Flipping: Start with WHY?!

Why are we doing this? We will accomplish two tasks in this PD.

  1. Prepare for upcoming snow/cyber day
  2. It’s a means to an end

Although there are many reasons educators should flip.  Many have not leapt on the flipping bandwagon.  To increase buy-in with my faculty, I chose to focus on the ‘why’ we were doing this PD NOW.  I felt that in order to first get teachers to understand, and have an open mind toward trying a new approach, they need to at least hear the rationale behind why I chose this particular topic, at this particular time, for this particular group of people.  Secondly, from the outset of my 3 hour professional development on flipped learning, I stated explicitly the goals, just as I would in front of my students:

  • Teachers will understand the flipped learning model and how to implement it in their classes
  • Teachers will discuss ways in which flipped learning has been implemented successfully in other schools
  • Teachers will create a flipped video lesson

Prior to the PD, I asked teachers to watch three short videos to gain a better understanding of what this instructional approach is. At the start of the PD, I explained that because I flipped this PD, I would not be instructing them, but rather I will facilitate their progression through the professional learning modules I have set up.

The 3hr session centered on two parts:

  1. Case Studies: In a team, examine one of the six flipped learning case studies. As a team, create a digital presentation to showcase your case study.
  2. Creating Videos: Choose one of the five tools to flip your lesson.

During each of the hour and a half sessions, teachers worked actively to learn more about flipped learning, with many of the discussions revolving around pedagogy rather than technology.  By the end of the 3hr timeslot, more than three quarters of the teachers had created their own video for use in their class.  And, all teachers understand both why and how to integrate flipped learning into their classes.

Lesson Learned: For professional learning opportunities, always provide purpose and explain how attendees will benefit from devoting their time to this topic

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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.

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.

Engaged teachers, engaged conversations

This year, I embark on a new journey, as Director of Technology and Instruction at Salesianum School.  In this role, I function as part of a team comprised of the Principal, Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and myself.  One of our team’s goals this year is to model best practices in teaching and learning in the digital age, in part by flipping our professional development. Our hope is that teachers will not only enjoy this professional learning model more than its traditional counterpart, but also engage in meaningful conversations throughout the year, creating a culture of collegial collaboration.

For the first attempt-our September faculty meeting-the team decided to use Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.” Admittedly, the week prior, the team kicked around many “intro” videos that would best frame what we want the faculty to take away, but we felt that Robinson’s TED Talk best challenged educators to think differently about their practice.

As we sent the video to our faculty, we provided them three discussion questions to frame the video.  The questions were:

  1. Does the culture of our school foster a spirit of curiosity, individuality, and creativity in our students? What can we do, in the classroom and at a school-wide level, to further encourage growth?
  2. In what ways does our school culture promote and value the teaching profession? What are our successes in creating a positive teaching environment, and in what ways do we need to grow?
  3. How can leadership more effectively promote a climate of possibility throughout the entire school community?

We structured the faculty meetings as conversations, around a conference room table, taking place during the teacher’s open period.  Each group of roughly twelve teachers spent the 45-minute period thinking critically about our practice, both from a classroom level and from a school level.  Throughout each of the six meetings, we heard from close to 60 of the 70+ teachers who attended, about five times the amount of people that would typically speak in a traditional faculty meeting.

Toward the tail end of each session, I presented the results of an edtech survey sent out in August, which provided me feedback into their beliefs and needs regarding edtech professional development.  Through this venue, teachers felt comfortable offering me feedback, asking questions, and reaffirming the structure of edtech PD this year.

Undoubtedly, through the act of flipping our professional development, we were able to engage teachers in meaningful conversations.

 

Twitter as BYOPD

Twitter caught fire over the past year.  Not a day goes by without an educator writing about the importance of staying connected through Twitter.  After reading a few of these articles, I decided to log back in to my previously dormant Twitter account.  You see, I had a Twitter account which I had signed up for about 5 years prior, when Twitter was first getting going.  Like many people, I thought Twitter was useful for following celebrity gossip, trending news and seeing what athletes have to say to each other.  Never once did I consider its effect on my professional growth.

Tomorrow, a colleague (@sskolfield) and I are going to walk a handful of our fellow faculty members through signing up for Twitter.  I am expecting a mixed reaction, but overall am eagerly awaiting this process.

BYOPD: Build Your Own Professional Development

The landscape of professional development has changed.  There is no one-size-fits-all professional development.  Too often in my career have I sat in a professional development wondering how can I use this.  By using Twitter, I can seek out PD opportunities which are most relevant to me.  Simply by following topics and people who are in similar roles in education, I can build my own professional development network.

Being connected on Twitter and monitoring Tweets daily has opened my eyes to how helpful this simple tool can be for educators.  The most common excuse for maintaining the status quo and not seeking out professional development needed to stay effective and competitive as an educator has been there is “no time.”  Through the use of Twitter, educators can capitalize on the time of those they are following.  If you follow a solid group of consistent tweeting educators, you should have a number of articles and other ideas related to your field upon logging on to your Twitter account.

There are many ways in which Twitter can be used for professional development.  Being fairly new to Twitter as a professional, I have only experienced a few consistently.

  1. Make use of the Hashtags: Whether you follow #ipaded, #sschat or #edtech, make use of hashtags relevant to how you’d like to use Twitter.  For myself as a tech-enabled social studies teacher, these have been three of the most relevant hashtags to follow (and post in). Check out the list of educational hashtags.
  1. Post consistently:  The nature of Twitter’s functionality is it is user-generated.   Therefore, to get your name out there and establish your presence.  Tweet frequently.  I’ve started trying to Tweet (or Retweet) daily.  90% of these have been tweeting an article I found inspiring, interesting or thought-provoking in some way.
  2. Establish a core group of people you follow:  There are an ever-growing list of educators tweeting relevant material frequently.  This can be overwhelming.  My advice would be to first decide which topics you’d like to read tweets about and search those hashtags.  Once there, begin following people who post frequently and relevantly (word?).

With Twitter, you can maximize your time and ensure that the professional development is tailor-made for your growth.  Follow me on Twitter @ReichertMC.  Feel free to leave a comment with your Twitter name.

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?

 

The Future of Learning

The future of learning is here…and surprise, it involves students using with technology.

Everyday, more and more K-12 institutions investigate adopting 1:1 technology or BYOD programs in hopes of providing their students with the most cutting edge teaching and learning.  However, with each decision, although generally a minority, there are a loud minority of teachers, families and districts hesitant to give students that power.

Since when is students having access a bad thing?!

After meeting with a majority of families for parent/teacher conferences this week, and hearing 10% or so vocalize their opposition to 0ur school’s one-to-one iPad program in some way, I wonder “are we marketing the technology correctly?”

You see, it isn’t about iPads vs. laptops, school controlled vs. BYOD.  Technology is the pathway toward changing education paradigms, as Sir Ken Robinson shows.  For decades, students have sat passively taking notes, raising their hands and waiting to be recognized to regurgitate facts.  What learning has this led to?

It is 2012.  Students have access outside of the school building, why not allow access within the walls of the one area where they can learn to use it in the right way.  It is the wave of the future!  No family, whether in opposition to use of EdTech or not, can emphatically deny their child will need to communicate effectively, collaborate with peers, be creative with technology and think critically in the future.  Education technology is the means in which to teach students the 4 C’s of 21st Century learning.

On Tuesday morning, after @edmodo being down from 2-10pm Monday, I was met with many 7th grade students who couldn’t do their homework due to the outage.  So I asked, “what would we have done if it weren’t through Edmodo?”  Many said they would have written it in a notebook.  Then one student chimed in…”I did the homework, Mr. Reichert,” he said.

“Oh really, how?” I said, skeptical of where this was heading.  “I posted it on Edmodo this morning, on my way to school, using the 3G from my cell phone.”  I congratulated him on how he thought critically to solve the problem.  This is truly mobile learning.

You see, with the technology, students are not only asked to learn the content presented in new and more engaging ways, they learn how to troubleshoot minor problems as they arise quite unexpectedly.  It is stories like these which consistently reinforce that using technology to aid learning is not only the right thing to do; it is necessary to do.

To the schools, teachers and families who are so afraid of the giving power to our students, I ask, “isn’t the job of schools to prepare students for success in the future.”

“If we teach students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” -John Dewey

What are you waiting for?