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Why You Should Flip Your PLC!

BergmannSamsFlipped1Recently I have been talking with many people about how to best implement Flipped Learning, and one hurdle that keeps coming up is the issue of time.  To flip your class, up-front time is required.  I get it!  Asking a teacher who is already burdened with papers to grade, kids to meet, parents to call, lesson plans to create, and school and district initiatives to implement, to add one more thing feels like too much.

So I propose that we rethink the PLC time.  Many schools have initiated “Professional Learning Communities,” where teachers are given time to work in grade level or content-specific teams which collaborate about best practices.  Several of the things I did in my schools’ PLC time, included developing common assessments, analyzing student data, and studying topics such as Common Core State Standards. Many of these are great projects which have helped our students achieve.  But my experience has been that these activities have not really elicited as much change as many would have liked.

Thus, I believe there is something more valuable we can do with this time.  I think we have our PLC time backwards, so I propose we flip it.  What do I mean?  Why don’t grade level or content teams create instructional videos together?

Two years ago I remember helping two fourth grade teachers create their first flipped class video.  They were going to make an instructional video about long division.  I was there after school to assist with the technology and just as they were about to start, I got pulled into the hallway to deal with an issue.  When I stepped into the hall, I overheard the two teachers having a conversation about how they thought it would be best to communicate long-division to their students.  This conversation lasted about four minutes and when I stepped back into the room, they were ready.  They then coherently presented long division to their students in a manner that was collaborative and helpful.

I see several benefits in using PLC time to create collaborative flipped videos:

  • Having time to discuss best practices and teaching strategies is something that is lacking in most schools today.  The four minute conversation I referred to earlier, needs to have an opportunity to take place.
  • Flipped videos should not be too difficult for teachers to envision themselves creating.  They are already giving direct instruction, all we are doing is time-shifting it and incorporating technology into the equation.
  • Since the videos will be posted online, teachers tend to do a great job creating them.   They know that more people will view them than just their students.  I liken this to when we assign student to write a paper verses write a blog.  The audience for the paper is the teacher, and the audience for the blog is the world.  Students do better work if they feel they have a much larger audience.
  • I find that teachers are more self-reflective and put their best foot forward when creating collaborative flipped videos.  There is something about a shared video that creates a spirit of “were in this together” attitude, which is often infectious for students.
  • Creating the videos will help teachers practice using technology. I hope doing so will lead them to use the same technologies to help their students become content creators.

So lets rethink PLC time and Flip It!