Friday, June 21, 2013

FlipCon 2013 - The keynotes, the tech and the Flipped Out!!

The Flipped Class conference in Stillwater, OK has come and gone, and even though I was only able to be a virtual attendee, there were many highlights that I wanted to share.

The keynote by Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams was as wonderful as always. They never cease to help me get excited about flipping my class all over again! I would like to be able to find someone that I could work with that I could have that type of relationship...the ying to my yang so to speak. The biggest thing that resonated with me from their keynote was not something new, but something I think that we as teachers need to be reminded of from time to time. The key to teaching is relationships. Open, trusting relationships are crucial to student success and great classroom experiences.

However, I even though I have found that although the flipped class gives me more opportunities to establish relationships with my students, I think teachers can do more. I have gotten so much more buy-in from my students because I went to their game/concert/play. Not to mention it is a great time to see parents (the ones that never come to conferences, but never miss a game) and say something positive about their student. Students know that we work hard and appreciate that we take the time to be a part of their lives outside of the classroom. My students love to meet my young twins, who inevitably are with me at the various games.

The rest of the post is about my two favorite sessions, which are all about new tech tools that I can actually USE in my class.

Marc Seigel's session about Google tools for the flipped classroom was just what I was looking for. We have been using Google Docs at my school, but the students are still resisting it and I think the main reason is because we as teachers haven't been proactive about harnessing the power of Gdocs. Marc's session was full of great elements of Google that will be such time savers, they are worth putting in the time to figure them out. This is not a full list, and I haven't played with them all yet, but the ones I really keyed in on are:
  • Formmule - With this, I can grade and send students feedback quickly via email
  • MoveNote - This is an app that you can add to your Google Drive (go to Settings, manage apps, then scroll until you see it and add it) that will enable you to use your webcam to leave a video recording of feedback for an assignment. I thought this might be especially helpful with students that are having pronunciation issues so that they could see your mouth move as you pronounce the words.
  • VoiceNote - Also an app that you can add to your Google Drive that will enable you to leave voice comments on a document or other assignment. The suggestion was made to take a screenshot of the document and make your comments so students could really understand the feedback, (and not just throw it in the trash.)
The best part for me was that Marc explained (both in the session and then a little more through a Twitter chat) how to create folders with my Gdocs for classes and then for each student. After creating them, I can share the student's folder with them and that is where they can put their completed assignments. One of my goals this year is to use less paper and to keep online portfolios of student work. Marc also suggested that the student's folder could also be shared with the parent, so they could see and/or hear the feedback for all of the assignments. This is a great idea and can minimize some of those parent phone calls, but I think it might be a little tricky for me since I really want to try to give as much of the feedback in Spanish as possible. ;)

Ideally, we as a department can use these online portfolios to keep track of each student's progress throughout their time in the language program. I think it would be a great if we could do it across the school as well. In my school, there is so much turnover, that being able to access student work from previous teachers could be a real asset to the new teachers when they are trying to determine strengths and weaknesses of students.

Jason Bretzman and Cory Peppler also presented about technology, but different, non-Google tools. Again, some of these are new to me as well, so I have not had the chance to play with them all.
  • Symbaloo - This is a cool curation tool. Although I have not used this one, I have used others. I think that the look of this would be very appealing to students. I could see them using this for 20% projects as a place to share all their links, or even a resource throughout the school year for when they find websites that are great for Spanish information.
  • Piktochart - A easy way to be able to create your own, or have student created infographics.
  • Xtranormal - This is a way to create cute little characters that will say whatever you want. I think this would be an interesting way to deliver conversation topics or topics for brainstorming.
  • Wordsift - This is another word visualization tool.
  • YUDU - This is an online publishing tool. I am searching for ways to minimize paper so I am very interested in this. You can also include video and sound, so it would be awesome for Spanish class. I would love to create my own e-book for my classes and get rid of packets and papers forever. Just not sure if I can truly do it without being 1:1.
There were so many sessions, and honestly, since I was attending virtually, I did quite a bit of moving back and forth to try to gain as much new information as I could from many of them. I would love to see flipped PD as presented by Kristin Daniels, but I don't know if my admin is ready for that. I will bring it up and see! I am always interested in the choice activities presented by Ellen Dill, and love incorporating choice into all of my units. I want to watch the co-flip session presented by Cheryl Morris and Andrew Thomasson again before I make any real comments. I was so intrigued, that I didn't write anything down, I just listened and tried to absorb. Sound issues prevented me from hearing the session by Steve Kelly and Zach Cresswell, but we reconnected via Twitter and maybe working on a Math/Spanish unit together.....how awesome is that.

On one more note, Ramsay Musallam, who gave the second keynote of the conference was truly fantastic. He has an interesting way of looking at things that, even though familiar, makes you reconsider things that you thought you knew. He used the movie "The Karate Kid" to make connections with his Explore-Flip-Apply method. But I think that it was the clip from his favorite comedian that really summed up so much about the flipped class- "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will never go hungry. Give a man the tools and leave him alone, and eventually he will figure it out." Focus on making the students find the information and really think about what they need to know before you give them all of the information. I am still pondering how to make this work in my Spanish class, but I really like it.

If you are interested in any of this information or any of the presenters, I made as many clickable with their info as I could, or you can find them all on Twitter. Join our PLN at the #flipclass Twitter chat at 8EST on Mondays.

**Start thinking about the Flipped Class Conference 2014 at Mars High School near Pittsburg, PA. I know that I will be there!