Monday, March 12, 2012

The Power of the PLN when flipping the class

My Professional Learning Network has quinti-quinti-quintupled (that means like 5x5x5) in size in the last 2 months.  Ever since joining Twitter, starting to post to the Edmodo communities and teacher groups, and starting this blog, I have grown immensely as an educator, especially in the area of being a "Flipper".

This morning, I was immensely frustrated with my CP Algebra 1 kids.  Within 5 minutes of blogging, I already had three teachers commenting with encouraging and motivating feedback.  That allowed me to go through the rest of my day trying to focus on the positive and realizing that I was not alone in my struggles.

This evening, I participated in the second ever #flipclass chat on Twitter.  While I use the  #flipclass hashtag for most of my tweets (I really only use Twitter for educational purposes) and can collaborate throughout the week, it's pretty amazing to see almost a hundred educators sharing thoughts and ideas from all over the globe at one point.

I look forward to logging on to Twitter and this blog to see what new ideas and thoughts are being shared, and to find ways to incorporate them into my classroom.

So, I guess I am writing this post for a couple of reasons.

1. I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has become such a great part of my PLN.  The value of the thoughts, ideas, encouragements, strategies, and just simple sharing of what is going on in our teaching life is immeasurable.  I am really looking forward to continuing to grow as I participate with everyone in our continual conversations, and I hope to be able to meet all of you in person one day.

2. I want to encourage all of you out there who have been the "silent ones" to step out of your comfort zone and fully participate to receive the full power of the online PLN.  I was very hesitant to start a blog and put myself out there, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences.  The reflections I have been able to make individually have been so helpful in fine tuning my teaching practice, and the connections that I have been able to make through blogging have just put icing on the cake.  Start a blog!  Get on Twitter! Join the Edmodo "Flip Share" group (0ywjwj)!  Join the Flipped Class Network at  Just do it :).  Come on in, the water's fine...

Thank you for reading Flipping with Kirch.  I hope my reflections and thoughts, as crazy or long as they may be, help you to think and process about your own teaching practice.  I hope my posts motivate you to see  how we can all work together to be the best we can be for our students and provide them with the best educational experience possible while they are young - so they can succeed in life as they get older.

Because, when it comes down to it, that's WHY we teach.  I don't teach because quadratic equations are the answer to life's biggest questions, even though I do think they are pretty cool :).  I teach because of the impact that I can have on a mold-able teenager's life when everything else around them seems to be crazy and dysfunctional.  And although I can't see it now, I know that my efforts will make a difference.

Be encouraged tonight.

And thank you all for encouraging me.


  1. You are doing great work on sharing your flipping experience with others. I appreciate all the hard work that you have done and I hope to be back in the classroom soon to try the flipped approach to teaching. I am so excited about using class time for other pursuits besides pushing content through direct instruction or teacher-led discussions (both causing students to quickly fall into a passive mode of listening).
    I have enjoyed learning about your WSQ activity that you have your students do for each homework assignment. You are doing what makes notetaking productive. Are these the main notes or are the SSS sheets where the bulk of notes are held?
    What other processing activities do you have your students do at the end of the "learning cycle" for a topic? Are you aware of thinking maps and other "devices" for allowing students to process information in ways that may fit the learning style or intelligence? I am working on formulating my idea of what a learning log would look like for my students, in which the input (my information given to them) is recorded on the right side pages, and the output (their work and thinking artifacts, such as a Frayer Model of a concept or Venn diagram) goes on the left side. The idea is to use the left side as evidence that my students are truly making meaning of the concepts.
    How long is a learning cycle for each concept? Do you have a routine for covering topics that spans maybe a week to allow for distributed practice and incremental learning? I have been looking at the 4MAT model for designing lessons within the flipped teaching model, and would like your view of how you move from experiential to the demonstration of mastery.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Eric,
    Thanks for your comment!
    To answer your questions:
    For the WSQ activity, the main "notes" are in the SSS packets as that is where the students do any examples I either show them or guide them in doing. The WSQ is done in their own notebook/lined paper as a post-watching activity. However, with the new "Guided Summary" I am using in place of an open summary, many students are also writing their WSQ as they are watching. So, it could be a very involved lesson. Listening, writing, watching, thinking, doing their own writing, etc while trying to make sense of the material and learn.

    Our school is big on Thinking Maps, and many of our students use them without even being asked. For example, if one of my "Guided Summary" questions asks the students to note the similarities and differences between two topics, some students choose to show that with a double bubble map instead of writing it all in words. It is very easy to incorporate those into the WSQ. I haven't pushed them necessarily as much as I could/should (I am a certified Thinking Maps "trainer of trainers"), but that is a great idea to incorporate. Thanks!

    The discussion part of class is also very helpful in having the students make meaning of the topics. It's great to hear them talking about and struggling through the math and finally understanding (lightbulb moments!) what they heard the night before.

    I like your idea of the two sided learning log.

    The length of each concept really differs. I would say 80% of the time it is one concept per day. There are very few concepts that we will spend two days on. My concepts are broken down pretty detailed to make it be one per day, even if concepts build on one another. For example, "Solving Linear equations" is not one concept - it's about four. "One-step equations", "Two-step equations", "Multi-step equations", "Equations with variables on both sides", etc. It's broken down pretty small so even one topic is several concepts

    I don't know if I am familiar with the 4MAT model - can you explain/describe?

    Sorry so long, hope that answers some questions! Let me know what you think

  3. Good afternoon Crystal,

    The 4MAT Learning Cycle model is a four-part process for taking students from initial experience or exposure, through exploration, into making meaning, and finally to demonstration and application of concept mastery.

    This is a great link explaing how the flipped classroom should be used in conjunction with good educational practice

    I am also including a link to a paper done that describes how the 4MAT model is a worthy structure to consider when using web-based instruction.

    As for one concept per day, I have done that in the past and have found that I wasn't helping my students cement what they were learning into long-term memory. They were not doing as well as I expected them to do on tests because I wasn't spending enough time on them in review sessions or in revisiting concepts periodically along our march to the end of the unit (chapter). Now I am looking for any method I can find and use that works to help my students get multiple opportunities to make personal meaning that is enduring and transfers to novel situations.

    I hope this helps to clarify some of my previous thoughts.
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    1. Hi Eric,
      Thanks for sharing the links. I have heard of the 4MAT learning cycle before, just not under that name. It provides some very important/useful steps in creating a successful learning process for students.

      To respond to your previous experiences with concept-based teaching, the important thing I remember is that when breaking the material into concepts, it is providing students with "bite-size chunks" to break down the material for them. It's all about making it comprehensible to them and giving them "baby steps" to accomplish on the way to mastery. Every quiz I give in my class is based on a specific concept, and then the test is the compilation/combination of everything together. Like you mentioned, it is important to continually spiral the material to aid in long term mastery. So, just because "Concept 3" is being taught today, that doesn't mean it is the only material covered. First, there is the (by nature of math) continual building of topics that always builds on one another. Second, there is the intentional review of material through activities, warm-ups, questioning, and making connections between the concepts. The goal is doing concept-based teaching is for students to be able to feel successful one piece at a time to build to a fuller and more complete understanding of the unit as a whole.

      I hope that gives you an idea of how concept-based teaching has helped my students be very successful on both unit exams and on state testing. I feel it's an excellent way to both organize the material and provide the stepping stones to student success.

      What grade levels and subject do you teach?

      Thanks for your reply and communication as well.

    2. Hi Crystal.
      I teach high school math...but I am currently not in the classroom. I am back to school as a full-time student doing Master's work.
      Thank you for your insights on concept-based learning. I have be learning about teaching to the big ideas as mentioned in concept-based learning and I like the premise a lot.
      I know from working with an urban school district of low performing students(or teachers) that our results on unit tests and statewide tests were very poor.
      I realized in my reflective thinking that I hadn't spent enough time cycling thrugh the material such that it became an enduring part of their coneptual maps. My aim, once back in the classroom, is to never let that happen again.
      Do you have a list of big ideas for your math classes that you have found or created?
      I would love to see what great thinking you or others have done to define the major driving concepts, like change and proportional reasoning.
      Thanks for your insights.
      Have a fantastic flippin'day.
      Here is a quote I just made up based on the last line: Teaching with purpose, where things are flippin' but never flippant.

    3. Hi Eric,
      Ha, I love your quote. I may use it :).

      Building and deciding on the big ideas is definitely a work in progress. In math, there are an infinite amount of topics we could cover. So, we have decide as educators which ones we don't cover, which ones we cover but just as an introduction, and which ones are so important we need our students to master them. I have created "Unit Maps" for each of my classes, which basically revolve around a big idea and then break it down into the concepts that would be necessary to get to that big idea. They are always a work in progress, but I can send you the current copies. Are you on Edmodo at all?

  4. Good afternoon Crystal.
    Have you shared a link to where you are posting your videos? I would like to see how you are doing them--what you include as the content.
    If you haven't shared it yet, are you planning to any time soon?
    I would be interested to see some of them.
    Oh, one more thing. I visited your resources site and wow! do you have a long list of links. It looks as though you have done a fair amount of research.

    1. Hi Again :)

      The link to my videos is in the top right under "Links I think you should check out". That will send you to my YouTube channel that has all the videos I've posted organized by Unit/Chapter. Feel free to check them out. Right now, this is my first run through the flipped class so I am not 100% happy with them. I'd like to go back and edit them and add my face in an intro and then a conclusion to the lesson so there is a little more connection there. But, that probably won't happen until summertime :)

      I'm glad you were able to find some helpfulness on my resource site - I am really trying to add to it as I find interesting links; that way I know I can always find them again.

      I forgot to ask last comment, but what are you researching for your Masters?


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