That’s Not the Way I Learnt It!

Uh, How’s that gonna work?

For the past couple of years I’ve heard a lot about teachers flipping their classrooms.

At first the concept seemed appealing to me, but I wasn’t all the way sold. Wasn’t this the same as my 10th grade history class? “Ok people, go home read in your textbooks about the battle of Normandy and return with questions to discuss.”

The people I knew that were experimenting with flipping their classes were taking a basic approach that left their students felling less supported and more confused at times. The set up was watching lectures at home and completing homework at school.

The basic concept of a “Flipped Classroom” is that the lectures are given as online homework assignment while the homework is done in class with the teacher being able to spend more time helping the students. If this was all that was happening, this system wouldn’t work. This model can work, but needs some improvements.

There needs to be some type of an activity for the students to try during or after the video. Then add a communication element between the students and the teacher to check for problems or confusion.

Example: My 4th grade students go home and watch a flipped video on partial quotients. In the video I have them try two or three problems as I walk them through it. At the end of the video I could have them look at two different problems on surveygizmo’s image choice. I’d post three incorrect and one correct image of the process being taught. By checking the survey responses before class I could get a formative assessment on what they understood. I could even use the survey to help divide my class into differentiated learning groups.

I feel the flipped concept could be used affectively within the classroom as well. I generally have three different groups in my math class due to pretesting. The groups fluctuate and change, but using the flipped concept can help with the differentiating. As I work with group A (lower level), Group B (middle level) could watch a video on the same concept I’m working on with group A but at a slower pace. Group C (higher level) could be working on an independent project covering the same concept, but more complicated. I could spend my time shifting between groups B and C after I finished working with the A group and they are completing their work independently or with a partner.

Not all lessons are appropriate for flipping. I agree with teacher Saul Wagner’s comment on Edutopia’s blog “The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con”,

Flipped learning is a tool that should be part of every teacher’s repertoire. Finding when it can be best and most effectively used is no different than knowing when to change activities, when to use cooperative learning and when to teach frontally.”

Picking the lessons that work is key. Human interaction can’t be replaced. Seeing when a kid is frustrated, confused, or starting to “turn off” can’t be see through video. Lessons where you anticipate or have experienced this should be avoided. You want to pick lessons where you anticipate a high level of success.

The last thing I feel that is important is getting the support from your administrators and parents. Change isn’t easy for most. Parents might feel uncertain or confused. As we teach new methods in math at my school I frequently hear parents say, “But that’s not the way I learned it!” Getting them to accept that things are different. The way kids learn is different. The technology that we now have to assist, motivate and connect students for learning isn’t the same as when the were in school. It’s part of the ever changing school environment.

I’ll end with this snippet from the Blog “Learning to embrace change” by James E. Rydeen. He uses Spencer John’s book Who Moved My Cheese? to make connection with change in schools:

  • Change happens
    Recognize that change is always occurring, whether in the classroom, school, educational philosophies, curriculum or the occupants.
  • Anticipate change
    Stay positive and realize that change is happening not only to you, but also others, including the students in the classroom.
  • Monitor change
    Be aware that change is happening.
  • Adapt to change quickly
    The quicker you let go of the old, the sooner you can enjoy the new.
  • Change
    Accept the change as a new beginning.
  • Enjoy the change
    Too many people are too comfortable in their own setting and are not willing to enjoy change.
  • Be ready to quickly change again and again
    Remember, change is a constant. The change might be in the classroom; in the functional use of spaces; in the furniture, fixtures and equipment; or in the operations and maintenance of the facilities.

“Stole it? Nope, rEmiXeD it!”

Picture from Celeste Hutchins<br />Remixed by Joe Winston

M Lisa w/ Picaso


Whether it be music, literature or art, remixing is definitely NOT new. Beethoven payed “homage” to Mozart by incorporating elements of Wolfgang’s music into his own.
Grandmaster flash did it and Vanilla Ice sure as hell did it.

What’s the difference now?
From the article 7 Essential Skills You Didn’t Learn in College, they claim “The creative act is no longer about building something out of nothing but rather building something new out of cultural products that already exist.”
Created by Mogodore J Bivouac
With the variety of music and video editing tools available it’s hard to resist the urge to take something you see and put your own spin on it. Note the Halloween themed spoof of the classic painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic.

“Remix,” in the sense the competition intended, means a creative work that builds upon the creative work of others. That doesn’t mean simply grabbing or using the work of others. It means using the work of others in a way that is transformative, or critical.  -The “Imbecile” and “Moron” Responds: On the Freedoms of Remix Creators

Take a walk with this video series by Kirby Ferguson entitled “Everything is a Remix”. He explains how people have been remixing throughout time and how it’s become an important tool for people to express themselves.

By allowing students to mix and remix media that they find, they can explore an outlet to express something they want to share. They can change something to fit their emotion/ social needs and maybe use it to touch someone else that didn’t understand the original piece of work, but can better relate to this new adaptation.

Students should be given the opportunity to share their understanding through the various medians the experience life everyday. I let my class combine technologies to make something new, rewrite the words to songs to show their understanding of a chapter, redesign a cereal box to fit our social studies unit.

These concepts aren’t new. The tools we use to do it, an the avenues we use to share it have. Dioramas are still around, but there are other creative outlets that students today would want to have as an option. Letting them have the freedom to explore and create is key.

Would Good Fences Make Us Good Neighbors Online?

How safe is your privacy online?

Privacy. Is there really such a thing any more? How much do others know about you? How much can you find out about others?

I’ve recently watched a video online showing Arthur C. Clarke’s 1974 prediction about today’s internet. In it he describes a world where we can communicate with others around the world, search bank statements, and buy theatre tickets from our homes. The reporter from ABC then questions what impact will the future technology have on our social lives. I wonder if he was thinking about the impact technology would have on our relationships with others or was he seeing a possible stress on our privacy?

I have a sister that is deeply afraid of doing anything online that leaves a digital foot print. Her skin crawls when thinking the idea that someone in the world might have information out there online about her. She was freaked out that I was able to quickly pull up her and her husband’s address, phone number, and past residences in less than a minute. What made her really upset was when I showed her pictures of herself on facebook. She doesn’t have a facebook account, but her friends do. They have posted her picture without her knowledge. In the past people would print their pictures and have them in albums to share in their home. At home… not with thousands around the world.

Sharing photos online has become so easy. Wether your using FB, Instagram, or any other sharing platform, it’s just too easy. I have a friend that likes to post pictures to FB while were out. One time I got a  messages from a friend in the Middle East on my phone telling me to order the sweet and sour strawberry shrimp and realize my friend just tagged me in a photo as I came into the restaurant. That is a little weird to me having people on other continents know where I am and what I’m doing without me telling them. This is the spin off of being so connected though. There aren’t any fences high enough to keep what you put online totally private.

I read an article from Forbes titled “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did” online. In the article it talks about how shopping online or browsing someones site that you’ve created an account on is constantly feeding them consumer information about yourself. The store can use this information to make statistical predictions about you and send direct marketing lures tailored for just for you. Is this an invasion of your privacy? Is it more than looking in your cart at the store? To the father that didn’t know his daughter was pregnant, yes.

A colleague and I debated over this article and talked about being modern day consumer and maintaining your privacy. We both agreed that you have to be smart. In the interest in the case above we went online and started to register for a Target account. As you register, the box for “please send me Target offers and promotions”  is already checked. It even has a link telling you how it’s going to use your information. They tell you. There isn’t a surprise. People just need to be more educated on what to look for while signing up on line. The pregnant young lady had a choice to leave the box clicked or not.

Our daily web searches are being tailored to our interests as well as our music and videos too.  Combining sites one can probably create a collective picture of my favorite foods, colors, teams, vacations spots, restaurants, books, music, movies, and more by monitoring my online behavior. Even though we have an obligation to read the fine print while we conduct our daily lives online, do others have a moral responsibility as well to help us maintain our online privacy?


I Feel a Change Comin’ On

Like the popular Bob Dylan song suggests, not only do I feel a change a comin’, I see it happening all around me.

I just finished reading Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The biggest overall thought I get from the summary is, Things Are Different. My parents felt this way with me and I know I will do the same with my kids. For us it’s partly the fact that we’re the “digital immigrants.” I love that term. We’re the immigrants. We’ve watched the technology build up around us over time like a wave engulfing everything we thought we knew how to do; but yet, we’re the immigrants.

The report concludes that digital resources have changed the way today’s youth: hangout, socialize, date, communicate ideas and feelings, create social media, view others, develop interest and support groups, motivation for learning and sharing… In short, most things that we consider to be detrimental to development. What we (the digital immigrants) need to learn is different doesn’t = wrong. We teach this to kids everyday, but it’s hard for “Adults” to sit back and watch. I constantly hear phrases each year from the parents of my students saying, “That’s not how I learned it.”

Also addressed is getting parents more involved in the understanding of the “Digital Native’s” way of thinking. I fully support this. Parents (and teachers) need to be educated on the ins and outs of social networking and online groups and the psychology that goes along with it. It describes these online social sites as the new hangouts for kids instead of the mall, parks, and playgrounds. There is the importance for parents to have conversations with their kids to instill the values that they want them to have before they send them out into the digital world. This is something that is crucial. The article Problems With Lack of Family Communication points out the irony of the lack of communication in today’s families even though we have more ways of staying in touch with each other than ever before. This is why educating parents, about the differences their children are facing as they grow, can help them better understand these foreign lives their children lead. I have been a part of my school’s parent education evenings about the basics of social networking sites for the elementary students. These are usually well attended, so the desire to learn is there.

The other unmistakable area of change is in education. The Living and Learning with New Media report puts forth this question, “And rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of education as a process of guiding kids’ participation in public life more generally, a public life that includes social, recreational, and civic engagement?” Is this where we’re headed? Is education moving farther away from content and more towards process? Does the old “Traditional” form of education prepare today’s students for that? Hmm…, I smell a change a comin’.