The Flipped Classroom: Road to Success

Flipped Classroom Curated Magazine

Strategies for Handling Emerging Technologies

1. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the technology.
2. Try it out. Use the technology and practice with it before using it with your students.
3. Make sure the technology doesn’t distract students from the objective of the lesson.
4. Don’t give up. Use the technology several times before deciding if it is a good fit for your class.
5. Communicate with parents and students about the technology and why you chose to use it.


Chase, Cheryl. CK-12 Foundation Blog (March 31, 2014) “What ‘They’ Forgot to Tell You When Flipping the Classroom.” This article gives one teacher’s experience with the flipped classroom, from curation to assessment.

Honeycutt, Barbi. (July 31, 2013) “10 Formative Assessment Strategies for Flipped Learning Environments.” This article gives 10 assessment strategies for the flipped classroom.

Honeycutt, Barbi. (July 1, 2013) “5 Ways to Address Student Resistance in the Flipped Classroom.”  This is a great article on how to deal with students and their feelings about change when using the flipped model in your classroom.

Lorenzetti, Jennifer. (Oct. 4, 2013) “How to Create Assessments for the Flipped Classroom.”  This article gives examples of formative and summative assessment in the flipped classroom.

TeachThought Staff. (Feb. 14, 2014) “10 Common Misconceptions About The Flipped Classroom.”   This post clears up the most common misconceptions about the flipped classroom. It does a great job of explaining why others resist this method.


Gamification in Science

If the question, “Do you use gamification in your classroom?” had come up before this week’s readings and videos, I would have answered no. Now I realize that I do incorporate it into my classroom on a limited basis. Using games to teach important content knowledge while teaching technology and problem solving skills is becoming more popular for students and teachers. As a science teacher, I find it important to engage my students while giving them a different perspective of the content. Seventh grade science in Texas focuses on Life Science including cells, body systems, genetics, adaptations, and flow of energy. Many of these concepts are very abstract for my students and the games give them a working knowledge of the information.  It also helps prepare students to think differently about learning and prepare them for a new technological norm.  When my students enter the workforce, gamification could be a regular part of not only education but the workforce as well.


One site that I have found very useful is This website compares different science games including information such as publisher, cost, age/grade level, and available formats. Another great website that has lessons and interactive games is When I look for games to use in my classroom, I look at the age level of the game and the concepts covered to see if it goes with my curriculum. Then I play the game to see if it actually makes the content easy to understand or more confusing. I also look at how easy it is to play. Will it be frustrating or boring for my students? The best games are those that engage my students in content and challenge them. I prefer games that create an intrinsic motivation for my students although my students really enjoy games that have external motivation such as having a higher score than their teacher!

I have tried out several different games in my classroom this year. I have found that some are best used as enrichment for my higher level students while others work well for students still struggling to gain an understanding of the scientific concepts. I used three games during my unit on cells, Build-a-Cell, Cell Command, and Cell Craft. The Build-a-Cell activity did not have a lot of interaction. I recommended that my students use it to review the cell organelles and their functions as it did not have a high engagement quality. Command Cell was a simulation game at a higher level. The game required students to discover think deeper about cell organelles that is required of my students. My higher level students really enjoyed this game. They were able to take their learning deeper than I was providing during class and work independently. They also enjoyed challenging each other to see how far into the game they were able to survive. Cell Craft was a great game for all students to engage them in our cells unit. It provided a tutorial at the beginning and let the students dive right in. It provided a dictionary for students when they couldn’t remember what a word meant and they could work at their own pace. It compared cell organelles to common items that the students would understand such as AtP is for energy like fuel in your car. Students were able to challenge each other by their cell’s amount of energy. The game helped them make connections and understand how cells work.

Another game that my students just used during our body systems unit was Code Fred: Survival Mode. Students needed to help Fred use his different body systems for survival. This game not only helped students apply content knowledge but it was a fast paced game that engaged students quickly. Not only did they have to find what they needed to survive, they had to do it quickly. All of my students enjoyed this game. The game challenged them to understand content but also do it quickly. They were able to see the body systems in action, such as your adrenal glands sending adrenaline throughout your body in a fight or flight response.

I have found several games that I plan on incorporating into my last two units of Genetics and Variations including Crazy Plant Shop and Dragon Breeder.

Through discussion, students have given positive feedback on using these games during class. They get a hands on look at specific concepts while enjoying themselves. I also like to change the format of play from iPads and Computers to help them learn to use the different devices effectively. I have had many students include references from the games in their short answer items on tests and quizzes. This shows me that it really is making a positive difference in my classroom for many of my students. When done purposefully, gamification can enhance student learning.


Games in Education

Design your Classroom like a Video Game

4 Ways To Bring Gamification of Education To Your Classroom



The Flipped Classroom

I have spent the last few years researching, attending conferences and talking with teachers in order to learn more about the flipped classroom. Last year, I incorporated aspects of the flipped classroom into my 6th grade science classroom. The thing I love most about the flipped classroom is that there is more than one way to implement it into your classroom. Todd Nesonley (@TechNinjaTodd) said it best in this week’s EDIM 516 video chat, “We all take and bend and meld it to what fits us, our comfort zones and our students.”

I set up my flipped classroom in stages and slowly gave my students more responsibility for their own learning. We started out the year by watching the videos together as I modeled the best way to engage with the videos, write down questions, and pause/rewind when needed. We used learning contracts, choice boards and other learning tools to make the classroom an active learning environment. Samples of these can be found at As we progressed through the year many students would watch the videos at home and come to class ready to ask questions and begin interacting with each other and the content in different ways. Some students really struggled with watching at home for different reasons including lack of technology, inability to understand the content without teacher guidance, or a simple lack of interest. These students often watched the videos when they came to class. Some students preferred to watch in class and would often pause the video to ask questions and get clarification before continuing. Sometimes I would need to sit with the student(s) as they watched and tell them when to pause so I could explain important vocabulary and discuss examples to help them create connections to the content.

As with most new things, I expected some parent resistance. I created a flipped classroom video for my parents that explained what we would be doing and why. I stressed that this method made it possible for me to differentiate for student needs and to interact with all of my students daily. The parents actually looked forward to the videos as the year progressed. They told me they felt a part of our classroom because they knew exactly what their child was learning.

Not everyone is a fan of the flipped classroom. My assistant principal and I were discussing this earlier this year. What happens when a child struggles to learn from the videos or refuses to watch them? The teacher is the solution. The teacher has a variety of roles in the flipped classroom depending upon the needs of the students. The flipped model is what you make of it and you adjust strategies and instruction to meet the needs of all your students. The flipped model actually gives you the gift of time to interact and have discussions with your students during class time.

I did not flip my classroom this year. I switched school districts and grade levels and thought it might be overwhelming for me. Planning for instruction in a flipped classroom takes a lot of time but you definitely get that time back as you interact with students during class time. I am in the planning stages of flipping my 7th grade science classroom next year. I will be the first teacher to use this method in my district. I expect some resistance from students, parents and even some fellow teachers, although my administrators are completely on board. My first step is communication. I need to inform my incoming students and their parents about the flipped classroom, the reasons I am using it in my classroom and how I will meet the needs of all my students.

Since the flipped model can look different in every classroom, it is very difficult to define it. This video does a great job of explaining what the flipped classroom is not. has a great flipped classroom certification which takes you through different tutorials to understand this method of teaching. The book Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann (@jonbergmann) and Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) is also a great resource.

What is your perspective of the flipped classroom? Do the Pros outweigh the Cons?

Flipped Classroom Your journey your wayBergmann and Sams

Flipped Classroom Conference in Allen, TX – July 2013

More Resources:
10 Pros and Cons of the Flipped Classroom
Flip Without Internet Part 1 and Part 2
The Four Pillars of F-L-I-P
Archived Webinars from the Flipped Learning Network

The Dream of 1:1

I have spent the last several years in a large district helping to implement new technology and providing staff development while teaching science. I switched districts this year and am currently teaching middle school science in a small north Texas school district which encompasses a large amount of land, most of which is only currently be developed, in a mid to high socioeconomic community.  We have 4 elementary schools (K-4) with a fifth planned for 2015, 2 middle schools (one for 5-6th graders and one for 7-8th graders), and one high school. Although we are busting at the seams and getting larger every day, our tax base will not support new schools just yet. This creates unique challenges both for space and technology integration.

My District At A Glance


Each campus has at least one classroom set of iPads, laptops carts and computer labs that teachers can sign up to use. All of the seventh and eighth graders in our district attend my middle school campus. We have approximately 950 students which would put our iPad ratio at about 30:1 and our desktop/laptop ratio at approximately 10:1. The district is slowly integrating new technologies, some campus wide while others are classroom based. The high school students received Google Education accounts in January while two fifth/sixth grade teachers are piloting a 1:1 initiative with Chromebooks. These students also received Google Education accounts.

If our district were able to go 1:1 with any device, I would suggest the Chromebook. While the iPad is a great product that I use in my classroom often, it has its limitations including the price and accessibility. Updating and buying apps can become a problem as well as reinstalling them when students delete them. This type of request has to go through the technology department, which takes time. Students also dislike not having a keyboard and word processor that exports and/or saves easily. The inability to use Flash has also been a problem.

I also looked at the difference between laptops running Windows and the Chromebook. In my previous district, I flipped my classroom and had a laptop cart almost exclusively for my students. I used Google accounts with my students for collaboration, presentations, word processing, etc. The big plus of Chromebooks versus laptops is the cost. Since we will be implementing the Google accounts on a wider scale, the reduced cost of the Chromebook would make it possible to provide a classroom set to more teachers.

It would be best to implement the same device for all subject/grade level areas. Implementing one type of device makes providing professional development and teacher/technology support more accessible. Teachers can create a support network for questions and ideas as well as problem solve any issues that may arise.

Since my district is small and the budget even smaller, I would not choose one campus for the 1:1 implementation. Identify teachers on each campus from different grade levels and subject areas that are familiar with Google Drive and Chromebooks or teachers with technology experience who are willing to attend professional development sessions. Find districts in our area that have implemented 1:1 programs and have teachers and administrators visit these schools/districts to learn more about their successes and challenges. Examples would include Irving ISD and Grand Prairie ISD.

Provide staff development for the teachers on how to use the Chromebook and the different features of Google Education accounts before implementing them with students in the classroom. Discuss and create goals for the school year and how you will measure the progress of each classroom towards these goals. Schedule online or in person meeting times to discuss problems and solutions that may arise throughout the school and provide support for the teachers. Educate parents and students to the goals of the 1:1 initiative and the rationale behind it. Teachers should submit lesson plans and samples of students work/projects throughout the year for documentation and sharing purposes. Use data to determine which subjects/grade levels would most benefit to determine how to continue the implementation.

The 1:1 implementation will create personalized learning environments, promote collaboration, increase engagement, as well as provide real world problem solving opportunities and ownership of learning. By providing documentation such as data, lesson plans and work samples, the pilot program can be implemented in more classrooms each year.

Too many 1:1 implementations are about the device they are using, not the learning that is taking place. Alan November makes this point in the article, Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing, “Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum—such as the use of math to solve real problems—are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.” Other challenges include finding time to train teachers and our district’s bandwidth will definitely be put to the test with this number of new devices.

South Bay Middle School Chromebook Project
Although this middle school is extremely small with only 80 students, it is a great example of how to start small. The 1:1 initiative can then be implemented on a larger scale after the success of the program has been proven and potential challenges worked out.

1:1 Pilot Proposal  Sudbury Public schools in MA implemented a 1:1 initiative with their sixth grade students. Check out their proposal and the research including the cost comparison chart shown below for the 2013-14 implementation.


Leyden CHSD 212 – 1:1 With Chromebooks
After listening to Jason Markey discuss their 1:1 implementation in this week’s EDIM 516 video, I wanted to take a closer look at their procedures. I really enjoyed the detail of this document and it shows how you would alter the Acceptable Use Policy for those with the devices.

What is your dream 1:1 plan look like?   Does the type of device make a difference or will any device do?

The Filter Debate

When it comes to filtering the internet in schools, safety versus accessibility seems to be the center of the debate.   How do we keep our kids safe while giving them access to learn important 21st Century technology skills? As I searched for my district’s filtering policy, I realized it was not easy to find. While the district’s Responsible Use Policy is available on the school website, the internet filtering policy is not readily available on the school website, staff intranet or staff share drives. After requesting a copy of our current filtering policy from the technology department and my school librarian, I was sent a document titled Board Policy on Internet Filtering. This resource was a summary of the responsible use policy with one paragraph on filtering. There is not a written policy that defines what categories get filtered available to staff or the community.

Our district filtering policy follows the CIPA guidelines, which requires districts to implement internet safety measures in prerequisite to receiving universal service discount rates. The written filtering policy for my district can be found below.

Each district computer with internet access and the district’s network systems shall have filtering devices or software that blocks access to visual depictions that are obscene, pornographic, inappropriate for students, or harmful to minors, as defined by the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act and as determined by the Superintendent or designee.

The Superintendent or designee shall enforce the use of such filtering devices. Upon approval from the Superintendent or designee, an administrator, supervisor, or other authorized person may disable the filtering device for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.”

The policy does not specifically state what is inappropriate and will be blocked. In fact, the filtering service was updated this past December to block more sites than before. This really puts teachers at a disadvantage for using great resources without a great amount of advanced planning. On a positive note, filtering is different for students and teachers. Teachers have access to more sites including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter while students do not have access to any of these websites.

gatekeeperweb tools

The company we use for filtering determines what gets filtered and teachers can request a site to get unblocked by providing a strong instructional objective to its use. The decision is then made by one of four district systems administrators. Unfortunately the process tends to be slow. I created a space webquest for my students using Google sites, which was blocked. It was unblocked a week after we finished the unit of study.

Bud Hunt, Joe Wood and Mike Gras discussed how their districts utilize internet filters during the video discussion for this unit. The statement that stood out the most to me in the discussion came from Joe Wood when he said, “It’s not about filtering, it’s about teaching kids appropriate behaviors.” Our students love using technology but they do not know the importance of being safe online or which of their behaviors are unsafe. Students will either find a way to view inappropriate material or be exposed to inappropriate at school or home. We need to teach them how to respond when something inappropriate appears.

I just conducted this type of lesson with my students this week. My 7th grade science students are becoming the teachers as they research different body systems then plan to teach their peers about this topic. First, I taught my students how to search for images licensed for reuse using the advanced search feature in Google. Then we talked about what to do when, not if, images appeared that may be inappropriate. I explained that with a topic like body systems, inappropriate images were more likely to appear. This is also an important lesson for schools with a BYOD policy. Students may have access to the school’s network but students often choose against the network connection for a variety of reasons including speed of access and internet filters. As students made videos for their presentations, they wanted to email them to me so I could put them in their school share drive for editing. Email is one thing that is blocked for our students when using a school network connection.

I don’t necessarily think that our parents and students need to know the specific filtering policies of the district but something should be included in our Responsible Use Policy. Below you will find my edited version of my school’s RUP including the two paragraphs about our filtering practices.


Respect Yourself: Select online names, language/content and posts that are educationally appropriate.

Protect Yourself: Do not publish personal details, contact details or a schedule of activities. Students and employees should not have an expectation of privacy when using district technology resources.

Respect Others: Do not use technology to bully or tease other people. Do not make video/audio recordings or take pictures of students/employees without their prior permission. Posing as someone else is forbidden.

Protect Others: Maintain a safe computing environment by using the content filtering solution put in place to prevent access to sites that may contain inappropriate material and notify appropriate officials of inappropriate behavior and content, vulnerabilities, risks and breaches involving district technology resources.

Respect and Protect Intellectual Property: Suitable cite any and all use of websites, books, media, etc. and respect all copyrights. Request to use the software and media that others produce.

This video gives one school’s view on filtering. Check out this great conversation on access vs. liability.

After watching this video I wanted to check out the Urbana School district RUP.  The first thing I noticed was that it was six pages long!  However, it restates information in different sections throughout the policy.  A summary  of the Urbana School district RUP would be the same as my edited version above.  I would definitely recommend they shorten their RUP by not restating the same policies in different parts of the document.

I also checked out the RUP of a district in Norman, OK.  I really liked this sites detail in their policies.  It lists the specific categories that are filtered in the picture below.  All of the policies I looked at focused on CIPA laws as their focus but also shopping and gaming sites.  I found it very interesting that this district does not block those two categories of websites as well as instant chat.  This district seems to believe in more access over the possibility of liability.

Norman OK RUP

 Which side of the issue do you fall on?  Do you think it is more important to give access and teach our students to be responsible or should safety and liability be at the front of our minds?

Content Curation and Aggregation

As I was reading about content creation and aggregation this week, I picked two websites to explore from the article, 55 Content Curation Tools To Discover & Share Digital Content. At first, I was confused between content curation and content aggregation.  The understanding that I have of the two based on Content Curation Vs Content Aggregation: The Basics is that content curation is manually searching for content and sharing with others while content aggregation is when a website automatically collects content based on key words.

curation and aggregation

I created accounts for and to learn more about content curation and aggregation.   According to my understanding of the two, would be considered more of a curation tool while would be an aggregation tool. can become an aggregation tool if you share it with your social media groups and followers.  The co-founder and CEO of explains that it was created to find great things on the web, make it your own and share it with others.

My preference between the two tools is  I prefer selecting the items manually.  I checked each resource before adding it to my topic.  I tend to enjoy resources from fellow educators that have used technology in their classrooms and then share the successes and challenges.  For example, if I were to read two resources on flipping the classroom, one by an educator that has been using the method in their classroom and another from a different source, I am more likely to relate to and give more attention to the resource from a fellow educator.  I found more value in being able to choose what would become part of my topic unlike which chooses it for me based on my Twitter sources.

I think I have a great balance of educators and professionals that I’m following on Twitter which helps me get different perspectives on different topics.  I’m going to keep the accounts on both websites.  My account will allow me to focus on specific topics while my account will challenge me to look outside my comfort zone and try new technology tools or ways to integrate technology in my classroom.  I definitely need to use and become more familiar with both websites to get the most out of them.

Following Trends in EdTech

I am Michelle Phillips and have been teaching in north Texas for 11 years.  Most of my teaching experience has been with 4th through 7th grade science.  I have a B.S in Elementary Education and will adding a M.S in Instructional Media in May, Sustaining Digital Literacy (EDIM 516) is my last class before graduation.  I have two certifications through SMART:  SMART Certified Education Administrator and SMART Certified Trainer.  I am also a Discovery Education STAR Educator and SMART Exemplary Educator.

I started integrating technology into my classroom lessons about 8 years ago.  It started when I taught 4th grade math and science with my friend Rob Vardeman (@mr_v).  He told me about the Einstruction (@einstruction) remote system that he used at his previous school and I was hooked.  I immediately wrote two grants for my school and we purchased 4 sets. My school district soon started using SMARTboards (@SMART_Tech).  I wanted to learn more so I signed up and completed the SMART Certified Education Administrator certification.  I then taught other teachers on my campus and throughout my district how to use them with their students.  I furthered my training when my district paid for me to complete the SMART Certified Trainer program.

I have presented at and attended technology conferences locally and statewide to learn more about technology integration.  I flipped my 6th grade science classroom last year with great success and plan on flipping my 7th grade science classroom next year.  This year I made the switch from a larger, tech savvy district to a small district with far less resources and experience with technology.  Of course I wish that I had more technology available to me but it’s about what you do with what you have, not how much you have.  Quality over quantity, right?

This change has come at the perfect time for me.  The district has just started the process of writing its own curriculum and I have had great success in implementing new technology into the 7th grade science curriculum.  It is a great experience.  I am back at the beginning but with all the knowledge I’ve gained over the last 8 years!

Twitter has become my favorite place to learn about new ideas and technology.  I started using Twitter three years ago when I attended a statewide technology conference.  Rob told me that I needed to connect with a teacher he knew that would be attending.  I started following all the teachers of the presentations I attended and it quickly grew from there.  I join the DEN (Discovery Educator Network) and SEE (SMART Exemplary Educator) chats on Twitter as often as possible and check out new resources as people post about things they are doing in their classrooms.

I look to other educators and educational authors and bloggers when I research a technology tool or idea for my classroom.  I have expanded my educational reading collection through the textbooks for my EDIM classes as well as suggestions of great reads from others on Twitter.  I also experiment with the different technology tools and websites before I try them with my students.  This doesn’t guarantee success but helps work out some of the kinks before my students and I try to use them together.

There are many challenges of using technology in the classroom.  I talk with my students before we do something new with technology.  I discuss what we are going to do and what we hope to accomplish.  They need to know why we are using the technology tool and how it will help enhance the content of our lessons.  I also teach them that things don’t always work as expected and we may need to be flexible or find a new way to reach our goal.  My students are learning how to discuss the effectiveness of different technology tools and how to use their problem solving skills when the technology doesn’t work the way we want it to or stops working altogether.  Another challenge is the availability of technology now that I have moved to a smaller district.  I have learned to plan in advance based on what technology tools are open.  I teach at a 7-8 middle school with 1,000 students, 2 computer labs, 1 iPad cart and 4 laptop carts with 15 computers each.  The infrastructure needed to support these devices and our BYOD policy is lacking and the devices themselves are older and don’t always work properly.

I’m very lucky that my administration supports my use of new technology and lets me try new things with my students without prior approval.  I try to create a transparent environment so that everyone, including parents, can see what our learning objectives are, why the technology was chosen to enhance the content and how we solve problems that arise so that our learning objectives are always met.  I have learned that technology integration is not about the amount of technology available but what you do with it.    Quality over quantity!

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