education · educational technology · flipped classroom · in class flip · teaching

So You Want to Flip Your Elementary Classroom… Now What?

In my latest blog post, I talked about what I learned from flipping my elementary classroom.  This is an approach I took to teaching as part of an action research project and I learned a lot about best practices for implementing the flip.

Flip Your Elementary Classroom, Flipped Learning

My hope with this post is that you learn something you can take into your classroom tomorrow to help with a flipped classroom model.

Which model will you use to flip your classroom?

A flipped classroom is an instructional approach that removes the whole class direct instruction to a video that students view at home before a more hands-on or in-depth lesson at school.  The idea was started by Jonathan Bergmann and you can read more about a flipped classroom approach to instruction in his book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (affiliate link).

There are alternative models of the flipped classroom approach.  If your school is 1:1, for instance, but the devices stay at school, you can have students watch the videos as they enter the classroom.  Or, close the class with the videos that correspond to the next day’s lessons.

In my case, I only have 6 classroom devices (four desktops and 2 Chromebooks), so I implemented an in-class flip with a station rotation model.  You can read more about this model in this Edutopia blog by Jennifer Gonzalez.  In essence, students rotate through stations and watch the flipped lesson videos at one of the stations.  The other stations provide opportunities for students to work in small groups and pairs to dig deeper into content.

This in-class flip is the model I took in my third-grade classroom and it seemed to work out well for us.  The first step in implementing a flipped classroom approach would be to decide which model you’re going to use.

Which content and which portion of your lesson are you going to flip?

It’s silly to think that you can flip your whole reading, math, science, or social studies lesson.  Especially in elementary school, each content area is full of different components.  Break it down and start with something small.  You can build from there and flip more components if it’s going well.

Here are some ideas to help you frame your thinking about which components of your elementary classroom you want to flip.  Remember, this is often direct instruction that is moved to video format.


  • Introducing vocabulary words
  • Explicit phonics instruction
  • Read-aloud
  • Reading strategies
  • Explicit grammar instruction
  • Modeling a graphic organizer or written response


  • Introducing vocabulary words
  • Introducing/modeling a strategy
  • Modeling an algorithm
  • Build background knowledge by connecting a prior concept

Science/Social Studies

  • Introducing vocabulary
  • Building background knowledge

Where will you get the videos you share with students?

There are two main approaches to take to this problem: find videos made by others or create your own videos.  I, personally, chose to do both when implementing my flip.  There are a ton of wonderful videos out there already made, why re-invent the wheel?

I also found, however, that there were some topics or strategies that were not already available.  For those, I made my own.  I actually really liked making my videos because I found that they were more engaging for my students (what elementary students don’t love seeing their teacher online?) and I was able to tailor my instruction for my students using specific texts and strategies we were using in class.

Below, I’ve listed some of the resources available for finding or creating your own videos.

Pre-made video repositories:

Programs to make your own videos:

Flip Your Elementary Classroom, Flipped Learning

How will you share the videos with students?

There are several ways to share videos with students.  I’ve used two different free platforms – Google sites and Google classroom – and I’ve found advantages and disadvantages to both.  I prefer Google classroom because it’s much easier to push things out to students and hold them accountable for assignments or quizzes.  A Google site is a great place to house videos as it doesn’t require a login, but it makes it harder to hold students accountable.  Although I haven’t tried sharing videos in this way, ClassDojo might be another option.

If your school or district pays for a learning management platform like Schoology, Blackboard, or another similar platform, this might be a great way to get content to students.

How will you assess your students and/or hold them accountable?

When I first started, this was a struggle for me.  You ultimately want a way to make sure that students are watching the videos and getting something out of it.  EdPuzzle has a built-in question feature that allows students to show understanding at points throughout the video chosen by you, the teacher.
In my classroom, I use Google forms/quizzes to give students a short quiz after they’ve watched the video.  I love the data that I glean from the Google form and, because most of our other online work is in the G-Suite of tools as well, it’s extremely intuitive for my students.
Though I haven’t personally used them, I’ve heard that PlayPosit, Vizia, and MoocNote are good ways to hold students accountable and assess in a flipped learning model.
Hopefully, this guide has provided you with a good place to start in creating a flipped classroom.  Have more questions?  Drop me a comment below and let me know!  I’d also love to hear if you know of other technologies that would be helpful for anyone implementing a flipped classroom!
Flip Your Elementary Classroom, Flipped Learning


classroom management · education · educational technology · flipped classroom · in class flip · teaching

Flipping My Elementary Classroom

This post is a reflection of the implementation of my flipped classroom.  If you’re looking for how to implement your own flipped classroom approach, check my post So You Want to Flip Your Elementary Classroom, Now What?

I took on a giant project this year by flipping my classroom.  The flipped classroom approach is something that I’ve seen floating around in the education community for a few years now, yet I’d never felt like I had sufficient resources to make it happen.  This year, I jumped all in.

Probably prematurely, admittedly.  But the learning is in the mess, right?


As part of my Ed.S. program at Bellarmine, I had to design and implement an action research project focused on increasing student achievement.  I felt like this was my opportunity to take the risk that I had wanted to in my classroom, and I knew I would have the support of my administration, my Ed.S. mentor, and my colleagues.  I am a huge proponent of educational technology and I’d recently acquired two Chromebooks thanks to a Donors Choose project bringing my count of classroom devices from four to six.  With six devices, I felt like I was ready to change the world.

I even made a Google folder called, “How to Change the World This Year.”  I can be a bit pretentious at times.

That being said, I spent a lot of time researching flipped classroom approaches, designing and creating videos, monitoring student progress, and reflecting on the process along the way.  I did some things well and there are many things about the process I would change.  I’d like to share some of my learning with you in hopes that it will help your flipped classroom transition smoother.

Let me start by saying that my approach to a flipped classroom was and is much different than the typical flipped classroom.  In a typical flipped classroom, students would watch a video about the topic for the next day for homework and then come to school the next day with some prior knowledge and experience, ready to dive into more hands-on experiences.  For my third grade students, many of whom don’t have internet access or devices at home, this wasn’t possible.  I opted for an in-class flip using a station rotation model, where one station was the viewing of the video and interactive components.  Other stations I used in my classroom at the time, were a modified version of teacher-led guided reading, independent reading, and partner practice.  You can read more about a typical flipped classroom approach in Jon Bergmann’s book called Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (affiliate link) or at his blog here.

I would also encourage you to learn more about the alternatives to the typical flipped classroom models.  There are some examples from Jennifer Gonzalez over on Edutopia.


Four Things I Learned By Flipping My Classroom

1.  It’s better to start small and build up.

In my original action research, I stated that I’d increase reading achievement of my students by flipping my classroom.  If you’re an elementary teacher, you are immediately aware of the problem with that statement.  What component of reading?  Within my third grade classroom, I teach phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  In a typical lesson, I’d try to teach each of those components within a common theme or unit, using one or more texts and pulling as much out of it as I could.

So, when I first started my flipped classroom, I kind-of, almost, might have tried to do it all at the same time.  I was overly ambitious.  I learned right away that it was too much – for me to prepare and for my students to find beneficial – so I had to back down.  I ended up flipping just the phonics portion of my lesson, then slowly adding vocabulary and comprehension. It was much smoother once students knew the routines and expectations.

2.  Make sure routines and expectations are explicit.

Students have to know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.  In my school, the constant infusion of technology into my students’ instruction was new for many of them, which caused some confusion on how it was to be used.  Because I was so excited to just get started, I glossed over routines and expectations which was a terrible idea.  Always start with your routines and expectations.

Some ideas for routines to teach when flipping your classroom:

  • How to transition in between stations
  • How to get out technology/devices and put them back
  • How to access the videos/activities (e.g. the learning platform you’re using)
  • What to do when you’re finished
  • How to ask for help
  • Voice levels during the station

3.  You still need to differentiate.

In my mind, a whole group lesson was the same for everyone and differentiation came in with the other stations.  However, when my students struggled with the flip and I really began to reflect on my teaching, I realized that I did differentiate during whole group instruction, it just wasn’t as explicit.  For instance, I might stand next to a student who was having trouble focusing or prompted responses when students struggled.  There is a definite benefit to being face-to-face with students when teaching so that you can gauge their reactions and understanding.  This is much harder to do through a screen.

You can still differentiate a whole class lesson through a flipped approach, it just takes more work.  For example, add several videos for students to watch.  If they understand (and show understanding through an online activity like a Google quiz) after watching the first one, they can stop and move on to something different.  However, if they’re still struggling, they can watch more videos and have multiple tries to show their understanding.  This helps personalize the experience of a flipped classroom for each student and allows them to take more ownership of their learning.

4.  Assessment and accountability go hand in hand. 

Assessment is just best practice.  When I started my flipping my lessons, I originally had it set up so that students watched the videos, then came to a guided reading group, where I did the assessing.  But I soon realized that students were not being held immediately accountable for the learning in the video, so they came to the table and had I to teach what they were supposed to already know!  It defeated the entire purpose of the flipped classroom.

So, I started utilizing some wonderful tools to hold my students accountable and help with assessment.  The G-Suite for Education (specifically docs, slides, and forms/quizzes) is a great way to do this.  They are relatively easy to set-up and intuitive for students to use.  You can read more about how I’ve used Google forms to assess my students on a previous blog post.

The flipped classroom model was a learning experience for myself and my students.  If and when I do this in the future, I’ve got a much better idea of how to approach it so that things run smoother.  Have you implemented a flipped classroom?  Did you do the typical flip or a modified in-class version?  I’d love to hear your successes and horror stories!  Comment below and let me know!


#observeme · education · flipped classroom · hacking education · in class flip · mentor teachers · pineapple charts · social media · teacher · teaching

Book Bites: Top 5 Hacks from “Hacking Education”

If you are an educator and you haven’t read the Hacking Education series, you’re already behind.  The books are quick reads and give great, easy examples that you can take back to your school or classroom the next day.  Really.  Part of each hack is titled, “What You Can Do Tomorrow” and it’s always something you can actually do tomorrow.

Hacking Education is a combination of hacks from other books in the series, which I am slowly working my way through.  This particular book provides hacks for school culture and climate, leadership, technology, and more.  I can’t wait to implement some of them in my building next year.  Below are my favorite hacks from the book, in no particular order.

1.  Pineapple Charts

This is GENIUS.  I know that one of my favorite things about being a teacher is getting feedback after an observation.  (Is that weird?  That’s probably weird.)  I love knowing where I stand and how I can grow.  Pineapples are the universal symbol of hospitality and pineapple charts are calendars where teachers list what they will be teaching during a certain period of the the day.  Other teachers can use the chart to find teachers or lessons they may be interested in.  Read more about pineapple charts here.
We learn best from other teachers, but sometimes we’re afraid to ask if we can come observe someone we think is a rockstar teacher because we don’t want to intrude.  This takes the pressure off altogether.  If you’re really feeling like stretching and growing, make a quick #ObserveMe chart and feedback form for observers.
2.  Teacher Quiet Zones

If you’re anything like me, all you want to do during lunch time is to sit in a quiet, dark room.  Keyword being quiet.  I love my students, as I’m sure we all do, but they are loud most of the time.  Or take another scenario: you’re in your room working hard on a unit plan or grading, only to be interrupted by another teacher or an administrator who wants to talk…. forever.  This hack proposes that somewhere in the building is a room that is strictly a quiet zone.  Teachers can go in there to work on something or take a break, but the key is that it is quiet.  This should not be a room such as the teacher’s lounge or the copy room, but rather a place where silence is respected.  If you need to speak to someone who’s in the Quiet Zone, you leave before starting the conversation.  If you need to answer a phone call, you have to exit the Quiet Zone.  Silence. Is. Golden.

3.  Marigold Committees

This one seems like a no-brainer, but I have taught in schools where it’s not happening.  Start a Marigold Committee for new teachers in the building.  A Marigold Committee is a team of veteran teachers available to welcome and help new teachers as they begin their educational journey.  Anyone can be on the Marigold Committee and there is no requirement to be a part of it.  The authors suggested meeting on a regular schedule so that new teachers have the opportunity to meet with veteran teachers, ask questions, and learn the ins and outs of the school, district, and teaching profession.  At these meetings, topics could range from planning lessons to fire drill procedures to navigating the district benefit selections.  (Am I the only one who struggles with insurance?  I can’t be the only one.)
4.  The In-Class Flip

The flipped classroom is nothing new to the education world, thanks to the rise of technology.  In a traditional flip, students would get the direct instruction part of the lesson outside of class via video or some other virtual means and the teacher would facilitate more of a hands-on guided practice inside the classroom.  While I LOVE this idea, I know that I would run into lots of hurdles, including lack of Internet and device access.  The book offers a different approach called the “In-Class Flip” where all of the instruction still takes place in the classroom, but it looks much different.  
In the in-class flip, students rotate through stations, one of which is a video with direct instruction.  This would normally be an at-home activity in a traditional flip, but moving it to a station during the school day ensures that all students have access to the material.  The authors gave very specific instructions on how to set up the stations to have the most benefit for your students.  I’m not going to go into all the details, but they suggested 5 stations:  a warm-up writing activity, review of prior learning, a hands-on activity, the video of direct instruction, and application of the new content.  In this model, the teacher is freed-up from direct instruction to facilitate learning in other ways.  This is something that is DEFINITELY happening in my classroom this year.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our journey!
5.  The Glass Classroom
I am no stranger to social media, but I know that sometimes it feels like taboo in the education world.  Principals and teachers can be reluctant to use social media to engage parents and families, but this hack suggests using social media to create a transparent classroom and allow the community to be involved.  What happens in our classrooms should not stay in our classrooms.  I’m excited to use a common hashtag and Twitter account to share what’s going on at Camp Taylor Elementary this year. 
Have any of you read the Hack series?  What are your favorite hacks?  Are you interested in implementing any of these this year?  Let me know!