Flipping – An Interesting Pedagogy

I’m becoming more convinced that a flipped model of learning could really work for my classroom. I’m committing to doing some further investigation this year after some small steps into this world of turning instruction 180 degrees. At the upcoming Languages TeachMeet, a Spanish teacher I found online from the US, Heather Witten, will be talking via Skype about her flipped Spanish classroom. I’m also going to apply for an NGS scholarship to go and learn all I can about the practicalities of this pedagogy – I’m already on board with the theory!

Not sure what a flipped classroom looks like? Take a look at this infographic which explains it nicely.
Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

On the brink of 2012

Andrew Kicinski Photography

It all starts tomorrow. Students, classes, bells, timetables, duties, meetings, emails, phone calls, computers and ME. I have been meaning to write the reflection post all holidays but something else always got in the way. Well, now it’s the night before school starts and I’m reflecting on what I’ve already done in preparation for this year! I also have some aims for the year too.

One of the new systems I will be trialing this year is the use of OneNote for my teaching program/chronicle. I have found this to be a great way to keep everything I need for the lesson in one place – notes, files, links – and hopefully this doesn’t prove too onerous a task once term starts (actually, it will probably mean I’ll be better organised). I have tried, over the last three weeks or so, to plan out each class for the next two weeks. This has led me to do the following:

  • get my PowerPoints up to date and ready to go
  • set up collaborative Google docs for Year 12 revision
  • enter names into Class Dojo
  • create a Survey Monkey survey for Year 10
  • create Wallwisher walls for class introductions
  • record narration (including a music intro) using Camtasia for a semi-flipped classroom and
  • create an online quiz using my Posterous space, a YouTube video and a Google form for Year 9

Wow – when I list it all out, there’s quite a lot there! Along with all that, I have also set up OneNote files for Year 9, 10 and 11 to use as a scaffold for organising their classwork this year. We’ll see how that one goes.

Finally, over the last two days at school, staff have been learning, discussing and reflecting on our practices with classroom management. The speaker, Dr Christine Richmond talked about the stages of a teacher’s approach to classroom management thus:

  • Unconscious competence (very experienced teacher)
  • Conscious competence (experienced teacher)
  • Conscious incompetence (early career teacher)
  • Unconscious incompetence (beginning teacher)

We basically had a chance, today, to talk about our own expectations with students and the importance of being consistent with consequences. Which has all led me to make sure my first lesson is all about expectations – mine and the students.

So, with just over 12 hours to go till those first bells ring, I am feeling anxious to meet my classes (although I feel a whole lot better than this time last year when I was new to the school), excited about all the preparation I’ve done and a little bit scared of how tired I’m going to feel at the end of the week!


A time for games

I have been spending lessons playing games with some of my classes over the last couple of weeks. It feels a bit wrong but they’re learning games! Now that it’s the end of the year and there’s only a week or so left it doesn’t seem so wasteful to have an entire lesson of games. But I realised today that I want to spend more entire lessons doing  just that next year! The students find it highly enjoyable and the games involve everyone and cover a whole bunch of skills. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

– Pronunciation game > Vocab items come up one by one on the screen and students compete to see who can pronounce the most words correctly. I have found this game interests even the most reluctant of learners, especially if a prize is up for grabs.

– Spinning game > I read about this on Danielle Horne’s blog  and I’ve used it a few times with different students – they all love it! They play in pairs, linking arms. Someone calls out a word in the language then two pairs race each other to write it on the board. The only catch is one person faces the board and writes one letter, then they spin and the other person writes the next letter and so on. This could make you very dizzy!

– Fly swat game > I heard about this from Veronice Radich at our recent NAFT conference. A random selection of the targetted vocabulary is written all over the board. Two students race to ‘swat’ the correct word that is called out. Props are great!

– Sentence building game > This one requires a bit more preparation as you need to make cards with words and verbs stems and endings beforehand. Basically decide what the focus is for the game – verbs work well. Create about 5 sentences then print them out in a large font size and cut them up. Except the verbs. Only create them in the infinitive and have the endings as separate cards. In class, students are in groups and race each other to form the correct sentence called out by the teacher. This forces them to talk about verbs and make sure that the ending matches the subject. I’ve found this especially successful with Latin grammar.

So, a goal for 2012 – more games for learning!

Three New Toys


Most days I look at many different tweets, blog posts and websites.  When I look at a lot of new ideas and tools, they can often be overwhelming but yet interesting enough for me to add to my Diigo library and maybe go back to it one day. That’s the theory.

Today I downloaded the Triptico desktop app. I had heard about this through the wonderful MFL Twitterati a few times and finally decided to investigate. I think this is one app I’ll be using a lot. David Riley has developed a beautiful range of tools that will spice up lessons and make displaying tasks on the IWB more visually interesting. With Triptico you can make Word Magnets, have teams scores, time activities and make a random name chooser among many other things. All this is free, too!

I also investigated a site called RedKid after reading @dominic_mcg ‘s blog post. I saw the site this morning and already I have made up a title for a powerpoint using the cinema sign and the lessons objectives in a Scooby Doo speech bubble! I think it looks cool so hopefully the students will too!

Lastly, I have set up two of my classes with Class Dojo. This is a real-time behaviour management tool. Students get positive and negative points for behaviour in a lesson which gives them running totals over a week, month, term, whatever. I have also shared this with other colleagues who are using it too. What I love about this tool are the cute little avatars given to each student and the easy-to-understand interface. I am going to trial this over the term and see how the students respond. So far, so good!

So these are three new things I’ve been able to investigate or use today that don’t take a lot of getting used to but are incredibly useful for the classroom. I want my students to be more engaged and better behaved (some of them) so these three tools can only help that and save me time.

Have you found anything new and easy to use lately? Want to share?

Jing – Creating a Screencast

I’ve just created two screencasts using Jing to capture me reading through a powerpoint with all the Year 9 speaking questions. I’m going to try and use this more often to start building a repository of content that I can use for a Flipped Classroom model (hopefully starting this soon.)

Last year I had my Year 10 students create Storybird books and then use Jing to capture them reading the story aloud. This worked well although the recording hardware was problematic. Fun though!

Here are the two screencasts I’ve just made. What do you think?
Part 1

Part 2

FLIP Lessons

Wow! Another fast and furious TeachMeet took place last night at Shore nestled in the heart of North Sydney. It is unbelievable how fast a 7-minute pechakucha flies through. See below for my presentation on FLIP lessons in the languages classroom.

If you have the opportunity to attend or contribute to a TeachMeet, do it because it’s a night of fun, ideas, inspiration, conversation and support from an amazing bunch of educators.