Flipping Without Flipping Out (part 2)

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Dana and I are so excited about our new book that is available this week! Flip your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach is a result of two years of researching, collaborating, and trying out lots of flipped lessons in our classroom. Honestly, sometimes our attempts fell flat. These were the times that we grew the most as educators. We learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t. We learned that like any approach to learning, flipping learning requires planning and thoughtfulness to be successful. Our book outlines this path for teachers in a user-friendly way.

Recently, we revealed our #1 reason for flipping lessons in our writing workshop: INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING. Today, let’s continue with reason #2: EFFICIENCY.

Teachers are the busiest people on the planet! Dana and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve thought (and exclaimed to each other!), “If I could just clone myself, imagine what I could accomplish!” Writing lessons spiral. We expect and accept this wholeheartedly. Yet, this can be time-consuming and frustrating. It can halt our curriculum and our students. Flipped learning can greatly improve the efficiency of our writing workshops. Flipped lessons are a way to essentially clone ourselves; we really can teach more and  reach more students!

Example #1: Do you find yourself repeating the same lesson from unit to unit; month to month? Have you ever thought, “If I have to repeat this dialogue rules (or capitalization rules, or generating ideas, etc.) lesson one more time…!” Flipped learning can help! Try flipping that lesson you find yourself repeating again and again. Students can access it when they need it, which frees you to teach a new mini lesson or confer with students. Writing workshop is not about all students moving in lockstep. Flipped learning enhances writing workshop as a variety of different learning is happening all at once.

Example #2: Lots of planning goes into our writing workshops. We enter our classrooms with ideas about whom we’d like to conference with, which mini lesson we’d like to teach, and the mentor text we’d like to share. And of course, we want the bulk of our workshop time to be used for students to actually write! However, even the most organized teacher and her plan can be easily derailed. One student doesn’t have a clear path for moving forward and isn’t writing. Another is ready to move on to trying a flashback and needs to know how. Flipped lessons can help us juggle all of the different needs of our students so that they can get down to the business of writing!

Like other buzzwords in the field of education, there can be misconceptions about flipped learning. One such misconception is that teachers who flip lessons simply flip it and forget it! This just isn’t true! Rich, iterative assessment takes place to monitor and guide student learning. Flipped learning does not replace the teacher; it helps teachers manage the gloriously chaotic nature of our writing workshop.

When we use flipped lessons in the writing workshop, we really can clone ourselves to provide differentiation and address a wide variety of needs. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the third reason we’ve embraced flipped learning in our blended learning writing workshops.




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