Sunday, July 1, 2012

Flipping...It's Not Just For The Classroom

I've recently returned from a trip out to San Diego for #ISTE12. While there you could definitely sense several themes with the participants, sessions, and vendors. STEM was one. iPad and other Tablet cases, charging stations and protection plans was another. But overall the biggest topic that people wanted to talk about was Flipping the classroom.

What is flipping? In is simplest form, flipping is the idea that instead of the teaching of basic skills in the classroom, those skills are acquired outside the classroom, mostly through the form of videos. Then this allows for more depth, remediation, and/or extension in the classroom. It is becoming very popular in math classrooms because of the ease of access to content through sites like Khan Academy and others. But there are other classrooms like science and social studies where teachers are trying the flip. 

I am very skeptical of flipping. Mostly because of the fact that kids leave school to do more school and that just isn't right. (But that is a post for another time...)

I do believe that there is a more practical application of the flip that doesn't involve the classroom. 

Faculty meetings. 

Someone on Twitter asked me the other day if I had any resources for making faculty meetings better. I thought about it and it dawned on me. Why not flip them. We use the same reasoning for flipping a classroom and apply it to the faculty meeting. 

Think about it. All the nuts and bolts stuff that is shared in a faculty meeting could be shared asynchronously via other means, freeing up the traditional faculty meeting time for other things. 

Not enough time for PLC meetings? Use the Faculty Flip to free up that time and allow grades and departments to meet, talk and plan. 

Not enough time for Professional Development? Use the Faculty Flip to have an unconference sharing session of what's working and ways to improve practice. 

There are lots of practical applications for the Faculty Flip. The point of it is to make the time the staff or groups spend together more meaningful. Many of the meetings that take place in a school are informational. Scheduling, data sharing, field trips, etc. Many of these could be sent in an email or shared in a group. Thus freeing time to do something meaningful for kids. 

So the idea sounds great but how do you share that information? Email is one way. And it is truly one-way. It's tough to carry out a conversation over email. There are some easier and better ways to share information. 

Google Docs-Easy to start and use. Put your information in, and share. You can create one doc for the entire year and add too it so there is always a running record of what has taken place. Once shared, other staff can leave comments or link to your document when creating new ones for other business. 

Ning-A while back when Ning went paid it got a bad rap. But for educators it is still a great option. With Ning Mini being free for up to 150 members there are some great features like forums, groups, and 1 gig of file storage that would be great for sharing documents, ideas and more. 

Edmodo-My favorite social network for schools, you can set up groups for grade levels and departments, share documents, set up polls and questionnaires and more. And there are lots of applications beyond the faculty sharing that folks could begin to see it being used in their classroom too. (I wrote a post about how to use it a while back.)

No matter what you use, try it! See what you and your staff can do with that extra time if you share that information digitally and reserve that faculty meeting time for faculty learning time. Try the Faculty Flip!

photo credit: Hani Amir via photo pin cc
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