Sunday, June 29, 2014


Wow, wow, wow!  I didn't really plan on going to Flipcon this year, though the timing worked out perfectly.  My husband wasn't going this year due to the insane number of snow days this year, and while it took some juggling, we were able to get childcare so I could go!

I got to spend the six long hours of the drive across Pennsylvania with Kate Baker, who also kindly shared her hotel room with me.

In those six hours, we talked about pretty much everything you could think of, from school to family to the doggie in the window I'd been eyeing.

I was super excited to meet some rockstars.  I mean, come on, hanging out with and learning from people I have so much respect for, but only know virtually?  I was thrilled to meet people I knew virtually, and it was awesome to shake hands and thank Brian Bennett for helping me back when I began my journey, but making new friends, creating new connections, and getting new perspectives was even better.

There was a ton of social/networking time, and despite being a last minute registration, I was able to purchase a ticket to the Carnegie Science Center event for more fun and networking.

But the real learning was in the sessions.

The keynote was Molly Schneider, who spoke about Living in Beta, being willing to TRY and maybe FAIL, but to use "moonshot thinking."  This is the whole point of 20% Projects, and I need to be willing to TRY using 20% in the coming year in my core courses.

We then had a breakout session of sorts, in which we had time to speak with our subject area peers.  Great resources were shared in the Social Studies session, and I found it really helpful to just be in the room with folks of varying comfort levels with flipping.  Folks were there who've written the book on flipping in Social Studies, and folks were there just wanting to know how to get started.  I felt like I was in the perfect spot, being able to get AND GIVE help.  YAY!

I was really inspired by the session run by Andrew Thomasson and Cheryl Morris, Fostering Creativity in the Flipped Classroom. See, I try to make opportunities for my students to be creative, individual, and to show their learning in ways that work best for them, but I know I don't do it super.  I loved their reminder to do the flip as a gradual release, and to not assume anything about student skill levels.  These two things account for a lot of the struggles I faced in the past school year.  I also really appreciated their points about revision and remembering that learning is a process.  

This session led my brain to wandering, and I started thinking about assessment.  How do we assess student learning in a not multiple choice focused class?  How do we give grades?  And, how do we as teachers of likely more than 100 students, keep it all manageable?  I thought a lot about my first grader's report cards this year, and how his teacher was able to give narrative feedback.  Could *I* do that?  Could I do it for the 60 students I had in US History last year?  What about next year, when I'll likely have closer to 100 students?  I don't know about making it meaningful and manageable, but what better way to focus on the process and to communicate to parents and students that we are a learning TEAM?

I learned so much that I can see using right away next year, though, from Crystal Kirch's presentation on "The Whisk" (it's really WSQ, but it's said like Whisk).  Check out her blog post to not only see resources and goals of the session, but the tweets from the session.  Neat!  

Crystal and I, cause I roll with the name-drop.
I loved this session because it confirmed a lot of the things I tried this year (Google Form content checks and Daily Learning Journals for students to communicate where they're struggling and also let me know how their day went), but more importantly, gave me ideas on how to clarify, simplify, and just make my process all around better.

So my head has been swimming, trying to wrap around all that I learned and experienced.  You can see the collaborative session notes from other attendees here.  And if you'd like to see all the tweets tagged with #flipcon14, check out, thanks to Brian Bennett for creating the link.  Finally, see all the shared photos in the FlipCon shared picture folder, created by Crystal Kirch.

Last, but decidedly not least, was the announcement for Flipcon in 2015.  In July!  My husband and I will be fighting it out to see which of us gets to go next time....

In short, this was an incredible experience.  I'm so thankful to my husband for encouraging me to go and being the person on the ground making it happen on the family management side.  I'm not feeling alone in this, that others have gone through all the same pitfalls, and that there are tools for me to be successful.

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Thanks for learning along with me!