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It seems as if some of the writers over at Edudemic must be reading the Glogster Blog these days, because yesterday, they wrote the post we were planning to write today! The fourth part in our Flipping the Classroom Series: Timelining and Planning Ahead.
But not to worry. We’ve got more than a few tricks up our sleeves. So we bring you our tips for Timelining and Planning your new Flipped Classroom.
While we’ve posted a bit in the past about brainstorming and organization using calendars and other software, timelining is a little different. More than a plan, your timeline and master plan is a roadmap for not just you, but everyone connected to your new blended digital classroom.
Make a timeline that is rich and engaging with Tiki Toki, a relatively easy to use, and free online program that allows you to create interactive timelines, complete with different media to demonstrate the process you will follow in flipping your classroom. Your timeline is more of a proof of concept: it shows that the tools exist to explain everything your parents and fellow teachers need to know about your plans, meaning that when they meet with you, they can discuss the more important details, instead of covering the basics of your plan.
This is a big failure point for effective change in the classroom. Spending your time communicating the same information, again and again, to different people (parents, other teachers, administrators, etc), is exactly what you are trying to avoid doing, by using the flipped approach. We will discuss this more in the upcoming Habit for Successful Flipping: Seek Variety, and Keep up with Social Media, and we discussed this a bit already in Be Organized, as well as our blog post about what social media teachers should be using but it bears some attention here as well.
Make a Map (A Mind Map!)
Your communication plan is your “roadmap,” for how you communicate information and make that information available to students, and to teachers. It starts with a list of resources you will use, such as the Twitter application Hootsuite, or the mass texting application Remind101, as well as your resource websites, discussed here (we plan on expanding our talk about resource curation in a future blog post… stay tuned!).
Your roadmap is more than just this list however. It consists of your “rules,” for communicating with parents and students, and defines what information these parties can expect from you, and in what format. These rules apply to both you and your students together. This means, for example, that you will not hold students responsible for an assignment if it is not posted on Twitter, but you can expect that your students will be responsible for knowing what is on your Pinterest boards, or for checking their twitters after a certain time period every evening.
This roadmap is of a two-way street: you follow your rules, and your students follow them as well. Once you have communication channels and specific criteria for giving assignments and for digital responsibilities that the students have, stick with the rules. This is why planning and choosing your resources is so important. Any vacillation will be seen as a sign by students and parents that your system isn’t working, so pick a system that will work, and use it!
Develop Your PLN (Personal Learning Network)
Building your PLN can be a process of trial and error. You want more trial, and less error. So do your reading first. Some vital tips to guide you through the process:
Keep your personal life, and your “teacher identity” completely separate.
Go so far as to only conduct your teaching work on one browser, such as Google Chrome, and your personal affairs in Firefox. This will save you forgetting who you’re supposed to be talking to, and who you’re supposed to be at any given time. Keep an email address associated with your teacher materials and socials, and don’t use it for anything personal. This way, your “teacher identity” is easy to switch off on weekends, or vacations, but also easy to switch back on when you need to access it. The only exception to this rule is Facebook, which does not allow multiple identities to be used. No bother here: a Facebook Page solves this problem- just never forget that what you post as yourself will lead your students back to your own personal timeline
Use your PLN for professional development.
Your PLN is more than just social networking and chatting. It is content curation and sharing. It is a snapshot of you as a professional. Find and observe other effective teachers, and see how they use their PLN to get things done, and to grow as professionals.
Be consistent, but also varied. Post on a regular schedule. Don’t let a day or two go by without “tending” your PLN. It’s like a garden- it needs care to grow. The more tended it is, the better a resource it can be. You’ll find after a while that it becomes more and more useful as a resource, an inspiration, and a tool.
Don’t be a packrat.
This one is tough, but as with the garden metaphor, social media and content has a lot of “weeds,” or content and content sources that are not very good, or consistent, or up to date. Follow everyone for a while, but if you don’t get clean, consistent and good content from a source for a long while, consider deleting, unfollowing, and ignoring nuisance or irrelevant sources.
Divide and Conquer
Don’t do everything in one place! Each content source or communication tool has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t use Twitter to curate content, use a more appropriate service like Scoop.it or Mashable. Don’t use Pinterest to communicate either: Pinterest is passive and impersonal. Use the tools the way they are intended to be used. Observe others, and follow the “rules” of any given network, spoken or unspoken.
That said, you should interconnect your different platforms to allow your followers, students, teachers, parents and professional connections to skip between your different social networks and content streams seamlessly. Do this by tweeting your pins and scoops, or embedding your pins in blog posts, and then tweeting those. Use all your networks as platforms for displaying your activities on other networks: this gives all your followers and connections a chance to experience your content and communication in the form most relevant to them for any purpose.
What say you?
What are your effective habits for Flipped Teaching? How do you plan ahead and roadmap your way to success? What tools and rules of communication do you use? We’d love to hear from you!