped classroom model is to increase your one-on-one time with the students as they partake in hands-on learning in the classroom. Don’t treat your videos as substitutes for real learning.
Now that I’ve explored the flippin’ concept and adjusted my lesson plans, I can no longer delay the inevitable: I need to create my first flippin’ video. Gulp. So, to synthesize my learning and practice using iMovie (and procrastinate making an actual video to use with my students) I created a flippin’ video on how to make a flipped video! You can see the video below, or if you don’t have six minutes and thirty-eight seconds to spare just skip ahead to my checklist below.
Seven Flippin’ Video Tips
Show your flippin’ face! Disembodied voices are creepy and boring and lack nonverbal cues that aid effective communication. Get over yourself and get in front of the camera.
Vary your flippin’ speech! Avoid the “Bueller” effect and actually sound excited about your content. If you’re excited, the kids will be excited too. They’re just pretending to be bored.
Record flippin’ everywhere! Have you ever been on vacation somewhere and thought, “Man, I wish my kids could see this.” Well, thanks to that handy-dandy smartphone in your pocket, they can! Pull out a video and record your thoughts. You can edit them down later.
Make your own flippin’ videos! You know what your students need to succeed on your end-of-unit assessment, so you should be the one teaching in your videos. Students prefer to learn from their teacher. If there is an awesome video on YouTube that is completely perfect for your lesson, download it and cut to it in your video.
Make them inter-flippin’-active! Accountability, accountability, accountability! Use programs like EDPuzzle (read my post on EDPuzzle here), TodaysMeet, PollEverywhere, or your favorite learning management system to give your students a reason to watch the video, formatively assess their learning, and give them a safe place to discuss the concepts from your videos online with their peers outside of class. Bonus: if you have the kids ask questions the night before class, you can review them and tailor your lessons and individualize your instruction.
Include flippin’ note reminders! Students are kids, and they need constant skill reinforcement. Remind them to pause the video and jot down important information using your preferred note-taking system.
Keep them flippin’ short! Again, students are kids, and they have limited attention spans. I’ve read that the average medical student has an attention span of only twenty minutes. Med students! They’re like, the cream of the crop! Bergmann suggests sixty to ninety seconds per grade level maximum, so if you teach tenth grade, keep your videos no longer than fifteen minutes. Also, don’t forget that students will have to pause the video to take notes, which will add to their viewing time. If they’ll need to take a lot of notes, try to keep it between five and eight minutes.
That’s all for today, folks! I’m going to attempt a video introducing Greek and Latin roots. Wish me luck!
If you want to read more about strategies using technology and the SAMR Model, check out my post on EDpuzzle or my post on updating EdTech PD. You can also read the first post in this series here.
Guess what, dear reader? I created a flipped video using EDpuzzle! It only took me an hour (and let’s face it, an hour is a bit too much time to spend on one, four-minute video), but I’m optimistic that I will become much more efficient at creating EDpuzzle videos, especially if I add questions, audio, and text to videos I create myself instead of the videos in the EDpuzzle library. Half the challenge was figuring out if I was using the right video, what to cut out of the video, what to include in my audio notes, and what questions to ask.
I couldn’t figure out how to embed my EDpuzzle video into this post, but if you click here you’ll be able to see my EDpuzzle video in a new tab.
If you’re wondering what I mean by “flipped,” you should check out this informative EDpuzzle video that compares and contrasts flipped classrooms and traditional classrooms.
First of all, it is FREE! EduCanon is a similar program, but it’ll constantly pester you to upgrade to receive certain services. EDpuzzle will never panhandle its users.
So Many Options!
As I mentioned earlier, EDpuzzle makes it easy for teachers to add questions, comments, and audio notes to a video. You can create your own video and upload it to EDpuzzle, or you can select a video from their extensive library.
Have you ever found a YouTube video with useful information in the middle of the video, but irrelevant information at the beginning or end of the video? With EDpuzzle, you can crop a video down so you only use what you need.
Use Audio Track to Record Over the Entire Video
If you want your students to watch a slow-motion video of a bullet hitting an apple so you can discuss the transfer of energy or something, you can record your explanation over the video. This is a neat feature, but I wish it would let you record over only a portion of the video instead of making you record over the entire thing.
Keep it Personal with Audio Notes
Some videos use academic language that is just out of students’ reach, and some students need to hear you explain things multiple times before they finally get it (or tune-in). With EDpuzzle, you can interrupt the video with audio notes to re-explain concepts from the video using kid-friendly language. This could also simply act as a cue letting the students know what is or isn’t important. Audio notes are different from audio tracks because they stop the video to play the track instead of playing over the video. Even though they pause the video, audio notes do not tally into the total length of the EDpuzzle video.
Assessment and Accountability with Quizzes
This name of this feature is a little misleading because it allows you to do more than just quiz students. While you can make them answer multiple choice questions (I love the “no skipping” option!), you can also ask short-answer questions or leave comments to the right of the video.
Multiple-Choice: This is exactly what it sounds like. Ask quick, level one questions to make sure your students are paying attention, or ask level two questions that make the students apply the information covered in the video. You could also ask a series of questions before the video as a pre-assessment, then ask the similar questions again at the end of the video to track student learning. But be aware, EDpuzzle gives immediate feedback on multiple-choice questions. Students will know if they answered correctly or incorrectly as soon as they click continue.
Short-Answer Option: This is also exactly what it sounds like, but when I flip my lessons I’ll use this feature to ask students what questions they have about the content. This will allow me to tailor the next class period to meet student needs. Hello, data-driven instruction! I know this is somewhere in the NM Teach Domains…As for me, I’m planning on pairing EDpuzzle with PollEverywhere or TodaysMeet so students can ask questions about content in real-time.
Comment Option: This is a neat tool that allows you to simply add a comment to the right of the video. Like the audio notes, this can be used to restate information in kid-friendly language but it targets visual learners more than auditory learners.
Multiple Ways to Share with Students
Once you’ve finished creating your video, you can assign it to a class. This is important if you want to see your students’ results after watching the video. To set this up, students will have to create their own account (FREE!) and join your class using a unique code. Then, you just assign your video to a class!
If you aren’t worried about student data but you still want to share your video with a large group of people, you can simply share a link or embed the video into certain platforms like Schoology. The data won’t be saved, but anyone with the link can see your comments and answer your questions.
When students are logged in, they’ll see their assigned videos and completed videos side by side, along with their scores on completed videos.
If students try to work in another tab while the video plays in the background, the video will automatically pause. However, clever students will quickly figure out that the video will keep playing if it is open in a different window.
Students may also realize that they need to rewatch a portion of the video again before they’re ready to answer a question. If that’s the case, they can simply click the “rewatch” button and the video will start over from the last stopping point (question, comment, or audio note).
On the teacher side of things, you’ll be able to see some helpful data and quickly grade short answer questions:
Just make sure you always double-check your questions before assigning a video to the class. Once it’s been assigned, you will not be able to edit it.
PollEverywhere is a polling website that allows you to ask multiple users a question or a set of questions. On the surface, it is similar to other audience response systems such as Socrative and Kahoot, but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a much sleeker program.
The First Day of School
Picture this: your freshmen walk into class on their first day of high school. You decide to use PollEverywhere as both an icebreaker and as an easy way to assess the students’ needs. The kids take out their SMS-enabled phones (flip-phones work too), you project a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation with directions for accessing the survey on the board, and they all take out their cell phones (you should probably have a conversation about appropriate cell phone use in the classroom first).
The first question pops up: “Which middle school did you attend last year?” The students use their cell phones to answer the question, and then the image on the board seamlessly changes to represent student responses in real-time. Cool, right?
Perhaps you also want the students to collaboratively create class norms. Just ask a short answer question, and PollEverywhere will then automatically sort their answers into a word cloud, making it extremely easy for students to see what is most important to their peers. No more typing student responses into Wordle after school!
Flip Your Classroom!
I’ve always wanted to try flipping some of my lessons, but the idea has always intimidated me a bit. How would I know if my students watched the video before coming to class? What do I do with the students who didn’t watch the video before coming to class? What programs do I use to make the videos?
I’ll write more about flipped classrooms later, but PollEverywhere has inspired me to actually try it this year. After assigning a video, I can have the students post questions to PollEverywhere before coming to class, or as a bell-ringer at the beginning of the period. If necessary, I can adjust my lesson for the day to reflect the students questions from the night before.
PollEverywhere and SAMR
So, how do my ideas for PollEverywhere fare against the SAMR Model? I’m not sure. PollEverywhere definitely passes the substitution stage because it acts as a direct substitute for having the students turn in their questions on a sheet of paper. PollEverywhere’s slick way of organizing and presenting data easily bumps it up to the augmentation stage, because it is much more functional and efficient than traditional paper polling. But does it “allow for significant task redesign” required to reach the Modification stage? I’m not sure. All I know is PollEverywhere will streamline assessment, giving teachers more time to adjust instruction to meet students’ needs.