Flipping History: How to Start Flipping Your Classroom Today, is now available in paperback! It's meant for anyone (any subject) who wants to flip their classroom!
Find it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1NQfnBP
If you find it useful, I would be very grateful if you would consider leaving a review on Amazon so that others can find the book. The more reviews, the more visible, and I'd love for anyone interested in flipping their classroom to be able to find it.
For more educational goodness, you can check out my latest blog posts (sorry to keep hopping around on you, I swear this is the last move) at www.pennyuniversitypress.com/blog
The book is still available on Amazon KDP as well! Thanks for all of the support and as always, please let me know if there is any way I can help you!
I have been receiving countless emails from teachers who are looking to flip their classrooms. I love discussing the flipped classroom with each and every one of you. However, during the school year it can be difficult to keep up with everyone. I have taken what I've learned and put it into ebook form. You can now download Flipping History: How to Flip Your Classroom Today on Amazon.com. It contains information found here on my blog as well as additional resources, tips, and tricks I have learned. I am still happy to answer your emails, but if you're looking to start flipping ASAP, the book version of me may do the trick until I can respond ;).
You can get your copy of Flipping History here.
Finally, I want to thank all who have reached out. The sharing of ideas that I have had with many of you has been so awesome, its one of the best parts of the job! Let's keep the conversation going!
I <3 #flipclass!
I realize that many of my "digital colleagues" are heading back to school this week. Here in New England however summer is just about halfway through. I saw a quote recently on social media that said, "For Teachers August is one long Sunday night." Although it was humorous, and I suppose somewhat true, I prefer a different quote to describe the month. American author Sam Keen once said, "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." I love August despite it sweltering heat. The sun feels warmer, the flowers smell sweeter. Hazy mornings move into lazy afternoons to read and recharge. Evenings begin to take on a slightly brisk feeling that hints at falls impending return. It is in August each year that I renew my deep love for the teaching profession.
I begin to dream up new lessons, pick up odds and ends for my room and redesign my scope and sequence. I read novels and magazine articles, help books and blogs to hone my craft. I get excited about the new students I will be interacting with throughout the year, and I wonder how my past students are doing. Although the days seem to move at a leisurely pace, they are filled with preparations for the coming year- just not in the crunched time frame that often takes place in education. No, this is on my time, and my mind has the luxury to wander away for a bit before returning to the task at hand with no repercussions to getting things done.
I love my job, I am a happy teacher. However, it is easy to love my job in August, in the summer. It is easy to be happy in the summer. I know however that throughout the year there will be times that will test this. I know that many of my colleagues have become disillusioned over the years, feeling that they fight the good fight each day, but don't always find the sense of contentment in their jobs that they once did. Perhaps my digital colleagues are feeling this way too. Maybe not now, when the year is shiny and new, but come January or March perhaps you will have a downtrodden day and forget what it is to be a happy teacher.
With that in mind I've tried to put together some of the best ways I've found to be happy in teaching. We spend a lot of time thinking of how to make our student's experiences the best they can be, ultimately how to have happy, healthy, enthusiastic students in our classrooms. Yet so often we forget that in order for our students to get the best experience, we need to be our best selves. We need to be happy. So for the next few days, I will be posting on what it is to be a happy teacher, not just in August, not just when the year is fresh, but each and every day. I'll be sharing some things that have helped me, and hope that you share some too!
Are you a happy teacher? Share some love with your digital colleagues! How can we all be happier? #happyteacher!
Ah the lazy days of summer! Summer is a time when we embrace our inner child and enjoy sunshine, fresh air and freedom. As an educator summers open up a lot of possibilities for me. I have a lot of side projects (as you can tell from my site) and summer really allows me time to curate my passions. This is one of the great things about being an educator. In a way its like my own "genius hour." I get to work on side projects that may not necessarily have to do with my classroom, but allow me to explore, create, and learn. While I have spent July working on my personal side projects, August is fast approaching. This is the time when I retune my courses for the fall. Rework material that needs it, brainstorm new ideas, create new content as needed, and generally refresh everything. I find I am more likely to do things if I write them down, so in addition to all of those things I mentioned, here are a few things I hope to accomplish before returning to school in the fall:
1. Virtual Field Trips- I don't mean finding virtual field trips online, I mean actually going to sites with my camera and taking my students on a field trip. I live just outside Boston which has a wealth of historical sites. I'm also a half days drive to many many famous sites that I would love to take student's to, but since budgets and time don't allow for that, I'd like to take a few day/weekend trips and film some field trips. My hope is that by doing this throughout the summer and through the year, I'll have a variety of virtual field trip movies that students can go on. I realize this will never take the place of standing in a place themselves, but I hope to at least spark there interest enough that maybe someday they will go on their own. Has anyone ever done something like this and had luck with it?
2. Update and rework videos that are no longer working, have dated references or simply need to be updated as technology as improved so much. I'd like to have some more "if you'd like to know more" options for my classes. In other words for those students who want to dig even deeper into a topic, I'd like to have some resources available.
3. Content curation. I'd like to move beyond the video, where I have lots and lots of resources for students on each of our topics. In the past I have gathered what I felt were the best resources on a topic and selected a few to present to students. I would like to move to a model where there is a variety of materials available and students can choose which ones to use in their exploration of the topic. In other words, I would like them to curate their own content (to a degree) and really use what works best for them!
4. Rework Differentiated Instruction and what it means to me at the high school level. I was always very proud at how differentiated my middle school classes were. This was due in part to the fact that the school I was at had no leveling. This meant that you had 26 students ranging every imaginable ability and level in one classroom. As a result it was very necessary to have differentiated lessons. I didn't mind this, on the contrary I feel like it forced me to be a better teacher. This past year I moved to the high school where classes were leveled. In part because I was starting a new curriculum and didn't have the time, I didn't really differentiate. I wish I had. Regardless of whether the course is honors level or academic level students have different talents and abilities. Therefore I need to go back and think about what this means to me in the various levels, and how better to incorporate a variety of learning styles. I love project menu boards and will probably think about adding a few more of those as well. I'd love to hear from someone at the high school level and how they utilize DI in their classroom. I envision tasks that have different paths that students can choose and things like that. Does that make sense?
5. Create audio files of any required reading. I have wanted to do this for a while. I don't use the textbook in my courses, but we frequently use primary source documents and things of that nature. I want to make sure that all students have the ability to access and understand what we are doing, so I'd like to create some audio files to ensure that I have them available for students who may need them. Does anyone have a software recommendation for this?
Although summer is only half way over, I know school will be starting before I realize it. It feels like I have so much to do before then! I'm not rushing it though- there's still many sandy, sunny, sea side days ahead- I just have to put the work in so I can enjoy them!
This post actually appeared on my old blog in April of last year, but it resonated with me, so I thought it was worth moving here. Though I have now moved from teaching middle school to high school, the sentiment is still true, and reminded me that the little things are still important.
Maybe its the time of year, but I'm struggling to remain motivated. Am I burning out? I hope not! I've decide I need to get back to blogging. One of my friends outside of education asked me recently what is one thing I would change about education? What a loaded question! I'm going to take a different approach. Standardize tests, and data driven curriculum aside, I'm going to say that we all need to smile more! Naive, I know. Stay with me though, I'm sure there will not be anything here you don't already know, but sometimes its good to stop and think about why we do what we do, and what it can mean to the kids. So So this post is going to deal with SMILING, (curmudgeons may want to stop reading now).
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the hostess greeted you with a stern gaze and suspiciously looked you up and down? As if you were the plebeian scum that they had the unfortunate luck to deal with every day? In one look they have let you know that they don't trust you, they really don't even like you, and their time could be better spend elsewhere? Of course you haven't, no establishment would want that to be the way customers are greeted as no one would ever return. Chances are such a greeting would sour your meal, possibly warrant a complaint to management and- barring spectacular service or food, make you hesitate to return. If you have been greeted this way I'm sure you expressed displeasure
I bring this up because first impressions are everything. How you greet a child entering your room sets the tone for the whole class. When I first started teaching I worried a lot about the "first day" impression. I spent a lot of time trying to create an image that said, "I am stern but kind. Intelligent but creative. I know everything and you are here to absorb as much of my wonderfulness as you can before you leave. Oh yeah, I also have lots of rules and this will be a well organized class and you will come in and act exactly as I envision at all times, and you will come out of here ready to take on Watson and Ken Jennings with your eyes closed and when you win millions of dollars you will fondly think back to today and thank me saying something like, "I didn't appreciate her then, I thought I hated her, now I know she was preparing us well." I assumed that after the first day they would know all this about me and the "tone" would be set for the year.
Um OK past Liz, how did that work out for you? I won't get into my misguided thoughts about what it means to be a successful educator, or how facts from history class have a hard time winning precious space in the hippocampus that is overflowing with lyrics from Drake or the Beibs. I won't even address the fact that a student thinking fondly of his middle school teacher is a rarity akin to Punchers the Lobster (which is very rare in case you didn't know). Actually if you didn't know that Punchers is a rare lobster beanie baby from the '90s you are probably not my target audience. I'm kidding of course (you are obviously far wiser than me and chose to invest in stocks rather than beanbag animals- you should cash those in and retire as Punchers in place of retirement hasn't panned out as planned) but my point is I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and the thing I was most wrong about? Setting the tone for the whole year.
I'm not denying the importance of first day impressions, but setting the tone is something you have to do every period, every class, every day. I have heard many a teacher lament because they planned what they thought was a fun and engaging lesson, only to be met by teenage eye rolls and a lack of excitement. I'm guilty of feeling this way occasionally too. What I've noticed though is that you can have the most engaging lesson ever- heck you could have students doing handstands and disecting real life cadavers (on second thought- don't do either of those things) but if students enter the room before you get the chance to greet them- you miss the opportunity to pump them up or build them up (whatever they need that day).
Our students carry a lot with them throughout the day. They carry their physical belongings, books, pencils, cell phones- but they also carry emotional things with them- crushes, home life, depression, a bad grade from the last class, a moment of sadness in the hallway. It is our job as educators to ensure that they enter our classroom ("our" meaning the classroom belonging both to the students and myself) in the best possible frame of mind. We cannot fix all of their troubles in the three minutes between classes- but we can set a tone that says, "for the next 45 minutes, you don't have to think about that stuff- take a load off and be a 13 year old student."
There are lots of ways to do this, but the easiest way I have found is the simplest way- stand outside the door and greet them with a SMILE as they come in. I'll admit I've been waning in doing it this year, and I need to get back to it, because it is so powerful. This looks differently depending on the day. Some days I want my students energy through the roof- and on those days I'm in the hallway whooping and cheering (you know quietly enough so as not to disturb the other classes around me- more later on how to do a quiet whoop) and welcoming them to the activity. I am often met with the teenage eye roll when I do this (middle schoolers are not supposed to smile or laugh at something on purpose), but I usually can crack a smile (yes I realize they are laughing AT me- who cares- whatever it takes).
Other days I simpy smile and say "hello." That's it- its as simple as that, and yet how often do we forget to do that? We would never open the door for a friend with a surely glare or a disapproing eye- why do we do this to our students? I try to make eye contact with each student and smile directly at them. Too many of them live in smileless worlds, they need this emotional hug. I can also use this time for quick questions, "how did the science test go Jane?" "Hey did you win your game last night Jimmy" "Claire you look very nice today, I really like that color on you." The important thing here is that I mean what I'm saying. Claire did look nice, I did want to hear about Jimmy's game, and I know Jane was worried about the Science test.
I try to stay in the hallway until the second bell rings, so that even the late students, the ones that would normally slip in right when the bell rings and try to go on noticed, get a big smile or a compliment from me- they deserve it too, and may need it more than others.
I think the teachers I work with do a really nice job at being in the hallway in between classes, but I've heard some educators say, "I don't have time for that I need to be at the front of the class ready to go as soon as the bell rings" or "I need to be in my room inbetween classes to talk with students or to set up for the next group." I understand these concerns, and maybe this is not something you feel you can do every day- but try it even once a week (maybe on Monday to set the tone for the week)?
This is such a small act that let's the students know that you care about them, you're excited for them to be there, and they are in an emotionally safe space.
I'll admit that I have been waning in my hallway presence as this year has gone on- just in thinking about the importance of this and writing this post, I need to get back out there. I really believe it is so important to greet students with a smile.
Let's revisit the restaurant analogy again. Does it make more sense now? In the same way that the hostess is the facee of the restaurant, we are the face of our classrooms. Unlike a restaurant however, our students cannot simply choose to leave, or not return in the future if they feel uncomfortable. They are required to come to our class- but if we're being honest, shouldn't we want them to come to our class?
I smile at my students as much as I can- but they make me smile, and even laugh. Sure, some of it is that working with hormonally charged and sometimes awkward youth can lead to humorous situations, but I like to think that students are the bright spot in education. Data, standardized exams, and minute by minute state approved plans may be dampening the school experience both for educators and students alike- but my students? They're human- which is the one variable we can't graph- but getting a student to smile who never shows emotion? Off the charts.
Do you smile before Christmas? What are some ways we can set a positive tone for our students?
Every Monday night there is this awesome thing called #flipclass chat. Its a gathering of some great minds in education to talk and discuss what's going on in their classrooms. I've been away from the chat for a while now (silly life getting in the way)! I rejoined tonight though and a cool new thing they are doing is "flashblogging" stopping the chat in the middle so that everyone can go to their personal blogs and expound on a topic. AWESOME! Especially since I wanted to start blogging again! Ok so here's tonight's prompt:
Tonight's #FlashBlog topic: What is the role of research in your #flipclass? Has it changed? Would you like it to? What works? What doesn't?
Excuse the potential this post has to be rambling- it is a flashblog after all!
This question can be taken a few different ways so I'm going to think about the shift in the type of information available to students. As a history teacher, research papers and projects often fall to our discipline. This can be great, I believe research projects and papers can really help students to dig deeper into a topic, but for so many its a dreaded activity. They get lost in content curation and miss the fun part of creating an argument, supporting an idea, or simply becoming an expert on something!
One thing that has certainly changed since I was in high school is the research process. Gone are the card catalogs and the index cards of sources. Gone is the microfiche and the periodic indexes- in comes the internet. I'm not complaining, the internet is wonderful, and it has allowed me to access educational research that has transformed my classroom. However, I think we need to rethink how we "teach" research. If students have access to sources all over the world at the click of a button we need to make sure they understand how to curate information. I find they struggle sometimes just to wade through the myriad of sites available. Many don't know how to effectively use search engines. I still see students putting whole questions into the search bar and confused when they aren't finding what they're looking for. I think we need to spend some time helping them with this. We assume they are digital natives, but the reality is they still need our assistance.
I liken this to having a trainer at the gym. I know how to run, I've done it since I was little. I can research exercise and how to use various machines at the gym. I feel like I have a good sense of what the machines are and what I am capable of doing with them. When I get their however, even though I naturally know how to run and move, a trainer (a good one anyway) can turn my arm slightly while using a machine or weight and help me hit a whole new muscle group that I didn't even know existed.
I believe its the same with research, we need to guide them and help them in the research process, not just assume that because they have the technology they realize its power. Let's help them search, gather, save, and curate the information so that they can delve into the topic and really appreciate the process.
I'm going to skip ahead a little bit and say that I think another important part of the research process is the final step- one that many people miss- publishing! This can be anything from sharing with the class, a display in the hallway or posting online, but I think its important for students to take ownership of their research in a public sphere. I think that's for another post though!
I plan on going back and editing this blog post- it was a flash blog after all! What do you find to be an important part of the research process for students?
It has been almost a year since my last blog post at flippinghistory.blogspot.com. How did I let it go for so long?
I started blogging several years ago as a way to think out some of the ideas I wanted to put into motion in my classroom. I also hoped in the process to connect with other educators. As time went on due to curriculum changes, level and school changes, and life in general, I felt myself blogging less and less. I was still active on Twitter, but not everything worth learning can be condensed to 145 characters. I realized that part of the problem was that I was taking all of my interests and keeping them separate. I began associating my education blog as part of "work." It became one more thing I had to do, rather than what it started out as, something I had a passionate interest in. I knew that if I was going to get back into blogging, and reignite the passion, I had to stop separating all of my interests into separate blogs, separate sites, separate parts of my brain.
With this in mind I have decided to move my blog here, to my personal website. It can now sit side by side with my other interests. It is my hope that I can continue to connect with other educators, and to share thoughts and ideas through this blog. I also hope however that this new site will give a clearer picture of who I am beyond the classroom, and help me connect with others that share additional passions and interests with me.
I will keep flippinghistory.blogspot.com active for those that are interested in past articles and archives, but all future updates will be posted here. If you click the button on the right it will bring you to the old blog where everything is still in tact.
Thanks for making the jump with me, I'm excited to start again!
How do you balance your personal and professional interests? Does it all merge for you, or do you compartmentalize?
I'm late to the flashblog tonight. My ideal learning space would be a cross between Panera and Google's offices.
I want rugs and comfy chairs. I want big tables, individual tables and booths. Hell, I want a fireplace.
In an ideal world there would be space for introverts, space for extroverts and enough shelves to display all of my books. There would be large areas for students to display their work.
There would be computers, projectors and ipads- but also notebooks, crayons and eisels, because creativity and learning need many mediums.
There would be music to feed their souls, and snacks for my students who may not get enough to eat.
There would large windows to promote daydreaming, because who knows what brilliant idea may come to a child when their mind is traveling the world beyond the wall.
Above all my ideal learning space would be one where every student feels ownership. Every student would feel safe. Every student would feel that it is "our room." Not "my room."
I realize that a lot of this is idealistic and yet much of it is not. Essentially the ideal space is one where students are free to be the best version of themselves- where barriors to real and meaningful learning are broken- not built.
I may never get a fireplace or treats- but I'm going to get as close to the rest as I can!