Flipped Kindergarten

Many people have misconceptions about what a flipped classroom is. They feel it needs to replace the teaching you do in every subject, every lesson, of every day. I’m here to tell you that this is not true. A flipped classroom model is not and should not replace every lesson of every day. There are some lessons that will not mesh with this model. Having a flipped classroom model can simply be one of your tools in your box. It can be applied to any lesson of any subject to give a new life to the unit being taught.

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So why do teachers choose to use a flipped classroom model? The answers are many! Students can fast forward and rewind learning essentially owning their learning. Students who are absent can still gain the content that would otherwise be missed. School time is spent with better discussions and experience with the content basics absorbed outside of school and the focused experience being the meat of student days.

Today we will dive into the components of a flipped classroom that I feel are most important. I will also show you ways that I use flipped lessons in Kindergarten and you will hear about five great web tools.

A flipped lesson has similar components to a traditional lesson. There is an introduction, content delivery, and ends with a summary. Although these elements are the same as in a traditional lesson, they will look differently. First of all, the elements in a flipped lesson will be primarily online; this is the core of a flipped lesson. They will often flow in a different order. They start with the introduction followed by a summary, then ending with the content delivery during the time spent in school.

An introduction to a traditional lesson may involve an experience or some sort of a hook to lead students in. In a flipped lesson, the introduction is either a podcast or a video to prepare students for the content being delivered.  A sound flipped classroom introduction should be all of the following:

  •          Student Friendly- Students must be able to absorb material.
  •          Interesting and Innovative- Use the newest web tools that relate better to the content.
  •          Available 24/7- Use a platform that is accessible through any device.

The content delivery in a traditional lesson would typically be a lecture or practical practice. In a flipped lesson, the content delivery would take place as an experience in the classroom. These experiences would focus on collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Having more time in class to host in depth, content rich lessons helps to boost students’ learning.

Summaries that take place in a traditional classroom would include some sort of exam or test on paper. In a flipped lesson, the summary comes right after the introduction during the students’ online time. This summary may involve use of a web tool, or a simple form to check in on students’ absorption of content. A summary should have all of the following:

  •          Student Sign in- This lets you know who you need to catch up with before the lesson starts.
  •          Comprehension Check- To monitor students’ progress.
  •          Student Friendly, Interesting and Innovative, and Available 24/7- Same as the introduction. Hosting the intro to the summary on the same page is a great tip!

So, it comes down to this; how do you use it? That question is wide open and quite honestly, up to you! In my classroom, I use a flipped lesson to introduce letter names and sounds, sight words, word blends, math concepts such as sorting, patterning, addition and subtraction, and lots of science! My students find these lessons to be a fun and exciting way to do their “homework” in Kindergarten.

The tools that I use also need to be kid friendly. With the infinite possibilities of web tools to choose from, how can we decide? Here are some that I feel are noteworthy:

  •          Google Apps- Especially Forms, I use this 90% of the time for my summary.
  •          YouTube- All the videos you could ever ask for. Podcasting ready.
  •          Safeshare.tv- I stream all my videos through this for protection.
  •          Glogster.edu- Poster creating tool. Used for all subjects in my classroom.
  •          MentorMob Create tutoring sessions for your students.
  •          Teachem– Combing a YouTube video with a question

 

A flipped classroom in not a singular teaching style, it is a tool that teachers have and should use in their instruction. With the rise of access to the internet and the amount of devices that are placed in students’ hands, a flipped classroom only makes sense. Time spent in schools is very precious, a flipped classroom model helps teachers gain more time to spend on content rich lessons while providing students the opportunity to lead their own learning. My challenge to you is to try this in your classroom. Take the time to use new web tools and provide the freedom in your classroom structures to be innovative and creative.

Leadership = Risk-taking

In the short time that I have been teaching, I have learned many things. Teaching is a very rewarding yet time consuming career, students will ALWAYS enter your mind outside of work, and that good leadership, required risk-taking. When I talk about leadership, I am not just talking about your principal or another administration, I am talking about us, the teachers!

If you watch the best teachers around the globe you will find some things in common. They are taught with best practices, they are integrating technology, and they are shifting their mindsets to the 21st century. But I ask you this: How did best practices become best practices? Who tried to integrate technology to boost students’ success? Who first shifted their mindset to become a better teacher?

It takes Risk-taking! All of the innovators in education have taken risks to get where they did. They took the chance of trying an idea that they thought would work or they went on a limb with their administration and tested something creative. These risks are what got them where they are today.

So, with the proposition that risk-taking is needed in order to grow and change, What risk will you take? What risk will change you forever?!

Unit Design and Delivery

Today I want to share with you’re the means by which I am able to complete so many amazing tasks, while still teaching above and beyond all of the standards. I guess I will start with the fact that I am a backwards design kind of guy. I like to put on the wide lens and see the big picture. I begin by printing off all of the standards that I need to teach, for all subjects. This can be quite a daunting task; but in Kindergarten, we don’t have all that many. I then cut them up and combine them with like standards. I try very hard to combine standards across subjects. Once these standards are combined, I begin to get creative. Our building has three overarching themes that run throughout the year. Monarch Butterflies in the Fall, Robotics in the Winter, and Environmental Studies in the Spring. I begin to design lessons that incorporate all of the chunks of standards, while fitting the themes of the lessons into these overarching ideas.

Ex. In the winter we host an Egyptian robotics unit. Here students learn about programming, momentum, plane and force, basic levers, patterning, counting, history of yeast, history of languages, 3D shapes, sentence writing, and many other scientific processes!

I often get asked, “What did I do to get permission to teach this way?” It was really simple. If you district is already using standard based teaching, it is even easier. When we started this school, we asked our Curriculum Director if we could teach what and how we want as long as we hit the standards and she said “of course! That is the goal we are all reaching for”. If your administration has issues or concerns with this style of teaching, map it out. Show them the clear connections and the way that you can make it work! Lead by example.

This method of teaching and unit design has forever changed the way that I teach. I have more time to reiterate lessons and dive deeper into content that was often never touched. Students enjoy the lessons more because they are often interest based and designed around the class makeup. Take the time to try it, even for a week. Be creative and innovative and you will not be sorry!

Share. Collaborate, Learn

Since I began my teaching career, I have been yearning for the knowledge needed to get me to be the best teacher that I can possibly be. I was searching for new, innovative ideas that were in the here and now, not ideas that are passed to me in the teachers lounge (not all are bad). I first sought out conferences to help fill this need. The searching ended with many questions. How do I know what will be taught? Will this conference really result in changes for me? Will the conference be engaging enough? How effective will this really be? The honest answer is that it came to trial and error. I have been to many conferences all across the nation and it is almost impossible to tell what is good, and what is bad. One tip that I found useful was to turn to social networks which leads me to the crux of this post.Twitter!!!

Like most people, I began using Twitter to stalk people that I know and not share anything that I have. This is an OK way to use this tool, however, it can be manipulated in so many more ways! Twitter in education has changed the way that teachers learn and share information. No longer do we need to attend a $300-$500 conference and learn very little or nothing. Now, I can simply flick on the iPad, open Tweetchat, and learn something new almost instantly! Here are 5 major ways that you can build a PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter.

Following Users – I always make sure that I follow people whose posts I like. I always follow educators, edtech enthusiasts, and educational reformers! Following these users lets me see all of their tweets. This fills my Tweet bar with the newest, most innovative information that is out there, and I see it INSTANTLY!!

Sharing – For me this took a bit. Sharing is something that can be uncomfortable and revealing but in the long run, is very worth it! Sharing lets you express your ideas and feelings allowing you to better reflect and in turn, become a better teacher. I have also found that the more I share, the more I get from people!

Chatting – This fact alone is what changed my experience with Twitter! Hashtags are assigned to certain topics, or regions then dates and times are planned when the chat will take place. Moderators run chats for 1 hour on topics pertaining to the best educational ideas out there! The chat topics change each week so you are guaranteed to have the best information! A list of chats can be found here

Networking – Connecting in new ways is what I am always aiming to do. I love to find a hashtag of a conference going on somewhere and tune in. More often that not, presenters share their websites, participants ask big idea questions, and a collaborative environment filled with learning emerges. I can basically attend the conference for free, and from anywhere, and anytime!

Web Tools – The last tip I will leave you with is my top 3 web tools. TwitterfeedTweetchatHootsuite. I will leave it up to you to dive into them on your own.

I finish this post with one thing. The Twitter Challenge. Share, Collaborate, and Learn