Monday, August 13, 2012

Journal #9: "First Graders with iPads?"

Getting, S., & Swainy, K. (2012). First graders with ipads?. Learning & Leading with Technology, 40(1), 24-27. Retrieved from

Summary:  In this article, Sara Getting and Karen Swainy chronicle their efforts to test the effect of iPad use on the reading readiness of two groups of students.  Their goals with the iPad project was three-fold: increase reading achievement with the lowest reading groups, increase incorporation of digital tools in their teaching practice, and help young students gain basic skills as they begin their learning path in a digital world.  The two teachers overcame fairly difficult obstacles to achieve their vision and were rewarded with positive results that showed that iPad use did bring elevated average gains and higher test scores for those children in the study.

Question 1:  For this age group, what were the most important positive observed effects of regular iPad use?

First, the excitement of working with slick new iPads resulted in 15-20% in students' total Time on Task (TOT) as measured by an observer with a stopwatch.  It would be interesting to discover if there is any decrease in this figure over time as iPad use becomes less exciting due to frequency and/or familiarity.  Second, the iPad program provided leadership opportunities for the young students as they had the chance to demonstrate their skills in front of school board members and participated in a district Technology Conference.  Third, students using iPads were able to change reading groups often (although not specifically stated, I believe the author's indicate this progress was in the direction of increased ability) during the year.  Fourth, the iPad project prompted students to work collaboratively, instructing new users without teacher prompting or intervention; these helping habits were retained even after the conclusion of the program.  Finally, the students who used iPads demonstrated improvement in key reading readiness skills such as sight recognition, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary recognition.

Question 2:  Out of the obstacles faced by Getting and Swainy as they implemented their iPad program, which three seem the most crucial for others interested in trying such a program to consider?

First, in my opinion, would be cost!  These two teachers were able to receive stimulus funding in order to purchase their set of iPads.  This option may not be available to all institutions, including private schools.  Also, when budgeting or projecting costs, teachers need to consider some of the other frustrations mentioned in the article--like the initial lack of syncing software, or the need for headphones during "noisy apps," and the fact that VGA cord issues meant the teachers had to project to the class using document cameras (a piece of equipment that may not be present to be the "backup plan" in every classroom!)--because the solution to each of these problems required spending more money.

Second, would be the lack of applications to use with the students once they've been handed an iPad.  Although in the two years since Getting and Swainy conducted their research most school administrators have jumped whole-heartedly on the techno-bandwagon, any teacher seeking to implement a similar iPad program will still have to present a convincing cost-benefit analysis.  A big part of the pre-program research and planning should be directed to making sure that there are sufficient appropriate and stimulating apps easily available for the target age-group.

Finally, if I were an administrator or school board member--even as someone pre-disposed to favor spending funds to add digital tools to the classroom--I would want to have more data to consider than Getting and Swainy presented, as well as data without the variability they experienced.  Their promising positive results are great to hear about, but their case would be even stronger had the project report been issued after, say, four years of implementation in at least 2 or 3 classrooms.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Journal #8: Tools for Communication & Accessibility

Communication:   Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to any method of communication that a person with reduced ability or no ability to speak verbally uses to express his/her thoughts, needs, desires, and creative ideas.  These methods include body language/gestures--also called body-based modes--(no tech), communication boards/books (low tech), and a variety of speech generating devices (SGDs) from the simple to the highly complex.   This was a brand new area of inquiry for me because I have had only rare opportunities to work with students who've had complex communication needs (CCN).  More frequently I deal with excess oral communication rather than the lack thereof!  I spent a long time learning about AAC online just to gain a basic understanding of the issue; truly, I had no idea of all the information and equipment that is available to people with complex communication needs, though it didn't take much imagination--once I actually took time to think about it--to understand the importance of helping everyone be able to express themselves.

Communication Board by Mayer-Johnson
Communication board (low tech):  a collection of pictures and/or symbols along with the word or phrase they represent, usually arranged in a grid and printed on heavy-weight laminated paper.  The individual using this AAC selects--for example, by pointing or eye-scanning-- the square with the picture/symbol that conveys the desired message.  Alphabet letters may also be included in the grid to allow for spelling out messages not represented by pictures/symbols.  This could easily be used in classrooms to handle regularly occurring situations such as indicating upon arrival each morning the student's lunch selections; or a student could take a smaller board on a wristband out to the playground to show caregivers what activity he/she wished to engage in (Downey, Daugherty, Helt & Daugherty, 2004).  Mayer-Johnson is a popular manufacturer of communication boards.

The PapooTouch
PapooTouch handheld communication device (high tech):  this AAC tool resembles an iPhone, with a touchscreen that can display a qwerty or abc keyboard for typing out text that is then converted to speech. Alternately, the PapooTouch can display screens that are basically digital communication boards which allow individuals who may not keyboard quickly to build sentences using symbols or pictures instead of spelling out individual words.  There is also an "emotions" feature that allows an individual to play sounds like laughter, thus enabling non-verbal audible communication.  Like an iPhone, the PapooTouch can keep track of events and appointments and send alerts so that the individual doesn't forget anything important.  In order to use this in the classroom, a teacher should probably learn the basic operations of the device and even some basic troubleshooting tips in case the device is not working properly (Frailey, 2005).   Teachers should also be sure to send prompts or questions home ahead of time to give the student the chance to formulate and save responses.  I think that with a little planning and practice a device this sophisticated would certainly allow a CCN student to participate fully in a regular classroom--in group discussions, short presentations, or any other area where audible verbal response is needed.

 Click here to see my diigo-tagged pages on this subject.

Augmentative and alternative communication. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Blackstone, S. (2006). False beliefs & misconceptions about aac. Augmentative Communication News, 18(2). Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Blackstone, S. (2008). AAC in today’s classrooms. Augmentative Communication News, 20(4). Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Blackstone, S. (2009). AAC technologies. Augmentative Communication News, 21(3).  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Downey, D. , Daugherty, P. , Helt, S.  & Daugherty, D. (2004, September 21). Integrating AAC Into the Classroom : Low-Tech Strategies. The ASHA Leader. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Frailey, Cheris. (2005) Role of the classroom teacher. Super-Duper Handy Handouts (89).  Retrieved August 4, 2012, from

Worah, S., Douglas, S., McNaughton, D., & Kennedy, P. (2010). Aac: Resource guide for teachers. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from State Education Resource Center (SERC) website:

 Accessibility:  An input device is a piece of equipment designed to deliver data to a computer, making it interactive instead of display-only.  Familiar input devices include keyboards, mice, laser bar-code readers, joysticks and Wii remotes.   For education the most frequently used input devices are the mouse and qwerty keyboard.  Special needs students who have, for example, reduced use of hands and fingers face obstacles using computers at school, so other input devices—both hardware and software--have been developed.
HeadMouse on a laptop
Head Mouse (hardware):  This mouse involves two main parts.  A camera-like device fastens to the top of the computer screen, facing the user.  It is a wireless optical sensor which tracks a small target temporarily placed, for example, on the user's forehead.  The person using the computer can then move the cursor on screen hands-free, by using head movements.  Although rather expensive, this tool would make it easier for a paraplegic and/or wheel-chair bound student to participate in a regular class.  Of course, being able to control the cursor on screen is not the only requirement for computer use.  In addition to the head mouse, a student with no use of his hands would also need a way to add text.  This could be accomplished in low tech fashion by using a stick held in the mouth; however, virtual keyboard software produces an on-screen keyboard so that the student can select keys using the head mouse. 
Dragon by Nuance (software): bringing us one step closer to a "Star Trek" world, this speech recognition software is a great tool for people with learning disabilities that make spelling difficult as well as anyone with a physical disability, from carpal tunnel to non-functioning hands.  Using this software, the computer operator speaks commands like "Open new document," or "New line," as well as dictating the actual text of Word documents and e-mails.  Because it can also be used by non-disabled people who just don't like to type or aren't very skilled on the keyboard, it seems like it could be a way of building common-ground between special needs and regular students.  While this software might be difficult to use at school with a larger class (too noisy and distracting!), it would be great for word-processing papers or homework assignments.  In a flipped classroom model, students could use the Dragon software to more easily take notes at home as they watch lecture videos or other content images.  It's relatively low price (due to special student/teacher offer) makes it accessible to students in most all economic situations.  After doing the research for this journal post, I am seriously considering purchasing this software myself to use for grading AP essays--no more writing in comments on student papers!!  I can speak the comments, then print out the document and staple it to the student's paper.

 Click here to see my diigo-tagged pages on this subject.

See research by some of my classmates:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal #7: My Personal Learning Network

I.  If, like me, you are on a journey to improve your understanding of technology tools and their positive applications, you may have heard about or seen the abbreviation "PLN" online.  The term Personal Learning Network (PLN) describes the set of online resources that an individual uses to stay informed about topics of personal interest, communicate with other people near and far, and form relationships for the sharing of ideas and experiences.  The mind-boggling scope of the Internet means that we now have access to people and information on a much larger scale than earlier generations could even imagine!  The tools that comprise PLNs include:
As a visual learner, I found this picture helpful.  

  • e-mail
  • RSS feeds--a tool that allows you to keep up with educational blogs, news, wikis, and podcasts all in one convenient location (definition by Scheninger, E. (2010, August 28). Personal learning networks 101. Retrieved from                           Click here for an example from USA Today
  • regularly maintained journal-like websites called "blogs" (short for "web logs") 
  • social-networking sites like Facebook
  • communications programs like Skype (for live video messaging)
  • social-bookmarking sites like Twitter (for shorter messages/posts) or Pinterest 
  • services that help to manage your collection of online content like Diigo and Symbaloo
  • digital discussion networks (Classroom 2.0 or Social Studies Chat).
ED 422 has provided me with a total-immersion crash course in these tools and I am now (barely) using most of them to build my own PLN.  Six weeks ago I maintained a Facebook presence mostly to keep an eye on my children, went to other teachers at my school when I had a question, and participated in one online teacher LIST-serv discussion.  Today, I am working on two blogs, following about 10 people on Twitter (and have even--gasp!--posted 5 tweets of my own), and I know how to use both Social Studies Chat and Symbaloo.  Having a PLN will help me as a teacher by raising my knowledge of technology closer to that of my teenage students and giving me a better understanding of their world--not to mention another area of common ground to use in building my teacher-student relationships.  The access to a greater pool of information, while still a bit daunting, will help to make me a better-informed teacher, both in terms of my subject area and best teaching practices.  And, having a greater number of co-worker relationships (once I overcome a phobia of sharing my own information) will help to stimulate and motivate me along the life-long learning path.

II. Twitter
    Before taking ED 422, Twitter was definitely on the list of things I was convinced I would never EVER need or use!  I was nonplussed to discover that an early class assignment was to create a Twitter account...and follow others.  I'm still not entirely convinced that I'll become a champion tweeter, but I've found people to follow and even survived making a tweet or two of my own.  As a neophyte tweeter, here's who I'm following and why.

  • All the current members of ED 422--because we are surviving this semester-packed-into-five-weeks class together.
  • CSUSM Professor Jeff Heil (@jheil65)--because he's the one who forced me to join the "tweetisphere."  He's old enough to reminisce about the 80s but also wildly knowledgeable about education technology.  Oh, yeah...and he totally invalidates my two objections to ed tech: that I'm in the wrong generation to really understand all this stuff, and that with my regular teaching and general life responsibilities I don't have time to become an ed tech guru.
  • Paul Aleckson (@oralhistorybuff)--like me, he teaches AP U.S. History.  I chose to follow him to see how a teacher who trained before the tech revolution is adjusting and incorporating new tools into classroom toolkit.  Also, a brief survey of his tweets convinced me that I would find useful classroom ideas there.
  • Matt Moore (@mooresclassroom)--because as a self-described History and Technology enthusiast he seems like someone I will have things in common with and someone I can learn from.
  • Casey Meier (@CaseyMMeier)--an AP World History teacher in Kansas, because his tweets appear to be full of practical suggestions and good links I'd actually use in class.
  • Chris Miraglia (@dcmm14)--because as "a techie and and education enthusiast," following his tweets will keep me abreast of new ed tech developments.
  • Nadia Zananiri (@nadiazananiri)--one more history teacher (AP World this time) who is very interested in the political issues affecting education.  I suspect her opinions may be more liberal than my own, and this will provide an interesting opposing viewpoint to consider.

      On July 25, 2012, I participated in my first online EdChat covering topics of interest to new teachers.  The hour-long session (5 - 6 p.m.) dealt with planning for the upcoming year, including how to prioritize and what tools -- both digital and non-technological -- experienced teachers find helpful in the planning process.  It was easy to follow the chat because the pace of this one was slow.  I put in a couple of comments and was disproportionately pleased when someone re-tweeted my comment, adding "Right on! I like your style!"  I'm still overwhelmed with the amount of information available; I don't know how I'm going to find time to sift, read, bookmark, and digest all these links...that will be an ongoing project even after this class is over.
        III.  Diigo
      OK, I followed the assignment instructions and have tagged 5 sites as "PLN."  While I understand and really like the capacity to bookmark web pages for future references, I'm still confused about the distinction between "following" a person or site, as compared to adding them to my "network," or forming a "group."  Since I've already taught for a number of years and have achieved a degree of success using traditional methods, I looked for blogs, wikis, and digital discussion forums that deal specifically with web 2.0 tools, education, history...or even better, edtech tools for teaching history.  Here's a  Diigo list of sites I've tagged PLN.
    A Diigo group for history teachers -- This group is for any history teacher interested in sharing online sources and teaching ideas to improve the quality of history teaching and learning in high schools and universities.
    A wiki called 21centuryteched --21st Century Educational Technology and Learning
    Melissa Seideman’s blog ( sub-titled “History and Technology: a Perfect Pair”
    The digital discussion forum called Educator’s PLN --  a ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators.
    IV.  Digital Discussion Forum
    I joined Social Studies Chat, a network designed to connect social studies teachers around the world through blog posts, smaller topic-specific groups, and weekly live chats via Twitter.  Once my membership was approved, I added the badge to my blog and began to build a profile page.  I viewed an archived chat dedicated to exploring alternatives to note-taking in class and watched a power point on flipped classroom as well as a blog post by the same author about a different activity to do on the first day of school.
    In this blog post, Peter Pappas suggests that teachers forego the traditional dry routine on the first day of school.  Instead of running through the roll list and then reviewing classroom rules and the course syllabus, he gets all the students talking and working together solving murder mysteries.  I’ve never enjoyed that boring first day of class – why would we want to make the first impression on our students so dry and uninteresting?? – so his murder mystery idea sounds good.  While the kids are working out the clues, the teacher walks around, observing and learning the students’ names.  By the end of class he tries to know each name, demonstrating that in his class everyone is a learner.  I really liked the idea of starting the year with this message and I plan to use the instructions included in the blog post for this year’s first day of school on August 13, 2012.

  • Journal #6: "Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework!"

    '“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.”' photo (c) 2010, Kate Ter Haar - license:
    Spencer, J. (September, 19, 2011). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

    Summary:  In this blog post John T. Spencer grabs attention by slamming traditional homework assignments.  Citing factors from student activity overload to the fact that homework is not self-directed, he seeks to convince his audience that the traditional concept of homework is counter-productive if true learning is an educator's goal.  On the positive side, he also provides five alternatives to homework that he's found to be successful.

    While Spencer's post provides interesting food for thought and may in fact raise entirely valid concerns for grades K-8, I was not convinced that homework has to go.  
    In response, I offer
    Five Reasons I Support Homework 
    (for grades 9-12)
    1.  Most students won't voluntarily engage in activities at home that will provide meaningful learning.  With all of the distractions available today--from TV to Facebook, to Twitter--I find it hard to believe that a teenager is going to choose to read a book, write a persuasive memo, or even create a documentary just for fun.  
    2.  For advanced classes and those that are achievement-test oriented (like the AP program), in-class activities alone do not give students enough practice to ensure success.  Students in these classes must spend time writing in AND out of class in order to be super familiar with both the facts and the technique.  Plus, with apologies to Mr. Spencer, "learning at the skate park," or "build[ing] a bridge for fun," is NOT going to adequately prepare a student to pass an AP test!
    3.  Doing homework and doing well on homework helps students get good scores on tests.  In my opinion, getting grades on test IS a "meaningful goal" and getting a good grade in a class is even more motivating...especially if you want to get into college!
    4.  Spencer maintains that homework is difficult for parents--because they have to enforce completion, or implement "someone else's pre-planned learning situation."  However, by the time the child is 13 or 14, he or she should be the one responsible for getting the homework done and going in to see the teacher for help.  Raising kids is all about gradually preparing them for the responsibilities of adulthood, and adulthood includes getting things done that aren't that fun, but are either necessary or helpful in the long term (tax filing, anyone?).  When a child can successfully balance and complete their homework assignments without a parent's intervention, they are one step closer to becoming a successful, self-motivating and organized adult.  
    5.  Often, activities that have become "traditional" have gotten that status because they work.  John Spencer criticizes the traditional concept of homework because it involves packets, or happens indoors.  He cites conflicting studies about the relationship between homework and achievement.  Homework has been around for a very long time and I believe that the skill practice it provides is beneficial to student learning.  Athletes train, musicians practice....and students do homework.  It's a time-honored approach and I am not in favor of replacing it with fun, but non-academic skill activities.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Journal #5: "Are Computer Labs Obsolete?"

    '365.203 - Concave At Computer Lab' photo (c) 2010, Al Ibrahim - license:

    Parker, J., & Telep, T. (2012). Point/counterpoint: Are computer labs obsolete?. Learning & Leading with Technology, 40(1), Retrieved from  

    Summary:  This article provides two opposing views on the current usefulness of school computer laboratories.  Jessica Parker asserts that computer labs are so last century: full of outdated equipment and reliant on tired pedagogical practices.  She believes they should give way to portable wireless devices that are integrated into the classroom.  In contrast, Tim Telep argues that instruction in a computer lab has its place in the 21st century, providing support and ensuring that technology use in individual classrooms is as efficient and beneficial as possible.

    Question #1: Is it really feasible or beneficial to banish the computer lab from campus?

    Answer:   No, it’s not feasible OR beneficial! While I admire Parker’s visionary enthusiasm, it is unrealistic to assume that all students are going to be able to own iPads, or smart phones, or even lap tops.  Even if they did, there are still issues of standardization of apps and capabilities. Plus, technology improves at light speed, so as soon as one classroom of kids all has their equipment, it’s outdated!  I live in an affluent state in an affluent country and I can tell you that not all of my students can afford to have a portable wireless-ready device in class each day.   

    I really like what Telep says: “Direct instruction in computer skills in a lab doesn’t compete with technology use in the classroom, it improves it.  What takes place in the lab gives students the confidence to use technology effectively in other classes.”   This resonates with me because, due ED 422, I am trying to get my students working on computers more in class.  I figured that once I got up to speed, it would be easy to do computer work in class because the kids are so skilled.  BUT, I was quite surprised at the time it took to walk the kids through signing on, getting an edmodo account, etc.  They weren’t as skilled as I’d anticipated…and I think that lack of a computer class (axed 4 years ago in favor of fine arts during an ACSI accreditation review) in our curriculum is partly to blame. 

    Question #2: How do we go about getting up-to-date equipment into the hands of all students?

    Answer:   The more articles I read in the ISTE journal, the more I think that this question needs to be addressed before we worry about having favicons on our blogs or QR codes on our bulletin boards.  The technology use in any teacher’s classroom is only as strong as the “weakest link.”  It only takes one or two students without computer and/or Internet access and the process grinds to a halt.  Having a computer cart available, or a class set of iPads is not good enough.  As I am learning about these new technology tools it’s great to have Professor Heil showing us things step-by-step on the giant screen at the front and walking through the lab to help us individually.  However, I haven’t really mastered a new tech skill until I can succeed at home on my own computer, or even better, show a friend how to do what I’ve earlier learned in class.  Students must have access to computers at home AND at school in order to reach this same level of proficiency.  This is going to require a huge re-allocation of funds and/or a huge level of commitment...not to mention a paradigm shift away from standardized tests.

    Journal #4: "Join the Flock!" and "Enhance Your Twitter Experience"

    'A man checks Twitter on an iPhone.' photo (c) 2010, Steve Garfield - license: Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(8), 13-15. Retrieved from 

    Miller, S. M. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(8), 14-15. Retrieved from

    Summary: Ferguson's article provides a clear and concise how-to guide for teachers exploring the world of Personal Learning Networks on Twitter for the first time, providing suggestions of people to follow and addressing the fear of overexposure on the web so that new users can build up their confidence and participation level gradually.  In the related article, McClintock Miller offers tips for those who are using Twitter regularly as part of their teaching PLN and who are ready to upgrade their Twitter use through online organizers like TweetDeck or HootSuite.

    My initial reaction to the thought of building an online PLN through Twittter was a bunch of questions --"How will I ever find the time for this in addition to my other teaching duties??  Where do I start?  Do I have to actually tweet anything?" I had to smile as I read Haley Ferguson's article because it seemed as though she wrote with me in mind, addressing most all of these questions in order!  I especially appreciated her easy-going approach, which did not make me feel behind or inept.  She also said it's OK for new Twitter users to just watch and learn for awhile before tweeting on their own, although she definitely encouraged her audience to move on to re-tweeting and posting new information for followers.

    Question #1:  Is it really important for a teacher to have a wide, online PLN as opposed to a traditional group of co-workers or a personal mentor?

    Answer:  Like Haley Ferguson pre-Twitter, I tend to be a teacher who is comfortable doing research as needed on my own, or bringing questions to a respected colleague.  I know what approaches work best for me and I hesitate to recommend or suggest what might work for others.  I have no gift for sales and don't see myself as an expert at anything.  Thus I am very wary of Twitter involvement.  I don't want to be buried in piles of helpful-but-not-world-changing information, nor do I want people I've never met forming judgments about me or my practices.  According to Ferguson, a Twitter-based PLN will allow me access to a much bigger "library" of education information than I could ever reach physically by virtually expanding my pool of co-workers and thus increasing the chances of finding specific help in my areas of interest.  If/when I am willing to share my own classroom experiences with others, as Ferguson does, I will benefit from their feedback and encouragement.  The key to mitigating my concern about negative judgments comes in one of Ferguson's concluding sentences: "Over time I have built relationships with people I know only by their photos or avatars, but they are real people to me nonetheless."  Once I have built relationships with educators in my own PLN--and they've become "real people" to me--it's more likely I'll be comfortable sharing my ideas and experiences with them.  

    Question #2:  What are the advantages of using a Twitter organizer?

    Answer: A Twitter manager like TweetDeck or HootSuite will organize your tweet stream into columns onscreen by categories that you chose, keeping you from being overwhelmed by the flood of information.  These sites will also help you "work smarter, not harder" because they include features that simplify composing a tweet, re-tweeting, sending replies and direct messages, translating a foreign-language tweet (!!), and updating multiple social-networking sites simultaneously.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Journal #3: "Upside Down and Inside Out"

    'Classroom' photo (c) 2008, Phelyan Sanjoin - license:
    Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning. Learning & leading, 39(8), 12-13. Retrieved from

    Summary:  In this article author Kathleen Fulton examines the "flipped" classroom, asking if there is real merit in the concept or if it's just the most recent fad in education.  Citing the experience of a Minnesota high school that "flipped" (assigning students to watch lectures at home and using class time to complete assignments that would traditionally be homework) due to budgetary and economic issues, as well as the promising results shown by early assessment data collected there, Fulton concludes that the flipped classroom is more than just a snake oil remedy.  While flipped teaching may not be right for every subject in every school, it is definitely a legitimate tool teachers and administrators should consider seriously, particularly because of its emphasis on meeting individual student needs and its relevance in this time when educators must adapt to show students how to use technology for life-long learning.

    It's exciting to think about trying to flip my own classes, but I also have a few concerns.  First, I worry that students would not watch the video (or enough of the video) lectures at home.  Lack of understanding would probably show up in daily assessment quizzes; not a problem if it happens infrequently, but very troublesome as habitual behavior.  Flipping pioneer Jonathan Bergman maintains that when given this type of control students in fact take more responsibility for their learning.  Most likely I would just have to try it out and watch what happens, while being prepared to address the situation along the way.

    Next I wonder what impact flipped teaching might have on the families at my school.  Our population is solidly middle- and upper-middle class.  The majority have at least one computer, but many families are limited to that one, either by moral choice (it's much easier to monitor a teenager's computer use if he or she is working at the one household computer located in the family room!) or by financial necessity--they are already paying for private school, often for several children.  How would mandating computer usage at home several nights per week affect these families?  In that respect I tend to agree with former teacher Derrick Waddell who feels that the flipped classroom method will effectively disenfranchise a certain segment of students.

    Question #1: Some critics argue that the "flipped classroom" concept does not really alter our educational model.  If true, does this invalidate its usefulness?

    Answer:  No, although some of the criticisms are valid.  I agree that the weakest part of the concept is watching video lectures at home.  This passive activity might be interrupted or thwarted by many factors, such as lack of computer/Internet access, sports or extracurricular activity commitments, and turbulent or unstable home situations.  Also, in the current climate, teachers are still judged according to student performance on standardized test, which clashes with the premise of flipped education and could result in teacher vulnerability.  Until these two areas are addressed, the flipped classroom concept will not reach its full potential.  However, I think that educational experiences will improve if teachers and students refine the concept further.

    Question #2: What classes, age group(s) or lessons that you teach would best lend themselves to flipping?

    Answer:   I'm glad that the article talked about trying to flip specific lessons before committing to flipping an entire curriculum.  For the 11th grade AP U.S. History class, I could record a lecture on "The Ten Most Important Supreme Court Cases Before the Civil War," for students to watch at home, then have them use Internet and textbook to research more in class.  I would end the lesson by pairing students and having them debate which one case is the most significant.  For another lesson, I could begin a power point lecture in class and then have students access the final section of slides from home before answering a prompt posted on the class blog and commenting on two of their classmates' responses.  The class I think would be easiest to fully flip is the 10th grade World History because these students are less proficient readers who also tend to be tech savvy.  They would welcome the chance to use more technology and also be more likely to benefit from a "less reading, fewer lectures," format.