This entry will grow as students complete their final projects. Here are two projects on how to understand new words you encounter when you read. I didn't check the powerpoint before she presented, so there are some errors. But overall, I'm proud of what she did.
So I've been thinking a lot about Ramsay Musallam's Explore-Flip-Apply model, since listening to him being interviewed for the Flipped Learning Network's podcast, by fellow English-Flipper Mr. Troy Cockrum. Ramsay said that if English teachers could figure out an authentic inquiry model, flipping would get much easier, especially the E-F-A model he uses.
Here's the basic premise of Explore Flip Apply:
Explore - in this phase, you present students with a problem or question and they work to find the answer. It could be a lab, it could be research, it could be a reading, it could be a video...but it has to lead students to construct knowledge and start building a schema for the topic. Ideally, students would understand many of the concepts without the teacher giving them any information.
Generally, it starts with a guided question, like "What qualities create good non-fiction writing?" An example activity for that question would be to have students compare samples of good writing and determine the qualities of good writing based on those samples.
Flip - this phase can be just the flipped part in the traditional flip: record a video of your direct instruction and have students view it at home (or in class if that's more appropriate). It can also be a spot/targeted remediation made that night, or it can be a pre-made video, or it can be an impeccably edited screencast. In this phase, the focus is on the skills/standards/information students will need to fully understand the concept and fill the gaps in their constructed knowledge.
Apply - in this, final phase, students use the knowledge they have constructed along with the knowledge the teacher has delivered via video to work on a real-world problem. In chemistry, this could be a similar lab as the explore lab, only with enough difference that students can compare and contrast, analyse more fully, or create a new situation to demonstrate their knowledge. In the writing example above, you could have students write something that demonstrates all the traits of good writing, and then evaluate themselves or peers based on a rubric you develop (or even better, one that the students develop). After this phase, you can assess and then reteach as necessary.
Ramsay Musallam also teaches AP, and sometimes adds a "train" phase before the apply phase where students get practice for AP-style questions.
So that's the basic premise. Right now, the EFA model makes sense in math and science, where there are ideas you can explore and concepts you can test that have lab/real-life applications. English is a little harder. However...
I think I may have cracked it, at least with one example. Using a skill-based inquiry question just ends up being lame a lot of the time (How can I write a good claim paragraph? is a skill-based question, and it's not REAL inquiry - there is a more-or-less "right" answer). The best inquiry questions, or really, the only valid inquiry questions are the ones for which there is no one answer. The really, really good ones are the ones for which everyone in class (teacher included) is interested in finding the answer.
So we need to base it on a theme or style issue that is evident in the chosen text (for reading standards) or essay skills/genres/qualities (for writing standards).
Right now, I'm reading Rena's Promise with my kids, and we've already seen Anne Frank. So I was thinking about using that to build a framework for Explore Flip Apply.
Here's what I came up with:
EXPLORE - What qualities do resilient people have? Can you make someone more resilient? How?
Either a text or video will work for this. I used Rena's Promise, and I had students read the first part of it (had I decided to use this for the explore phase before I started the unit, I would have given them a shorter portion of it - maybe even a short 2-3 page section). I also had them watch "Hero at 30,000 Feet" - a Derren Brown special, where he takes an "average" guy and teaches him to become more heroic and resilient.
I then had them come up with a definition for resilience, based on what the guy in the Derren Brown special experienced; I also had them look at what it takes to develop resilience in him. I had them do something similar with Rena's Promise and with Anne Frank - they found examples of when Rena/Anne (or others) showed resilience.
FLIP - This is where the skill applications come in. You could use almost any skill here, so long as it would give students the ability to complete the Apply task.
I would have separate videos, one for each skill:
--How to find and analyse a theme in a text
--Choosing the best evidence for a theme
--Writing a claim paragraph using that evidence
APPLY - Here's where content (Explore) and skills (Flip) come together. Students will take the skills of finding themes, using evidence, and writing it up into a claim paragraph to complete an essay that answers the essential questions and analyses the resiliency of Rena and Anne Frank.
Now, if students struggle in the apply phase, I can just respond to that directly by making a video to help in that specific area. Today, students were having trouble doing an inquiry assignment where they tested out vocabulary strategies on a difficult text, so I just took my iPad and made a video modelling it. I then had the kids who needed it watch it immediately. It was SOOO much better than doing it 15 times over.
So really, in English, Explore Flip Apply is a way of blending content and skill, with the content driving the inquiry, and the skill driving the flip phase. I know that Ramsay adds in a Train phase after Flip to do some test question prep. With writing and revision, that would make sense. Grammar would also fit there - specific, targeted instruction in a particular skill that will be assessed on the final essay would be super useful.
I felt the need to separate this out clearly using a barrier of asterisks because I know Ramsay isn't a fan of the mastery model. But since I am using it (more or less) I thought I should add this.
The way I understand mastery in an English context is this:
Where a student starts makes ALL the difference. If a student starts at 4th grade standard, then my expectations are different than for a student who starts at grade level. Improvement is more important than skill compared to an objective benchmark. And you can easily show improvement on a 6 point rubric.
Especially with writing, mastery makes more sense if you think about rubrics - if a 5/6 is proficient, then they just revise and revise until they get to proficiency. That's usually only a matter of one good, substantive revision after the first draft is finished. If they can't get to proficiency due to low-skill/below grade level starting point, then I adjust what mastery looks like to them. But with appropriate scaffolding along the way, and the intense differentiation afforded by the flipped model, that usually isn't an issue.
Now, I've been asked about gradebook for mastery, both here and on Edmodo, so I'll add this note: I would make one assignment in the gradebook for the first draft, and another for the final draft. The first draft is always just credit/no credit because it's formative, not summative. And grading the first draft sends the message that they are done with the essay, and no further action is required.
If they choose to revise their final draft, then every new draft they turn in just raises their score in the entry for the final draft (I don't mind regrading things dozens of times - I tell them that if they'll take the time to write it, I'll make the time to read it. Usually no student does more than two final drafts, so I haven't had to deal with that much).
Making the final draft the only graded one pushes towards mastery because it requires students to always be thinking in terms of revision and forward progress. I actually have a revision policy that means students can re-do any assignment (in a timely manner - within the unit, usually) for a higher grade, as long as they try their best on the original AND the revision. Kids love that rule, and I've seen a culture of revision develop in my class that I think is really unique and special.
So I still haven't figured everything out for this model, but I'd like to know what you all think. And if you have better ideas or a way you use Explore Flip Apply in your classroom, let me know!
For people who want to flip science or math, there are a wealth of resources available. While there's no "How-To" binder, you can pretty much pick up another teacher's videos and keep on using the same materials you've been using for years.
But in English, other than Troy Cockrum and Kate Petty, there aren't many people flipping AND writing about it. I think it is partially a problem of definition; there aren't many people who can define what English flipping looks like. So here's my attempt:
Flipping English is about two things:
1) helping students take responsibility for their own learning by understanding them and their unique skills, abilities, and needs, and
2) leveraging technology to build a student-centred learning environment that meaningfully engages the cultural context in which our students live.
There are many educators with great intentions who approach flipping English in the same way that math and science teachers flip. They choose grammar, vocabulary or concrete writing skills because those fit best in the "traditional flip" method.
That's where I started too, because it didn't make sense to me otherwise.
As I've continued with flipping, I found that the traditional flip didn't help me all that much. Yes, it made sub days easier (when I had several conference days in a row, having a video that the sub could show, sure made my life easier) and it was great for test prep before the California High School Exit Exam.
But the traditional flip didn't fundamentally change my students. They thought the videos were cool, but they weren't taking any more responsibility for their own learning than they did before I flipped. They also weren't using much technology in class either.
So I decided I had to change something.
I found two carts of netbooks that weren't being used much and put them in my room. I signed up for Edmodo, and had my students do the same. I recorded myself using ShowMe, reading the entire novel we were studying, and started using Today's Meet to have live discussions while I played the video in class. I encouraged and rewarded student curiosity in those discussions, and something amazing happened:
I actually flipped my class.
And here's the thing: There is no one who can tell you how to flip your class. You can get ideas from other people (and you should!), but flipped learning is first and foremost about understanding your students, and meeting their needs. Therefore, by definition, the teacher has to make their class centred, focused, obsessed, with helping the students in the room in the best way possible. That's why flipped teaching will never make the teacher obsolete. The flipped classroom doesn't work without the teacher managing the learning opportunities, and helping students manage their own learning.
I'm lucky to have had lots of support from my administration, my colleagues, and my PLN on Twitter and Edmodo; but most meaningfully, I learned how to fail fast. When something didn't work, I tried something else. When that didn't work, I tried something else.
I also was able to use June School to try out a lot of different ideas, like flipped self-paced mastery. Now, mastery can't look the same as it does in math or science either. Even standards-based grading in English is much more difficult. I mean, how do you measure mastery on analysis or word choice?
Despite that, I do believe in self-pacing and in trying to assess mastery. I have already seen how it can help students move from where they ARE to where they need to be. We may not be able to fully quantify mastery, but we can measure how close students have come to the standard we expect (or better yet, whether they can go beyond what we expect).
Part of my summer work is to figure out what mastery in the major English skills looks like, and how to assess it. I also want to revise some of my videos to make them more like my recent ones (see the bottom of the post for the latest two, about which I'm much happier than my early attempts!). The most revolutionary thing I figured out in my video production is that I need to include something for students to do/answer/write/think about in the actual video. I then have them bring their answers (and, hopefully, questions) back to me as evidence of completion.
For those of you who need something more concrete, here are some of my ideas for flipping English, beyond the grammar video (though I will start with grammar because that's where most people start):
--use DOLs - ideally engaging sentence corrections. There is very little research around using grammar independently of writing. Using worksheets where students underline participial phrases and identify the direct object are not best practices and don't transfer to students' writing. But there is data (both in research and in my own practice) that sentence correction and targeted instruction will transfer and solidify with students.
--give students targeted remediation based on whatever they missed on the DOLs. I use my own videos, as well as online grammar games and exercises (like Grammar Ninja and Chomp Chomp) to give them practice - even though it's "worksheet"-y, just the fact that it feels like a game gives it more value to my students.
--after I've assigned specific skills for them a while, I ask students to choose what THEY think they need to work on. They post a screenshot of their end score as evidence of completion.
--use the same process for issues you see in students' writing. If they miss apostrophes in their essay, assign them some practice based on that.
--after they have shown mastery on the practice, hold them accountable for it in ALL of their writing. I've done "greenlining" before, where I will literally draw a green line under a mistake they shouldn't be making and stop reading. I won't continue until they fix it and resubmit it.
--have students take expert samples of writing and compare them in style and mechanics. Then come up with some ideas for how it shows the marks of expert writing and students can apply those lessons to their own writing. We all know that reading more is powerful, so reading excellent examples can only help.
--have students make presentations/videos of themselves explaining a grammar concept.
--make videos about specific skills, like Showing, Not Telling. Then give students lots of ways to practice with it.
--make videos of the instructions for a writing task and have them watch it at home and come up with questions, then use class time to have them write and edit/revise.
--have students make videos editing/revising their own writing, or use voice-thread for them to make comments for each other.
--use Notability to annotate student work and help them revise/give comments
--use the writer's workshop model (Troy Cockrum is the flipped guru on this one - look him up for more info)
--leverage the power of Twitter and Facebook when students are finishing writing outside of the class. Although I believe in letting students compose in class, often students just wanted more time than we had available. So I had them tweet questions to me, and helped them immediately when they got stuck
--connect with other classes, either in your school, your community, or outside of the country. Have students interact with each other and critique the writing of other students. Have them publish blogs together, or compile a digital anthology. The possibilities are endless!
Note: This is where I have fewest answers. I'd love to hear from people who have good ideas in this area, because it's the hardest one to figure out. What I DO NOT see as flipped instruction is when teachers have students read at home and discuss in class. That's just traditional teaching. It can be good, but I really don't see it as flipping.
--make a video where you annotate one page of the reading to look for a particular element (like foreshadowing). Then either have them read or (better yet) have them listen to YOU read on video for a few more pages. Then have students find more examples on their own in that last section and bring them to class.
--use videos of yourself reading in class while simultaneously having live discussions on Edmodo, Today's Meet, or Cover It Live. Focus on asking/answering questions and having students google for definitions, historical information, etc.
--model reading skills on video and have students apply that in their own section of reading.
--do a video with another English or History teacher where you discuss a text or big idea. You can use the teacher/student dynamic that Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams often adopt, or just have a roundtable-style discussion (note: if this interests you, contact me. It's in the works with a collection of ELA/SS teachers through Twitter)
--have students blog about their reading and/or respond to other blogs
--preview the reading on video, either historically, with vocabulary/major concepts, or thematically. It can help build excitement for class and allow students to make connections with the text.
--have students make their own videos or voice threads of their thoughts on the reading, and then respond to other students' videos/VTs.
--have students rewrite scenes as Twitter/Facebook dialogues, either by themselves or with a partner
--use videos that thematically connect with the reading, and engage the students using live response (Twitter, Today's Meet, etc.)
So even though there is no How-To binder, there are TONS of options for how to flip English.
The way you know you've flipped is:
--your students are excited about learning, and their curiosity drives the learning, and possibly even the content
--you use technology when/where appropriate to do direct instruction
--you change how you structure class time so that students can work with the expert (the teacher) in the room
--you help students see real-world connections between what you're doing in class and what they're doing outside of class, and what they will need for their future
--you find that you know your students better because of the increased amount of meaningful contact you have with each student
I'm sure there are more, but that's my list. It is only my opinion, so take it for what it's worth. :-)
So where and how do you start?
Here are some questions that have helped me think through what flipped English is in my classroom:
1. What skills do your students need? (ideally, base this on the common core)
2. How can you tell that they've mastered those skills?
3. What tools do they need from you?
4. What should they be figuring out on their own? What are they capable of figuring out on their own RIGHT NOW? How can you encourage independence in students?
5. Which skills can be taught via video? Which ones can't/shouldn't be taught on video?
6. What classroom activities can help reinforce the skills you can teach on video?
7. How can you bring inquiry and project-based-learning into your class?
8. What technology is available to you, and what is available to your students?
9. What technology is comfortable to you, and what is comfortable to your students? How will you bridge that gap?
10. How much time do you spend talking to the whole class? How can you reduce that? How can you increase the time spent talking to your students individually?
11. How can I build a culture where revision is not encouraged, but accepted? How can I shift students' focus away from points/grades and towards pursuing learning?
When you honestly answer those questions, you can come to an understanding of how YOU can flip English.
Okay. So that's it for now. I hope to hear more ideas from all of you, because this is nowhere near an exhaustive list. As we move towards an understanding of the role English plays in the Flipped Classroom movement, I know the definition I offer will shift and change, just like the technology we utilise in class.
As promised earlier in the post, here are my most recent ShowMe videos. I'm not saying they are perfect, but they are MUCH better than what I was producing early on.
I just had my first "first day of school" idea.
Now, it's slightly stolen from Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, but what isn't in my classroom these days? In their excellent plenary session at the recent Flipped Conference in Chicago (henceforth FlipCon12) they ended with this:
A blank slide.
The point? In the flipped model, no one has the answers. It's about making our classrooms student-centred and inquiry driven. It's about using technology to do what we couldn't do before - get customised content to our students, no matter where they are. It's about collaboration - regardless of boundaries...California, Canada, Australia, South Africa, rural, urban, suburban, rich, poor, middle-class, whatever, wherever, whenever. It's about engaging our students' curiosity, or reigniting what curiosity traditional education has beaten out of them.
Think for a minute what it's like to be a teenager entering high school in today's educational climate. Right now, the students about to be freshmen were in first grade when I started my career. So that means that their ENTIRE LIFE has been in the wake of high-stakes testing, NCLB "accountability," textbooks, pacing guides, direct instruction, double-math/double-english/no science or history, rote learning. Little kids ask more questions than even the most patient parent can answer. Yet ask a high schooler to come up with a question, and most of them will write "idk" (I don't know, for those who don't codeswitch into teenager).
What I learned in credential school (and spent most of my career propagating) was that there was an ideal lesson structure, and that needed to start and end with assessment. The structure, although not inherently evil, is rigid: diagnose, direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice, assessment, reteach, reassess. That's it. Rarely does that include any inquiry, projects, creativity, or most importantly, release of responsibility for content. It is a highly teacher-centred model. And you know what? I'm pretty freaking good at it. I can get my students to comprehend something and show that knowledge on a test.
But that is no longer good enough. For my students, or for me.
When I started flipping in January, I had no idea that my model would change so much. I am firmly in the "classroom community" camp of classroom management. I build relationships with my students, show interest in them as people, and try to teach them to get along with me and other students. But when it came to the work, I used highly structured lessons and activities, with opportunity for student interaction, but on my terms. There were few group or partner activities of substance. I talked. A lot. Like, to the point that I regularly lose my voice several times during the year...but I keep talking anyway, because class doesn't work without me in the middle of it.
So the flip started as a way of getting some of my lectures on video, and using class time to practice those skills - etymology, grammar, writing, etc. - albiet still in a very structured, teacher-centred way.
But then two things happened simultaneously: I got invited to be on a Twitter advisory panel for KQED's Do Now curriculum, and I found Edmodo. So between encouragement from Edmodo teachers who are on Twitter (like @Mr_Driscoll and @CrystalKirch) and the impending advisory panel, I figured that I needed to get more involved in my Twitter account. To be honest, I was in the "I don't get this Twitter thing, and I'm pretty sure it's stupid...who wants to know what I ate for breakfast or where I am currently waiting in line?!?!" camp, and swore that I'd never get on Twitter...until our AWESOME district Ed Tech coordinator, Jessica Lucio (@jessietechie) showed us some educational uses of Twitter. So I created an account, and didn't use it at all for about six weeks.
But so many people were talking about the #flipclass chat on Monday nights that I decided it was time to figure Twitter out.
That was when I realised that I was doing it all wrong. One of the first #flipclass chats was about how to make our students more accountable for learning. I started to realise that even though I was technically "flipped" I hadn't done the most important thing: flipping the responsibility for learning happening from me to my students.
So I stopped talking so much. I stopped answering their questions immediately, and even stopped presenting myself as having the answers to everything (as hard as I find that!). I started to try and engage their natural curiosity that had been beaten out of them for so many years of "traditional" education.
I only got one quarter to flip my students. But it was enough for most. Now the real challenge became apparent: if I started when they walked in my classroom for the first time, how long would it take to "de-program" them?
So I ran an experiment on curiosity. I asked my June School students to write a question each day as part of their exit ticket. For the first week, I got a few questions about assignments or grades (How do I do x assignment? What does y mean? What can I do to raise my grade?), a few random questions (Do you teach 11th grade? How does flex time work? How old are you? When is summer school over?), and a few genuinely interesting questions that were about the content of the course, amoung them:
--Why did Hitler hate the Jews?
--Were women treated differently during the Holocaust?
--Why did Otto Frank survive, when no one else from the Secret Annexe did?
--Why do we need to know how to research information?
--How can I make my writing more showing and less telling?
Those questions make me excited to be their teacher. The first three became options for their research inquiry (which is part of their final assignments/exams for the term). Even though the work is sequential, I had a few students ask to skip forward so they could start that one right away. How cool is that?!
Okay, when I started writing this it was to share my idea for the first day of school at my new high school.
I'm going to give them a blank piece of paper.
Okay, hear me out. I am not going to give them my syllabus. I'm not going to talk too much. I'm going to ask them to fill the page - one side with information about themselves. Whatever they think is relevant and important for me to know. The other side I'm asking them to fill with questions. It doesn't matter what questions they come up with - any question on any topic. They can work with someone else - hell, they can steal someone else's question if they want. The only rule is that they genuinely have to be interested in finding the answer.
Now, of course I'm not going 100% constructivist and refusing to give them any information. I'll have to do the whole dog-and-pony show explaining the flip, both to students and parents. And I'll have rules, obviously. But if my entire philosophy is about student-centred education and the flipped model, can I really spend the first few days lecturing at them and telling them about me?
I'd like to hear from some of you about how you start the year in an inquiry/PBL/student-centred/flipped class. Any brilliant ideas? I'm sure my idea isn't revolutionary, and it may not even be a good idea. Feel free to tell me that.
Parts of this post were also inspired by the brilliant Shelley Wright, and the equally brilliant Mumford and Sons (from whom I stole the title of this post). Thanks to both for their inspiration.
David Fouch (@davidfouch) on Twitter gave me an idea! What if a ton of us using #flipclass had out students do this, and we compiled them? We could Wordle them, have students make videos, blog...and then interact with other classes! Interested? Find me on Twitter or comment here!
I also see the irony in using a mostly-paperless classroom using a piece of paper on the first day. -__-
This week was the half-way point for June School. After 2:10 today, there are only four days left. And a lot of my students have earned enough minutes to finish a few days/hours early. That's worked out really well, and students seemed to really feel a sense of ownership when they could choose when to do their time. They really wanted me to come in at 6:30 every day, and there were always a few who wanted to stay until 3:30 (usually different kids...the most time any student completed in one day was a little over 9 hours...with no breaks. Crazy). Because of early starts and the intensity of #flipcon I'm struggling a little bit with tiredness, and residual sadness at leaving a job I love and in which I have invested so much.
Part of the craziness of FlipCon12 was that I spent one day teaching and doing virtual attendance. Here's what it looked like:
Twitter+Flipcon Streaming+Posting the DOL=epic #multitasking. Notice that my RSS reading (I always read my Google Reader feed with my kids each day) was an AskMetafilter (my other internet obsession) forum question about using a skin graft as a wedding ring (i.e. each person has skin taken from the ring finger and grafted onto their spouse's ring finger). Never a dull moment in my RSS feed.
Here I'm also monitoring their Edmodo assignments.
Leo thought it was funny to post that he was bored. He wouldn't have been if he had been watching Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann's plenary session.
And here you can see that the kids are still turning in work, even while I was at FlipCon.
I BROKE THE TWITTERZ! :-)
I'll post my thoughts on Bergmann/Sams' Plenary and the sessions I attended later.
Anyway, we're at the point in the Skills assignments that they are planning or working on their finals.
Here is what I gave them for their finals:
Vocab/Speaking Final: Research this question and prepare a presentation to teach your chosen strategy to other students: "What strategies can you use to help you understand the meaning of words you don't know?"
Research Skills/Essay Final: Research one of the questions we developed together (about the Holocaust) and write up what you found into a research essay.
Show Not Tell/Creative Writing/Grammar Final: (recycled from Resilience Project) Write an original short story with the theme of resilience. Must use show-not-tell language and proper grammar/conventions.
Theme/Reading Final: Read a section of Rena's Promise, write an objective summary, and find evidence of a theme. Write a one paragraph objective summary, then write a claim paragraph defending your choice of theme with evidence from the text.
Grammar Final: Get a DOL perfect.
Those are all the major skills in my summer school class, so I feel pretty good about the amount and quality of work they are producing. And giving them a week to work on the finals (or for some of them, two days...since they've banked so many minutes so far) feels about right.
Other than the research essay, I've been pretty flexible with how they can show me mastery (i.e. what the final product is). I'll post some of the results when they finish.
Looking forward to the weekend, but more than that, I'm looking forward to having a Google+ hangout with fellow English-flipper Troy Cockrum (Twitter: @tcockrum) tomorrow morning. He's so much farther down the garden path than I am that I'm excited to see what I can learn from him.
Well, week one is over. And I have so many thoughts to sort. I mean, I've had about 18 hours of class time since I last posted. Crazy.
To organise this a little bit, I decided to put it in sections with bold titles. Feel free to skip around - this is not really a linear post because of how much I have to write about!
Here's the big lesson I learned this week: When you give students some authentic responsibility, they become more responsible. I've put the responsibility on them for figuring out how to earn their credit hours (for more information see the Flex Time section). Not only is it teaching them the real-world skill of managing their own attendance with a time-card system, but it gives them a freedom they've never had before.
The coordinator for the program walked in and noticed how many "trouble kids" I had in my room and how engaged they were, how exciting the atmosphere was, and how HAPPY the kids seemed. I had three of "those" trouble kids playing a grammar game on ChompChomp today, and they actually played three more games than I required (with the sound turned up to accompany their own sound effects of pleasure when they got their prizes for right answers). They thought they would get in trouble for "doing too many games" so they kept pretending they "accidentally started it over" because they were A) having so much fun, and B) learning a lot. That moment was pretty freaking cool.
It's also been cool to see older students respond to some of the mainstays of my FlipClass. We used Today's Meet for live response while we watched Anne Frank: The Whole Story (on YouTube! all of it! three and a half hours!). They loved being able to ask questions. And with firm rules up-front (I've learned the necessity of that), they did really well with it. Their questions were awesome. Their engagement was awesome. They still felt the power of the film while slightly distracted. And again, their questions often showed how wide the holes in their understanding really were. We discussed history, vocabulary, plot, philosophy, pretty much everything. It scares me to think how much they don't understand if we don't do things this way. And it's fun to see what's in the kids' heads while we watch something.
Self-Paced Flipped Mastery Model
This program is designed to be credit recovery, based on the needs of the students. Instead of doing busy-work, they are doing skill building assignments with specific feedback for where they need improvement. I've divided all the assignments for this first unit (focusing on diagnosing and building specific skills) into two different tracks: Skill Track and Daily Work Track.
The DW track is built on four areas:
1. grammar (see the DOL/grammar section for more details)
2. silent reading (see the RSS as SSR section for more details)
3. effective research techniques (we use A Google A Day...yeah, just see the Google a Day section...)
4. checks for understanding (daily exit tickets through Edmodo)
Then there is the skill track. I went through the Common Core Standards for California and identified some important skills they needed to master:
1. Choose evidence from a text and use it in analysis
2. Determine a theme/central idea and analyse it
3. Discuss how the author uses techniques and what effect it creates
4. Determine meaning of new words through various techniques
5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language and the nuance/complexity of a text
6. Write an objective summary of a text
7. Use descriptive, sensory, show-not-tell language in writing
8. Explain a concept in writing in a clear and effective way
9. Persuade an audience in an appropriate way using claim/counterclaims
10. Speak in a variety of settings in genres/purposes appropriate to the setting
So I built assignments that cover each of those main skills. The first assignments assessed, then built on those skills. I made videos where appropriate, and used sections of Rena's Promise, a memoir from a Holocaust survivor. Here are some of the assignments and what they assessed:
1. Read this section of Rena's Promise, write an objective summary, and find three quotes to fit a theme.
2. Find a pattern in the text and move the black circles over every word in that pattern. Then explain how the pattern shapes or affects the text.
3. Take this section of Rena's Promise and re-write it from a different perspective using show not tell language.
4. Research what "resilience" means and find three people who show resilience in some way. Write it up into an essay in a standard expository format.
Now, while students do the daily work all at the same time, they work on the skill assignments at their own pace. As long as they complete a certain set of skills by the end and can show mastery of those skills, they pass. For the kids who work at a slower pace, the mantra I keep giving them is "Quality over speed or quantity." It's amazing how much better their work got once they realised that they didn't need to rush to finish it at the pace their classmates were going. So some kids are on S3, and some are on S13. It's pretty cool too, because the kids who have higher skills get to do it on their own, then help their friends when they get to that same assignment.
It's working out really well so far. It also allows me to quickly identify the students who really need my help to build their skills, and which students just need practice on their own.
I know someone will ask about grading, so this is the best answer I can give: the daily assignments are worth less than the skill assignments. I only grade completed skill assignments so the ones they don't get to don't even factor into their final grades. I will give them mastery finals for whatever skills they have worked on and that will determine a larger part of their grade than the skill assignments or daily assignments. So it's points-based, but not entirely points-driven.
Grammar & DOL
Looking at the DOLs I used this past year, I realised that there were a few problems with it. I've been using the Caught'yas that have Shakespeare plays as the source of the daily sentence corrections. I've written about it in previous posts already, so I won't rehash it all here.
But the problems I noticed were:
1. students didn't get targeted help in their weak areas
2. students lost track of the story when it was so spread out
3. we didn't apply it to their writing right away, so it wasn't quite as effective
4. some students said (in their final course reflection) that they would just wait until we went over it together and then submit it on Edmodo so they "didn't have to try that hard"
5. it was a lot of the same with the capitals, punctuation, etc. with not enough emphasis on more difficult skills (who vs. whom, numbers, etc.)
So I made some changes. Here's what we're doing:
On Monday, we're watching a short clip of the part of the play covered that week. Most are available on YouTube. After that, I have them do the DOL on their own and submit it.
On Tuesday, they check their DOL from Monday, where I've posted a comment with whatever skill I think they most need to work on. Then they have a few minutes to go play a grammar game based on that skill and post the results on Edmodo in Tuesday's grammar activity. After that, we either correct Monday's DOL together or I give them a new one. If I give them a new one, I have them do it on their own first and submit it. Then they click "Resubmit this assignment" and we do it together.
I use Word to revise the DOL on the overhead, and I've started using "Track Changes" to make it easier for students to follow, due to my student teacher's excellent suggestion (thanks Samantha!). The kids correct it in Edmodo and make sure to take all the notes before they submit it again. That way, I can see how they did on their own, then keep consistent with the Caught'ya method of making all the corrections together. It's working pretty well.
On Wednesday, we do the same thing as Tuesday, only they submit the DOL on their own, then I give them an immediate grammar game to work on before we go over it together.
The final DOL of the week is on their own to see what they've learned. I only assess them on what they've worked on in their grammar games that week. I think I might add some questions about the plot from the week's DOLs to assess if they're following the story.
Here is a screen shot of what it looks like (the first one is the one the student did on her own, and the second is the one with our notes/corrections together):
A Google A Day
In our #flipclass chat a few weeks ago, we talked about teaching students tech skills, but particularly research skills. I was pretty intimidated by this, because I've never taught kids how to Google. I just assumed they knew how...until I saw them do it.
Yeah, they need help. Desperately. That's were Google a Day comes in. Every day they get a new question that requires careful googling to find the answer. I will post a tip each day (explaining how to use phrases in quotation marks, using google as a calculator, dictionary, or translater, using +/- in searches, etc.) and then they play. Sadly, the school network blocks Google+ so kids just have to play the "regular" game and write down their time and their answer.
The kids really enjoy it and I've seen them use some of the advanced search tools I've taught them already.
I'm still working on the next steps for these skills. If you have ideas or lessons, let me know!
RSS vs. SSR
I stole the idea of using RSS feeds for SSR from The Tech Classroom (the blogger is another English flipper...a rare breed of English teacher!) She wrote about the idea a few months ago, and I thought it wouldn't work for my kids. Until I figured out that we could use Google Reader instead of an app (Pulse) for kids without smartphones (because strangely, unlike my regular-year classes, my students right now don't all have smartphones).
Setting up the Google Reader was easier than I expected. I set two requirements:
1. They needed at least one news site (I recommended BBCNews or CNN)
2. They needed at least one science or technology site (I recommended Wired, National Geographic, or KQED's science/technology pages)
No one pushed back at all to those requirements. And just to make sure they got how to do it, I left my RSS feed on the screen so they could see how I used it during reading time. I, of course, added I Can Has Cheezeburger? to mine, and when I heard them laughing a little, coinciding with when my scrolling revealed a new LOLCat, I reminded them that they could add anything they wanted to their feeds.
They LOVE RSS time. It was by far the biggest vote getter in the week one survey question "What is your favourite daily activity from class?" Here are some of their responses:
"rss is my favorite because we get to have a quiet time to read what we want"
"Rss is my favorite because I usually read news and updates on what is going on today, or at the moment in our society and i feel well informed."
"RSS because I like to read about what's going on in the world"
"I like RSS because I actually read and it was things that I WANTED TO READ not what someone told me to read. And I was able to read things I found interesting."
and my favourite response:
"RSS is the best because I get to see what kind of new news is going on the world...like the article I read today on Pulse that Titan might have life."
How cool is that? On top of loving RSS, they were so excited about what they had read six hours before that they had to put it in their answer! Love it.
Need more proof that they love it? Here's a video I took yesterday during RSS time.
When I started writing this post, the school day was "over," but I still had one student working long after the bell announced the end of the week at 2:10. What could have possessed a 17 year old boy to stay an hour and a half after summer school was over for the week to read a few articles and write summaries of them? It was the flex time system I talked about a little in my last post.
Want to see the best visual proof you can get for the efficacy of using Flex Time? School starts at 8:20. These videos tell a pretty amazing story.
The details of the Flex Time system:
1. When students come in, I record their time on a Google Doc. I also record when they go to lunch, come back from lunch, and leave for the day.
2. My IWE adds up the minutes they've earned every day, and I pass those along by posting a list on Edmodo twice a week. In the Exit Tickets they do on those days, I ask them to tell me their plan so I know they're thinking about it.
3. If they want to come in early or stay late, I ask them to request that a day in advance so I can plan for it. The really crazy part is that there are always five or six kids who are standing outside my room waiting for me when I get there at 7:30. We "start" at 8:20.
4. If they decide to work through their breaks or lunch, they have to be on-task, just as they would be normally. If it veers into socialising, I give them one warning, and then move them away from each other. I've only had to move one student on one day. The next day, he moved back and was fine.
5. They get two 10-minute breaks during the day. If they don't take them, they can "bank" the minutes. It's so awesome for this main reason: I don't have to write passes. If they need to use the restroom, get water, take a call, change clothes, get some food, or whatever, they just tell me that they're taking their break. Because they are self-paced, they can choose the time that works best for them in their workflow. And honestly, only about half of my students have ever taken even a single break this week.
6. When they've earned their credit hours, they are done with the course. The only caveat is that they have to have mastered their final assessments before they are done. I have kids who have banked a full day's worth of minutes already because they have soccer practice, a doctor's appointment, or a family obligation at some point this summer and they're already planning for it.
Still reading? I think that's it. If you have questions, let me know! Thanks for reading. It's crazy that even though I am properly exhausted (for issues unrelated to teaching or school), I am still super excited about teaching. And I can't WAIT to get back to work in August.
The even better news is that my current school offered me all the sections of Green English 11 there are. That means that I'd get to keep my students from this past year. I won't have to teach them how to do Flipped Class...they already know. They have Edmodo. They have Twitter. They get me. They like me. I like them.
Pretty freaking awesome. This could take flipping to the next level for me. It's new content for me, but I'll also have an English 10 so I can perfect that curriculum over another year.
There is so much to be excited about....including the fact that my school is paying for my virtual registration for FlipCon12, AND paying me to "attend" with a few of my favourite colleagues. And they're buying us copies of Flip Your Class too.
School just doesn't get much better than that.
Well, day one is over. I learned a lot about Flipped Classrooms today. Here are a few:
1. Kids take to the flip much more easily when you start with it.
2. Teaching tech skills up front make a huge difference.
3. True self-pacing is really cool. Some kids finished three assignments, some finished seven.
4. In-class feedback and giving differentiated lessons ad hoc is really fun, and caused a lot of important skill building
5. I didn't plan enough for my top students. And I didn't plan for how low my low students are.
6. I really prefer the Flipped Classroom model to traditional.
7. Instead of counting tardies/absences, I gave them a simple system: you need 20 hours each week. When you've reached 20 hours, so long as you've worked consistently and followed my directions, you're done. It was amazing how much more responsible they became when they had control.
8. Self-pacing makes for far fewer complaints than usual in summer school.
I decided to make the theme of summer school Resilience, to carry through the project we were doing at the end of the year. So the first unit will be all of us doing all the assignments. I'm also aiming towards the common core standards here - everything we do is aligned with the CCS, but also with the assessments that are coming down the pipe. So here are the first assignments in the skill sequence (there were other assignments about mechanics, grammar, and getting to know them):
1. Essay on resilience including research on people who show resilient (Write to examine and convey complex ideas through selection, organisation and analysis of content; conduct short research project to answer a question or solve a problem)
2. Reading on resilience (Determine central idea of a text and analyse its development over the course of the text)
3. Reading from Holocaust survivor's narrative (Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyse how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose)
4. Re-writing that narrative from another perspective (Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences)
5. Revising narrative after getting feedback (Use technology to produce, publish, and update writing products)
Now I need to figure out what to do next. :-) With those skills in focus, I think I know the general direction at least.
I've been thinking a lot about moving towards a system of mastery, rather than just a typical flipped model. What I keep seeing is that some students are falling behind and aren't mastering one skill by the time we're ready to move on. For some of them, it's missing the instruction (be it on the video or the reading we do in class) because of absences. For some, it's simply lack of effort/desire to work. For some, they are genuinely so low-skilled that they struggle no matter what the task is. Regardless of the reason, letting any student fail is unacceptable to me on an ethical level. I know that some kids actively try to fail, but I don't want to have to question whether I did enough to help.
With that thought in mind (since those students are my target audience for this), I am teaching a credit recovery summer school that will be entirely built on a flipped mastery model. I will have students from all four grades (9th-12th) in the same room for five hours a day. We can't use any of the books that are normally taught in the regular year, so we're confined to things we can get digitally for free (did you know that there are lots of Kindle editions of classic books that you can download for free?!) or books that are no longer taught (Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird are two, so that's cool).
I've asked my department for help deciding what skills need to be mastered to get a student ready to enter the next grade up, so that should help. But it seems a little overwhelming right now to come up with tasks in reading, writing, conventions, and speaking for four grade levels in a mastery-based model. I asked for 10 hours of planning time, and it looks like I'm going to need that and then some.
Have any of you done something like this? Helpful tips/comments? Bueller?
A completely incomplete record of three years spent flipping my high school English classes with my cross-country collaborative partner, Andrew Thomasson. But after a decade in high school, I made the switch to a new gig: flipping English and History for 6th graders in Tiburon, CA.
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