Monday, July 30, 2012


As the calendar almost flips to August I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with what my summer plans WERE. Back in June, as I do every June, I make a list of what I'd love to accomplish, full well knowing it'll never happen because I always have some odd ball full time job I have to work. Well this summer, that wasn't the case. I had all summer off to do all of these GOALS!

So what was my summer bucket list? Unfortunately nothing too awesome when I think about it, all practical things, but here it is none the less:
  • Remodel the kitchen
Before the remodel - cardboard for the countertop, industrial white sink, rubber toe kick backsplash, and a door beneath the sink that I couldn't open!
Kitchen complete bare with a new coat of paint. Walls were repaired after the blue tile came down!
How the kitchen looks today!! Added uppers above the "island" a microwave above the stove and a seltzer machine in the corner!
  • Paint all baseboards on the lower floor
  • Clean all the grout in the house
Yes I'm aware the last one is oh so house wifeish, I just need to find me a husband. Perhaps that's why it didn't get done!
  • Redesign Civics (semester course) using Flipped model
  • Align Honors World notes with new book
I've definitely started Civics - the first unit is COMPLETELY done, and I'm starting the second unit. The unit plan is done, now for all the details; videos, quizzes, in class assignments/discussions, etc. But that leaves me with 4-5 more units to plan out. If each unit takes me a week, I'm into September. And where does that leave me for Honors? And for all the other fun stuff I want to do? Oh yeah, I forgot the fun stuff bucket list!
  • Hang out with my niece
  • Plan a super cool secret bash - SHHHHH - I can't say anything!
  • Lake George
Kyle and I in Lake George AFTER the remodel!

Yeah the fun stuff I definitely did and did like IT WAS MY JOB! Perhaps that means I'm back to the daily grind. I have to admit, it's nice to be able to plan on my own terms, at my own pace, without scrambling the night before. Perhaps I've kicked the procrastination bug! The house stuff will just have to wait until next summer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All that for this?

I know flipping isn't about the videos, but lately that has been what is on my mind. Yesterday my goal was to get a few scripts done and then play around with a screen casting to get it all figured out.

Boy were there a lot of logistics! First off, I am definitely a penny pincher, even though I'm not buying any of the tech myself, and neither is my school (Thank you Stanton Foundation!) I still want to use my money wisely - so if I could find a way to use what is existing on my computer and put the $75 somewhere else, like iPod touches for the classroom, speaker fees, and professional development. Yes, I know $75 wouldn't cover ALL of that!

I facebooked with a college friend who is a tech guru (I thought I knew a lot, geez I am out of the loop) and he said well QuickTime will screen capture and record your face at the same time. AWESOME! Don't have to buy Camtasia! Then I sat down to do it with a Keynote presentation. When you're in fullscreen the record your face goes away, wha wha - back to buying Camtasia.

Then I found they have a free trial - WOOT WOOT! So this morning I sat down and downloaded it. Purposes of Government - Take 1: Had my script (just words) and went to town, that is until the lawn boys started cutting the lawn outside my condo!

Purposes of Government - Take 2: Started back up from the beginning because I didn't know how to work the editing capabilities. Got through a few of my Keynote slides until I realized I had no idea when I wanted to click or advance slides. So I annotated my script.

Purposes of Government - Take 3: LET'S GO! I recorded about 3 minutes so I could see what was going on. I had my script to the right of the computer and it totally showed. So I spent about 45 minutes coming up with a contraption of old yearbooks (5) and a shoebox to tape my script to.

Purposes of Government - Take 4: Again went for 3 minutes to check things out, now I look like I have some sort of eye disorder where I'm constantly rolling my eyes. I'm going to have students thinking "Great this teacher is a loon!". So I cut my script into half sheets held them in front of my screen so I couldn't see a darn thing on it!

Purposes of Government - Take 5: FINALLY, it all fell into place! After the editing (I had to respeak a few slides) I had a project I was willing to upload to YouTube.

6 takes and editing took about an hour and a half - hopefully it goes quicker next time!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to School nightmares!

It's not even August and the nightmares have begun! They have never started this early and I am definitely more relaxed this summer than I have been in years past!

Last week I dreamt that my principal came in and yelled at my entire class for something I had just told them to do. As she was yelling she was crying and I had to calm her down! Yikes - hopefully this dream doesn't come true, not a position I want to be in!

Last nights dreams though really lit the fire under my bum! I dreamt that it was the week of Orientation (we have 2 days of PD, then Wed Freshmen full day, Thursday is Soph/Jr. 1/2 day, and Friday Seniors 1/2 day - a bit odd but ok) and I had not copied my syllabi. I was happy to find that I had no Homeroom BUT was teaching 5 classes in a row! When I got to my 5th class in a row (one of the flipped ones) the previous class hadn't put the desks back so everyone was everywhere and a female student plugged in a boom box (one from the 80s) I asked her to unplug it and she didn't, she turned it up - so it was clear I was not structured enough! I had to go back and unplug it and she slapped me! Well I went to the VPs office with her, but the new VP hadn't started yet and the old VP was long gone. It was bad - I woke up so anxious!

So on the agenda today - some scripts for the first week. I'm currently working on Tech 101 - how to access everything you need to succeed, we'll watch this one in class together. I think instead of doing screencasts within the video, I'll pause the video and try it out with them in class. For example, when I say "sign into Edline and navigate to our classpage". I'll pause the video and have a volunteer come up and log in and navigate. So the kids get the interactiveness of the video and that you can pause and try things if you don't understand.

I wrote the intro to a flipped class (2nd video they'll watch, 1st on their own) and am feeling better. I think it'll set the tone for the class and so they know what to expect for a normal class period.

My anxiety is decreasing, but my cats anxiety has risen - a nice thunderstorm is passing through and both cats are in the downstairs closet - they are each others thunder buddies! Emma ran away when I tried to take their picture, Callie loves her picture taken!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

First Unit

I get frustrated a lot when planning - and last week I hit a wall! I was attempting to redesign and realign my syllabus using UBD (Understanding by Design) - that was a mistake! Not the theory, but how I was trying to do it. I took the weekend off of everything Flipped, UBD, school etc., and boy did that make the difference!

Monday afternoon after watching my mindless TV (DOOL if you were curious!) I had the stroke of genius. I wasn't looking to redesign the nuts and bolts of my units, so let me redesign the assessments for the units coming from a PBL (Project Based Learning) viewpoint. From there I can flesh out the standards which will lead me to the EUs (Enduring Understandings) and EQs (Essential Questions). As soon as I rephrased my problem, it made total sense and I was IN THE ZONE!

I have since planned out the first unit that allows students to choose their assessment, depending if they want to work individually or in a group setting. Next on the agenda is writing the scripts for the videos, and writing out the projects in details, creating the rubrics, and some daily discussion points for guidance. After this unit is done I think I'm going to feel like I'm in a better place.

Next on the docket - intro videos for parents/students to Flipping/technology etc., and start reading my new World History text. I thought it was a good idea to change my Honors text for this coming year while creating pretty much a brand new Civics class. What am I thinking?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coming Out

For the past 6 months or so I've been toying with the idea of flipping. Trolling the internet for articles, how-to's, and blogs of those who have gone before. Shamelessly asking questions such as "just how do you make the video, no like step by step." I'm not kidding, I asked someone this (if it was you, I'm sorry!). I think I've come a long way since then! 

In the last quarter of the year I successfully flipped a unit, although it was more Flipped 001 than Flipped 101. I've shared my thoughts, successes, and failures with a few trusted colleagues who will back me up no matter what and give me the encouragement and kick in the rear when needed but I hadn't shared it with my sister, a fellow teacher...until today!

I have been extremely nervous to tell her what I was planning on doing. You see, I am the younger sister and have followed her wherever I go, since, well birth! I was nervous that she might not "get it", understand why I was doing it, or think that I had finally jumped into the deep end. I'm sure my family has a pool going for when this actually does happen!

Thankfully she was fully supportive and was truly interested in knowing just what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. When I started to speak aloud about my ideas they came flooding out and I realized I am further along in my planning than I thought - what a relief! I also realized just how much this is backed up by theory to make the "big guys" happy.

Having the short conversation with her this afternoon gave me renewed hope that this will work, the kids will enjoy it, and the outcomes will be there. My hard work will pay off and I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it! So thanks for the encouragement!
This is the most recent photo I could find of us (without my niece)! Taken April 2008 when we went to San Diego together - before she had my niece and during my first year of teaching!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's in a name?

It took me a while to create a title for this blog. For one, I don't consider myself creative and once I get it in my head that I'm not creative I get a block - hence it taking me an hour (yes, an hour) to come up with the title of my blog. Other titles in the running:

  • Technological Diffusion
  • Bursting through the Dark Ages (hey I'm a Social Studies teacher and LOVE the Middle Ages!)
  • Crazed Flipper 
You get the idea right? I was running on E! 

A bit about me - I'm a 28 year old Social Studies teacher (Civics and Ancient World history) teaching in a private school in CT. 2012-2013 will be my 6th year teaching and I love every crazy, exciting, hair pulling, tear jerking, ah-ha, drama filled moment of it! I am currently enrolled in a program for School Counseling and will (hopefully) be done with that in December of 2014.

This year I received a grant from the Stanton Foundation in NYC to increase technology in my  Civics classroom and so I have set about to completely reform and revamp my Civics curriculum. I am flipping my classroom (read about flipping here) as well as implementing Project Based Learning. I tried it out with my absolute last unit in Civics last year (I know I know silly me) and surprisingly it went over well!

I am very excited to continue this into the new school year and am working on it feverishly this summer. It's been fun and amazing to start connecting with other educators and create my PLN on Twitter, now I'm starting to branch out on the Blogosphere! So please bear with me as I figure out how this works!