Not Your Average Flipped Classroom

EDTE 5913 Technology Integration


How can I use technology to differentiate my math instruction for first graders while still maintaining developmentally appropriate pedagogy? One of the most effective strategies for teaching math to first graders is using hands-on math manipulatives such as base ten blocks, Unifix cubes, counting chips, etc. These provide students with a physical correlation to math concepts, which increases knowledge retention, and there is also increased engagement among students when they get to “play” or use manipulatives. One common problem with using hands-on materials, however, and one that often deters teachers from even taking them out of the closet, is management. It is difficult to monitor a classroom of 25 students using hands-on materials while also providing coherent instruction.

While attending the 2015 NCCE conference in Seattle, I attended one of the keynote speaker sessions, which was presented by Kevin Honeycutt, technology integrationist and staff developer. He talked a lot about flipped learning models, including the one I am most familiar with, which is a reverse instruction model. It involves students engaging in content discovery (ie. readings, watching videos, research) at home and utilizing class time for applying the new knowledge and skills through class discussions and practice. Reverse instruction is an innovative strategy that has great potential to maximize learning, but doesn’t seem to be appropriate for younger children. I felt my attention slipping away when the topic of instructional videos was introduced. It may seem like such a simple and obvious solution to some, and to be honest I was appalled that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I was completely blown away by its concept as a blended learning model and potential as an instructional method. Teachers, especially of young children, can create a video teaching a concept and in the meantime, the real teacher is roving the room, supporting students who need extra help, and monitoring behavior. The teacher essentially becomes his/her own assistant! It’s genius! We all wish we could have an assistant… technology makes that possible in any classroom!

There are many options available to me for creating and uploading instructional videos, but I wanted to find something that mainly utilizes free district equipment and tools, so that I can share this technique with my colleagues. I recently took an online elective course through SPU’s College of Professional Education about using Interactive Whiteboards. An unintended outcome of this course was learning that the document camera in my classroom, paired with the SMART software provided by my district, can be used to record video. One course activity allowed me to evaluate the benefits and features of three programs to record a process, such as long division. I Compared using the SMART Notebook page recorder, SMART Floating Tools Recorder, and a document camera on their respective file types, file sizes, inclusion of sound, and more. Examples of how to perform a task can be recorded by teachers and students for later review anytime and anywhere. Students can access these recordings, which can include narration and anything done on a computer or in a classroom. Taking this course and researching a variety of articles with tips on creating powerful flipped videos has prepared me to get started. For some great ideas and tips for flipped learning, take a look at these resources:


TPACK-newThe model to the left represents 3 key components of the dynamic teacher knowledge required to deliver effective instruction in today’s technology-rich classroom environment: pedagogical, technological, and content knowledge. Rather than mastering each element separately, the ideal basis for teaching with technology lies at the center, where all 3 concepts overlap. Using a flipped learning model using instructional videos in the classroom is a technique that falls under TPACK, demonstrating technological pedagogical content knowledge. Flipped learning requires a strong understanding of technology, and using this model intentionally for younger students shows a firm grasp of what is developmentally appropriate for maximum learning at a young age. Additionally, the content information is explicitly taught using the videos and then further supported by the teacher being physically present.

So much of my exploration of a blended learning model has taken place over the summer and in my former teaching position, which didn’t allow opportunities to integrate this technique. In the upcoming school year, I will return to the general education classroom teaching first grade and I look forward to trying this out for my own benefit and for the increased learning in my students. As I mentioned above, the ideal situation that comes to mind for this to be effective is during my math instruction, when I am explicitly teaching a strategy or a process, using pencil and paper or hands-on manipulatives. My first grade teaching partner are planning on implementing a walk-to-math program, where we can differentiate our instruction to better meet the needs of all of our students. This is only a starting point for flipped learning and I look forward to including this model in a variety of different subject areas. Some ideas that I have come across for utilizing video with SMART software and a document camera include:

  • Record students performing a demonstration of a dance using a document camera with the lens pointed to the side.
  • Document how to do specific tasks in a computer program such as creating a chart in Excel or how to bookmark a web page. Place these video files on a shared folder on the school’s network.
  • Archive a video conference using the Recorder tool.
  • Create and record a sequence of how to create adobe bricks in which graphic objects and text are used with Notebook Page Recorder. Then play it back and have students narrate the process to increase understanding.

I have been so excited to try this out in my own instruction–just ask my colleagues and professors! Please check back in the future for updates on my experiences with flipped learning in first grade!

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