Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flipping a Minilesson

Our district had a technology conference last week and one of the take-aways for both of us was the potential for flipping some lessons. Mostly, we had envisioned flipping as a high school concept. High school students could watch a lecture on line and then come in ready to work on problem sets with their teachers. Until last week, we had not considered the possibility of elementary students watching a writing minilesson, but after listening to a keynote from Jon Bergmann (read some of his work when you have a chance! Or even check out his TedTalk!)

Melanie Swider's students have been working their way through integrated social studies, information writing, and nonfiction reading units and they have been writing pieces about specific explorers. Many of the lessons have been about structure, organization, text features, and the research cycle, but, by looking at their pieces collaboratively on Google Drive (shout-out to Google Drive as a collaboration tool!), we decided that they would benefit from a lesson about incorporating geographical terms and awareness into their pieces. Many of their pieces mentioned the places explorers went with no orientation for the readers.

Melanie Swider videoed herself speaking through the components of a classic minilesson complete with a connection, a teaching point (information writers use  important vocabulary when they are writing to teach readers), a place for active engagement, and a link to the work that they were doing. For this first experience of flipping, Melanie broke the video up into four parts, totaling about five minutes in all.

Melanie Meehan had a lot of fun with the video and the students because we wouldn't let Melanie Swider talk as the rest of us watched her lesson. The goal for the students was not only to learn the teaching point, but also to learn how to interact with a video. Therefore, Melanie Meehan stopped it in several places, reminding the students to take notes. They have watched their teacher create charts enough in her lessons that they were able to create some pretty impressive charts in their notebooks. How powerful for them to watch their teacher, take notes on a lesson, and have the tracks of their learning right there in their notebooks!

Below are examples of notes students took while watching the video lesson on including geographical terms into their writing.  As you can see from their notes, students truly internalized the teaching in the video, were able to determine which parts were important to jot down, and were able to clearly organize their notes using various note-taking forms.



After the lesson, students used their notes to help them revise their informational writing pieces by including geography terms to make them stronger and clearer to the reader.  As students wrote, they had their notes out from the video lesson as well as the map they labeled in a previous lesson to use as a reference.

Our goal is to provide students with a few more opportunities to interact with a video of a minilesson all together, before assigning this work for homework. Then, the homework check will be the notes that they create in their notebooks, and the work of the workshop will be the greater challenge of integrating their new learning into their writing. Stay tuned!

If anyone else has tried flipping elementary minilessons, we'd love to hear. We'd especially be interested in the platforms that you are using, as we are still trying to figure out the safest, easiest way to provide access for students who are under thirteen years old.

Happy writing,

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