Flipping to Facilitate Learning

Recently, I sat down to study reading quizzes my sophomores completed on Tuesdays with Morrie, the memoir written by Mitch Albom.  One of my Sophomore English classes, is co-taught; my co-teacher, Geri Dismeier and I agree that poor performance on vocabulary accounted for the majority of lower grades.  While grades are not the ultimate goal in learning, vocabulary is one of the significant goals.  Vocabulary knowledge is a life skill that plays a key role in what students understand and communicate.

After talking through ideas with my co-teacher, I took the opportunity to try something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.  I created a video for our students to refer back to as they studied for the second reading quiz over this weekend.  Students will be taking the quiz on Monday.  I can’t wait to see how they do on vocabulary in comparison to the first quiz!

The process took all of one hour from start to finish.

  1. I created a Google Slide presentation in which I typed in the words and definitions the students previously articulated in class using their context clues (I wanted to be sure to use the same words we used in class).
  2. I scavenged through my own pictures to see which pictures could represent the words.
  3. If I couldn’t find an appropriate photo of my own, I searched through Flickr.com under the Creative Commons section for photos.
  4. I inserted (or, in my case with my Mac, dragged) the pictures into blank slides that I left after each word slide.
  5. Using QuickTime, I screen recorded myself talking through the presentation.

The part that took the longest was finding appropriate photos.  In fairness, I recorded myself once more before saving my final recording.  I sounded too hurried in my first recording.

I modeled my video from the SAT vocabulary videos that Catlin Tucker has been successfully using for some time.  Her post about this, Vocabulary Lessons:  Flipped, Collaborative, and Student-Centered,  thoroughly explains her process and reasoning.  Please check it out for more information and ideas!  I refer back to Tucker’s posts frequently as she exemplifies many collaborative strategies to incorporate technology and the CCSS in instruction.  (Thank you, Twitter!  That’s how I originally discovered Tucker’s teaching).

What would I like to do differently next time to improve?  As a culminating summative assessment, I’d like the students to create their own vocabulary videos, within small groups, toward end of the semester.  That way, they can use these videos collectively to help study for finals!  Once I have that assignment created, I will post that as a follow-up in case anyone is interested.

From a technical standpoint, I’d like to include the part of speech along with including the exact sentence from which the vocabulary word appears in our reading.  In this particular course, we read much of our material aloud and it will be a chance for students to use their context clues once again.

From an instructional standpoint, perhaps asking students to bring their own created sentences the morning after viewing the video will actively engage them once more with the words before any type of formative assessment is given in class.

For other usage, I can see myself creating instructional students for my students to use -say – at the beginning of the year (i.e. how to sign up for Schoology or iTunes U, how to sign in to GAFE, etc).  Tucker does these very well!! Check out her YouTube page!  It’s a great idea to save class time AND it’s great for new or transfer students we sometimes get in the middle of the year.    These videos were quicker and more fun to create than I thought. . . I’d definitely like to find ways they may be more useful.

Driving with Google


August 20, 2014 – Tech Session

Here’s a link to materials from a technology session I hosted during our Teacher Institute.  This is the first year our ENTIRE district is going 1:1 and we couldn’t be more excited!!!  Enjoy and let me know what you think:


Fasten your seatbelts, here we go!!!!

Please click HERE for this session’s folder!


  1. Transferring from H:Drive to Google Drive  ??
  2. Essential Google Skills for Teachers
    1.  Open & Edit Word Files in Google Drive
    2.  Share Documents/Files
    3.  Create PDFs in Google Drive
    4.  Create and Organize Folders
  3.    Basic Student Workflow using Google Drive

The 1, 2, 3 on Going 1:1

This is an amazing time to be an educator.  We have more reason than ever to be engaged, enthusiastic learners right alongside our students.  In the midst of 4th quarter during my first year as a 1:1 teacher, I am more charged than ever to take on the challenges that lie before us with technological innovations and shifts in thinking with Common Core and PARCC.

One practice that helps me turn seemingly massive tasks into concrete capabilities is creating to-do lists.  I’m a firm believer in the power of lists.  My original category on Grading Girl – Listing through LIfe, attests to that belief.  Based on this first year of teaching 1:1 with the iPad, here is my procedural list for those of us just about to venture forth into paperless classrooms.  I’d enjoy any additions others may have:

1.  Choose a main LMS platform for your class.  This first decision will make your teaching life easier . . . and you don’t necessarily have to use just one.   I currently use iTunes U with my accelerated freshmen.  It’s a convenient way to push daily agendas, homework and announcements to the students.  Attaching documents, videos, calendars, etc is a snap, and provides students a “one-stop-shop” for the class.  I used Schoology with my expository writing composition students this year.  It provides a Facebook-like homepage for students to access material, communicate amongst classmates, and send me homework or assessments back.

2.  Find a cloud storage service to store all of your class documents.  For me and my school district, we are converting to Google Drive.  I transferred all of my material over last year and haven’t looked back.  With Google Drive, I am easily able to convert Word documents to Google Docs for myself and/or students to edit.  Additionally, one of the first tasks I charged to my 1:1 students was to create their own Google Drive folders for the class:  Daily Work, Rough Drafts, Journals, and share those folders with me.  That way, assignments placed there are automatically available for me to comment on.    I know that other schools make use of DropBox or iCloud.  I use those for personal material and they seem to work just as well.

3.  Convert documents that don’t easily transfer over to Google Docs to PDF by performing the following:  “File Print,” “Save as PDF” and save that PDF to your computer for uploading to your LMS later.   Additionally, you can utilize pdf converters such as PDF Master or Genius Scan.  PDFs seem to wed more nicely with Google Docs vs. Word documents.  Also, if you want to ensure that your documents stay as the original, a “pdf” write-protects itself.

4.  Experiment with work-flow techniques  Here is simple overview of mine:  a.  Students save documents in Google folders they share with me (Daily Work, Rough Drafts and Journals)  b. I make comments  c.  Revision history is easily accessible  d.  Students upload revised documents into TurnItIn.com.  e.  I  make comments based on the rubrics in TurnItIn.  ALSO I use Schoology when giving an in-class assessment.  Schoology provides an easy way for students to type on and submit within the same program.

5.  Utilize a blog platform and incorporate digital writing into your curriculum. The power of blogging never ceases to amaze me.  It seemed powerful when I started blogging in 2009 and it amazingly continues to grow in usage every day.   I’ve been using EduBlogs for three years now and highly recommend it; it is WordPress for educators and schools.  The features are of the most customizable available and the privacy-range to choose from allows for even the most leery educating soul to get his/her feet wet.  Your students will thank you – now and later – for giving them the opportunity to carve a piece in their important digital footprints.  See my SlideShare on a recent presentation I gave at ICE 2014 on why and how I incorporate blogging in the classroom.

Bottom line . . . . Don’t be afraid to pitch one technique or application and add another more conducive to your classroom.  Learn from trials and errors.   My students appreciate when I tell them I don’t know an answer to their question, let’s figure it out together – and it is exciting when we do!

How are you adjusting to going 1:1?  I’d enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas from other educators having success and trials as you make the transition.