Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Flipped Classroom

As part of my graduate program at WGU, I have researched the concept of the Flipped Classroom.  The Flipped Classroom model uses face-to-face learning time for active learning projects and assigns video-based lectures as homework.    I instruct a high-school level programming class at private co-operative in Texas, and this year I have decided to flip the classroom.  
Cooperative learning organizations do not meet on a daily basis.   High school age students self-manage the majority of their learning activities, so including video lecture material is a natural fit.   In addition, students will receive the added benefit of peer-to-peer mentoring during class time, while they work on their projects.  

This week we launched our classroom model using, which is an academic, social media site for K-12.  Edmodo gives me  a central location to post assignments, video lectures, and to answer questions from the students.   I am new to flipping, but thus far, I think it is an outstanding way to allow my students to access my lectures and resources independently,  and it will enable us to utilize class time for  cooperative learning projects as a group. 

To learning more about Flipping you can certify at and follow along with me on this years journey.

If your a teacher or student teacher join for mentoring from other fantastic flippers. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Differentiated Instruction ...

either you love the idea, or you hate it.  Personally, I love it.  Last year, at WGU, a professor introduced the author Carol Tomlinson to me, which profoundly touched my teaching style.  

I teach at a cooperative where multi-age group classes are the norm.  During my educational research at WGU, I was surprised to discover that mixed-ability classrooms are the norm regardless of the labels in the hallway or the educational model-- traditional or non-traditional. 

The Tomlinson model—Content, Purpose, Process, Product, and Environment-- allows me to organize my approach to my students,  who vary in readiness levels and ages by several years.    Over the summer, I vowed to create more homogeneous lessons and to differentiate my lesson delivery and more importantly the assessments.  

This week for our home-school science assessment, we did something completely different and fun.   We used drama, cooperative learning, and videography to assess the students understanding of our science unit on earth science and astronomy.  

This task is a formative assessment building to a summative assessment that will include math objectives of clocks, calendars, time lapse and science objectives from astronomy. 

Level 1   (1st- 2nd)

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate the meaning the orbit.

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate the meaning of rotation.

Using props and acting, students can demonstrate and orally explain what causes day and night.

Level 2 (3rd Grade)

Using props and acting, students can explain and demonstrate the causes of Earth's seasons.

Using oral language, third grade students can explain and locate the northern and southern hemispheres.

Using a combination of oral language, acting, and props students can explain and demonstrate what cause day and night.


This assessment followed two weeks of modeling the Earth’s rotation using a lit candle in our science experiment place, the kitchen.  We also modeled the seasons using a lit candle.  I used an infrared thermometer to verify the changes in heat on the surface of the ball for change of seasons.  Below is an info-graphics demonstrating the tilt of the Earth, its rotation around the sun, and its effect on temperatures. 


v Globe – or in our case a ball on a skewer mounted to a coffee can.
v A model of the sun – or an unlit candle
v Video equipment (iPhone)
v Task card
     Create a task card showing the objectives for each level.  I              wrote the assessment objectives on the whiteboard. 

Does not meet the goal 
Partially meets the goal 
Meets the goal

Exceeds the goal

Vocabulary -Rotation


Cause of daytime

Cause of nighttime

Cause of seasons

Vocabulary- Northern Hemisphere

Vocabulary-Southern Hemisphere

You can observe the assessment video, here. 

 Sun heating the Southern Hemisphere

Temperature of the Northern Hemisphere. 

Temperature of the Southern 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Art and Work on Writing

           Art is an enjoyable way to incorporate mathematical and spatial reasoning during learning time.  Yet, squeezing art into my weekly schedule is difficult.   In the past, I have included craft solutions to display our work.    Still, I find that I do more work than the students do, and the prep time occasionally kills the project.  This year, I plan to encourage my students to become their own illustrators and graphical artists by having them illustrate or model the topics and strategies they learn about in ELA, Math, Science, Bible, or History.

          This week I reintroduced the C.A.F.E. menu of reading strategies from the Two Sisters and the six traits of good writing using V.O.I.C.E.S.  The comprehension strategy of the week was retell the story.  Of course, I created a connection between retelling the story and the O of the six traits, organization.  We focused on the structure of a story: the beginning, a middle, and the end.

          Throughout the week, we referred to these strategies to retell the stories I read, and we completed graphical organizers to support these ideas.  At the end of the week, I combined our Work on Writing Center with Art.  The project was simple, illustrate an original story, or retell a familiar story with pictures using the beginning, middle, and end strategy.

          The kids loved it, and the assignment lends itself to differentiation.   The older or more advanced child retold a story, but with an original twist.  The younger learner retold a familiar story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by E. Carle. The best part was how easy it was. Below is a step-by-step overview of what we did.  

First, we folded a 12’’ by 18’’ piece of construction paper into 1/3 like a letter.  We glued half of a 12’’ by 12’’ piece of scrapbook paper to the top flap and cut copier paper into tags.  However, we did not title our story until the end.  On the inside flap,  they wrote their names.

Second, the students orientated the construction paper to the portrait position.  Together we wrote a B, an M, and an E in the upper left-hand corner of each section.

Third, the children drew the parts of their stories.  I observed the type of stories they selected.  This gave me an idea about what books they really liked and the subjects they enjoy.  It was a chance to learn about their unique tastes and to improve their classroom reading selections.   In science, we introduced using a compass to make a circle.  One child used the compass in his art.   

Finally, the students titled their stories.  We then decided to skip Word Work time and allowed the students to tell their stories.  This was a peaceful end to a busy week, and the students had the opportunity to apply the concepts of the week in a unique way.  At the end of the day,  I taped the back of the stories to our Wonder Wall, so the students could display their creations. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Welcome to the Teaching for Fun and Understanding

Today, everyone is striving to improve the learning experiences of students that trust us to teach and guide them.  The purpose of this blog is to share the experiences, the ideas, and the wisdom of the author and other courageous educators both professional and home teachers.  It is the author's hope that this blog will help infuse the character of Christ, creativity, joy, and strong learning and design practices in our daily teachings.  I hope you will find renewal and fun during the long school year when you visit this blog.


I am halfway through my M.E.D. in Instructional Design and Technology.  While studying, I found word clouds to be a great way to create my own anchor charts to remember things.  Word clouds are those beautiful images with words about a topic floating about the page in different orientations and sizes.  Recently, I found a website for children that allows them to create and print their very own word clouds.  

This is an interesting way to display a poem or an idea.  It allows the students to practice typing and familiarize themselves with concepts like font and orientation.  Below, there is a picture of an I-Can anchor chart turned into a word cloud.  These I-Can items are from The Daily Five by Joan Moser and Gail Boushey, ”The Two Sisters".  I am using these word clouds on my bulletin board, and I am allowing early finishers to make their own.  Overall, I think word clouds are an easy way to make learning personal and beautiful.