Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flipping over being Flipped

  I spent the last two days in the windy city, taking in "FlipCon2012".  The purpose of this event was really to put teachers together from across the country who are changing the way they conduct their classrooms using technology through video, audio and even pictures.  "Flipping your Classroom" is something that is catching on across the education world.  See a definition here.
I met teachers from both coasts, down south and even Minnesota.  Here are a few of the things I grabbed from my notes during the different sessions that were AHA moments for me. The above picture is our group getting a tour of the venue.  It is a college for media arts in downtown Chicago. An Amazing place with some cool artwork.
1. Flipping assignments does NOT happen for every single thing!  Some things that you teach are better done without video or the use of technology.
2. Not all students are going to gravitate to this process, especially if they haven't been exposed to using technology for learning.  Flipping is a strategy, not a magic bullet for learning.
3. There are teachers that I have worked with throughout this last school year who were "flipping" but didn't' know it.  Just by using things like voicethread, voki and doing screen captures with their workspace software and posting to their wiki's.
4. Training activities that you might do in your class, that take up time are a great way to get started flipping! Things like lab procedures, teaching behaviors during an activity, steps in a process.
5. Lecturing on video is NOT flipping your classroom.  You will frustrate students if you make them sit through a 20 min. lecture video and expect them to retain it.
6. Video creation and editing is NOT the hardest part of flipping your classroom.  The hardest part is deciding what to put on video and building the activities for class time.
7. Flipping your classroom with good formative assessment will create a rich-differentiated environment.  By putting some of your instruction into video and out side of the classroom walls, you have time to give students some individualized attention.

RESOURCES that I learned about while I was at "flipcon2012"
  1. - This was the keynote speaker.  Great teacher and a leader in flipping your classroom.  Brian is a science teacher and has been doing this for about 5 years.  He did an excellent session on nuts and bolts, how to get started that was very informative.
  2. The Flipped Classroom - Book! Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams and their nuts and bolts approach to putting together the flipped classroom.
  3. - was one of the sponsors at the conference and they captured almost all sessions and posted to this website.  Some excellent resources here for those who want to start flipping.
  4.  You may have heard of the JING software for screen capture, which is built into the Workspace software that we use with einstruction whiteboards and mobis.  The Camtasia is everything that you've wanted Windows movie maker to ever be.  So intuitive and versatile.  Great tutorials on this site, too!
  5.  Get a free account here for sharing your videos to students.  Usually schools don't have this one blocked and creating accounts is free.
  6. This one didn't get good reactions from the teachers I was with.  IT's basically a place to create video playlists with resources.  We will be able to this with our new LMS called Canvas, so it works out just fine.
  7.  I heard so very much about this, however, we are not a google district. Teacher's can still use it.  It's just harder for us to support as a district.
  8.  This is a tool that is useful for texting students as a group.  I have many teachers who would be excited about this one.
  9.  great for creating podcasts.  Students/teachers can record audio.
  10. Various others that people have used were also mentioned, like edmodo, moodle, voki, xtranormal, polleverywhere, voicethread, socrative.  None of these were new to me, but using them to flip your classroom is excellent.
I'm encouraging the other teachers that attended to post comments here or send me comments that will share the things that they got out of the conference, too.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

West Middle Students Create Video Games for National STEM Challenge

West Middle School studentsWest Middle School Students Create Video Games for National
STEM Challenge

Article by: Alison Benson

Forty-two students at West Middle School are taking their love of video games to a new level. The students are competing in the national STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Challenge to create the ultimate video game from scratch.  The STEM Challenge is an activity to encourage the use of science, technology, engineering, and math in schools by tapping into their natural love of video games. The winner of the challenge will have his or her game commercially published.

According to the STEM Challenge website, game-based learning is one of the most innovative ways in making STEM topics more engaging for students, which they need for the global workforce. "The success of complex video games demonstrates that games can teach higher-order thinking skills such as strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, and adaptation to rapid change. These are the skills U.S. employers increasingly seek in workers and new workforce entrants. These are the skills more Americans must have to compete with lower cost knowledge workers in other nations."   

West Middle School teacher Gwen Brewster said in addition to the STEM skills, the students are learning the value of teamwork. "The students agreed as a group that the national winner will come from West Middle School. They want to win, but more importantly, they want to support one another." The students have been meeting three times a week since December to create their entries. The final projects are due on March 12.