Just another Flipped classromm

The New Year

Ever been in a situation where you feel like the biggest looser? No, I don’t mean the reality TV show. I mean a faculty meeting…about data.  Just imagine for a minute, and I’m sure for most of you it won’t be too hard, that you are sitting in a faculty meeting listening to “whoever” going over the school MAP data and state testing data.  The person “who should not be named”, pulls up charts and tables and maybe a colorful bar graph or two.  From the looks of it, everyone is doing great! The grade levels on a whole are showing growth and everyone has smiles on their faces. Then, your grade level data (Keep in mind that you are the highest grade level taught in the school so that makes you LAST. You know, the LAST piece of data that everyone will see.) is displayed and the growth was in the negative realm, south of nowhere. What do you do? Well, you do what comes naturally. You sit there and freak out. Then, after the freakout that no one sees, you go home and pour over your MAP data trying to find some ray of hope. You grab onto that ray, grip it tight, and then let it go knowing you must move on and prepare for the new year, of course, not without reflecting first.

  1. What went wrong? Obviously a lot.
  2. What was different from previous years?

–  I hit menopause this year (That is what the doc said, but I think I’ve been it for a little longer. Just ask my husband.).

– Our 1:1 laptop and BYOD initiative was replaced with 1:1 iPads

– I stayed too long on one concept.

– First year to fully implement CCSS without a curriculum that supported it.

– Did not flip my instruction

– too much time between assessments

3. What are you going to do differently this year?

– Keep my classroom clutter free

– Go back to the weekly contracts and goal setting

– Partially flip instruction

– Allow for more academic conversation

– Implement a curriculum that supports the standards

– explore more with Standard Based Grading

Now that I have reflected and made a skeletal plan of attack for the upcoming school year, my confidence as a competent educator of young minds should return. Well, to tell the truth, I don’t think I have ever felt that I have arrived as an educator. I’m always learning and reflecting and sometimes failing.

In the immortal words of Johnny Cash: You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.


1:1 Computing and the Flipped Classroom.

This school year I started my Flipped classroom in a technology induced euphoria: 1:1 computing. I felt that Heaven had come to Earth and settled in room 57. All of my plans for taking my Flipped classroom to the next level with cloud computing and collaboration were about to come to fruition, at least, that is what I was hoping.

This isn’t Heaven
After the first nine weeks, I noticed that my students were not as enthusiastic about the Flipped classroom as compared to last year. I figured it was because of all the house keeping that had to be done with incorporating 1:1 computing and the Flipped classroom procedures. “It will get better the second nine weeks.” I said to myself. It didn’t. Instead, I found myself abandoning the Flipped model and returning to a more traditional setting. This bothered me greatly and I knew something had to be done.

I went to my “thinking spot” and started solving my problem by asking questions.


1. What is it that I like MOST about Flipping my classroom?
Well, that’s easy. I love the converstations my students have with each other about math. Watching them discuss and debate answers to problems and being a part of nurturing that learning environment, was what I liked most about Flipping my classroom.

2. Do I see this level of conversation in my classroom this year?
The answer is plain and simple. No.

3. Why not?
I had to step back and watch my class for a few days to find the answer. Let me just say that the problem was, forgive the cliche, ” As plain as the nose on my face.” It was the 1:1 computing. Well… let’s equate it to an obstacle instead of a problem. Basically, my students were spending more time on their laptops than in conversation with their peers. It wasn’t all of the students, nor the same students everyday, but enough of them to cause a breakdown of the most powerful part of the Flipped classroom: The Conversation.

4. So, how do I make it work?
My district was offering a PD on grouping and management. I went…for the recert hours. I walked away with a plan.

Solution:I decided to blend grouping techniques with technology using strategies that encouraged conversation.

Trial 1: Morning Warm-Up:
Respect – The students used their laptops or their own device to independently complete the warm-up posted on Edmodo. They wrote their answers in their composition books. This is an Independent 1:1 computing activity.

Justify– The students partnered up with a friend and justified their answers
to the warm-up. They were free to change or keep their orginal answers.
No computers were in use for this part.

Consensus– They migrated into their pre-arranged groups of 3 or 4 and discussed the answers as a group and came to consensus on all of the problems. The captain of the group then direct messaged me their answers. Only one computer per group for this part.

While all of this was going on, I was moving in and out of the groups listening to the discussions and taking mental notes of common misunderstandings. After the groups submitted their answers, I put the warm-up on the IWB, with the answers. I went over the problems, based on my observations, that needed to be reviewed more in dept. The entire process took about 15-20 minutes to complete.

The conversations they were having were music to my ears. Blending the tech. into this process was seamless and beneficial. Because it worked so well with the warm-up, I’m going to try another grouping strategy dealing with the follow-up to the screencast from the homework assignment.

By the way, let me give credit where credit is due. This is the link to presenter of the PD.


Year 2: Phase 1- Setting the Scene

The journey into year 2 of Flipping is set into motion. Having been down this road before, I know where some of the pot holes are and how to avoid them. However, because I’m traveling with a new crew, in swerving to avoid those nasty holes in the road, I run over tree stumps instead.  What’s a journey with out a few bumps in the road, right?

After upon some reflection, which we all know is hard to do the first weeks of school, I see that flipping an elementary classroom can be looked at in phases.  Let’s talk about phase 1.

Phase 1: Setting the Scene: The Independent Environment

Because most of my fifth graders have come from a more traditional classroom environment, the idea of not coming into a classroom with the obligatory pre-defined space, labeled with a cute name tag, can be a little discombobulating. But after a brief reflection, and I mean brief, the general consensus is, “Cool!”

Not only is there “pre-defined” space redefined, but so is there seating.  Tables, very few, replace the desks. Area rugs, bean bags, crate, saucer, and  beach chairs are placed around the room creating a more fluid  and comfortable environment.  The only thing I’m missing is a big screen TV. Wait! I have an IWB looming in the front of the room. Does that count?

But as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.” So begins the journey to an independent learning environment.

1. As the students are settling into this new redefined space, we begin talk about how this classroom is going to work. This is where we talk about rules and procedures. The typical stuff.

2.  Then we have several lessons on how to watch a screencast and defining a flipped classroom. This is where I model the note taking strategy that will be their evidence of watching my “lectures”.

3. Then we create our accounts on Edmodo and I spend several days showing them how to navigate through the site and how it relates to the flipped environment.

4. Finally,  we practice.

Everything is going great. The kids are singing my praises, they love coming to school, the parents are hailing me as the best teacher their child has ever had,  and then I  unveil “The Contract.”

The Contract

This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It’s the work that they are responsible for completing by the end of the week. I keep it simple: I can statements, vocabulary, assignments, and etc. It’s sent home to parents and explained to students at the beginning of every week.

– In class, the students take the first 20 minutes transferring the contract into their Edmodo calendar, which I briefly explained earlier, but now go into more detail. This is where they plan out their week and set daily goals.  I don’t dictate to them what needs to be completed each day, but I do set the deadline for the completion of the contract: 5 days after assigned.

1. We talk about goal setting and planning. I model using the Edmodo calendar to plan out my week.

2. I show them the contract and have them plan out their week and set goals.  So far so good.

3. Then we practice…for two weeks.

4. After the practice with the first contract, I pass out the next one.

It is at this point, like a mother bird, I push them out of the nest to let them fly. Some soar and some hit the ground.  For those who are still disoriented by the fall and not grasping the concept of the responsibility that comes with freedom, “tough love” is applied. It’s time for the parent conference.

Needless to say, the love and adoring words lavished upon me by my students starts to flee…temporarily.

It has taken about 5 weeks for my  students to understand and adapt to the independent learning environment needed to successfully flip and elementary classroom. I’m confident that they are ready for the next phase.

Phase 2: Projects

The Results Are In

Below is the analysis of my MAP data comparing the impact of instructional models: lecture vs. flipped.

Class A is comprised of high achieving 5th graders.

In the lecture formated classroom, my instructional materials consisted of the 5th grade math curriculum and manipulatives. With the “flipped” model, I used the 6th grade curriculum, Fantastic 5, and Compass Learning.
Lecture: Everyone worked at the same pace
Flipped: Self-paced

Class A: 2010-2011
67% met Fall to Spring target growth
86% made growth with 48% making double digit growth

Class A: 2011-2012
82% met their Fall to Spring target growth.
100% made growth with 71% making double digit growth.

Class B is comprised of identified Gifted students.

In the lecture formated classroom, my instructional materials consisted of the 6th grade math curriculum. With the “flipped” model I used the 6th grade curriculum, Fantastic 5, and Compass Learning.

Lecture: Everyone worked at the same pace
Flipped: Self-paced

Class B: 2010-2011
74% met Fall to Spring target growth
89% made growth with 63 % making double digit growth

Class B: 2011-2012
61% met Fall to Spring target growth
94% made growth with 61% making double digit growth

Why did the Fall to Spring growth decrease with the gifted students under the “flipped” model?

I discussed this question with my administrator. She pointed out that the ceiling for the MAP test had been changed this year, which changed the growth norms affecting those students in the upper top quartile. In other words, the students had to now grow between 9 and 10 points as apposed to 6 or 7 points, as in previous years. So, with that information in hand, I went back to my data and made the comparisons based on last years norms. Class A was not affected by the ceiling change. However, with Class B the percentile of students making fall to spring increased. It went from 61% to 78% met. Now I know the “flipped” model had a positive impact, but to continue that impact I will need to include the Des Cartes when planning.

Project Based Learning and the Flip

For the past few weeks I have been experimenting with PBL in my Flipped classroom. Web quests have been the tool of choice for this implementation. Instead of a steady stream of screencasts for homework, I focused on research with a final project to show mastery. For example, we were about to dive into integers…adding and subtracting. I felt the concept was too abstract for my kiddos to master through screencasts. So, they did a webquest to build conceptual knowledge around the topic. They had to define integers, learn the history of negative numbers, and research ways integers are used in daily life. Their final product was a presentation of their research through either Glogster, Active Inspire, Power Point, or a Prezi.

This is how it went down:

1. On Monday I introduced the Webquest and let them get started.
2. While they were working, I pulled small groups for remediation based on the last test.
3. Homework was the contiuation of the webquest.
4. Tuesday, I met with the students in small groups and introduced the rules for adding and subtracting integers, where I taught them how to use a numberline for assistance. Homework was a screencast created by Khan explaining integers using a numberline.
5. Wednesday, 20 minutes of class time was given to students to present their research in small groups.
6. Thursday was for those who didn’t get a chance to present on Wednesday.
7. I continued teaching the rules for adding and subtracting integers in small groups while the students worked on finishing their math web quest and started working on their science webquest.
8. By Friday I had met with everyone on adding and subtracting integers and had a chance to assess for understanding.

Here is what I learned:

1. The webquest gave the students a bigger picture of the concept. Through the research, they learned about the history of the concept, how its used, and why. This created connections and helped them get ready for the math part.

2.The webquests was a great tool in creating that independent learning environment. It allowed me the freedom to work in small groups.

3. The final product provided an opportunity in public speaking, which I used as a learning opportunity.

4. Keeping the webquests to a week time created urgency and better time management.

Building the connections was the most powerful part of the webquest. My students now saw the purpose of learning about integers and this made them more receptive to learning the rules.


Today my students take the test on the unit that will reflect some of the changes I implemented in my flipped classroom. I’ m anxious to see if the changes produce positive results. I mentioned in an earlier post some of the changes I decided to make with the self-pacing, projects, and adding “I Can” statements. I’ve also implemented a new strategy that requires the students to think, write and share about a problem that I post on the board. I’m hoping to see positve results.

The Results:
71% passed the test the first time.
After the retest the percentage of passing increased to 81% (The retest was taken 5 days later.)

OK, the passing rate is a lot higher than the last unit where less than 50% passed the test the first time administered and then with the retest only about 60%. Then again, the culprit from that unit could have been that the topic was fractions. None the less, I’m going to take the increase in percentage passing as confirmation that the changes implemented where a move in the right direction. If the next test proves to be positive, as well, then I will definitley know that the changes were good ones.

I want to spend the rest of this post talking about the new strategy I have implemented. It’s called TWS (Think, Write, Share). First, I want to thank www.flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com for the inspiration. I loved reading about her WSQ strategy (Watch,Summarize, Question) and thought I would like to try something similar that would blend more with the discourse strategy in my classroom. So, I did some research and read about a take on Think, Pair, Share where the pair was replaced with Write. So, here is how it works:

1. I post a problem on the IWB that has been solved incorrectly.

2. The students think about this problem by answering two questions in their journals.
– What vocabulary does this person need to know to solve this problem?
– What does this person need to know how to do to solve this problem?
3. After giving them about 10 minutes to THINK, they are given 5 minutes to write and explain to this person where he/she went wrong and then how to find the correct answer.

4. They get into their discourse groups to share and discuss their reflections, with the intent of coming to a group consensus on how to guide this person to a better understanding of the concept.

5. They meet back as a class and one person from each group shares their groups concensus.

Once they have mastered this strategy, I’m going to have them do the thinking and writing as part of their homework and the sharing in class.


As mentioned before, I am a member of a group on Edmodo called Flipshare. It’s a bunch of teachers who are or are thinking about Flipping their classrooms. It’s a true community of collaborators. Always sharing and helping each other solve problems with Flipping. Sometimes it’s just a place to go for encouragement.

Well, the other day one of the members posted a link to her new blog post: Absence makes the heart grow fonder  .  The title intrigued me so I read. The gist of the post was that she had to temporarily revert back to traditional teaching while the computer labs were being utilized for NWEA testing. She uses the computer lab for her Flipped classroom.  Below is an excerpt from her post.

Reverting back to traditional was quite an eye opener for myself and my students.  I, personally, found it much more difficult to determine whether my kids were truly understanding the material.  I thought they got it, then they went home to do their homework & they clearly didn’t get it.  I also found the lessons took much longer than I was now used to… I actually overheard a few grumbling about how they wish they could do videos again. 

WOW!  What a powerful reflection. As a teacher, I am encouraged by her post and as a  fellow “Flipper” I am excited!

Redefining self-pacing

OK. Here is what I learned about fifth graders and self-pacing. You can’t let them self-pace too far beyond a week without specific criteria and even then it gets a little tricky. It’s like a kid in a candy shop who goes from display to display sampling all the “goodies” and mom is fussing at him from across the store, while digging in her purse trying to find the credit card and at the same time holding onto the 2 year old who is throwing a fit because he wants to sample too. See the image? Well, let’s just say I saw the writing on the wall and I decided to make some changes. I’m going limit their self pacing to a bag instead of the store.

The Changes:

  • I’m going to use my pre-assessments to build weekly parameters. Those parameters will take the form of “I can” statements that will be divided into weekly goals.
  • The content of the screencasts will be centered around those “I Can” statements.
  • In class, all activities and assignments will be designed around the “I Can” statements.
  • At the beginning of the week the students will be given the “I Can” statements to be mastered by the end of the week.
  • There will be specific assignments and activities for each day that correlate to the “I Can” statements.
  • On Friday, they will take the quiz.

Now, the pace at which they finished the screencasts for the week and the assignments will be up to each student, but it will have to be completed by Friday.

What hasn’t Changed:

  • The “lecture” will still take place at home and practice at school, but the pace will be weekly instead of by unit.
  • I will still walk around the room clarifying and coaching,working with small groups, and 1:1, but with only a weeks content to manage.
  • The students will still work independently, collaboratively and cooperatively, but not beyond the weeks content.
  • Enrichment will still be provided for those students who master the content before weeks end.
  • Quizzes and tests retakes will still be the norm.

So, I implemented some of the changes this week. How did they do? Great! It was a smooth transition. I have to remember that they are only ten years old and well, some hand holding is going to be needed. Below is the class data on the assessment. It looks like I’m going to have to do some small group instructions on number 3 (adjacent and vertical angles) and create a screencast and practice activity that specifically addresses number 4 (reflexive angles).

Three is a Magic Number

Below are the lyrics to the Schoolhouse Rock Song, Three is a Magic Number.  Somewhere in there I would like to add Macbook Pro, Bamboo Capture, and iTunes gift card.   Flipping my math class has been fun, but requires a certain amount of technology.  In reading my previous posts, you can see that making successful screencasts have been the challenge.  Well, now I think those challenges are in the past.  To make sure I wasn’t being to over confident, I tried out my new laptop and Bamboo Capture in making screencasts.  The sound issues are non-existent!!!! My handwriting  looks like handwriting and not scribbles in the screencasts. Yes! Now to move onto the next issue…grading in a Flipped classroom. But before I sign off, join me in singing Three is a Magic Number

Three is a magic number.
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.
The past and the present and the future,Faith and hope and charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three.
That's a magic number.
(Schoolhouse Rock)
Three is a Magic Number

Blogs of other Flipped Classrooms

Before I get into the “meat” of this post, I want to share a touching story from my classroom today. My students took the Unit 4 math test…fractions. They took it electronically using Edmodo. Once they finished, I explained that if they missed 4 or more problems they had the opportunity to re-take the test next week (same content, different questions). Because we had a little extra time before the end of class, I gave them the opportunity to look over the test and start working on the problems they missed. Then I see it. Students moving into groups with no direction from me. They began helping each other and within minutes leaders were selected and learning was taking place. Then, I heard comments like, “Explain how you solved that problem?” Did you use the LCM or GCF?” ” Remember, you have to turn that 1 you borrowed into a fraction and add it to the that fraction here.” “Now I know why I missed that problem.”

I floated around the room offering assistance were it was needed and enjoyed the scene. When I got home this evening I checked Edmodo. There was a post from one of the students. It said, ” Here is a great website if you are still having trouble comparing fractions.” This brought tears to my eyes. They are becoming learners and collaborators. I guess, as far as meat goes, that’s a prime rib.

As you can see from the title of the post, the focus was going to be other teachers blogs. So, here we go. Jon Bergman just sent a link to a Google spreadsheet listing 35 examples of Flipped Classrooms. It’s a great resource. I just love being able to read reflections of other teachers and their experiences flipping their classrooms. It’s very encouraging and informative. The link is below.

35 examples of Flipped Classroom