Tag Archives: ED554@Reston2013

Flipped Lesson



I’ve finally finished my flipped lesson.  I had a lot of fun making it but I didn’t sit down and think it entirely through before I started making the flipped lesson.  This was really unlike me and I was really kicking myself the further that I got into the project.  I wanted to include some factors that would make my lesson a little more intriguing to sixth graders.  There’s a clip of Psy’s “Gangham Style,” some pictures that I think are funny, and hyperlinks to YouTube videos so that students can learn a little bit more about renewable resources.  I created the lesson in power point.

So then I open iMovie and I get ready to import the presentation when I realized that I would lose Psy and the hyperlinks.  Crap.  I started playing around with power point and I realized that I could insert audio clips for each slide.  I did this but was disappointed that students would have to click on the picture of the megaphone in order to hear the audio.  But then I found that you can format it!  I was able to “hide” the megaphone and make it so that my recording would automatically start playing when the slide comes up.  I was even able to get the slides to automatically transition to the next slide without having to manually select the next slide!  I realized all of this at the eleventh hour after a few panicked emails to our professor (sorry!).

Here is my flipped lesson, Flipped Lesson – Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources, and here are the corresponding notes, Flipped Lesson notes.  The lesson is intended to offer a review before a new 6th grade science unit on Earth’s Resources.  VA SOL: Earth Resources 6.9 The student will investigate and understand public policy decisions relating to the environment. Key concepts include a)  management of renewable resources; b)  management of nonrenewable resources; c)  the mitigation of land-use and environmental hazards through preventive measures; and d)  cost/benefit tradeoffs in conservation policies.

I’d love any feedback that someone may have on ways that I can improve the lesson!  Until then, this is my best effort.

{UPDATE!! Directions on how to download and view the lesson would be helpful – especially for students.  The file will download once you click on the hyperlink.  Find the downloaded file and then click on it in order to open PowerPoint.  Then you need to go to “Slideshow” and select “Play from Start” in order for the audio to play and the slide transitions to work automatically.}


“Changing Education Paradigms”




I decided to watch Ken Robinson’s TED talk titled, “Changing Education Paradigms” based on high praise from a classmates blog.  (You can find Robinson’s full speech here as the previous is just a portion of his 55 minute speech). Robinson spoke about three major themes in regards to our current model of education: the negative impact of fewer arts in schools today, ADHD, and drop out rates.  What I enjoyed the most from Robinson’s speech was what he had to say about divergent thinking.   

A lot of people consider divergent thinking to be synonymous with creativity.  Robinson argues that divergent thinking is instead an essential capacity for creativity.  Divergent thinking is the ability to see lots of possible answers and interpretations.  Edward de Bono, perhaps best known for his book Six Thinking Hats (a process used to think in a more detailed and cohesive way) coined this as lateral thinking.  Divergent thinking is a skill that a lot of people lose.  Is it because we’re taught through our school that there is only one answer?  And often only one correct way to get there?  Or is it because the older we get, the less imaginative play we participate in?  Or maybe it’s because we aren’t given many opportunities in school to practice and increase our ability to think divergently.  Whatever the reason, teachers should encourage divergent thinking whenever possible.  

As much as I enjoyed Robinson’s speech, I was discouraged by his laundry list of how education needs to be changed without offering any real solutions (maybe the full speech provides solutions. I didn’t get the opportunity to watch it in its entirity).  Robinson talked about how the current model of education was created during different times to reflect those times.  The Enlightenment created a compulsory education, free for all, and paid for by taxes.  The Industrial Revolution lent the framework for education: separate facilities, separate subjects, and being grouped by age.  Robinson said that we must change those paradigms.  We must go in the opposite direction of standardization which is attempting to create conformity in education.  I’m with you, let’s change education.  But how?

No more summer vacation?  You’re not going to get a lot of support there.  At least not until teachers are paid the professional level salaries that they deserve.  

How will we decide what grade children should be in?  Take a test?  Probably not.  Hire individuals to observe students and see what grade they should be in?  Are grades even the best solution?

I am totally in favor of integrating scholastic subjects, though.  And while we’re at it, bring back the arts.  Let’s enthuse our lessons with aesthetics.  

I don’t mean to be so negative about Robinson’s suggestions.  I actually think that he’s on par with a lot of education’s shortcomings.  It just seems like we have a big hill to climb.



Podcasts in the Classroom


I had heard of podcasts but I never really took the time to explore them and see what they’re all about.  I had always assumed that they were recorded audio shows available to listen to whenever you want.  Comedians make them, radio shows, and I’m sure several others that I’m just not aware of.  And then I learned that I would have to make a podcast for my Technology in the Classroom class.  Hmm…

I watched a few podcasts on the EdReach website and I learned that they are so much more than audio.  Each one was under five minutes.  Quick and painless!  The first one that I watched was on Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch.  Night Zookeeper combines storytelling with drawing.  Children also have to use their creativity by completing various missions.  It’s an app that parents and teachers can use and one that I need to explore a bit more because the podcast wasn’t all that informative.  What exactly are these missions?  Are they pre-established or can I create my own?

I think that podcasts have an absolute place in the classroom and they can be utilized as a personal learning tool for me.  While I don’t have a complete and full understanding of the Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch app, I may not have heard about it if I didn’t watch the podcast.  And they seem fairly easy to make: make a power point presentation and then record your voice for each slide.  I can use podcasts to deliver lessons or have students create a podcast for an assessment.  Just another techie tool to add to my toolbox!

Why didn’t we think of this sooner?


Flipped classrooms seem almost perfect.  Students watch a lecture at home.  They choose where to watch the video (in bed, on the deck, at the kitchen table) and in an atmosphere that is most conducive to their learning (standing, music in the background).  Students can play part of the video again if they are confused or need to hear the material again.  Then the next day in class, students and the teacher are able to spend class time working on more meaningful learning experiences.  Image

I read Stacey Roshan’s blog post, “To Flip or Not to Flip” so that I could begin to understand more about flipped classrooms.  Roshan is an AP Calculus teacher in Maryland who was tired of the lecturing until the bell rang and watching her anxious students leave the classroom, wondering if they fully grasped the lecture on derivatives and absolute maximums.  I was reminded of my high school calculus class – and it wasn’t good memories that came flooding back.  The class was entirely lecture based.  I would have loved to watch a lecture at home and have the time to talk with my classmates about questions or work with my teacher individually.  Maybe I would remember more of it today, or at least remember a more positive experience.  Roshan has had several positive benefits of flipped lessons.  AP test scores have improved, students have resources that they can continue to reference, performance improvements from students with learning accommodations, and a positive and calm learning environment (yes, I am still talking about a calculus classroom).

And while I won’t be teaching AP Calculus to elementary students (thank goodness), I can promise to make an effort to incorporate flipped lessons into my curriculum.

“We can do better”


I really enjoyed reading Shelley Wright’s blog, “The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching.”  Wright had her 10th grade English class create a museum about the Holocaust.  The material, information, and themes were completely up to her students. Wright must be a great teacher and one that is well loved by her students.  And good for her for not repeating another unit where she is a dispensary of information for her students.


I wanted to learn more about Wright’s experience.  She mentioned working for six hours straight on this project one day.  How is this possible?  Didn’t she have other classes to teach?  Didn’t the students have Algebra or English?  And what about all of the resources they used?  Did she front the cost or did her students contribute?  This blog truly inspired me to want to have project based learning units in my classroom one day.

But I wonder how this could be done in an elementary setting. Younger students often need more structure and guidance from their teacher.  High schoolers have learned how to “do” schooling and they should have the discipline to be able to lead their own learning.

Fortunately, Wright included a YouTube video in her blog where Michael Lehmann talked about how much “high school sucks” and how it needs to change.  I loved how he said that schools should teach us how to learn.  It’s not just about the elements on the periodic table or Shakespeare and all of his plays.  It’s about acquiring the ability and desire to learn.  I also really liked Lehmann’s idea of benchmark projects instead of benchmark tests.  When students know that they are going to create a visual project that is real, they are going to typically put forth more effort.  Benchmark projects (and not just a poster or diorama) could be easily incorporated into an elementary classroom.

I felt so inspired after reading this blog.  I want my students to enjoy my classes as much as I hope to enjoy teaching them.  I absolutely plan to incorporate project based learning in my classroom.  I often hear about teachers feeling burnt out.  If they took Shelley’s approach and completely revamp their units, I bet that they wouldn’t feel so burnt out!  Probably exhausted, though…


Twitter – The Educational Social Media


twitter picI’ve finally done it and joined Twitter.  I have to admit that until last Friday’s ED554 class, I found Twitter extremely annoying.  Especially when obnoxious Tweets made their way to the bottom of the TV screen during “The Bachelor” (it’s my hour of guilty pleasure and mindless viewing. Please, we all have one).  But now I get it!  I have been instantly connected to educators who are Tweeting out valuable resources that will no doubt benefit me.

I followed Scott McLeod after Steven mentioned him in class last Friday.  He Tweets A LOT, like every hour.  His Tweets are typically always beneficial and no doubt worth the noise, but to a Twitter novice like myself, it is overwhelming to log on and have several Tweets to catch up on.  One, however, particularly caught my attention and even deserved a retweet.

Scott Tweeted a link to Pinterest where a user was sharing her favorite iPad learning apps.  There are so many great apps!  When you first see her boards, you’ll notice a lot of tech accessory boards.  Keep scrolling and you’ll see boards for teaching prepositions, voice therapy apps, data collection, measurement, and so many more!  How great is this?  My first personal learning network inspired me to dive into another.  Looks like I’ll be joining Pinterest next!