Hello ... Guess what? This blog has moved to its new location at The Flipped Professor blog. Please read new posts there. See you at The Flipped Professor blog. All posts starting in May 2016 are found at this new location.
Hi everyone! My name is Frank Stonehouse. I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan (But, for my own protection, I usually lie and say I’m from Toronto). I am currently working as an English professor in both Professional and Prepa Divisions at ITESM in Morelia, Mexico, where I have been teaching since 2009.
I consider myself an amateur video-maker. I have been tinkering around with my own progressive Internet talk program called The Frankly Speaking Show. It’s got a long way to go … “poco-a-poco,” as they say.
I’m also an animal-lover, Apple fanboy, vegetarian, iPhoneography buff, virtual worlds enthusiast, freethinker, and wannabe writer. I enjoy participating in online courses/MOOCs, and I’ve had the privilege of being in one of Ken Bauer’s face-to-face flipped workshops earlier this year. He looks funnier upside-down.
5 min read
Video Link: https://
For Unit 5, we have been tasked with planning a flipped lesson for our classes. I typically work with advanced English students that are learning English as a foreign language, so this flipped lesson specifically targets those students. I also think that, especially if the aim of the lesson is to develop expression of opinion communication skills as this lesson indeed does, introducing controversial topics really helps to facilitate this objective, as everyone has an opinion one way or the other. I also like to take advantage of current local/world events in doing so. So this lesson, which its primary aim is the development of communication skills, does so in the context of gun control. The topic simply serves as a relevant containter for faciliatating learning and enhancing effective communication skills.
Unit 5 - Plan a Flipped Lesson
Title/Topic of Lesson
(Advanced English Level) Discuss and explain the reasons why or why not you believe gun control is important nowadays.
Description of learning objective, what do you want the students to understand after this lesson?
Students will have a better command of expressing opinions in English in a panel discussion format while learning about diversity of citizenship values and laws between cultures. They will also learn how to effectively use technology to convene a synchronous panel discussion of geographically separate participants.
What is the pre-class content? This can be research, reading, watching a video or something else that prepares them for the activity in class. You need to stress to students that it is an active process: take notes from the video/reading, etc.
Students will research the constitutions and applicable laws of Mexico, USA and other foreign countries concerning arms ownership and distribution. They will also watch current event videos on the Paris massacre, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Shady Hook massacre, the California massacre, the Lebanese and Mali massacres, drug cartel violence, national rifle association (and other pro gun positions) etc. Language snippets covering dialog skills will also be introduced at this point.
How will you encourage (close to) full participation of your students on the pre-class content? WSQ or a survey? A quick 1 minute video by them of their summary/questions?
Along with the pre-class content presented in a LMS (Blackboard, Tackk, etc,), I plan to include a Google form with a KWL-like warm-up task. 1. BEFORE RESEARCH/VIDEOS: What do you already know about gun control in a variety of cultures? 2. BEFORE RESEARCH/VIDEOS: What do you want to know about gun control, what unanswered question do you have? 3. AFTER RESEARCH/VIDEOS: What did you learn from your research and the assigned videos that you did not previously know? How did your point of view change, if at all?
What are you planning to do in the classroom to actively apply the learning or dig deeper into the topic?
In the classroom, we will watch a selection of panel discussion videos to model how a group exchanges opinions (and agreeing and disagreeing, etc.), similar to the weekly Q&A show in Australia. Along with these videos, students will notice (with teacher facilitation) and then review language snippets for 1. expressing opinions (I believe … research shows … etc.) and agreeing/disagreeing/Interrupting politely. They will connect some of the language they are hearing to the learning materials provided earlier online in their LMS. The primary focus of the lesson is acquirement language for group discussion/dialog purposes. The topic of gun control serves only as a relevant-day container to allow these language skills and sub-skills to develop through discovery and practice. Classroom time will also be dedicated to going over the technical aspects of recording a Google Hangout on Air (technology component).
How are you going to evaluate the activity afterwards? As appropriate you could be testing learning of skills/knowledge and/or a survey of their reflection/opinion on this type of learning environment.
Students will create a panel discussion video on gun control using the Q&A program as a model reference. They will decide on roles within their group (moderator, gun sales person, victim, parent, politician (right and left), clergy, atheist, psychiatrist, etc. The evaluation with be rubric-based since there will be a major deliverable (Google Hangout on Air panel discussion video). During classroom activities, there will be formative feedback both from the teacher and peers.
Your reflection on the process. This can be as short or long as you like and of course will not happen until after this course is over. Just record your experience for your benefit and for others perhaps.
Forthcoming after lesson is executed with students. We are currently on break until mid January. So reflection on outcomes will be posted towards the end of February, 2016. So, what are yout thoughts about this flipped lesson plan? What would you do differently from the plan above to enhance student learning? Thanks! --Frank
6 min read
During week 4 of our flipped learning online course, we are looking at some of the aspects and qualities of a professional educator, specifically:
In addition to the above, we read some provocative blog posts concerning underespresentation of a code of ethics in educational technology that can be found in other fields where the art of craft and science also intersect. The notion of not harming in any way a student's learning path resonates existentially with me. In today's educational hustle and bustle to get this project done, that report written, those tests graded, and so on and so on, it's easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of being a professional educator: compassion by putting others' (students') needs front and center in a holistic manner. And, taking care to do so with empathy is foremost, yet academic objectives are not abandoned or excluded (but they are not the entirety of the end game either). It's a balancing act, one which requires more thoughtful consideration and implementation with intention. In an earlier unit of the course, we heard a TED talk by young student that emphasized happiness and health as an encompassing container for effective learning. I think these two themes go together nicely. Should a teacher keep an ever watchful eye on ethics and compassion, then students will both learn and be joyful. It's widely known and understood that learning is rarely effective in stressful, uncaring environments.
As far as making myself available for feedback, I have 2.5 hours every day, Monday to Friday, set aside for just that purpose. Students know that they can find me in the teacher's lounge from 8:15-10:15AM daily. I also advertise that I am always available for special apppointments when necessary. During in-classroom tasks, I am rarely in the front of the room. I move between and among the students giving on-the-spot formative assessments. Actually, I spend much more of my energy on formative rather than summative evaluation. As a right-brained predominant thinker, I have never been a numbers-obessessed tedious bean counter that needs to control and overly-organize everything. I think qualitative feedback and support are much farther reaching and more meaningful than quatitative. However, the reality is that we still live in a heavily left-brained, numbers-driven system. It's the job of the educator to dance around one system just enough to get the job done .... but to work more assertively behind the scenes with students to faciliatie their learning in a formative fashion. After all, 21st-century companies are looking for critical thinkers and good communicators, not employees that are rigid and stay within the lines.
It seems to me that there might be a bit of connective tissue between last week's material (thinking Andrew Miller's mantra of "revise and reflect") and this week's inspection of "formative assessment during classtime through observation and by recording data to inform future instruction." I think I covered that fully in last week's video, so I don't want to be too repetitive here. Just as a public speaker needs to carefully read his audience's faces and body language to see where adjustments need to be made on the fly, so does an educator need to constantly play dual roles of doer and observer. The observing teacher notices what works and what doesn't seem to work as initially intended. If outcomes are terribly off, it's time to rethink, reassess, and redesign instruction for the next go around. Similar to marketing strategies, an educator must know their client and meet their needs, not their own. Having said that, however, sometimes going off on tangents can lead to interesting outcomes. If that seems to be the case, then go with the flow and let flexibility and organic learning take its course.
Follow me on Twitter (@metaweb20)
Another important point is building a personal learning network (PLN) with others, and not just other educators in one's field. While it is important to build professional alliances with others in one's field, the risk is always there that you are preaching to the choir or reverberating inside of an echo chamber of similar group thought. I think it is critically important, no -- essential, to build networks in the periphery of your PLN as well. Sometimes the most creative ideas come from other disciplines that can be combined and complemented with your own. I have all sorts of people in my PLN (twitter, facebook, Pinterest, face-to-face, etc.) from different walks of life. The seemingly craziest ideas from someone that you least expect can elevate a project, approach, technique and so on to new and more effective dimensions. As they say, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." I think there is a lot of valuable truth to that "dicho." Audrey Watters showed that to be true in her insights concerning being better educators by looking into ethical codes embraced by other fields of study in her blog post "A Hippocratic Oath fo Ed-Tech." Creativity and growth, the blending of academics and joy, don't come from being stagnant and closely guarded to what we already know. So, my challenge to readers of my post is to step outside of your discipline, peek around the corners of your blind spots, venture into other waters and create new boats and new seas to find unchartered places of truth and growth. The world is wonderfully connected, sometimes in ways that are not immediately obvious. Divergent thinking before convergent thinking is where innovation comes from. You can follow me on Twitter @metaweb20 where I have almost 2,000 followers and I follow over 2,000 people from a variety of backgrounds.
Reference: "Connectivism - Personal Learning Networks for 21st-Century Teachers" Frank Stonehouse, Leon, Mexico, 2008 (MexTESOL international convention).
P.S. I am really liking this "withknown" blogging tool and its ease of use. However, the lack of a spell-checker has caused me to have several unwanted spelling errors. Hope they add spell-checking to this tool at some point. I need it; my mind moves faster than my fumbling fingers do.
7 min read
During this week, we have been tasked with exploring the concept of intentional content, specifically:
HD Intro Video: Intentional Content
Action Research makes each interative approach to content more intentional than the previous one(s), as you don't always get it right the first time. Reflection and revision are key.
After reading the Andrew Miller Eutopia blog post, Teachers are Learning Designers, I recalled that in order to know what students need, we as educators must constantly observe our practice in and out of the classroom. What is working and what is not. In order to accomplish this goal, we must devise a routine of action research (referred to as revise & reflect by Miller) which can be described as follows:
"Through systematic, controlled action research, higher education teachers can become more professional, more interested in pedagogical aspects of higher education and more motivated to integrate their research and teaching interests in a holistic way. This, in turn, can lead to greater job satisfaction, better academic programmes, improvement of student learning and practitioner’s insights and contributions to the advancement of knowledge in higher education." (Zuber-Skerritt, 1982: 15)
According to Kolb (1984), the cycle for action research planning might look like this. The teacher plans, acts, observes, reflects, and then revises. The cycle continues as much as required to make iterative adjustments and fine tuning to best meet the needs of all students.
So, in order to effectively deliver intentional content to students, flipped learning or not, this action research process should always be a container in which anaylis of learning takes place.
Now on to the more direct points to be convered in this post:
So, in closing, I am committed to spending more brain power on designing learning content for students in a more intentional manner by really thinking it out: then trying it out and reflecting on the outcomes, making adjustments, and then improving the next go around.
Thanks, See ya next time...
UPDATE: Today's Google Hangout on Air with Carolina in Colombia and Ken in Guadalajara.
4 min read
Starting out in this course, we are exploring the 4 pillars of flipped learnnig. In #unit2, we are looking at pillar 2, or the learning culture that educators & students create together. Here are a couple guiding points for teachers from the Flipped Learning Network's publication "What is Flipped Learning."
Although I strongly feel that learning activities should be meaningful and relevant to student's lives, sometimes I do find it challenging to develop tasks which are congruent with this aim. To be truthful, I would like to do much better with this. When it comes to projects, I have much more success in this area as I select the projects mostly by aligning them with current events and student interests. I give them flexibility to choose topics within the framework of the task. However, I find it much more difficult to make tasks relevant when using a textbook. Since student have to purchase the book per school policy, we must use it in class. Often the topics aren't currently meaningful to students or very engaging. So, it takes quite a bit of thinking and planning on the teacher's behalf to somehow morph the given activities into something more interesting and relevant. Often times, the teacher just needs to abandon the input materials and swap them with something else. In this way, the student takes a more invested approach to noticing key features of the language. After doing this, the learner can return to the textbook and simply answer the questions after already "getting it" in a more meaningful way beforehand.
Scaffolding, Differentiation & Feedback
(Oxford Journal, 2015)
Writing skills and subskills are critically important in succeeding at university and real life. Preparing student to write better begins even before college. I work with both high school and university students. Their writing skills are usually not anywhere close to where they need to be. So, as teacher, I must scaffold activities that allow students to jump in whereever they are in the writing process. I would never simply give a writing assignment and say, "Go!" We usually start with looking at the differences between dependent and independent clauses. Then move on to sentence structure and variety, including comma use. After that, we start to look at text organization and content. And while we are doing all of this, we continually explore more and more grammar points and vocabulary. As mentioned in a previous post, I also connect my students with outside experts and social networds so that their learning experience isn't isolated to 1 approach. They have multiple mentors and ideas to bouce around and draw their own concluscion from.
I am taking an educated guess that students start out with poor writing skills because their previous learning experiences did not pay attention to scaffolding and differentiation. And, if there is no other feedback than simply a numerical score, well that says it all. Here is an interentesting read on scaffolding: 6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use with your Students by Rebecca Alber (Eutopia). And 5 critieria for effective scaffolding (Applebee, 1986) published at Oxford Journals, http://
I use Google Drive for all of my writing assignments. And, with the Chrome browser, I add the Doctopus extension, which was created by a teacher. This extension allows me to effortlessly control the writing assignment process and give really meaningful and differentiated feedback to each and every student. With this tool, I can make global comments such as, "Gloria, I can see that your use of the writing conventions that we have covered so far this semester have really improved over a short time." And, I can highlight and make specific, more targeted, comments at key points within the student's writing assignment. I can also make voice comments which add a more personal touch of encouragement and connection bringing my much closer to the student rather than a marked up sheet of paper.
In closing, I still find developing a meaninful learning culture to be quite challenging, yet I fully comprehend its importance. It takes practice and much reflection. After each class, it's critically important to step back and assess what worked and what didn't work, what connected with students and what didn't, and to then make iterative adjustments as you move forward with students and your own personal growth. Teacher reflection and action research are critical. But also, a teacher should try their best to develop a personal learning network (PLN) with their educational peers. This can be done via Twitter, reading blogs, joining social networks, participating in online courses, going to conferences, and so on. In all of these PLN environments, there is a ton of sharing and learning going on. Just jump in!
5 min read
Hi everyone .... This week we have been tasked with the exploring the 1st pillar of a flipped classroom: Flexible Learning Environments
What I have discovered in my own practice is that when students have multiple assignments coupled with the fact that each student learns in different ways, I need to accommodate that reality by meeting most of my students' needs as possible. How do I approximate doing that?
First of all, I do my best to make sure that all of the assignments that I give are relevant to both the students' lives and the tools/skills that they will need in the future. As an English teacher, at any one time we are looking at writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills and subskills. There is a lot of ground to cover with second language learning and communicating effectively. The good news is that language crosscuts every other discipline and social realm. Without language, there is no communication of thought, ideas, needs, desires, etc. Perfecting language is important. So, it deserves critical attention to detail and process.
Once I get my learners going on a variety of tasks which usually include detailed instructions and steps in our learning mangagment system (Blackboard completemented with other embedded Web tools) and then introduced or presented during classtime, I then set aside a few days during each partial period to set up physical zones or spaces that I call "Multi-Modality Rotation Class" so that students can work either independently or in pairs/small groups on those skills that need development. This gives students a chance to work on areas that they feel need further attention. Below is a schematic that I displayat the start of any multi-modality class so that students can find their way to the appropriate zone of choice. And, they have the flexibility to move or rotate between zones as needed throught the class time.
As teacher, I play the role of facilitator and moderator as needed. I try not to interfere as peers work together or independently. I make it clear that I am available as a resourse as needed. This places the responsibility for learning more onto the students while creating a safety net if needed. I move between the zones and listen in to help students get unstuck if required.
If students need more development and practice with research and writing skills, they go to that zone initially. If they need practice with presentation/speaking skills, they go to that zone. If they need to work independently (grammar review, exam prep, weekly discussion board reflection, etc.), they can do so. Or they can choose to work in pairs in those same zones. Often, there is just one sticking point that they might have, then they rotate quickly to the next priority zone: they get to choose.
What this accomplishes is that within a very short space of time, students are able to catch-up and fill in the gaps in a variety of areas, skills, and assignments where they need help most. I generally try not to burn up an entire class focusing on one isolated skill or subskill that possibly some students have already mastered or is not currently relevant to their needs. Multi-modality classes, being that they are more flexible learning environments, effectively reach more students. I can't do this every day, but I do do it a few times every partial to minimize the learning gaps that are persisting with students.
I still feel that I am not quite there yet in flipping and creating flexible learning environments; it's an ongoing formulative process. I have a lot of adjusting and learning to get there. What I think is important for any teacher is to get started by taking little steps. Those little steps over time open the door for more and bigger steps. As teachers, we are learning along with our students. And that is the way that it should be.
Below, you can also find a Google Hangout on Air with Ken Bauer and me covering some aspects of this topic. Please post comments or questions as you like.
What do I hope to get out of this course? What are my expectations?
I’d like for all of us to have fun, and, after that, I anticipate that we will:
Those are my straw-man expectations. Other than that, I am really looking forward to freshening up my approach to lesson planning by getting students more emotionally engaged in my courses. I think this is crticial because many students have been learning English for many years now, since preschool even. Many have had bad experiences with learning English or are just burnt out on the topic. So, I need to bring these students back into being excited about learning a language.
Students these days are now more into "chunking" smaller pieces of information. How can we as teachers chunk our lessons so that students find them more accessible and relevant to their contexts?
Having said all this, I do know that some students, especially those that are more left-brained predominant, still process learning better with lecture-style formats. How can we not leave these students behind ... even if they are a growing minority?
One of my fears include keeping up with technology. It always changing and moving forward faster than the speed of light (OK, faster than the speed of Frank). One day students are into this app and the next day into that app. Students nowadays get bored quickly are and much more demanding than in the past. However, some studies show that multitasking and jumping from one thing to another is not all that productive. Where and how do we find balance by not getting caught up in using technology just to appease students, but rather to use technology to engage students effectively while also keenly serving pedagogy?
Fondness for summative evaluation is not my forte, I must admit. So, I'd like to find effective ways to connect formative evaluation and assessment with all this new stuff that we will learn. I am sure that many of us are somewhat tired of "bitácoras" and overly-detailed rubrics. End-of-period grades don't always reflect a student's learning. I think formative assessment is more effective. So maybe developing some good checklists and other tools to aid formative feeback processes would help a lot to be a better teacher. Formative processes are more important than summative in my mind. However, were are still more enslaved by quatititative evaluation, pushing numbers. How do we break away from that?
Looking forward to the Flipped Learning course. Thanks Ken and other participants! I encourage everyone to drop a comment here at my blog (Spanish or English).