Thursday, February 16, 2012

I owe you

I owe you!

Ok, so it has been nearly 4 months since my last visit here to the Soup box. In fairness, I have let numerous bloggable moments slip through my fingers.

Since my last post, I have attended Educon, we have dealt with some frustrations regarding our schools filtering software and I am presently experimenting with a modified flip for my classroom.

Educon was awesome and exciting with a touch of depressing. I had a chance to catch up with some amazing people and share some amazing ideas. Hearing Chris L express his vision for SLA was like hearing a smarter, more professional and handsomer version of me express his beliefs. I have stolen so many of his quotes. “If you want to get over on someone who is treating you in a loving manner – go right ahead” – being my favorite.

Educon was frustrating because I saw what education could be and I saw the distance I need to travel to be at the top of my profession. In fact, I have started and never completed 1 blog entitled Getting There from Here about closing that gap. I am hoping to present something on that order to edcampss.

Basically, my thoughts lately have broken down into three distinct areas: instruction, life profession balance and our profession.

Regarding instruction:

1) How in good faith can I be using basically the same exact techniques used by my teachers over 20 years ago?

2) What techniques can I adopt to make my students become the primary actors in my lessons?

3) Is Camtasia studios really worth $300?

Okay, that one has to be explained. It seems like every year (ok for the last 2) I have been getting the urge to flip my class. This year I am trying something with my Modern World Frosh. They were asked to spend 2 nights of hw time on the site Here I collected all the materials related to our next chapter and then we spent a few days discussing the unit in a very relaxed manner. After a few days of discussion they were assigned this menu (

The kids seemed to balk and complain a lot. They really got into the menu items and have created some good work. I am allowing them to hand it in waves so their full awesomeness has yet to be revealed to me. Their complaints seemed to relate to the disconnect they experienced from their instructor. The nights of the hw – I got a lot of: “I don’t understand” and “this is stressing me out”.

Here is what I learned or have come to believe – you must create your own content to flip. Kids do not want to see or here from some outsider. Going half way is never acceptable and my modify flip may be failing because it is a half measure.

To that end, if I want to continue with the flip model, I need to buy a good screen casting program. The real kick in the pants is that I have a Mac mini at home and a PC at school so I may need to purchase several licenses.

Random thoughts on the other topics:

1) How are kids leaving teacher training programs still dependent on the Sage on the Stage model? I feel like that is a real abdication of duties by the colleges/universities?

2) Why would anyone go into teaching for any reason other than to help kids? I am getting frustrated with the amount of times people at the various schools I deal with putting their program/their reputations/their ego before the well being of kids.

3) How do people do it? I see people on twitter that are amazing educators pursuing numerous degrees and still actively participating in their and others development. I am so impressed by them. I need to learn their tricks and techniques. I intentionally lessened my responsibilities as a coach so I could be a better teacher and a Dad but yet I am consistently feeling a time crunch. That is why you have not had a blog post from me in some time!

1 comment:

MSeigel said...

Brad-a very thoughtful post, much of which I am feeling myself. I struggle with my flipped and even my non-flipped classes because of the radical approach it take to learning. I am changing the class slowly. While the content of my units do come from podcasts, the work my students are doing is going to a higher level. I am using more inquiry labs and assignments that are objective focused. I have made optional assignments and open-ended ones to allow more creative and imaginative problem-solving to occur. I am far from perfect, but it is getting better. My students also balk at it because the only time their brains do any type of real thinking in this form is the 48 minutes they are in my room. Everywhere else it is traditional teaching.

As for the balance of Personal vs Professional life, in the beginning you really need to have a loving and caring spouse. When my boys are up, it is as much family time as possible. During naps & at night it is a lot of planning and school work. Lean on your wife in the beginning to free some time for work. Then make it up to her later when you finally find a rhythm. Also, it is hardest in the 1st year of a flip. I am using videos I created last year and that has REALLY helped me focus on inquiry and problem solving this year.