Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Flipped Classroom Arrangement

Below is a short video of how I arranged my classroom. My students love it!  As the camera moves around my room you will see the following: My concept board, desks turned to form groups of 6 students (Teams A-E), the four desktop computers, the pick-up table (as my students enter, they pick up their activity sheets and SAP for the week so that I don't have to take the time to hand them out), and the Intervention Zone (where I will be pulling small groups to teach misconceptions). 


Updated photos of my classroom (Spring 2013):
This is my teacher desk area that has my document camera and my cart where I mainly model and demonstrate from as well as record videos from.
This is the Pick-Up Table where my students pick up their SAPs each Monday and the paper work that goes along with it for the week.  The red organizer is for my use only.  It's been the BEST organizer ever!  On the left side, I place all graded work for that class period in those slots.  On the right side, those slots are used for those who are absent.  My Team Leaders now collect all materials from the pick-up table for me and place the SAP on top of the organized paperwork for those who are absent on their team.  All I have to do it pick it up, paper clip it and slide it inside the absent slot of that class (which now the student will have ALL the paperwork for the ENTIRE WEEK!!.  It's that EASY!!

The blue crate below the pick-up table is where my students house their over-due library books.  I usually send a student to the LRC to deliver them for the other students in my class.  It eliminates a lot of traffic in the halls during my class periods.   
This is one of my favorite spots in the room.  It's still a work in progress, but this is my INTERVENTION ZONE where I pull students who failed a concept (daily grade, quiz, and test) to see what misconceptions they still have.  I have extra chairs in case I have other students who want to join us even though they may have passed a concept.  It's also used to tutor students who were absent, still confused about a skill learned from my videos, or if students need questions answered in private.  This is fun for me because I also get to build relationships up close and personal...where they are not around their actual team members. 
This is my Organizer Bin.  I explain the contents of this bin HERE. 


When my students enter my room, they are to be seated at their HOME-BASE seat.  This means that they have been assigned a seat in a group in which I know they will not cause problems when there is a substitute.  There are times when they stay in their home-base seat or I might randomly choose their groups depending on the activity (my students place his/her name on a small index card at the beginning of the year so that it will officially be random when I call their name out) or they may work with anyone they feel comfortable with for that day.  If they get to choose who they work with, they already have been given a warning about my expectations regarding how to stay on task, focused, and engaged in the activity.  Once they give me a reason why they aren't, they will be seated back at their home-base seat. 

It's Official!!

I wanted to update you on how my classes are going now that my classroom is totally flipped. I still have yet to receive one complaint. On Thursday, my classes were so excited to see our new arrangement. Many students left saying aloud, "This was so much fun!" My students are working on poetry as review and normally in my traditional classroom I would go over all the terms aloud. I was able to save my voice and had each team divide up the words, study them, then share their knowledge with each other. Then, their team had to decide if they wanted to read a poem silently or to each other. I then went over the poem with them as we all annotated and analyzed it as a whole class. Then, they had to use their Poetry Notebook, the poem, and each other to answer the questions. This was the "test" to see how they were able to work with one another, to see if they stayed on task, and to observe the noise level. All I can say is, "Wow!" It was a beautiful sight, and this was the first official day (the last two weeks were just a trial run) for me to actually "let go". They guided each other, taught each other, explained their reasoning if one didn't understand, everyone got along, and the noise level was at a level 1-2. I didn't have to calm my class of 31 once! (I had to redirect one class a little, but each class will be different.) Today was day 2 and I spoke for about 20 minutes. The rest of the time my students continued with working through their activities together. Some worked alone while some leaned on each other. I perused around and facilitated and guided the whole group or one on one. They are using the "Ask 3 then me", which is helping so much.

My students love the SAP (Student Action Plan-Students' weekly planner) and it signifies to them that they are taking ACTION for their own learning. They know what this means. This coming week is another "test". We've completed 3 SAP's and they will be completed this coming week's on their guidance on how to read it or manage it. I noticed this week that many kids would ask me a question and the answer was on their SAP. So, when I told them to read it, they made an excuse. I didn't budge, I made them read it and told their team not to answer for them. This is something I will train my new kids very early next school year.

I created an acronym called CNQR (conquer) for when they view my instructional videos. Below is an explanation I shared with the kids. I am creating huge colored posters soon for my classroom.

You MUST conquer your goals and objectives in ELAR.

C = CONNECT- You will make connections in learning different concepts while viewing the instructional videos. You will also make connections while you are Thinking, Writing, Interacting with each other, Reading, Listening and Speaking to one another. TWIRLS (This applies to everything we do in class, not just at home).

N = NOTES- You will be taking notes while you are home viewing my instructional videos. You will also need to write down my examples so that you may use these examples as well as my notes when you are collaborating with your classmates in class during discussions or while practicing some sample questions with your teams.

Q = QUESTION – You must create a HOT (Higher Order Thinking) question right after you watch a concept video. You will learn how to create literal, interpretive, evaluative, and universal questions. This will allow me to see if you understood the material or if you still have confusion. You are welcome to create a question you already know the answer to, and if you do, answer your own question. If you do not know the answer, then use the question to challenge the class during our discussion at the beginning of class.

R = REVIEW – Review your notes and HOT question before returning to class. I don't want you to watch a video and just mindlessly write words down without attempting to CONNECT with what you watched or had written. It is completely okay if you do not feel that you have mastered understanding the material the first time through. If this is the case, this is where I will facilitate your learning or invite you to an intervention when you arrive to class the next day. If you take the time and review your notes, then you will feel confident and more prepared when you return to class making sure everything you had written down or asked (questions) are complete.

Issuing Pink Slips are working out well. Some kids are on their 2nd one. Many are figuring out they need to step up. (Reminder: If they receive 3, they will receive a silent lunch detention in my room to catch up on videos and a private discussion as to why they are falling behind).

I am presenting my videos AND embedding my Google Forms to the video My students will be trained on Monday how to sign up and begin viewing my 3 new videos for the week. Plus, they have another online test to take (again...going paperless!). My kids are now trained to check out my calendar. My district's Tech Dept. spent a combined 45 minutes or so helping me get my document camera set up to use to record and have audio in order to create lessons online! I know! It's so much easier and faster! I was able to complete 3 lessons in less than an hour, upload them to my thumbdrive in seconds and leave!

I was nervous on the first one video with using my document camera...had to redo one of them because the janitor came in while I was recording (I locked my door and he proceeded to use his keys and come in anyway...oh was good practice...plan to make a sign and put on my door that I am recording...he was cool with the idea). ; )

I'm winging it right now. Every day is so different, which I love! The kids leave happy, and so do I!

How My ELAR Flipped Classroom Was Born!

A little over a year ago in February, my seventh grade ELAR class and I had about ten minutes left, and we were in a deep discussion on how things were going in our class. One student chimed in and said, "Mrs. Kenley, I don't mean any disrespect, but you talk too much!" You should have seen the looks on my other students' faces after he made this comment aloud. They couldn't believe he would say such a thing to me, and they even told him how it was rude of him to make this comment. I quieted down the class and actually expressed to everyone how RIGHT he was. I indeed talk too much in class. Maybe more than I should. However, I expressed to this class the reason WHY I talk too much. In Texas, seventh grade ELAR (English Language Arts and Reading) teachers must teach 3 subject areas to prepare for two state exams in the spring, which include Reading, Grammar, and Composition, and let's not forget to mix in some Vocabulary.

I went home that night and did some digging on the Internet and it just so happen that the "Flipped Learning" concept fell onto my lap by accident. The more I researched it, the more I fell in love with the idea. I presented it to my principal at the time and he said go for it! That being said, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had no idea "how to go for it"! How do I get started? What do I tell my students or better yet, how do I tell my students? This is when I discovered Katie Gimbar and the Friday Institute This website gave me the basis I needed to get started. It took me another month to get it going, but I slowly eased my students into the idea the rest of the semester. Let's just say I piloted the idea part time considering I had no idea what I was up against. My students that year had an incredible attitude and offered many great ideas. I was only able to produce six videos when my students worked on their research project the last six weeks cycle. Creating videos was the most challenging especially using the dry erase boards. The challenge was the time factor and at that time, I just wasn't able to keep up with introducing a new change and just simply not knowing what I was doing. I was just winging it. Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams were inspirational as well. One of my favorite things I loved about their flipped classroom is how they managed administering informal quizzes to their students (simply by verbally asking them what they have learned). I wasn't able to implement it into my classroom last year, but it was definitely something I wanted to do.

On a side note, my youngest sister is attending college to become an educator. She happened to stumble over a book called Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. I couldn't believe it! She called me up knowing I was interested in the concept. I was so thrilled that I bought a copy that day! Thanks lil sis! It took me a weekend to read it. I totally recommend it.

Summer came and our school was getting a new principal, and the few months I had left were pretty booked, but I was able to create some videos for the coming year. However, I still wasn't comfortable in starting the new year just yet with the new flipped learning model. I am not one to just jump into something unprepared. Well, I ended up taking a risk once August arrived, and the new school year began for 2012-2013. I created a parent letter to let parents/students know that I was planning a pilot and explained my plan in great detail. As the semester was moving along, the pilot for the "flipped learning" slowly crept along. There were just too many new challenges that came along, and I ended up finding myself teaching traditionally again. I would have my students watch a video here and there, but what I found myself doing was that many of my students were not buying into it, and I ended up teaching the concept anyway during class. I kept thinking what the use was. Those students who brought their notes showed me, but I wasn't sure what to do with them. I couldn't take a grade since half the students followed directions. By October, I found out that I won the AEF Teacher Grant for my pilot, "Flipping the Classroom". I was recharged at that point and so excited to continue on my search for learning more about the concept. I received enough money to purchase two Google Nexus tablets and 18 flash drives. Now what? Well, at this point, I realized that the time factor wasn't working with creating six whiteboard slides (and I am so camera shy) that I realized that there are other avenues to creating videos or presentations other than PowerPoint and using my Flip video camera. I also came to the realization that why does it have to all be video/audio? So, I decided to utilize my teacher webpage and upload not just my videos, but why not upload my notes, too! I even went ahead and uploaded my PowerPoint presentations. Google Docs was becoming a new deal especially at our school. I had a student teacher last spring and she introduced Google Docs and Prezi Presentations. Wow! We truly do learn from our students!

Time went on then Christmas came and went then here came Spring Break. Well, over Spring Break, I was on FIRE! I found an answer to my prayer! If you're not WSQing, TWIRLing, FITCHing, or SSSing then you are definitely missing out. You've got to check out Crystal Kirch at I was needing someone out there in the blog world to demonstrate their class in action, and boy has she done that and MUCH MORE! I have done nothing, but study her models, listen to her podcasts and webinars, and just basically have been INSPIRED! A few of her models would not be suitable for my twelve-year-olds, for her students are 9th and 12th graders plus she teaches advanced Math! However, many of what she explains is by far the definition of what a true, flipped classroom really is. I personally am using many of her models, but will call a few of them something different just because I teach a different subject and age level. I absolutely love the TWIRL model. I changed her FITCH to FETCH (which I will explain my model later). Her SSS is my SAP (Student Action Plan-will explain later). I do not use her WSQ model due to it being too advanced for my students, but instead, I will use the CNQR approach (pronounced Conquer-again, I will elaborate later). Lastly, I absolutely love her online survey ideas and Secret Question (which is like the new version of a pop quiz).

I also spent an afternoon recently perusing and learning about Wow! This is a fabulous instructional resource for educators to organize their materials and data for students to use. I learned in less than an hour by viewing short tutorials on how to manage the information. This is going to be wonderful linking things I created in my Google Docs and even from my Teacher Webpage.

Let me end by saying that I have learned so much within the last year of piloting this new teaching/learning concept about Flipped Classrooms. I've noticed that there are not many Flipped ELAR classrooms, so I am hoping that I can be another resource to other educators in this content area. Yes, it is a difficult and time-consuming task to manage ELAR because there are just so many concepts to teach in one year, but I hope that this blog will help others tackle their challenges quicker as I continue my own journey and share my own experiences.