Flipping Out for Flipped PD!

As Brady Venables said in the #IMMOOC Google Hangout, “leaders go first.” Just as learners enter our classrooms daily with an assortment of learning styles/needs/interests, our teachers enter PD the same way. It is important to recognize one size DOES NOT fit all when it comes to all learning, including professional learning.

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one-size-fits-all

As Brady Venables said in the #IMMOOC Google Hangout, “leaders go first.” Just as learners enter our classrooms daily with an assortment of learning styles/needs/interests, our teachers enter PD the same way.  It is important to recognize one size DOES NOT fit all when it comes to all learning, including professional learning. Yesterday, I flipped our first edtech PD. Inspired by many educators who are pushing the envelope and asking teachers to do the same with regard to innovative pedagogical models, I’ve committed to flipping each professional development model to maximize collegial collaboration, afford teachers more opportunities to think critically and reflect on their classroom practice, and to meet my learners (teachers) where they are, engaging their needs and interests individually.

Admittedly, I’ve been a proponent of flipped learning for more than five years, integrating it into my teaching and presenting nationally on the topic.  I think it’s important as a teacher and educational leader to model best practices for integrating technology and innovative pedagogy.

I recorded a video that combined about half of Eric Sheninger’s TED Talk called “Schools That Work For Kids” with the highlights of mobile learning research. I thought it was important that teachers understand that two things:

  1. Research supports technology integration in PK-12 environments
  2. Pedagogy must come first rather than sprinkling a layer of technology into an otherwise traditional, teacher-centered lesson.

Too often, I believe, teachers feel burdened by the need to integrate technology for the purposes of checking off that box in their lesson or an administrative observation. This type of technology use leads to using technology to accomplish low-level or more traditional tasks, like note-taking. This is not what our teachers want, and this is not what our students need! As Mr. Sheninger says so eloquently, “pedagogy first, technology second (if appropriate).”

With every faculty member (or most) entering the PD with a baseline knowledge of what the research says and hearing from a leader who has been integrating technology for almost a decade, we were able to roll up our sleeves to engage in meaningful discussions surrounding technology integration at our school.

The discussion centered around 3 questions or prompts:

  1. What is the goal for integrating technology into the curriculum?
  2. What does mLearning look like in your class?
  3. What goal(s) can your department set for integrating technology this year?

Although it was the end of a rainy day, I was impressed with the engagement and candor of the faculty when engaging in these discussions within their departments.  Leaving the professional development, I know that each teacher was given a chance to be heard within their department, whether brand new or a seasoned veteran, and that each department now has set a minimum of one department-specific edtech goal to strive for this school year.

Embarking on this flipped PD journey, I am holding true to several tenets:

  • Leaders must go first: In any classroom, we expect teachers to model for students.  Likewise, leaders must model for faculty, thus breaking down any impediments to innovation.
  • Provide time for the Flip: I try to send the flipped video before the weekend prior to the PD along with the goal of the upcoming PD.  This advanced notice gives teachers time to watch the video, while understanding the purpose and importance of previewing the material.  It’s important teachers understand what they should ‘get out’ of the professional learning time.
  • Flip for collegial collaboration: Don’t just send a video for the sake of sending a video! Understand that by removing the presenter-centric portion from the PD, the facilitators role changes to becoming a ‘guide on the side.’ That is the true reason for flipping-it gives teachers meaningful opportunities to engage in conversations that wouldn’t otherwise take place.

kWL-We’re missing the “W!” What do the students want to know? And, how do they want to “know” it?

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The coolest thing happened today.

Following my 8th grade block of social studies, students left arguing whether or not they should include Mao Zedong as a major person in the “birth of communism, China or Korean War” section of their virtual museum.  Less specifically, students left my class in an argument which reflected not only an interest in the lesson and activity but also a deep understanding of the content.  Isn’t that what we want our students to do?

With my 8th graders, most of whom I have taught for multiple years, I am experimenting with new pedagogical approaches to find the balance between what works best for them as learners and what works best for me as the “teacher.”   

For our Spring-long unit on the Cold War, I have developed a Google Site in which I add resources as we cover the different aspects of the war.  In using the site to house the resources, and their major assessment, I hope to model what I would like from them.  I have asked students to form groups, and to create a “virtual museum” which showcases their knowledge as they gain knowledge through our Cold War unit.  

From there, I left students on their own.

After many questions of “what font should the museum be written in?” and “what is the criteria you will use to evaluate our museums?”, they caught on.  I haven’t given students parameters for creating their museums, nor have I given them a rubric.  (I guess that is now in writing!)  My 8th graders, instead, have created their rubric categories.  They have developed a list of appropriate ways to demonstrate their learning.  They are in control.

While uncomfortable at first, I realized this approach is what they have been screaming out for.  Since shifting my instructional approach to more open lessons, I have witnessed lower instances of disruption, fewer students using the restroom, more students asking insightful questions and deeper learning of the content standards.  

In addition to covering the material stated in the standards, I am able to more easily incorporate ISTE NETS standards and CCSS.  Students love to use technology.  Students love to argue.  Students love to set their own learning goals.  Students love to collaborate and innovate.  Students love to think critically.  Students love to communicate in new ways.  Students love to create.

So, why don’t we let them?

Spotlight: VoiceThread

This summer, I was turned on to the webtool VoiceThread through a class I took on Multimodality.  Though I had heard of the tool before, I was quick to dismiss it for lack of understanding its capability.

As the folks at VoiceThread say, it allows you to have “conversations in the cloud.”  Capitalizing on cloud-based software, designers of the tool are filling a need for people who would like to comment (and save the comments) online.  Once I found that not only was VoiceThread literally as easy as 1-2-3 but there was indeed “an app for that,” I was hooked.

With an increase focus on flipping the classroom, I have chosen to investigate this tool due to its ease of use, iOS device friendliness and cloud storage.  Check out my journey…

As you can see, VoiceThread has major implications for:

Recently, the impact of VoiceThread was fully felt when my 7th grade social studies class began collaborating with the 3rd grade class for a unit on debating.  After watching a lively debate in my 7th grade class, 3rd graders debated the answer to which is more important: rights and responsibilities?  Due to scheduling conflicts, my 7th graders were unable to watch the 3rd grade debate live.  Quickly thinking, the 3rd grade teacher recorded the debate to a flash drive.  However, this meant that my students weren’t able to comment…in comes VoiceThread…

I uploaded the video to VoiceThread and my students recorded comments to each team there.  The third grade teacher is planning to play these comments for her students in the upcoming days.

Stories like these could occur in any setting, whether in education or not, where time is a precious commodity.  With the help of VoiceThread, educators and professionals alike can move their conversations to the cloud…and store them for future reference!

Dive in!

Fair Use and Copyright in Education

Is it fair to use copyrighted material for educational purposes?

The short answer is it depends.  It depends on the context and situation for which the material will be used.  This, by its very nature, lends itself to more grey areas than 50 Shades of Grey.

Did you know copyright laws were developed to “promote creativity, innovation and the spread of knowledge?”, according to U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

As a social studies teacher, I am often gathering resources from a variety of places for both classroom and professional development purposes with little time to pause to check for copyright licensing.  To avoid infringing a work’s copyright, I have developed a simple mantra guiding my use of others’ material, ‘Give credit where credit is due.’  However, its often not so simple…

A journey through the fair use/copyright jungle.

In preparation for the 2012-13 school year professional development days, I was asked to create and lead a PD opportunity on Flipping the Classroom, an emerging best practice in education.  The extent of my brushes with flipping have come from YouTube, Twitter and several blogs and listservs.  All of these resources had been compiled, created or curated by others.  In putting together my presentation, I decided to flip the PD through the use of VoiceThread which would house all of resources.  In doing so, I decided I would show a 3-4 minute clip from TechChef4u’s blog about flipping, a resource I used to gain my knowledge on the subject matter.  Storing this on the VoiceThread meant I had to screencast it and upload the .mov file as a video I “created.”

This experience caused me to wonder if I had been violating copyright or following fair use practices in capturing the video clip this way.  In the presentation, I decided it’s best to give credit by showing where the video (and others like it) had come from originally, the TechChef4u blog.

Though still unsure if my use of the video falls into the fair use and copyright laws, I have been able to discern it most likely doesn’t by examining Cornell University’s Fair Use Checklist.  My VoiceThread was not only educational, it was made for an entirely new purpose of professional development specific to my faculty.  Also, it uses only a small quantity of material where I am not the creator and that material is not central to the work.  Lastly, it was made for one-time, specific professional development distributed to a very limited number of faculty at my school.  Finally, according to the Center for Social Media’s Code for Best Practices of Use of Online Video, my use of the clip was part of the assembly of a new work (VoiceThread) and for the purpose of launching a discussion of how best to implement the pedagogy.  Using these two sources as a guide, I have concluded my use of the video clip was okay as it followed many parts of the fair use policy.

How about when guiding students’ creation?

As the technology use increases exponentially in my classroom and many others, I have come to use a few tools in order to be more compliant with fair use and copyrighting.

  1. Always credit the original source.  Include a link back to the original work if possible.
  2. When using media, try to use works with Creative Commons Licensing.  Use the Creative Commons Search when looking for picture, video and audio files.
  3. Only use small amounts of others’ work to enhance your own thoughts/ideas.

In my quest to discern the extent to which copyright and fair use guidelines apply to my own practice, I have come to three conclusions:

  • Though copyright law is aimed at promoting an exchange of ideas, it is in place to protect authors’ works.
  • When using unoriginal material for education purposes, it is best to adhere to the guidelines of fair use as much as possible.
  • In a world where there are constant productions and reproductions, it is important for educators to not only understand these principles but to also model and teach their students to follow the guidelines.

 

How have copyright and fair use affected your teaching and learning?

 

Lifelong Learning in the 21st Century

A lot of buzz surrounds the need for teachers to be lifelong learners, consistently seeking to better their craft.  Though, as we know, “there are only so many hours in the day.”  Or, so the excuse goes.  With the rise of the Maker Movement, MOOCs and the ever-increasing popularity of using social media for professional development, the excuses diminish and the need to stay up with best practices increases.  As a self-prescribed progressive educator, it is time to put my money where my social mouth is (here!)…

DIY Learning: The Flipped Classroom

Teaching in a world where students are inundated with technology forces my hand so-to-speak so that I am able to use current technology as a tool to boost student engagement, achievement and learning.  I decided that this year was going to be my year to implement “the Flipped Classroom” approach in my middle school social studies classes.  Just one problem, I have never attended a professional development geared specifically toward Flipping…

 

After reading about the use of social media for PD on Scott McLeoud’s blog, I decided that would be one venue with which to begin my quest to learn how to flip my classes.  Naturally, if given an unlimited amount of time, I would attend a few conferences and webinars to learn the latest and most effective flipping strategies.  However, I’m in education, the time is now.

 

 

If given one year to learn to flip…

  • attend the PAIS conference on the Flipped Classroom
  • Follow-up with the presenter(s) and fellow educ
  • ators attending to seek out continued conversations
  • attend EduCon to understand how its being implemented “just up the road” in Philadelphia
  • attend ISTE 2013 to specifically seek out workshops geared toward this approach.
  • Enroll in a MOOC geared toward Flipping
  • Begin now creating “flipped” videos and presentations in preparation for implementation in the 2013-14 school year.

If given one week to learn to flip…

  • Google Search “Flipping the Classroom”…read top 10 results to determine which agencies, people and blogs to connect with.
  • Search Twitter for the hashtag #flipclass and setup a Twitterfall to link in to the current conversation
  • After reading some articles, blogs andthe like, I would hope to have a decent understanding of who is flipping and advocating for this approach.  I would connect with these groups and people on both Twitter and Google+
  • Once connected, setup a Google Hangout (and record it!) with a few people who are currently flipping around the country
  • Watch several videos from the Youtube results
  • Toward the tail end of the week, I would choose the class and lesson which I’d like to flip and begin to design a lesson or a mini-unit (depending on comfort level)

If given ten minutes to learn to flip…

  • Google It!
  • #edtechchat, #edchat and #flipclass
  • Give it a try…documenting and refining as I go.

By implementing social media and MOOCs, I am confident I could learn almost anything necessary to continue my development as a technology-integrated educator.  What would you learn?