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