Reflections on Flipcon13
At the end of the school year the phrase “make good choices” is shouted to all of the students heading out for their proms, graduation and summer vacation. As teachers leave for their vacations do they listen to the echoes of their own advice? Teachers have the unique opportunity to create their own summer experience. For me, summer has evolved from a break from teaching to a combination of rejuvenation, learning, and work. This summer the choices I am making include start a blog, plan for fall, attend conferences, pick great professional development, start a master’s degree, and float about in the pool.
For my first blog post I am choosing to reflect on my experience at the Flipped Learning Conference (Flipcon). Flipcon is an annual conference of innovative and amazing teachers. This is the second time I have attended the conference and the first time I have presented. Being able to personally meet and talk with my virtual friends from my twitter PLN as well as get reacquainted with people from last year was one of the most fun aspects of the conference. There is something energizing about spending time with teachers who are generous, enthusiastic, and creative. Imagine the power of over 1000 professionals from all around the world gathered, in person and virtually, to share ideas on how to provide better learning experiences for students.
The Keynote with Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams focused on their journey creating an environment that is best for the student. They presented options that would suit anyone, the bold or the cautious innovator. Going into my 3rd year of flipped learning I am ready to retry some of the techniques I found challenging such as peer instruction and inquiry learning. I chose to attend two sessions by teachers from Byron High School, Embracing Failure: Flipped Project Based Learning and So You Flipped Your Classroom…Now What…Peer Instruction. Both of the sessions included great ideas on what to do with the time you gain for student interaction in a flipped class. The PBL session suggested that instead of finding a project that fit the curriculum reverse that and take a project and tie in the curriculum. One of the bigger struggles I have had in my class has been how to discuss the video lesson without relecturing. The techniques and example questions shown in the Peer Instruction session have giving me a jumping off spot for the fall. The second Keynote was Ramsey Musallam’s Explore-Flip-Apply: Using Video to Empower the Learning Cycle. As with peer instruction I have struggled to include the technique of inquiry learning in my class. Keeping mystery and challenge in the lesson to spark creativity is important for deep learning and time should be made to include it in the lesson. I’m convinced of the importance and will keep trying. I will have to wait for the archived sessions to see the ones that I missed. I am looking forward to revisiting the joy of Flipcon13, even if it is just a video.
The topics of the sessions covered everything from how to flip your class to tools to use to improve class time. In a large group of teachers you would expect testing and grades to be the focus. Amazingly those two topics seemed to take a back burner to building relationships with students, creating great learning environments for the students and collaborating with colleagues. Beyond the sessions there were some very important (and not so important) conversations occurring, tweets being posted and relationships being built and strengthened. Not only did teachers leave with brains over loaded with great ideas and hearts full of new friendships, but the promise of support in the future as we all go out and make good choices for our students.
Attending Flipcon 13 was a great choice for my summer! (I’m already planning to go to Flipcon 14 in Pittsburg.) It remains to be seen how the other choices work out.