From June 27-29, the Flipped Learning Network collaborated with sponsor Screencast-O-Matic for a workshop titled FlipTech New England 2019 in Newton, Massachusetts — at Bigelow Middle School and the historic Durant-Kenrick House. Flippers from Colombia, Mexico, and Norway and across the U.S. joined together for a three-day event that included video-recording activities, interactive jigsaw explorations, guest flippers for focused discussions via Zoom, and an extended professional/social hour that lasted through Friday afternoon and into the evening.
In many respects, FlipTech New England was an informal unconference, with no formal presentations but many opportunities to use Khalid Fethi’s model known as SHAC – Share / Help / Ask / Comment (Fethi & Marshall, 2015)
Here is a whirlwind tour of the breadth and depth of our FlipTech experience.
THURSDAY: PRE-CONFERENCE CONTRIBUTIONS
Christine Umayam and Kelly Jura from Screencast-O-Matic led a series of video production sessions with eight volunteer flippers. In those videos, these teachers talked about how they used video and other related topics. David Walsh made the initial arrangements with Screencast-O-Matic, who was also a sponsor of last year’s FlipTech East Coast, which he chiefly organized. The company had considered developing an online certification program for professionals who use its application in their teaching, especially in a flipped-learning setting. Several veteran flippers were recommended by FLN to appear in the video lessons necessary to earn this new certificate.
Participants in Thursday’s event included elementary-school teacher Angela Barnett; TESOL teachers Andrea Cardona, Ndana Chibanda, Diana Lorena Cardona Marin from Manizales, Colombia; Rhode Island educators Tim Marum and Bob Mayne; math teacher Matthew Moore; and Andrew Swan. Equipped with a teleprompter, greenscreen, and recording gear, Christine and Kelly engaged our enthusiastic volunteers to provide on-screen discussions of their flipped learning experiences.
Topics included tips for producing good audio in a recording, ideas for using videos as communication with students/parents, examples of creativity in educational video, advice about captioning, and how to make video lessons for adults vs. children. Those videos should be available on Screencast-o-Matic’s website later this summer.
If there was an official kick-off, it happened on Friday morning at 9:00 when Ken Bauer Favel, FLN Board President, welcomed everybody to the conference (from his office in Guadalajara via Google Hangouts connection and LCD projector). He spoke of the grassroots nature of FLN and its mission to build community among flipped learning educators.
“You all are the Flipped Learning Network,” Ken told the audience. Helaine W. Marshall, Board Member emeritus, encouraged everyone to become actively involved in the organization and to share any new ideas for initiatives the organization might undertake. Next, the organizers announced three overall goals for FlipTech New England: (1) everyone learns 3 useful things, (2) create new long-lasting connections, (3) expand / improve / sustain the FLN.
The fifteen participants started with a “lightning round” of introductions: quick responses to a set of questions about our flipped learning history experience and context. Example: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how much support do you get from your administration to implement flipped learning?” Most of us either responded with a 1 or 2 or else with a 9 or 10 –- no one was in the middle. To the question “Are you the only flipper at your school or district?” Many of us said yes. This led to later discussions of how to encourage our colleagues to think about joining us.
Other questions were answered in large and small groups:
- How many students are in a typical class? (answers ranged from 6 to 500)
- What problems did flipping fix or cause for you?
- How has your flip changed and stayed the same since you started?
- What are your students’ biggest problems/concerns?
- Tell a flipping horror story and a success story!
Next, we broke up into Expert Groups, based on our professional backgrounds for a jigsaw activity on four topics:
For the second round of the jigsaw, we combined with members from all the other groups to share what we had learned and compiled in the Expert Group round.
For the “Roundrobin Roundtables” session, we met with our virtual guest discussion leaders, rotating around so we spoke with all four of them for about 15 minutes (although many participants wished to stay for longer). With Christi Crawford, high school science teacher speaking from Pensacola, we looked at the Explore-Flip-Apply model; with Justin Backeberg, high school math teacher near Green Bay Wisconsin, we examined barriers that flippers face and how we overcome them; with Lindsay Stephenson, high school English teacher in Kansas, we spoke about her coaching model and parent buy-in; and with Dave Walsh, a high school chemistry teacher at home in New Jersey, shared the “nonlinear flip” that he had recently presented at ISTE19, and we addressed the need to teach students how to learn, not only to focus on content.
After eating some lunch, we divided ourselves based on interest in three areas that the FLN is now taking a new look at: (1) How can we help new flippers directly, such as through 1:1 mentoring; (2) What types of professional development would FLN best be positioned to offer; and (3) Should we review and revise parts of the FLN website and guidance documents, such as the definition and pillars checklist? In the middle of our high-spirited and fruitful group discussions, a school custodian abruptly announced over the intercom at 2:20 that the building would close within 10 minutes, so we wrapped the official business for the day….
… and headed over to the Crowne Plaza, where some participants were staying, and occupied a reserved space at The Social, the bar/restaurant for that hotel. As we had all worked hard that day, it was time to “play hard,” so we relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company, as at all FLN conferences. What went down there, stays there, but I do have one word: OYSTERS!
SATURDAY: “LIVE FROM FLIPTECH”
We began our final day by debriefing on the group work from the day before, each group reporting out on the most important take-aways from their respective focus groups, all dedicated to helping the FLN expand, develop, and improve its services and outreach to the FL community. In the process of sharing from the day before, we generated some excellent ideas and plans for the FLN going forward.
This time, we were renting a meeting room at the recently-refurbished Durant-Kenrick house, a historical building dating to 1734 that is ½-mile uphill from the site of Friday’s workshop. Unfortunately, a handful of FlipTech participants were unable to join us for this second day so our group was down to 11.
Starting at 10:45, our previously-scheduled remote guests arrived to join us for 40 minutes via Zoom:
- Chris Baker – New Jersey, HS Anatomy & Physiology
- Kate Baker – New Jersey, FLN Board Member, 9th grade ELA
- Mickie Gibbs – Alabama, HS Math
- Katie Lanier – Texas, FLN Board Member, HS/College Physics
- Joy McCourt – Toronto, HS Math & Science
- Philip Pulley — Illinois, MS Social Studies, with a Doctorate in Flipped Learning
Each guest spoke about an issue or insight in their own flipped learning journey and upcoming plans. We had lively exchanges, which engaged the on-site group with the remote attendees. If the Durant-Kenrick site’s LCD projector had cooperated, then all eleven FlipTech attendees would not have needed to huddle near a single laptop. However, we made it work.
As a special treat, and by universal demand among the attendees, Eirik Wattengård, a FlipTech visitor from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), spoke with us about his recent research on educational video production. He works for a special department of the university which is devoted to helping professors produce effective educational videos (many of which can be seen on this Youtube channel). Eirik shared his research-based principles for creating videos designed as learning activities, which are based on the well-known Mayer’s 12 Principles (1997). He gave us a sneak peak at his document of 6 video-specific techniques, which are the result of a 4-year research study that involved instruments like eye-tracking glasses and student surveys. Eirik Wattengård’s complete set of video production principles will be published in some form later in 2019, perhaps with direct assistance from the Flipped Learning Network. [
Suddenly the clock was past midday, and the time had come to conclude FlipTech New England. Feedback surveys on a GoogleForm, emotional goodbyes, and last-minute photos brought FTNE19 to a reluctant close. Everyone agreed that we had more than met the three overarching goals Andrew had set for us. Following-up is vital to keep us connected and encourage us to apply the new ideas we took away from our shared experience. Thank you to the FLN, for another well-planned and well-executed professional event. We look forward to the next one!