Friday, March 28, 2014

Update: #FlippedClassroom Flop

Mako by Emma from Andy Losik on Vimeo.

So it has been three weeks since my attempt to get second graders making movies crashed and burned right before my principal's eyes for my formal observation.

I can't tell you how much support my sharing that experience generated from readers of my blog and friends on social media. I stated then that it was actually an experience I needed because I was bound to grow from it and see this project through to completion.

Now three weeks later I am proud to share that over half of the second graders have successfully completed their projects. Check out Emma's above.

Along the way the kids began to express their frustration over the amount of background noise that kept interfering with their voiceover work. Others simply struggled with using that specific feature in iMovie. To assist in this step, I slowed down the process and worked one-on-one with them on this part. One kid would record at a time with me away from where the rest were working quietly. To provide help to those still just trying to reach this step, I set up a Genius Bar just like at the Apple store. Kids who had mastered the process set up shop to help other students. Those completely done or waiting to record voice could select from a handful of problem solving games like Tinkerball and Tumble Town.

Projects are getting done with quality. Kids are getting one-on-one time with me. Kids are helping kids while others build additional skills...and I got better as a teacher. It just took a few lumps getting to this point. As far as the observation goes, my principal came back yesterday and liked the progress. He even spent a little time working at the Genius Bar helping kids with their videos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Before you post... T.H.I.N.K!

Here is a great tool for building digital citizenship. It was originally posted at and reminds us all to think before we post something online. This acronym isn't just good for kids but is a reminder for adults as well.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is your Teaching an Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey?

On April 26th I will be delivering the Un/Keynote at the Connected Educator Un/Conference in Jackson, Michigan.

I posted earlier about the hands-on session I will be leading but here is a peek at the opening address I am hammering out down in the basement.

Un-Keynote Opening: Never before in history have educators had more amazing tools to bring learning to life. Even better is that we don't have to take this journey alone. Let's explore ways to engage learners and find amazing traveling partners close to home and around the globe. Let's crank up the energy and recharge as we push to make the most of every second we have left in 2014.

Come on out to Jackson in late April...unless you are just going to be hanging around a Circle K trying to figure out how to do your history report.


"Happy" Wednesday!

It's a rainy Wednesday with the threat of snow showers this afternoon in Michigan. Yuck! Luckily when I checked Facebook this morning, Patti Harju had posted this fabulous video from a group of Michigan kids.

I hope it adds as much "Happy" to your day as it did mine!

Friday, March 14, 2014

#MACUL14 Lightining Talk: 15 seconds with 15 great Michigan Educators

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 2.12.35 PMToday I had the honor to present a Lightning Talk at Michigan's MACUL Conference. The concept is to tell a story in twenty slides in five minutes. Quick math reveals that each slide only lasts on the screen for fifteen seconds.

I chose to take my five minutes and salute fifteen amazing Michigan educators whose contribution to my personal learning network have allowed me to learn all that I have and keep me going in my daily teaching life. It was a live version of the Twitter #FollowFriday hashtag.

Here they are. I could easily produce a list of fifteen more over and over again. I learn from hundreds of great people constantly.


Ben Rimes: @techsavvyed
Kristi Zoerhof: @kristizoerhof
Brad Wilson: @dreambition
Rebecca Wildman: @rebeccawildman
Brad Waid: @techbradwaid
Drew Minock: @techminock
John Sowash: @jrsowash
Karen Bosch: @karlyb
Mark Behnke: @mbanksvid
Amber Kowatch: @amberkowatch
Tony Dilaura: @anthonydilaura
David Prindlw: @dprindle
Kelly Kermode: @coachk
Dave Tebo: @tebotweets
Dan Spencer: @runfardvs

There are so many more and I will salute them periodically throughout the months to come. Thanks to all of these great people.


Friday, March 7, 2014

#FlippedClassroom Flop

Yesterday I had my announced teacher observation for my overall performance evaluation and....well, let's just say the hour could have gone a lot better.

Second graders were beginning the process of creating their first iMovies, ones that will involve the reporting of animal facts in a voice-over with stunning images from I had taught this lesson twice in the last week and it had been a great experience. I figured it would be a home run for the evaluation. I however, fell victim to a trap I was consciously avoiding...trying to put on a good show instead of just good teaching.

In retrospect, I was really just trying to do too much. I wanted to show my ability to screencast or "DVR my teaching" so I prerecorded the steps kids would need to follow in order to make the movie. We would focus mainly on Day 1's task of collecting three images and organizing them in iPhoto. I have the video posted at and now as they work on the project, they can review the steps instead of me repeating myself.

Things started to unravel when I fired up the screencast as the introduction. I have done this before in other lessons and it allows me to "co-teach" with my own instructions. The problem this time was that I had no sound coming from my speakers. All the kids could hear was the laptop and it was too faint, even as I tried to explain things along with the video.

That was the "I do it" portion. Next we did a "We do it" where the kids helped me go through the process. By the time we were ready to send them to the "You do it" independent portion they were squirrelly from me keeping them on the floor for too long.

In retrospect, the screencast should have been held back until next time. It still have a lot of merit and when we revisit this activity. Showing it off to have it included in the observation clouded the educational benefit of it and caused the kids to be on the floor too long. I am also questioning when the right age is to use principles of the flipped classroom is with students. Second Grade might be a little young. That is the learning I took away from it.

As for the rest of the period, it took some work and individualized attention but all students completed their Day 1 task of collecting the images and organizing them. A number of them began to research their animal facts as well. Next time will go better I promised them and told them that their hard work will pay off in the end.

My principal was understanding and commented that he liked my ability to make adjustments. He says that he is looking forward to coming back and seeing the finished product. That is fair. I trust the projects will be amazing.

Disclaimer: No, this is not a flipped classroom in the truest sense but uses principles of the flipped classroom. It was still a flop.