Sunday, November 20, 2011

Advantages vs. Moral Issues: The Flipped Classroom

Incorporating technology in the classroom is becoming more and more vital every single day. The presence of useful technology in the classroom is one way to make our job as teachers easier and more enjoyable. Properly using technology in the classroom is very beneficial for students as well. The possibilities of how technology can be used in one’s classroom are endless. 

The idea of allowing students to use devices like computers, iPads, or video cameras in the school setting makes a lot of sense to me. Most children nowadays are able to efficiently use, and demonstrate to others how to use, most simple technological devices; especially phones, iPods, computers, etc.  When it comes to dealing with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even teachers, students will benefit from using, as well as being able to explain and show their elders how to use these devices. It is believed that one learns something the best when they teach someone else, and that is exactly the opportunity that presents itself when technology is incorporated in the classroom.

One way of using technology in the classroom is the idea of flipping the classroom, or having students observe a video online which presents educational material for a topic. This is done prior to discussing the material in class, so that once students have viewed the material online, they can shortly discuss in class, then either do “homework problems” or activities to reinforce what they have learned (Musallam, 2011). There are many benefits as well as drawbacks of flipping the classroom.

The ability to use digitally annotated and narrated screencasts, like we’ve recently done in ED 483, will put any teacher ahead of the game when trying to incorporate technology in the classroom. This is one great benefit of flipping the classroom. Another positive of flipping the classroom is the ability of a teacher to differentiate instruction. Differentiating instruction for students is one of the most important things a teacher must do. Like Katie Gimbar explains in her video “Why I flipped my classroom”, the individual instruction that occurs with flipping the classroom allows for greater differentiation among students. Also, once in the classroom, teachers are able to group students together based on how they have interpreted and understand the material presented (Gimbar, 2011).

A drawback of flipping the classroom is how teachers could easily and habitually not do the work they should and becoming complacent and ineffective.  I think about how easy it would be to just find videos explaining material to be covered in your class, and just have your students watch them and then do problems and make that your normal routine. Most would say this is not teaching and would be appalled by the idea of “sitting back and letting the students go for it”. Another drawback of flipping the classroom is the lack of individual communication and relationships between students and instructors that may result. I believe that any videos students watch must be made and narrated by their instructor in order for the flipped scenario to be beneficial and effective (Gimbar, 2011). If flipping the classroom is going to be a regular occurrence, a teacher must use their own videos created for their students, not another instructor that the students get to know better than their real teacher. I would understand if, in a bind, a teacher must rely on a video created by another educator to present material to their students. Once this occurs though, there is always the chance of a teacher just falling back on the resources available and not putting in the effort to make their lessons as beneficial as possible for their students. 

I have a positive feeling about the idea of flipping the classroom, and I hope this feeling only gets better as I become an educator and can use this teaching strategy in my own class.


Gimbar, K. Why I Flipped My Classroom. Retrieved November 16, 2011 from:!

Musallam, R. Should You Flip Your Classroom? K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies That Work - Edutopia. Retrieved November 17, 2011 from:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How we’ve met the NETS for teachers

Below, I have commented on each of the four (a, b, c, d) sub-standards of the five NETS for teachers. I have explained how in ED 483, we have either met, or not met these standards with our instructor, Mr. Hammerstrom. The full description of NETS for teachers can be found at:

1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
            a) We were supported and modeled creative and innovative thinking when given the opportunity to create our own videos and being shown video examples to show what was expected of us for the assignment.
            b) We engaged in exploring real-world issues when reading and discussing the articles about the Facebook issues in Missouri. The issues were real and the results of the legislation that was working its way through the government would have a big effect on all of us.
            c) Student reflection has been promoted throughout the course by the use of our personal blogs. Also, the comments that we’ve made on Edmodo have been examples of student reflection and a way to clarify our (the students’) conceptual understanding and thinking.
            d) Collaborative knowledge construction has been performed throughout the class. The virtual meeting with Steve Saffron and our meeting with Scott Smith both allowed us to gain knowledge from other professionals and engage in different forms of learning.

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
            a) Relevant learning experiences have been adapted to incorporate digital tools and resources when individual videos were created by each student as well as the use of the smartboard in class. Each student will be given the opportunity to learn more about using the smartboard, which will be very beneficial.
            b) The learning environment in our classroom includes a smartboard, which has not been used a great amount, but it will be beneficial to learn on it and have Mr. Hammerstrom use it in his lessons.
            c) The survey given at the beginning of the semester was a good thing to use in order to accomplish this standard. After learning the diverse learning styles, working strategies and abilities of all students in the class, Mr. Hammerstrom has been able to very easily accomplish this standard.
            d) There have been many different forms of assessments throughout the semester so far. There have been assignments that we’ve done in groups, individual assignments online, in class and through other forms of media. 

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
            a) Mr. Hammerstrom has definitely demonstrated fluency in technology systems in this class. We have used the smartboard, and even though he is not a pro with the smartboard, he has made the knowledge of other professionals accessible to us, in order to learn about the smartboard. Other forms of technology have been used in the class that have been shown to us and explained very well by Mr. Hammerstrom.
            b) We have collaborated on many occasions in this class. Our virtual interview with Steve Saffron at the beginning of the semester was one of the coolest things I’ve done with available technology. Also, using Edmodo, we’ve collaborated online as a whole class, discussing the subjects at hand for the week.
            c) The communication of relevant info and ideas has been effective in this class. The ideas that Mr. Hammerstrom has wanted to share have been shown to us in class, posted online, and shared with us in e-mails.
            d) Digital tools including the computer, iPad, and other instruments have been used to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use the info available to us as a class.

4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
            a) Mr. Hammerstrom has always advocated digital citizenship and responsibility throughout the course. The rules and regulations surrounding online copyright, intellectual property, and appropriate documentation of resources have been covered.
            b) The various needs of all learners have been covered. The idea behind supporting the different learning styles of students has been taught and supported.
            c) The idea of digital equity and responsible social interactions has been covered and modeled. The use of Edmodo has given students the opportunity to practice this proper interaction and information.
            d) Global awareness has been given light in the classroom. The ideas of other people have been something related to as important and significant.  Students from other cultures have not directly been involved in class, but the idea of sharing ideas with the rest of the world and accepting the idea of others has been covered.

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
            a) This standard has not really been covered so far. The opportunity to participate in the learning community has presented itself recently when the education conferences were held on campus, but it was not directly tied to this course.
            b) This standard has most definitely been encompassed in this course. Mr. Hammerstrom has more than accomplished this by showing students many ways of technology infusion in the classroom. The development of our technology skills, rather than just showing us how to do stuff, has been exercised as well.
            c) The evaluation and reflection of current research and resources has been an everyday occurrence in the classroom. Mr. Hammerstrom has been more than willing to research and practice to make effective use of existing digital tools and resources.
            d) Contributions to the effectiveness of our skills and knowledge have something that Mr. Hammerstrom has worked on all semester. Not only has he shown us the tools and resources available to us, he has made a great effort of showing us HOW to use them. This is a great thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Video cameras at National Parks

If I could, I would bring video cameras into use at places like Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone National Park. The use of video cameras would enable the rest of the world to see the natural beauty and simply amazing things that these parks contain. I’m not certain if there are any broadcasts or live streams of places like these, but there should be. If there were video cameras to catch when geysers erupted in Yellowstone, or when waterfalls help to create huge double rainbows in the valley at Yosemite, it would make the parks that much more enjoyable for everyone. It would be an amazing thing to have video cameras involved at parks like these as well as smaller locations with beautiful scenery. If the video stream from these locations were accessible online, everyone around the world could enjoy the images provided. Also, guided video tours could be given to those who were interested. This would be especially beneficial for those who are unable to travel to these locations. Being able to visit a national park on a virtual tour would be a great experience for those who have wanted to, but are not able.

Ideas on video-collaboration

When I think about video-collaboration in a high school classroom, I can’t say I’ve talked with many people who have a lot of experience in the area. Like I’ve written about before, I had some distance learning experience while in high school, but that was six years ago, and technology has greatly advanced the possibilities of classroom video-collaboration since then. Plus, I wasn’t participating in the classroom that was learning “from a distance”. In the future, I would like to use a system like Polycom to interact with classrooms from different places. For example, I would link up with a classroom from an area that has a different climate, and have them help my students understand the variations in our two differing climates.

I never had the opportunity of participating in virtual field trips, but I will most definitely take advantage of this possibility with my students in the future. One virtual field trip that I would participate in is called “Classification”, and it would help my students learn how to classify major groups of organisms into the different kingdoms. This field trip is provided by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This would be a very helpful field trip to participate in with my students because the professionals and staff members of the zoo and botanical garden would be able to answer questions from my students that I might not be able to. Having the assistance of professionals with a greater knowledge base than me would be a great thing when covering material in my classroom. By participating in this virtual field trip, my students would be able to, perhaps for the first time, visit a zoo and botanical garden. I would begin a unit by introducing my students to the topics we would be studying then at some point during the unit; I would take my students on this virtual field trip to enhance their learning. This would be an extremely beneficial asset to have for my classroom. 

If I had the opportunity to invite a visitor to video-conference with my classroom, I would invite Emily Young, General Manager of Environmental Communications at Sony Europe. Sony is one of the world’s largest media and electronics manufacturers, and is atop the list of companies who are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their products. By having a video conference with someone from a large company like Sony would allow my students to have a real-world experience of how one can make a difference when dealing with the environment. Mrs. Young would definitely help my students understand the importance of making environmentally conscious decisions.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Distance Learning

Technology is becoming more and more common in classrooms every day. For the most part, while I was growing up, there was not a large presence of technology in my classrooms. The most common item in the classrooms of my schools was the overhead projector. This projector, with its transparencies to write on, was how most of my teachers presented material to the class. 

I did have positive experiences involving the use of technology in the classroom. During my junior year of high school, my German class was held in a distance learning classroom. It was called a distance learning classroom because the video cameras and TVs in the classroom were used to interact with similar classrooms from other schools. So, for my German class, my teacher would not only instruct my class, but have another class connected with us who he would instruct as well. 

I feel the presence of another full classroom of kids had both positive and negative effects. First, having another classroom of kids took away from the time that my teacher could instruct us one-on-one. Also, it was difficult at times to establish and hold a solid connection with the other classroom, so time was taken away from the class period that could have been spent learning. On the other hand, when things ran smoothly, we could conduct group discussions that proved to be very beneficial. Having two full classrooms of students in on a discussion resulted in many great ideas being brought up. My teacher especially enjoyed when the students from each class could interact with each other and conduct a dialogue or discussion. 

Also, my teacher was able to focus a document camera on his desk and both classrooms were able to watch him on the TV screens. The audio was never really a problem for the other classroom, so this was a very effective use of the technology we had access to. I feel fortunate for always having our teacher there in our classroom, rather than just on the screen. I think I would have found it difficult to learn to the best of my ability if I had been the “distance classroom”.

During times when our teacher was not present, we were able to work on assignments that dealt with different videos we watched as well. Having an educational series that we would watch weekly helped us develop an understanding of the conversations we heard, aside from just hearing our teacher speak German.

We, the students, learned to have patience when dealing with setting up the connection with the other classroom. Also, we developed a better sense of understanding technology when it comes to cameras and audio feeds. I am glad I was able to participate in this unique style of classroom, and I hope to utilize some of the same technology in my class.