3 Ideas That Will Not Transform Schools

In the spirit of “Festivus” and the tradition of “The Airing of Grievances” (sorry for the reference if you are not a Seinfeld fan), I wanted to share a couple of ideas that I think get way too much attention and definitely need some tweaking.  Although there is merit for each idea, they do little to transform the culture of a school yet I have seen many jump on their individual bandwagons.  Just because the object is shiny, doesn’t mean it is useful. As educators we need to be thoughtful of what we implement in our schools.  Innovation should not just be “new”, but it should also be “better”.

Also, instead of simply saying what I don’t like about each idea, I would also like to offer some alternative ideas and thoughts to consider.

1.  Flipping the Classroom – In short, flipping the classroom (in my words), would be having students watch a video at home and discussing the work during class time.  The idea of having students spend more time working in the classroom and connecting with the teacher, and having the content shared during a time where they can pause and watch the content at their own speed (I know that advocates would say there is a lot more to this concept than what I have explained, but I am only try to provide a short summary).  You are now starting to see many administrators “flip” their faculty meeting and have their staff review content on their own time, and discuss in a group.

This one drives me nuts on so many levels.  First of all, I have heard many educators complain about the “Khan Academy”, while also saying that “flipping” the classroom is the future of schools.  The other reason that it really bothers me, is the focus on students/staff going home and spending time reviewing content at home. What if a student was taking four courses in high school, and all teachers to decide to “flip” their classroom?  You know what is important to a kid? Being a kid. Spending time with family and friends, playing sports, and pursuing other extra-curricular activities.  We should really give kids time to just enjoy their lives and not inundate them with homework.

Although many would say it is transformative, Shelly Wright, a teacher who actually tried the “flip”, talked about a much more meaningful experience for kids:

As I shifted my classroom from teacher-centred to student-centred, my students began to do lots of their their own research. Sometimes this resulted in them teaching each other. Sometimes they created a project with the knowledge they were acquiring. But the bottom line was that their learning had a purpose that was apparent to them, beyond simply passing the unit exam.

What was my role? I helped them learn to learn. I prompted them to reflect on their thinking and learning, while at the same time I shared my own journey as a learner. I helped them develop skills such as using research tools, finding and evaluating sources, and collaborating with their peers. My goal as a teacher shifted from information-giver and gatekeeper to someone who was determined to work myself out of a job by the time my students graduated.

Alternative – If we really want to talk about “flipping” the classroom, students should, as Shelley suggested, be creators of content, not simply consumers.  The flip should happen that classrooms are learner focused, not teacher focused.  Although I am sure that the “flip” has its place, it is not something that will transform education, nor should it.

2. BYOD – The idea of “Bring Your Own Device” has been floating around for awhile as a low cost alternative to get technology in the hands of students (which is something we definitely want), yet I have not seen an article talking about the impact that BYOD has has on the transformation of a school.  Classrooms for sure, but not a school as a whole.  Gary Stager talks about all of the bad things that this idea entails, and he warns us of what this could mean to school budgets later:

We reap what we sow, educators who placate those who slash budgets by making unreasonable compromises at the expense of children, will find ever fewer resources during the next funding cycle. Education must not be viewed as some competitive, commercial, “every man for himself” enterprise that relies on children to find loose change behind the sofa cushions. Democracy and a high quality educational system requires adequate funding.

The other element that Gary talks about in his post regards that we should actually still encourage students to bring devices into the classroom but, we should also be thinking of a standard device that all students can use as well.  Think about the implications of BYOD for staff professional development?  How do you prepare a faculty for the “mystery items” that are about to appear in their classroom?  There is already a divide in schools with the educators that are comfortable/uncomfortable with technology, and this idea will only widen that gap.

Alternative – Ryan Bretag shares the idea of “Combine Our Devices”, where students would have the opportunity to bring in devices, but also be ensured that there is a consistent device in the classroom.  This would be beneficial to students, staff, and the school community as a whole, as there is some consistency in what is provided and prepared for, with the option of also bringing in the device that best suits the need of each individual learner.  Honestly, it is hard for me to believe that with a $249 Chromebook available, that schools can not make this happen within a year (proper WiFi must be implemented along with other elements to school infrastructure).

3. How we use student surveys – I want to make this really clear that I really value student voice in helping shape education and I do not want that misinterpreted.  That being said, I think the way that we do student surveys to transform education is way off the mark and seemingly lip-service to the public.  First of all, I have seen many surveys that ask kids what they want, with little action after the results. If students say “we need devices in our hands”, how many schools have gont out and made that happen because of those surveys?

Secondly, when we bring in “student groups”, are we truly bringing in a cross section of students?  A lot of times we pull in the “cream of the crop” kids that have already mastered school and we ask them “how does school need to change?”  The thing with many of those kids is that they don’t want school to change because they already like it while already mastering the system.  We should be asking the kids who hate school and don’t do well academically as well.

Finally, ask a lot of kids about what they want and they will say they want devices in the classroom, and to be able to use Facebook, Twitter, or be able to text others.  Then ask them why they want those things.  They will usually say something along the lines of “so we can look up stuff”.  A few can go beyond that, but my gut often tells me that they want those devices in the classroom not because of the transformative nature that they see it can have, but because they are bored.  Think about it…when you were a kid, did you go home and look at the possibilities of what education could be or did you do “kid stuff”?  When I was a kid, I would have begged for a TV in class, so I could watch stuff, not because I thought it would improve my learning.

Alternative:  Instead of simply asking kids big, general questions, why not show them some possibilities of what school could look like and what school is now.  As educators, we have to dig deeper into what can be and try to show kids a preferred reality and get their feedback on what they think of it, how to tweak it, and how it will suit them.  If a kid says we should have Facebook in class, do you think a reluctant teacher is going to start implementing that the next day?  If we can show a student what we can do with technology and how it can improve your learning, and then ask them for feedback on that idea, you are more likely to have both staff and students excited about the future of their classroom.  People weren’t demanding an iPhone before it existed, but when it came out, feedback certainly helped to shape future generations of the device.

I once heard a quote with the notion that, “if you want to shape your future, you need to create it.”  Students are extremely important in helping us create this future, but we need to think of how we are involving all of them, while also determining what questions to ask, and how to ask them.

I really believe that the three things that I have listed have some merit in classrooms, but without some tweaking, they will not transform school culture.  They definitely need some tweaking, rethinking, and reconstruction, but Alvin Tofler talks about this as an essential skill that learners must have:


  • http://twitter.com/guster4lovers guster4lovers

    The interesting thing about Shelly Wright’s post is that the way she talks about her classroom – focused on inquiry, students making content, pedagogy that is student-centred, innovative use of technology – is exactly how most of the leaders in the flipped learning movement define it. I call myself flipped, but I don’t give homework, and I don’t use a ton of video. The difference for me is that I’m building a classroom that helps students become literate in technology, but more importantly, have the responsibility for learning “flipped” on to them. With my students, they are used to producing products, studying lecture notes, and completing problem sets or essays. What they’re not used to is being given the task of creating discussion questions, or designing a project or test, or having time to research and explore topics that interest them.

    That’s what I’m doing in my flipped class. I also have BYOD, because despite having a fairly well-off district, the money to put a school device in their hands is just not there. We have access to labs about once a week, but otherwise, we need BYOD. Would I prefer to have 1:1 iPads, netbooks, or laptops? Absolutely. But it’s not possible right now. I agree that it’s not a solution for an entire schools, but it’s a better stop-gap measure than having nothing.

    The other thing about the flipped learning/homework issue is that right now, my students typically have 2-4 hours of homework a night. If every teacher in my school went to a “traditional flip” or “flip 101″ (as we call it), watching videos and taking notes each night would still run well under half of that time. That, to me, is a win. I’m not going to be able to convince my colleagues to drop homework entirely. But if they started using homework differently, then my students would have more time to be a kid, get a job, help out at home, or explore interests and hobbies of their own. Do I wish they had no homework? Absolutely. But seeing the kind of work they are given, watching videos and taking notes would be a dramatic improvement in their quality of academic life.

    Equating flipped learning with homework is understandable, but it’s not accurate for most of us who call ourselves flipped. So take the homework out of the equation for a moment – I agree with you that flipping to a learner centred model is the goal. Flipped learning has moved me and my students in that direction, as it did for Shelly Wright. Once we make that move, does it matter what we call it? Shelly’s classroom and mine probably aren’t different, but I keep the flipped name and she doesn’t. At that point, the semantics are less important than the fact that my classroom (and hers) has been transformed by flipping the learning.

    Thanks for the post – it’s always interesting to read your writing and it has greatly expanded my thinking on many issues.

    • George

      I love everything you wrote and you are bang on with so much that I believe about what school could look like. Here is my question for you though…do you think that you are the exception or the norm in your school? If you wanted to have the things that happen in your classroom, in every single classroom, how can you (we) make that happen?

      Thank you for articulating so much in your comment. I greatly appreciate your thoughts!

  • http://lutheraneducator.blogspot.com Dave Black

    One element of flipping many classroom activities that helped move me down the road to become more transformative is that the process helped me know my students better than ever before. I could see their strengths, weaknesses, and struggles much more specifically. This led to a greater empathy and desire to better meet their individual needs. In short, this helped me become much more student-centered in my work, which is a step toward transformation.

    I appreciate that you identified value in each of the approaches you mentioned in your post, but I do believe that each can play a role in the transformation of education, even though they may not be transformative in themselves.

    • George

      Hey Dave,

      Totally agree that knowing your students is crucial to transformation but I would say that many teachers have been doing that long before the “flipped” classroom. That being said, if that works for certain teachers to get their students much better, I am all for it. Learner-centred is crucial to the success of schools in the future, moving away from the teacher-centred approach that we have used in the past (whether we want to acknowledge it or not).

  • http://twitter.com/robert_schuetz robert_schuetz

    Thank you George,
    Agree or disagree, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. As is usually the case, I agree with your premise that truly transformative learning can include the practices you mention here, but must also address equity and effectiveness. Like, Shelley Wright, I think that true transformation takes place when learners of any age take ownership and responsibility for their learning. Once again, thank you George, you are inspiring many of us to write better blogs. I posted similar thoughts earlier this week. http://rtschuetz.blogspot.com/2012/12/double-flip-for-your-students.html?m=1

    • George

      Thanks Robert…Love the “double flip” concept :)

  • http://32in32.com Pauline

    We have a few teachers using the flipped classroom at our school, but most students dislike it. I don’t agree with their complaints, but I also think there is a better way. I’ve been throwing around some ideas on my blog, and I have a select group of teachers who want to start fine-tuning an “experiential learning classroom” idea I have. I think it has potential, but only if the right type of teachers implement it. Let me know what you think. http://32in32.com/high-school-reformation/

  • http://flipperteach.com Carolyn Durley

    Hi George,
    Just a couple of reactions to your take on the flip class:

    1. When I talk to teachers, in particular high school science and math teachers, I hear a desire to change but a huge amount of fear and uncertainty. Many are heavily invested in their content and most have a highly developed skill set around the delivery and management of this content. In others words, they have a lot to lose and little to gain and are deeply entrenched. When you are down deep in a trench, but want to get out, you need a safe, reliable and familiar way to scramble out. So when a teacher says I want to change but how can I? Why not suggest a safe, reliable way to transition from a lecture based and content driven dynamic to one that has potential to provide the teacher with new insight and perspective? Flip class is a safe (videos provide a safety net) means for a content based teacher to use their skill set to transition, climb up and out of the trench and reinvent themselves.

    2. For 2 decades now I have listened patiently, to people outside of the classroom and tried many suggestions in an effort to move my practice forward. Sadly most of these efforts brought little lasting change to the dynamic to the classroom. The content would pull me back into a teacher controlled dynamic. As a classroom teacher of 22 years who was deeply entrenched, I am now saying that flip class IS what worked for me, and all of you OUT there say impossible. That drives me nuts :) If I say it worked to move my practice forward, to help me re-invent myself, my role and how I interact with students, shouldn’t that be valid? I have never said that everyone should flip. Or that flip will change everything or that it fixes every problem. But it sure did evolve my classroom more than any other thing I have tried.

    3. Our students overwhelming say they have less homework and stress in a flipped class. Moreover we have found that most students can get all their work done within class time (some even get work from other classes done). However it did not start there, nor do I think I could have started there. But this is what has developed as we renovated our practice and classrooms.

    4. Finally :) , Shelly’s comment: “My progression from a lecture-based class was exhausting. There were times I thought I was going to shatter into a million pieces because it required me to shift my thinking so much.” reveals how incredibly challenging change is. My guess is that many teachers do not want to feel like they are going to shatter into a million pieces and need a sturdy, reliable and familiar way to transition their practice.

    Thanks for listening to this rather lengthy comment! Always enjoy your fluid and insightful writing.

    • George

      Hey Carolyn,

      Great comments and I wanted to be clear in this post that it was not that these things wouldn’t work in certain areas. With some teachers, BYOD is amazing because they are comfortable with it, but schools on a whole, rarely ever see this adopted into regular practice. With all of the comments that you said regarding the Flipped Classroom, I have no doubt that it works for you, especially since you commented about how much better you know your students, but on a whole, I don’t see it as something that will transform school practice. There are always outliers in the practice but I definitely don’t see this as something that could be built consistently within our current structure of schools.

      Great comment and I really appreciate your insights!

      • http://flipperteach.com Carolyn Durley

        Not to be a “dog with a bone” with this, but this is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine and you seem like a reasonable sort :)

        Do you think that there is any one thing that will transform schools? Does change happen all in one big “swoosh”? Or does it happen when many little drops accumulate to create a large pool of change?

        I have been at this trying to change school thing my entire career and have gone about it many different ways. In all cases, my attempts at change caused me eventually to run into a big brick wall that left me crumpled on the ground defeated.

        Since flipping my class and through flipping my class, I have talked to, worked with, interacted with more teachers that I ever did in any of my try to change school endeavours. I feel that finally, and after many failed attempts, I am working to “change schools”. The change I am making and have made does change education for my students, it is real change.

        I am an outlier? After 3 teachers at my school Flipped, through word of mouth and visits from teachers, I know of 7 teachers in our district (and others around the province), who have now this year flipped. When I talk with them, they are all undergoing change of various degrees in their practice and in their classrooms.

        I don’t think flip will change the world of school any more or any less than any other 1 thing. However, I do know flip class can provide fresh perspective for teachers who have been in the content trenches and can’t get out.

        • George

          It depends on what the “flip” is; if teachers use it to just replace lecture, then it will not be transformative, or else transformative in the nature that kids will not need to come to school.

          Why has “flipped” made you talk with more teachers? Obviously you find it is important as I saw your blog has “flip” right in the title but I think it is only an option that teachers could have in class. I know people that make a living off of doing presentations based on the “flip” and their simple premise is content at home and connections in class. What about the kid that doesn’t have access at home? What about the kid who doesn’t care about the content that you give them? Flipped also looks really “standardized” in some ways in a world that is more personalized than ever. If I ask 20 people to watch the same video or read the same book, is that honouring who they are or what they need? If you read over what you talk about in your own comment, you talk much more about the widespread notion of what “flipping” is and you talk about connecting with students. That is the most important element of this. For example, if I get to know what my kids strengths and weaknesses are and I choose a video for one, a book for other, there are elements of the “flip” in there, but that is more focused on knowing your students as opposed to the flip. Shifting the focus to learners as opposed to learners is the most important element here.

          The reality of this though is that many teachers have seen connecting with kids as the most important element of their work long before the flip. It was actually the first point I made in a post I wrote about “what makes a master teacher” before I even knew what “flipped” was: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/267

          Is there one thing that will transform schools? Absolutely not, but people coming together to push for what is needed for schools will be a start. Look at social media…it is one thing that has transformed a lot of what we do in our lives and in many areas of both personal and professional. Is that one thing? No, but it is a way that people have come together and have been given a voice and we see the value of people again over, in my opinion, organizations. Even if you think about this post and our conversation, this is facilitated by social media. How did you even find out about the flip in the first place? Many people that I know have tried it because of social media and connecting with one another and learning together through the globe. That one thing (social media) has had a huge impact both in and out of education for transforming what schools could be but we obviously have a long way to go.

          As I said at the beginning of the post, each idea has merit, but I don’t believe that they are going to transform schools.

          • http://flipperteach.com Carolyn Durley

            Hi again George,

            I completely agree with you that one thing (flip or other) will not transform Ed. Where I need to push back a bit is with the commonly held view of flip class.

            Out “here” in the realm of SM what you are saying is very reasonable. However in the world I physically inhabit (aka high school) for many, flipping might as well be voodoo magic. Flip 101 (traditional flip, where videos replace homework etc.) is a HUGE giant leap forward for some (I could say many) teachers. Out “here” it often seems that hurrah, whole lot of crazy change is going on…until…I look around at school and things are pretty much locked in to the same old, same old. How to get teachers moving towards the personalized education that you speak? This is the question I wonder about every day. I am happy when I hear teachers say they are interested in change of any sort. I hope that a small change might be a watershed for them. Flip class is a great place for some teachers to start as it allows them to transition to a student centred classroom. It also gets the teacher “out of the way” and this opens space for the teacher to see their students from a new and fresh perspective. I think flip class is a compromise of sorts to start with, as it allows the traditional teacher to do what they have always done just in a different way (i.e. via video). From my experience and from the experience of other flip class teachers whom I talk with and work with, the Flip 101 phase does not last very long. By the second semester of doing Flip 101, we had moved to where:

            1.Most students were watching videos during class time (and so had no homework.)
            2.Students could decide when and if they would watch the video.
            3.Students could choose not to watch/use videos and some selectively watched videos, some watched videos in groups and some even watched other teacher’s videos.

            When you mention that as a teacher “I choose a video for one, a book for other, there are elements of the “flip” in there, but that is more focused on knowing your students as opposed to the flip.” I would counter that flip goes beyond me providing for students, but rather the flip is when students are empowered to choose and select for themselves.

            There are challenges with any technique. The challenges you mentioned are easily resolved and we have found solutions to all (i.e. we have our videos on the share drive at school & students can load onto their devices or disk drive, we have extra computers in class, we open our classes before/ after school). The challenges however, outweigh the immense benefits we gained inside the class to interact in a meaningful and more satisfying way. Sure teachers have been doing this flip mindset thing for ages, but not teachers who were teaching to high stakes standardized tests for ages. At senior secondary, especially in content heavy courses, teachers are trapped, seriously trapped. I can’t emphasize this enough or adequately describe just how dire it is. Flip class is a brilliant first step in these situations. Much as fitness plan for an out of shape, overweight, middle aged person would not start with “Let’s run a marathon tomorrow”, we have to offer teachers a reasonable first step. I worry when critics condemn Flip 101, as for many it is a brave first step. Teachers want to change, but they are confused, overwhelmed, not sure who to trust.

            I have flip in my blog title (but would like to change to my name :) ) because I am immensely proud that flip was the first change that I initiated, that I asked to attend a ProD for, and I created on the ground (along with others in the flip class community). Flip was my vehicle for change, I got in and “it” took me somewhere I could not get on my own. Flip was my gateway for getting on social media, for blogging, and for becoming part of a community. From my perspective, from within the walls of my isolated classroom, flip rocked my teaching world.

            Lastly, when I share with teachers what I have been able to change in my teaching practice in one year of working collaboratively and developing flip class, they want to try too. Flip has provided me an avenue to work with teachers, on the ground as another teacher.

            So yes, I agree, no one thing will transform schools. But we can make some serious dents, got to believe WE can.
            Appreciate your open mindedness and willingness to have a conversation about this topic!

          • George

            Carolyn,

            If you look at my comment in the post that states: ” Although I am sure that the “flip” has its place, it is not something that will transform education, nor should it”, we obviously agree on that point. As I continue to read your posts, I see much more than a “flip”, but a cultural shift. If the flip lead to it, then that is great, but you do much more than “flip” the classroom by your own accounts. Flipping seems to be just a component. Even in the part regarding BYOD, I still agree that kids should be able to bring devices but we should still provide at this point. All of these ideas have some merit but need tweaking or revamping.

            Thanks again for your insight!

  • http://www.lancebledsoe.com Lance Bledsoe

    I’m a teacher in my second year of flipping my math classroom and I find it interesting that many teachers (and others) who dislike the flipped model are advocates of the “no homework” approach to teaching. I noticed it in Shelley Wright’s post and I notice it in yours. It makes me wonder about the differences in the types of students we are serving and how that may be coloring our beliefs about what they most need from us as teachers.

    Many, perhaps most, of the students I teach could be fairly described as reluctant learners. (Some might call them lazy, though I try to avoid that particular term.) Many are reluctant to do anything at all that even remotely resembles work. They won’t bring a pencil to class, they won’t keep their papers in a notebook, they do as little work as possible during class, and many balk at the notion of homework. They basically want to spend 100% of their waking hours texting on their cellphones or listening to their ipods or hanging out with their friends. My modest goal is not something so grand as transforming schools, it’s to get my students to a) do some work and also to b) take some responsibility for their own learning (and lives) and stop expecting me to spoon-feed them. I find that flipping my classroom has been a good tool for both.

    While I agree in principle that we should “give kids time to just enjoy their lives and not inundate them with homework,” the fact is that I don’t want to inundate my students with homework, I just want them to do *something* that requires them to exercise their brains a little.

    My lecture videos average 15 minutes. I don’t think that’s too much time to expect a student to spend on my class outside of class time and I think it provides a lot of benefits, including providing them with an opportunity to spend a relatively small amount of time doing some productive work. If that means taking a 15-minute break from texting with their friends or watching cat videos on youtube, I think that’s a good thing. Certainly when they get to college they’ll be expected to spend much more time than that on their classes.

    I very much want my classrooms to be “learner focused” and, much like Carolyn Durley describes in her comments, I have found that flipping my classroom has provided a way to transition to that goal. Did my flipped classes immediately go from being dull and boring to dynamic and learner focused? No, but the flipped model has provided a way for me to make progress toward that goal, and I’m excited about that progress.

    • George

      Thanks for your insights and comments Lance. Sometimes there is something more to a kid bringing a pencil to a class though. I know that I would often forget my stuff for math class but NEVER forgot my things for English. Sometimes it had to do with the content and sometimes it had to do with the teacher, but I think to assume that it was because I was lazy is off base. There is always more to the story then just what we see on the surface.

      I appreciate what you have shared here and it sounds like you are doing some great things in your classroom :)

  • David Phillips

    I think that all three of your items that won’t change schools are ancillary to what will change education: a new understanding of how humans learn. We pretty well know that the traditional method of teacher lecturing/students doing paper homework doesn’t work well. We just have to think about how we adults or indeed any humans learn when they are allowed to do so in a way that’s natural and appealing to them. We learn by seeking, by collaborating, by asking, by observing, by watching video, by reading something targeted to the particular set of knowledge we want. But we do these things because we see a need to do them in order to create something, to fix something, to advance an interest.
    Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve changed the way I teach my senior English class so that now most every lesson is project based. I try to set each project before students in a way that intrigues them and helps them to see a direct use for the product they will create, and I try to design (and continually re-design) projects so that they require multiple skills and a broad range of knowledge. BTW, I was much inspired by Shelley Wright’s blog on flipping Bloom’s Taxomomy by starting with creating.
    Some students quickly understand the class goals and dig right in, accelerating their learning from the beginning. With others, especially the ones who have been used to doing the minimum and/or cheating their way through other classes, progress is slower, but they usually do catch on and step up to learn in ways they never have done before.
    Every year, I students from the year before text, email, call or drop by to tell me that they learned more from my course than any other they took in high school, and that they were particularly prepared for college by the projects we created. Often these contacts start with something like: “I thought you were crazy but . . .”
    So flip the class if that helps, work with students through their own devices, do whatever it takes to accelerate learning, but if we’re going to change the outcome, we must change the way we think about learning.

    • George

      Hey David,

      You are bang on with your comment on ” a new understanding of how humans learn” as being important to the progress of schools. Not only how our brain works, but also the opportunities that we have to learn and that “school” is not the only place this happens.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • twitter_gwynethjones

    Festivus for the Rest of Us! Love it!

    I am SO happy to read this post, George! Brilliant! Sometimes I feel frustrated with all the Rah Rah Let’s all Flip & BYOD bandwagon and do it Right NOW! without considering other ramifications.

    I teach in a district with real haves and have nots & where I MUST be sensitive to “What about the kid that doesn’t have access at home? What about the kid who doesn’t care about the content that you give them?”
    I don’t want ANY of my kids handicapped because they don’t have access — either technically or without parental support (not able to drive them to the public library because of their work schedule to watch the assigned vids for the night.
    Also, what about those kids who are “in crisis” or “at risk” or just contrarians and oppositionally refuse to flip? (heh heh that woulda been me most times!). And hellah yeah, kids should have time to be kids! I have very fond memories Elem to HS of playing outside from leaving the bus stop till last call for dinner from my Mum.

    My solution: Optional flip with class time open to free moving discussions, product & multimedia creation all learner focused….and actually umm some TEACHING, too! LOL But not always BY the teacher! Kids teaching kids has been wonderfully effective in my observation. Give as many different ways for kids to access information as possible 24/7, research databases, wikis, blogs, Google apps, as many things as possible for my kids to connect but also keep an “old school” component that’s the foundation.

    I also really get peeved when teachers in my school require an out of class technology product without giving my kiddos proper “old school” alternatives OR proper time in school with our labs to create or the option to submit work electronically. (Can you believe I still fight this? That after 16+ years of the Interwebs teachers are still resistant to accepting attached work from students via email? or Google Docs?) Sheesh!

    As for the BYOD: I’m with you & Ryan with the idea of “Combine Our Devices” approach. Spot on! I worry about my “have not” kiddos feeling bad because they don’t have a smart device. So, because we love mobile media in my library I also provide iPod touches for student use. I couldn’t wait for my district to do it so I umm did. Without permission or pilot. I’ll apologize later. It’s only a start but well…if you wait for everything to be approved, provided, implemented, & professionally developed then where would we be? But we also have to not ditch some “old school” modalities for the Kardashian newbie in teaching, either.

    Ahhh Lovely! Aired my petty grievances for the new year & I’m feeling quite happy!
    Cheers dear!
    ~Gwyneth Jones
    TheDaringLibrarian.com
    @gwynethjones

    • George

      Thank you for your insights Gwyneth! I am all about kids teaching kids and saw an amazing example of this in Jarrod Lamshed’s classs (@jlamshed) while I was over in Australia. Again, you are bang on!

      Happy new year!

  • Pingback: some articles of note. « Teach2Connect

  • http://www.facebook.com/valdis.kudins Valdis Kudiņš

    Some ideas to think about.

  • http://Fairfld61.wordpress.com Scott Fairfield

    None of this works unless we change American culture. In other nations of this world, educators are respected. In America, educators are at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

    • David Phillips

      Sadly, Scott, we must lay some of the blame for the lack of respect for educators at our own door. I know many educators who are dedicated, capable, diligent teachers who deserve to be at the top of any social hierarchy. Then there are others. Teachers striking like dock workers, doing sick-outs when they should be in the classroom, doing the very least they can and still keep their jobs. I personally know teachers who show movies so often that they have little teaching time, who do a few minutes of instruction and then play computer games for the larger portion of class time, who still use the “read the chapter and then answer the questions at the end” and do almost no instruction–and I know administrators who put up with such behavior.
      I sickens me that first, there are too many in our profession who are not professional, and second, that parents and the public often get the impression that a larger portion of teachers are like that than there are those who are very fine educators.
      Until these blights on the profession are shown the door, we will always suffer from a lack of respect from the public.

  • http://willrichardson.com Will Richardson

    Hey George,

    Happy New Year!

    What I still find interesting about discussions around the flip and BYOD and almost everything else is that by and large they don’t acknowledge the real shift that is happening when it comes to our ability to learn on our own. The problem is that while all of us are inherently born learners, schools treat children as if they were born to be taught. It’s our curriculum, our agenda, our assessment. Note that flipping is just another way to teach. BYOD is challenging because of the implications for teaching. We want student feedback to help us become better teachers. Etc.

    We forget that school is our construct, created for a goal (mass education) that will soon be achievable without school. (In many cases, it already is.) Seymour Papert articulated as much over 30 years ago in Mindstorms when he wrote:

    “I see the classroom as an artificial and inefficient learning environment that society has been forced to invent because its informal environments fail in certain essential learning domains, such as writing or grammar or school math. I believe that the computer presence will enable us to so modify the learning environment outside the classrooms that much if not all the knowledge schools presently try to teach with such pain and expense and such limited success will be learned, as the child learns to talk, painlessly, successfully, and without organized instruction. This obviously implies that schools as we know them today will have no place in the future. But it is an open question whether they will adapt by transforming themselves into something new or wither away and be replaced (9).”

    My point is that if we keep seeing the point of school through the lens of “teaching,” nothing will be “transformed” in the sense that Papert talks about or in the sense that I think you mean it (though people’s bar for transformation is certainly varied.) Not saying we don’t need teachers. (And I agree with Gary that we don’t need more “facilitators” either.) But we need teachers who are masters at developing kids as learners who are adept at sense making around their own goals. Teachers who are focused on helping students develop the dispositions and literacies required to succeed regardless of subject or content or curriculum

    This moment is all about learners having an amazing new freedom to learn, not teachers having an amazing new freedom to teach. I’d love to see 2013 all about making that shift in our thinking around education.

    • David Phillips

      Will, I’m in 100% agreement with you that educators need to stop viewing themselves in the traditional way. Call us designers of learning environments, if you will. I think the big question is, “How do we get there from here?”
      First, we have to target district and campus administrators, helping them to understand the sea change that needs to occur, and then those administrators need tools to help them bring a broad understanding to teachers (or learning designers).
      I must say that I’m frustrated in dealing with administrators in my own district. Every now and then, I see a light come on a little bit, and then I hear, “But will teachers accept this?” or “The school board won’t go for it.”
      I believe we need a complete redesign of the education system, beginning with a new set of goals for learning from the earliest grades, and a radically different idea about what the product of education–our graduates–should look like when they leave us. I think it’s a rare superintendent, school board member or state legislator who is able to make that leap at this point. I’m not sure how we get where we need to go.

    • http://gravatar.com/flipperteach okmbio

      Hi Will, I just got to jump in here… again,

      To echo David, we who are inside of schools are caught in a massive squeeze play.

      On one side is the glaring reality that the world has changed (which you describe above) and on the other is the concrete reality of the remnant attitudes, structures, and demands that we run into on a daily basis as we maneuver the “system”.

      I want to get “there”; to a space and place where I am a “master at developing kids as learners.” I can’t get there overnight nor can I get there alone. I am pushing, pulling, and stirring as hard as I can and so are many others.

      Of course flip is more about teaching AT THE START; teaching is what I was indoctrinated and trained to focus on and it is what I built the career that I cherish dearly, on. Fip is a transition, it is a way to let go of my teaching and shift my focus, my energies and my skills to a more learner focused dynamic.

      To steal and paraphrase a quote from Harold Rheingold, (I replaced social media with flip, sorry Harold).

      If:

      “You are concerned that [flip is making school and learning] shallow…teach more people how to swim and explore together the deeper ends of the pool.”

      I get frustrated with the very superficial portrayal of flip and the lack of effort expended to try and understand why flip has been enthusiastically embraced by teachers, especially those at senior secondary level. There has to be some tangible middle ground provided, as we, in the classroom, work to transition and as the underpinnings of the system work at their glacial pace to support systemic changes. Instead of pointing fingers at flip class teaching and teachers, let’s turn our eyes and voices, on the admin, policy makes and politicians who make demands on us that compromise our (teacher’s) ability to make larger, bolder steps forward.

      Make no mistake change is a foot in classrooms and amongst teachers who are working collaboratively to figure this time of transition out. Help us get there by pointing out safe (by safe I mean keep our jobs so we can continue to feed our families) and reliable mechanisms to get there, spotlight real teachers who are still working in the public system who can outline and articulate how they got there and start loud, open conversations with teachers about the challenges as they reinvent themselves.

  • http://www.rjb3games.com Rick Buchner

    I developed Albert’s Insomnia as a math center that is common core aligned and works like a game for the students to hold their interest and functions as student-centered game. The students that are using my “game” really like it too! I think the math class is where this work should be done first, get the kinks worked out and then apply the technique to other subjects. The lack of subjectivity and concrete results available in math provide a great foundation to build on.

  • Pingback: Mr G's Idle Musings » Blog Archive » My Diigo 01/04/2013

  • Dan wolotsky

    Oh boy. I am going to work backwards. Electronic student surveys not so good. Yep. No brainer.

    Byod will not transform schools? It already has. Though your school may not have a policy of byod, the students are doing it anyway. Byod is the defacto nationwide tech policy of our high schools today. Yours too, most likely. Just ask one of your students. I’m talking about the phones in their pockets. Any smart phone today can outcompute the old iMacs in my daughters elementary school.

    I work in a school that is byod officially and it is definitely transforming our school slowly but surely. As the price point of tablets, smart phones, and netbooks come down and they become even more present then now, schools will be forced to go one to one or to do byod. Why? Because learning today requires technology in student hands 75% of the time or more,

    Flipping will not transform schools? Right, but flipping is not meant for every classroom as you suggest above when you write “What if a student was taking four courses in high school, and all teachers to decide to “flip” their classroom?”

    Flipping is for math and some science but very little else. Math is a class that generally has homework every day anyway because its mostly procedural knowledge requiring practice. I question your understanding about the topic. If you are really so in favor of student centered learning I would think you would be in favor of this approach in mathematics and understand that flipping is not meant for so many disciplines.

    • George

      Hey Dan,

      Lots of schools are BYOD but you aren’t talking about anything different in the learning that is happening. You just told me the power of the computer. What has changed in the learning of your schools? Are students using digital textbooks? Writing notes on their smart phones? If that is what you would consider transformational, we obviously have different definitions. What is different about the learning that happens consistently in your schools? You have offered little in your argument here other than technology is more powerful. Are SmartBoards transformational in the learning that happens in our schools just because they are all over the place?

      You also agreed with me regarding the Flip. As stated in the post, there are merits to all of the ideas, but they will not transform schools. If you want to read a good post on math in homework class, check out Dan Meyer’s post: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=133

  • Pingback: Update: Diigo in Education group (weekly) | ChalkTech

  • Pingback: 8 Things to Look For in Today’s Classroom

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    Here is my question for you though…do you think that you are the exception or the norm in your school? If you wanted to have the things that happen in your classroom, in every single classroom, how can you (we) make that happen?

    Best, by understanding that each teacher is an individual, and unique.

    Consequently, even “standardized” classroom curriculum, tools, management, books, etc., will be utilized differently in each different classroom.

    So, we need to be careful in what we ask to happen in each classroom. Do we want every classroom to use the same book? The same visual aids? The same exercises?

    Or do we want to be sure that teaching and learning occur in each classroom?

    We don’t necessarily get to the latter, by doing the former. Often, in fact, by insisting all teachers do things the same, we frustrate both teaching and learning.

  • Pingback: The “Flipped” Classroom and Transforming Education

  • Pingback: 8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom | Connected Principals

  • Pingback: St Greg This Week » Blog Archive » Gregorian Rant Wednesday, January 30

  • Pingback: Don’t flip out! Grab the tool box! « Education Technology Innovations

  • Pingback: The “Flipped” Classroom and Transforming Education | Connected Principals

  • Pingback: Today’s Classrooms | Technically yours, Teamann

  • Pingback: Today’s Classrooms

  • http://DrDougGreen.Com Douglas Green (@drdouggreen)

    In a flipped classroom the students don’t necessarily have to watch videos outside of class. They can watch them in class. The whole point of flipping is to let students move at their own pace and to master material before they go on. It takes a one-soze-fits-all factory model and gives customized learning. There should also be more opportunities for peer tutoring and forming stronger relationships with the teacher. You can even get rid of grades and evaluate students and teachers on how far each student progresses. Read my summary of “Flip Your Classroom.” http://bit.ly/LfEr63 As for BYOD, this only works well if each student has a device with the same or similar capabilities. I’ve seen a number of 1:1 classes and they all seem to promote participation by all students rather than the noisy few.

  • http://www.eduglean.com @paulkellybc

    Thanks for posting this article and for re-tweeting it on twitter. I came across it from the #cpchat tag on twitter. I love the idea in BYOD for ‘combining’ devices. I will have to look up Gary’s stuff. This has been our school’s aproach with regards to our 1:1 program. We supply our kids in Grades 10-11-12 with Netbooks. But, we also encourage kids to bring their own device. We require kids to use a machine, so if they have their own – great. If not, we will give them a Netbook to use for the year. We only provide IT for our school machines and by embracing BYOD and school provided we can guarantee kids have a machine each day. It has worked well for us.
    Again, thanks for the article and information. Paul

  • Pingback: …chromebook trial: days 3 & 4… | eduglean

  • http://www.seaofgreenlawnservice.com/ johnporter

    Thanks for the post, This was exactly what I needed to see.Good list, keep up the good work

  • Pingback: Teach This! Teaching with lesson plans and ideas that rock 12/31/2012 | Cool Cat Teacher Blog