Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flipping for Kindergarten

This year I have committed to jumping on the "flipped classroom" bandwagon. Being a "techie", it seemed right up my alley. However, in Kindergarten there are no lectures, so having my students watch a video about the lesson at home is going to look different.

I have spent this whole summer reading and thinking about how this process is going to look. I began by thinking I would just have a few students and parents who have internet access at home watch the videos and do the activities after school, and while the rest of the class did the work during the school day, I would have an enrichment-type activity for these students. However, when I introduced the idea to my principal, she encouraged me to give everyone a chance right from the start, so that we can have lots of data, and so that everyone can benefit. I do intend for my activities, and possibly my videos, to be differentiated, so I agreed.

At this time, I am thinking that I will give the class their assignment on Monday, and they must have it completed and a parent questionnaire turned it by Friday. Families can choose to work on one or two activities each night, or they can complete every activity every night (for example, if the parent feels they need more repetition). More on this in a minute.

For my videos, I began thinking about modeling my lesson after this one, focusing on a letter of the alphabet each week (which matches our reading series). I have heard of lots of teachers having their students make videos, which serve two purposes: to show what they have learned, and to teach others in possibly a different manner that might work better for some students. But I had never been able to wrap my head around how to do this in Kindergarten. Just today, as I was reading the Flipped Classroom Ning and have just completed our state's required literacy assessments, I had the idea to allow each student to help me record the lesson for a letter that he or she already knows. Since all of my students already know at least one letter, I should be able to allow everyone to have a turn, and I think including the children in the videos will win more parent and administrative support (my principal is totally on board and excited - I'm thinking higher-ups!)

I laughed with my principal when I explained to her why I didn't get a tan this summer: because I spent the whole summer on the computer curating content for this endeavor!

  • I set up a class account on Edmodo, and learned a bit about how to use it to assign work to my families.
  • I followed many flipping teachers on Twitter, and asked a few questions, but I really found out that I must be "blazing a trail" by flipping Kindergarten - I haven't found any other K teachers yet that are or will be flipping. By the way, you'll want to follow #flipclass to get the best experience!
  • Apparently I was the talk of the staff for a while at MentorMob, as I created 150+ differentiated playlists of videos and activities, one for each of my five groups of students for each week of the school year. So much so that Eric Pitt asked me to do a phone interview to talk about how I was planning to use these playlists in my classroom, and has asked me to do a guest post on the MentorMob blog!
  • I took a course on flipping on Sophia.
  • I played around looking for videos and activities on Khan Academy (nothing for kindergarten), Watch Know Learn (wonderful resource), and Sesame Street (love their own playlists!), among MANY others.

Once my playlists were created, I focused first on how to make sure the families were completing the activities at home. Since kindergarteners are VERY honest, I decided this probably won't be too much of a problem. Kindergarteners also cannot take notes or fill out a questionnaire, but parents can. So I decided to gear my questions toward receiving input and feedback from the parents. I created a Google Forms questionnaire for each week that will ask the parents questions based on that week's activities. This will help me with flexible grouping of my students based on their abilities and growth, and will also let me know what the parents think about the number and quality of the activities for future classes.

Finally, I tackled the topic of ideas for those students who don't have internet access, since most of my activities are games instead of videos, and therefore cannot be recorded on a DVD. I still plan on recording my letter videos on DVD for those students. But as far as the online activities, I'm giving some thought to a couple of possibilities right now:

  • Suggesting families go to the Public Library. A few may be willing, but for some this will be an inconvenience, or transportation may not be available.
  • Offering time on the computer before school starts, possibly before we even open the doors to everyone else. One problem with this might be that, usually those students who don't have internet access are the same ones that ride a bus and eat breakfast when they get to school, so they might not be available at that time. This will work, though, for students whose parents feed them at home and bring them to school.
  • Opening up my classroom after school, since I am usually here anyway. I will be limited by the number of computers in my classroom (four), and once again by the students who ride a bus and do not have their own transportation, or parents who work during the day.
  • Opening up our traveling lab of netbooks after school. This will allow me to serve more than just four families at a time, if they have transportation.
  • I am open to other solutions as they are introduced to me.

Before I go, I want to record one idea that I read - I believe it was from @ramusallem on Twitter (I'm paraphrasing). He said that flipping the classroom allows us to offload the lower-level activities of Bloom's Taxonomy - those activities that don't require as much in-depth focus - and allows us to do more projects and activities from the higher levels in class, where students need our assistance and guidance more often. In respect to Rigor and Relevance (a big push in our district right now), it will allow me to do more activities in the B and D Quadrants than I could before, and to focus more on individualizing my instruction.

Friday's the big First Day with all of my students, but the first few weeks consist of teaching the students how to "do school" rules and procedures - it has been likened to herding cats, but that's part of the fun for me. I won't start the meat of flipping until after our Parent Night in early September. It's gonna be a Fabulous Year!
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