If you are thinking of adopting Pam Allyn’s Core Ready series for teaching the Common Core English Language Arts standards, be sure to check out our review based on our experience with the program!
As teachers, we know that it’s difficult to truly evaluate a program until we’ve actually used it for a solid time-period. At the same time, we also know it’s not often practical just to try out programs, due to financial and time constraints. For this reason, I’d like to share my experience with teaching using Pam Allyn’s Core Ready books, in the hopes that it assists teachers considering their implementation. My fifth grade team decided to adopt the series this past year since we wanted a Common Core-aligned reading and writing workshop program. We had previously been using The Complete Year in Reading & Writing: Year 5 by Pam Allyn with much success, so we had high hopes for the new series. I was personally able to teach using all of the books this year except The Journey to Meaning,due to maternity leave.
Each of the four books have 1 “lesson set” or unit per grade, which includes:
10 lessons each for reading and writing (reading and writing to be taught simultaneously)
1 Language Lesson (to be taught at some point within the lesson set)
Appendix of resources, including graphic organizers and rubrics
Grades 3-5 Books (can be taught in any order you prefer):
The Power to Persuade: Opinion & Argument
Focuses on strategies on what makes writing persuasive
Main published piece for 5th grade: a persuasive text
The Road to Knowledge: Information & Research
Focuses on how to gather research, note-taking skills, and how to correctly cite others’ work
Main published piece for 5th grade: an informational text; topic chosen by students
The Journey to Meaning: Comprehension & Critique
Focuses on reading poetry & essays to analyze themes, subjects, and author point of view
Main published piece for 5th grade: analytical essay
The Shape of Story: Yesterday & Today
Focuses on various types and components of stories, including character development and conflict, with an emphasis on fantasy for the 5th grade lessons
Main published piece for 5th grade: a narrative fantasy story
Other Corresponding Resources
Be Core Ready: Powerful, Effective Steps to Implementing and Achieving the Common Core State Standards: Detailed introduction both to the Core Ready series and to the ELA Common Core Standards themselves.
PDToolKit: An online resource in which you can access additional resources for the lessons
♥Common Core-aligned, vertically and horizontally!
This is obviously a major attraction to this series. Now that the Common Core has simplified the focuses of ELA standards, it can be difficult to revise your current ELA program to be completely Common Core aligned–especially across an entire school! The beauty of the Core Ready books is that not only is it completely Common Core-aligned within your own grade level, but it masterfully builds learning between grades.
♥Simple structure in each lesson (Warm up, Teach, Try, Clarify, Practice, Wrap-up)
I enjoyed this framework both because it facilitates plenty of guided student application, and because it allowed me to easily divide up the lessons into multiple days (if we needed to break it up, we would often end with “Clarify” one day, and begin with “Practice” the next).
♥Fosters teacher authenticity
The series thoroughly embraces the 21st century view of teachers as readers and writers growing right alongside students (rather than as wizened experts or sources of knowledge). A perfect illustration of this approach lies in the fact that as students create a published piece in each lesson set, the books also encourage teachers to do the same. The benefits here are reciprocal; first, it builds in authenticity as teachers model their own warts-and-all literary process. As a result, students glimpse the true nature of literary learning: not a neat, manufactured, step-by-step process, but one that is messy, purposeful, and beautiful.
♥Student-centered –> Plenty of room for inquiry!
Rather than teachers directly pointing out literary concepts, it encourages students to discover the concepts themselves within texts. The lessons also constantly invite students to consider their own literary backgrounds, to identify their personal inspiration, and to make purposeful choices as unique readers and writers.
♥Encourages critical thinking and metacognition
The lessons are designed to continually challenge students to ask, “WHY?” For instance, any time students are asked to find examples of literary concepts in texts, they are also nearly always asked to locate text evidence that defends their reasoning. This makes for lively student discussions as they share their personal analyses. Additionally, every lesson set involves student reflection, and I definitely saw growth in my students as they regularly examined their own thinking and decision-making processes.
During a webinar early in the school year, I asked Pam Allyn and Debbie Lera whether 40 lessons would be enough to span the entire school year, as we worried this seemed like more of a supplemental program. They assured me that many lessons would likely take more than a day to teach, and they were absolutely right; particularly when students gathered research or revised, some lessons took more than a week! Additionally, our grade kept a couple small units from previous years, which we found easy to incorporate alongside the Core Ready series.
♥Encourages digital literacy
For the informational text unit, my students turned essays into multi-media blog posts. For the fantasy narrative, my students created illustrated Storybirds. The Core Ready books are packed with suggestions for engaging and natural technology integration.
This is part of the reason that each lesson can be extended well beyond a day. They include:
Ideas for both high-tech & low-tech classrooms
Suggestions to bridge concepts for English Language Learning students
Suggestions for Speaking & Listening development
Concrete ideas for formative assessments throughout the lessons.
Fantastic Appendix of resources and rubrics
♥Few anchor texts required
If you previously used the Complete Year in Reading and Writing books, you understand the financial strain of programs that require many anchor texts. While this series does recommend a few anchor texts, it more frequently gives suggestions for online-accessible texts!
Of course, dedicating time for daily reading and writing is essential. However, this program requires at least 40 minutes each for the reading and writing lessons. You will also likely want to find time to incorporate guided reading groups, and while it’s been suggested that these groups can be run during the “practice” component of each reading lesson, that simply isn’t always practical. For one thing, it keeps you from one-on-one interactions available during their practice time. Plus, that practice time doesn’t happen the same way every day since some individual lessons are stretched over multiple days, which makes it very difficult to predictably schedule guided reading within the reading/writing workshop time.
♦Language Standards not fully integrated
Throughout the 4 books for 5th grade, some of the Language standards are only covered once–and a couple, not at all (Standards 4 and 5). While a wonderful characteristic of the Core Ready books is that each lesson masterfully integrates a variety ELA standards, this can also make it difficult to keep track of which areas need to be supplemented if they aren’t included. For how time-consuming this program is, I found myself wishing that the entire ELA standards were covered so we didn’t feel we needed an additional grammar program to provide complete Language instruction and spiraling practice.
♦Teacher talk can be lengthy
Each phase of each lesson includes detailed sample teacher talk, which is positive in that it gives teachers clear ideas on the lesson’s intended direction. However, it can get quite long–the “Teach” component in particular. For this reason, the lengthy teacher talk only becomes a “con” when teachers don’t realize it’s essential to adapt it to their own timetable and student needs.
The strengths of this series clearly outweigh the few drawbacks. I would highly recommend these books to any teacher, especially if they are looking for a way to naturally build reading and writing skills in an interdependent, authentic manner!
Class meetings are more than about discussing logistics or class management, although those are benefits, too. It’s about creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable to speak their minds & learn from each other!
#1: Develop as Risk-Takers.
“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller
We all develop inhibitions through the years as we become fearful of failure. This kind of mentality, however, is absolutely stifling to any real learning. We must find authentic ways to show students we welcome risk-taking, rather than just telling them we do. Class meetings are a perfect way to do so! Because of their low-pressure settings, they have the capacity to help even the shyest students to slowly build their confidence over the year.
#2: Cultivate Relationships with Students.
In the blur of lunch count, P.E., and grading, it’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of school, neglecting personal relationships. However, most of us began teaching because of people–as it should be! Class meetings provide an appropriate, dedicated environment for sharing personal experiences–ones of celebration, loss, anticipation, anxiety, and just plain silliness. Such sharing renews and strengthens our most important priority: the students with whom we work.
#3: Social Skills.
Listening, turn-taking, appropriate responding, articulating ideas–these are just a few social skills developed in a class meeting environment. As teachers, it’s easy to react to apparent deficits in these social skills during instruction time with consequences–but what students often need more is additional practice and examples of people effectively using these skills!
#4: Opportunity for Meaningful Discussions.
This benefit is best illustrated with an example from my classroom. On my first day back at school after a week-long illness-related absence, we gathered in our circle. Students quickly began to report that behavior was not always at its best with our substitute teachers, which led to one student volunteering the statement, “Some kids think, ‘Well, I’m not going to get anything for it, so why should I be good?’” This led to one of our most animated and earnest conversations of the year. As they explored and debated this question, the class eventually came up with the following thoughtful answers, among others:
No matter how smooth your classroom management or arrangement, the fact is, issues invariably arise each year with each group of students. From desk arrangements to concerns about homework loads, students will pick up on small details teachers overlook. When you give them the opportunity to voice concerns and then to discuss them as a class during regular meetings, the classroom starts to truly become a shared, democratic environment instead of one run by one imperfect person. While a class meeting should by no means be the only opportunity for student voice, it is one helpful medium!
5 Set-Up Tips
#1: Establish rules and routines first!
No matter how old your students are, it’s essential to start by discussing expectations. To help them understand the shared nature of class meetings, make sure these are not your expectations, but what the class truly expects from one another during the meetings. Make a shared list, have students sign it as a contract, and post it in the class meeting area for a visual reminder. Have a couple of practice trials that emphasize the expectations, and model some of those skills by role-playing with students!
#2: Start With a “Talking Circle” with a “Talking Object.”
“Talking circles are more successful when the participants have trust with each other. Taking time to share stories, build relationships, explore values, and create guidelines for participation helps everyone feel physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe in the circle and creates a foundation for courageous acts of sharing.” (Winters, A.)
Have students start by sitting in a circle, and one-by-one, passing a “talking object” that declares that they have the floor for sharing. (My students have always loved using a Koosh ball for this purpose).
#3: Put out a Suggestions/Compliments Box.
Place this box in an accessible location to give students the opportunity to share compliments for the positive acts they notice from classmates, or for suggestions to help the classroom run more smoothly. We recommend making and printing your slips to provide a template that includes lines for names, solutions, etc. Remember to model to students what quality compliments and suggestions look like (which will avoid excessive “You are nice” slips, or complaints without ideas for solutions)!
#4: Establish a regular weekly meeting time.
If it matters to your students, it should matter to you! Set aside a regular weekly time, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes. If assemblies or field trips shift the schedule, discuss with students whether they’d like to reschedule that week to help them know it’s still a priority!
#5: Allow Flexibility.
During the Talking Circle, we suggest that you leave the sharing open-ended, rather than giving students a prompt. We also recommend that you give them the choice to “Pass” on their turn to keep it from becoming a stressful, pressured situation.
Whether you’re implementing a BYOD classroom, teaching students to develop PLN’s, or planning a Twitter debate in your class, these 5 tools may help you with some unexpected logistics.
The Importance of Keeping Up
Anyone involved with teaching today is familiar the swift and exponential nature of changes in 21st century education. This is true to the extent that even if you graduated with your teaching degree within the past few years, your pedagogical training probably did not leave you fully prepared. We hope that the following 5 resources will be valuable to you as you adapt to modern learning strategies.
If you are not already using Google Drive in your classroom, add it to your must-try-asap list! From elementary school on up, it enables effective digital collaboration. As an added bonus, it cuts down messy stacks of papers! Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite time and sanity-saving tips to maximize your Google Drive usage in the classroom:
Teach students to use the “Comments” tool for peer editing and revising. That way, students can have actual conversations about the feedback they give one another without actually altering others’ work!
Self-grading function: If you are currently using or are interested in using Google Forms to quiz students (for free!), make sure you look up how to make it self-grading! (Check out one tutorial here!)
Revision history: Make sure that both you and your students are familiar with this tool in the “File” menu just in case one student accidentally alters or deletes another’s work.
Take Advantage of its share-ability: Long-gone are the days of needing to upload each student’s PowerPoint to a flash drive (see our article on Powerpoint alternatives), or even asking them to individually email you their digital project. Instead, have students create all projects that are compatible with Google Drive in one class Google account that you can easily access and manage.
Use Google Spreadsheets for a multi-purpose class roster: Keeping track of missing permission slips, student project groups, or anecdotal notes is a cinch with Google Spreadsheets. Google Drive’s app makes this especially appealing as you can whip out your phone or tablet to view your notes as you walk through the class!
#3: Digital Classroom Management Tips:
Establishing quality classroom management strategies is a critical skill for every educator. However, such techniques can quickly get complicated when BYOD is introduced–how do you manage a variety of phones, tablets, and laptops when such devices can already be distracting? Jennifer Carey, a director of educational technology, shared her top 5 tips for digital classroom management in an Edudemic article, from setting clear expectations, to recognizing that it’s OK to put the technology away at times!
What does it mean to become a 21st century educator? Effective technology integration certainly plays its role, but it’s also about accessibility and individual perspective shifts. Find inspiration in our 10 tips…
When we refer to becoming a 21st century teacher, we certainly recognize that technology plays an enormous role in how quality education has evolved. However, we feel it also reaches into simple attitudes that are shifting. It’s likely a reciprocal effect: the more technology use and global networking has grown, the more recognition has spread for best practices; the more the recognition for best practices has spread, the more technology has been examined to assist in this innovation. Still, as adept as many teachers are in adopting 21st century attitudes and strategies, we know many others feel overwhelmed by it all, from first year teachers to veterans nearing retirement. We feel that starting small, one attitude or strategy at a time, is the best method!
#1: Reject “Content is King!”
A quote from the above video that bears repeating:
“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . . using technologies that haven’t been invented . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” ~Karl Fisch
If we allow our teaching to exist mostly as delivering information that students memorize, our job descriptions could be quickly outsourced to Google! Worse still, our students’ limited skills would also be highly replaceable by search engines and video databases like LearnZillion. 21st Century teachers and learners alike must realize that education is no longer about what we’ve memorized, but about how we learn to evaluate and utilize information!
#2: Recognize that Change is Essential!
Ken Robinson has been a tremendously influential voice when it comes to the need to change our thinking in education. Some of the primary changes he suggests include the way we think about “human capacity,” collaboration, and the “habits of institutions.” On a similar track, author and educator Shelly Blake-Plock outlined 21 Things that Will be Obsolete by 2020 (reflection post), including current systems of standardized testing for college admissions and organizing classes by age and grade.
A prominent example of current change is the Common Core (see our CCSS article). Some parents are frustrated that it does NOT involve a back-to-basics, “finding the answer” approach. (See one example of a parent who allegedly exclaimed on his child’s homework page that the “real world” would favor faster, simpler vertical subtraction over evaluating misconceptions using a visual number line. We would point out that a calculator is even faster and simpler, if speed is really the highest priority in “the real world”). In their fear of education looking different than it did when they were kids, these individuals seem to miss that the emphasis is now on critical thinking, a crucial shift when you think back to our tip #1 in particular. There is a difference between education and learning, and fortunately, the 21st century is moving more toward the latter.
#3: Develop a PLN
A PLN (Personal Learning Network) allows you to maximize your professional development as you use social media and other platforms to learn and collaborate with teachers around the world. If Shelly Blake-Plock is correct about the way school Professional Development is moving toward teachers taking the lead, PLN’s will prove increasingly important for every educator to have in place. Our article on PLN’s is a great resource for beginners!
#4: Encourage students to develop PLN’s
The above word cloud took shape when creator Caroline Bucky asked members her own PLN what their individual PLN’s meant to them. If students were enabled to create such meaningful networks, imagine the ramifications that would have on their ability to contribute to a global society (another major aspect of the 21st century)!
For many decades, ideas from student-centered pedagogy theorists like Jean Piaget have taught the importance of this attitude. In fact, a wonderful Piaget quote on the topic of student ownership reads:
“The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.” ~Jean Piaget
He said this in 1964. Think of the greater importance for students to “verify, and not accept, everything they are offered” now that the digital world provides them with a constant stream of information! This kind of ownership for learning does not happen when our expectations are limited to students “repeating what other generations have done”–in other words, limited to the content and understanding we bring to the table. Evidence that we can improve in this regard exists in examples such as the above screenshot we took today.
#7: Be Vulnerable with Students
A frequent 21st century dialogue in education involves asking, “How do we help our students become fully engaged in learning?” We feel that a large part of the answer to this question begins with our own levels of engagement and vulnerability as learners with our students. Brené Brown researches and writes on this very topic. She created a leadership manifesto that outlines patterns from her research on how we truly connect and engage. A powerful quote from it:
“When learning and working are dehumanized–when you no longer see us and no longer encourage our daring, or when you only see what we produce or how we perform–we disengage and turn away from the very things that the world needs from us: our talent, our ideas, and our passion. What we ask is that you engage with us, show up beside us, and learn from us.” ~Brené Brown
In short, to prevent disengagement, we absolutely must stop pretending that we know all the answers or that we do not make mistakes.
#8: Examine Your Why
In our post on Flipped Learning, we reference Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle of beginning with the Why. To succeed in the 21st century, becoming a life-long, self-motivated learner is not a nicety–it is a necessity. Cultivating our own Why as teachers and then keeping that at the forefront of our endeavors is an influential attitude simply because we are modeling it for our students. It helps them absorb the “point” of learning and to begin cultivating their own Why’s.
#9: Pursue Your Needs!
Have a low classroom budget? Is 1:1 technology nonexistent in your school? Are you in need of high quality mentor texts in your class library? Thanks to developments here in the 21st century, no longer are your frustrations limited to faculty lounge griping. Tools like DonorsChoose.org allow teacher empowerment as you shop for items you need and write a simple, mini-grant (or project), asking generous donors for help. Not only can you enlist your PLN to spread the word of your project through social media, but you can also look for help from programs in your area like Chevron’s Fuel Your School, which works to fund as many DonorsChoose teacher projects as possible during the month of October (be sure to wait to submit your project until October 1st to qualify)! Additionally, you can work with your administration to implement innovative school programs such as BYOD (see our article on 10 tips for Bring Your Own Device programs) if you’re looking for more technology accessibility in your classroom.
#10: Use Technology to Make Best Use of Time
This infographic by Anna Vital gives several examples of creative ways to save time, including using keyboard shortcuts! We would also suggest other simple strategies, such as keeping your email inbox cleaned up, turning off phone notifications for everything except the things you truly want to interrupt your life (some phones even allow you to turn off notifications or calls at certain times or locations), and utilizing apps to keep your priorities organized. Establishing such strategies that work for you can simplify your planning and classroom time, allowing you to focus on what matters most for you personally and professionally.
You’ve probably heard the buzz around Flipped Learning online or around your school. If you are contemplating implementing this teaching approach, we would encourage you to carefully consider several areas addressed in this article.
When teachers flip their classrooms, they flip around their use of classroom time and homework time. To sum it up quickly:
Traditional class structure: lessons during school → practice during homework.
Flipped classroom structure: practice during school → lessons during homework.
Efficiency and relationships: Proponents frequently submit these as two principal benefits of Flipped Learning. With the lectures transformed into much more efficient, shortened videos, teachers can dedicate class time for more personalized interaction with students. This in turn can also better enable differentiated instruction (see youtube video below)
Revolutionizing Homework Time: Homework critics have long asserted their view that student practice at home without any teacher guidance is an ineffective, frustrating use of students’ time. Flipped Learning has the potential to address this frustration when that practice time is instead brought to the classroom (source)¹.
Data Support: Formal studies examining the effects of flipped learning have yet to come, but many positive experiences have been shared. For instance, Clintondale High School reported that when their teachers used three 5-7 minute lessons per week to flip their classes, math and English failure rates dropped from 44% to 13%, and 50% to 19%, respectively. They also had a sharp decrease in discipline cases. (source)².
Actually a Time-Tested, Old Idea? Others bring up the point that Flipped Learning is just a modern strategy to implement a proven, John Dewey-coined pedagogy: centering the learning more around the learner than the teacher (source)³.
Some (free!) Resources
Homework Side of the Flip:
Screenr: Records a video of what you do on your computer screen (ie, a PowerPoint, Prezi, or Word Document), while simultaneously recording your voice as you explain the content. Easy to share through Youtube or embedding.
Educreations: Records your voice as you draw your lesson. You can also prepare the slides before you start recording your voice to be more efficient through your lesson.
Sophia: Allows you to bring in content such as PDF’s and Google Documents. You can even attach quizzes to your lessons!
Youtube: Great if you want a full-blown video with your face. Make sure the lighting and sound are high quality, though!
Respond to questions inspired by homework lessons: Start the lesson with exploring student-raised questions that came up during the homework. To allow you time to consider and prepare for those questions, you can even include in the homework assignment for students to email you at least one question.
Require students to take notes: This approach would be especially appropriate for older grades. Just make sure you model to them effective note-taking while watching a video (see article addressing this practice).
5 Ways to Encourage Student-Centered Learning in the Flip
1. Understand Flipped Learning’s Direct Instruction Design
The official FLN (Flipped Learning Network) definition of flipped learning says, “”Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space…” (source)⁴ In other words, flipped homework videos are intended almost exclusively for direct instruction use.
For this reason, we strongly encourage every educator to be extremely selective in when and how they choose to flip lessons. If many of your class lessons are already inquiry-based, only use flipped learning on the occasion direct instruction is needed–or perhaps, even after your inquiry lesson to extend and reinforce the big ideas students discovered. If most of your lessons are currently direct instruction, we feel that flipped learning is just one step in how you can approach your teaching in a way that reaches more learners, and on deeper levels. (see points #2 and 3).
We have seen articles mentioning that one benefit of flipped classrooms is that students who are absent won’t get behind (source)⁵. However, this perspective suggests that students wouldn’t miss much if they had to skip the classroom inquiry time–that the teacher-centered, direct instructional videos would be sufficient. However, we maintain that it is critical for teachers to possess the reverse perspective if they are to cultivate a student-centered focus.
2. Don’t Depend on Flipped Learning Alone to Inspire!
To illustrate this point, we would like to reference a few educators that have discussed the topic of Flipped Learning in the context of inquiry-based instruction:
“Questions and curiosity…are magnets that draw us towards our teachers, and they transcend all technology or buzzwords in education. But if we place these technologies before student inquiry, we can be robbing ourselves of our greatest tool as teachers: our students’ questions. For example, flipping a boring lecture from the classroom to the screen of a mobile device might save instructional time, but if it is the focus of our students’ experience, it’s the same dehumanizing chatter–just wrapped up in fancy clothing. But if instead we have the guts to confuse our students, perplex them, and evoke real questions, through those questions, we as teachers have information that we can use to tailor robust and informed methods of blended instruction.” (source)⁶
Edna Sackson, author of blog WhatEdSaid, shared her perspective:
“It’s not so much about flipping as about rethinking altogether. [emphasis added]. Learning isn’t linear. It’s not a step by step, one size fits all process. It doesn’t go in a sequence from remembering to understanding to analysing… and finish with creating. And it doesn’t necessarily have to go in the reverse order either. It depends on the learner and on the situation.” (source)⁷
Many individuals discussing flipped learning promote the idea of moving lower-level Bloom’s Taxonomy skills (remembering, understanding) to the homework lessons, and higher-level skills (creating, evaluating) to the classroom (source)⁸. However, educator Shelley Wright suggests flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy as well! She writes, “Here’s what I propose. In the 21st century, we flip Bloom’s taxonomy. Rather than starting with knowledge, we start with creating, and eventually discern the knowledge that we need from it.” (source)⁹
3. Start With the Why
Author Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk a few years ago about what motivates people, stemming from his “Golden Circle” model. He explains that what has always set apart innovative and inspiring leaders, such as the Wright Brothers, is that they they focused on their beliefs or their Why, rather than the How or What.
This concept absolutely applies to how we approach learning. Think about your Why as a teacher: is your end goal for students to just pass your class and move on in the system, memorizing your content just long enough to pass your tests? Or do you hope for their sights to be raised in wonder and possibility, taking their learning further by building upon it throughout their lives? If we focus only on results, then all of our most carefully-constructed worksheets, projects, and activities will stem from the How and What, and will likely lead to very little. However, if we focus on the Why first, we will find increased levels of student ownership and engagement as they set their own visions higher. (check out Edna Sackson’s post on Differentiating Learning for additional ideas for raising our own sights in this approach!)
4. Design Homework Videos to be Accessible & Useful to Students
Particularly in higher education levels, we have seen examples of teachers and professors approaching the homework side of the flip in ways that can be overburdensome and/or ineffective for students. For example, creating videos that are especially lengthy may work in isolation for your class; however, if a student has multiple instructors who have flipped their classrooms, it may be prove overwhelming for students. Additionally, one benefit of flipped classrooms is students’ ability to pause, rewind, and replay the videos as needed to better absorb the information. Therefore, if your 1-hour video is one among several assigned in an evening, students will be less likely to thoroughly engage, regardless of their age Jonathan Bergmann, a pioneer in flipped learning, recommends no more than 1 ½ minutes per grade level (source)⁸. On the other hand, instructors should also take care that the content of their video adequately covers the concepts to be practiced in class. Finding the balance between these two ideas will come with trial and error, so be sure to seek student feedback as you do so!
As you consider how to make your videos as practical and engaging as possible, don’t forget about accessibility, either! Many students prefer to access flipped homework videos via smartphones, so make sure the platform you’re using is available on both desktops and mobile devices!
5. Have a Realistic Troubleshooting Gameplan
No internet, computers, or mobile devices at home? This is becoming a less frequent problem all the time, but it still exists! While we have come across several potential solutions to this problem, (including burning videos to DVD’s or flashdrives, using the public library, using the school computer lab after school, or watching with a friend or borrowed device), not every idea will be practical at your school. To guide your search, seek your students’ input to find out not only what they would prefer, but for how many of them this is an issue. Consider factors such as your own time constraints for burning DVD’s or how many computers are even available for students at your school. You may need to take an alternative route altogether and watch the videos during class. See the video below to see how this works:
Some students don’t watch the homework videos? Establish a formative assessment each day to check for understanding, whether it’s ExitTickets.org, emailed questions, or note-taking. If you have computers in your classroom, you may decide that students who missed it can watch the video in class, but make sure you still have measures in place to encourage accountability (ie, the students would then have an extra assignment based on the practice they missed).