The Flip Side of a Flip Classroom

A flip class is not the easiest thing to set up with new students, and in my case I moved (high school to middle school) schools so none of my students have any real experience with a flip class. For the first 6 weeks I have worked to get  all my students signed up for Edmodo and accustomed to studying vocab, reflecting on their performance, or to rehearsing  choreography, with little to no success. Today I found myself lecturing every single class about the need to get online to review the choreography I taught this week and it actually made me second guess this whole flip class thing. I mean I grilled each class about their need to practice at home, I showed them what dance homework looks like in terms of reviewing choreography, and I reminded them that after this first 6 weeks they would be responsible for learning basic information or choreography at home so that we can do more in class. They all looked at me with that glazed, lost look in there eyes and I seriously left work this afternoon feeling like it just won’t work. Ugh. ūüė¶

BUT…it has paid off!!  I have a little over 150 students in my dance program and as of 11:06 pm I have 135  students signed up and actively responding to an assignment and video posted. That’s HUGE considering I only had about 60 total this morning. This is AWESOME!

 I’m  posting this because a flip class isn’t easy to set up and the class culture has to reinforce the importance of student responsibility. Teachers have to be committed to his concept and the time it takes to make it work. Students have to trust that you will do your part and expect them to do their part. It will take time but it’ll be worth it in the end. Don’t give up. Set high expectations and regardless of age, experience, education or socioeconomic factors children will rise to those expectations. 


Create a Class Newsletter Easily

I have always wanted to create a newsletter for my class but I found the task ardent and a bit time consuming.  I just moved schools and the administrator in charge of getting information out to staff uses for our weekly newsletter. I liked the way it looked so I checked out the site.  I found that it was EASY from sign up to creation.  After I created a template and I simply duplicate it for a new week and change the information.

It literally takes me 10-15 mins to update for upcoming week.¬† Here’s a link to my class smore for this week.¬† You will see that I put information about what we will be doing in class and any videos that I think will support student learning.¬† I upload it to my our edmodo page so students can see what’s going on.

What I like about it is that if my Dance I classes are doing something different then my Dance II-III classes then I can put all of it on one page versus creating 1 for each class.  Give it a try!

Check out my Medrano Dance Newsletter!

Flip Class…Is it right for you?

Read this great article discussing 5 pros and 5 cons of a flip class.

I find that not all the cons relate to us in dance since we don’t teach a State tested subject (in Texas for now).

I can’t help but think though that once I get this whole flip class thing down, I’ll actually save my feet, knees and back from the wear and tear from the repetition of teaching choreography.¬† It’s taking me some time to record myself teaching a phrase of choreography, editing and uploading it to YouTube, but I know that by Thursday of this week my students will be using this video to review versus me having to physically review with all 7 classes all day long.¬† =)¬† At this point I become a source of information compared to the only way to get answers to questions.

Plus the way I see it, I am documenting my choreography so next year my Dance I students can learn what I recorded this year.  =)

Flipping the Classroom

So I’ve decided to jump onto the “flip classroom” band wagon.¬† =)¬† Now in my 2nd year of instituting a flip class I think I’ve finally given over to the idea that not everything has be taught by myself in class.¬† With dance and with the students I work with it’s all about working smarter.¬† I tell my middle school students all the time that I can’t afford to teach them the way a studio teacher would teach beginner dancers (at the age of 3).¬† I understand that although they are beginners they are older and the movement I learned when I was 5 (point, point, point, close to 1st and plie) isn’t appropriate for teenagers.¬† I also don’t want them to miss out on the necessary technique that will help them develop their dance knowledge.

A flip classroom reverses how learning occurs.¬† Instead of the teacher teaching everything in class, students are responsible for learning concepts at home so that they can delve deeper into these and other concepts in class.¬† In my dance classroom it looks different than¬†a core subject (English, Math, History, etc…) but really the concept is the same.¬† Instead of having to use class time to teach vocabulary or give a brief synopsis of dance history, a flip classroom allows me the opportunity to focus more on the actual movement (not just the definition), and the ability to physically move thru dance history rather than simply taking notes about the history of Jazz dance.¬† This also builds in knowledge for students prior to them actually moving in class.¬† I find that it’s beneficial for students who have little to no dance experience (physical or visual) to view movements prior to class so that when we work thru it they can recall what they saw in a video or read about via our flip class assignment.¬† What I love most is that it becomes a tool for those students who¬†are eager to learn more.¬† I find that they use the online resources in order¬†to improve their performance in class.¬† They go home and practice phrases I put online, they study vocabulary, and they watch and rewatch videos so that they get any information they may have missed in our class discussion.¬† This class approach is excellent for students who are over achievers but it is also incredibly powerful for students who need more time to “get it”.¬† It basically supports all learners and in today’s classrooms we have students with such diverse needs that it can sometimes be impossible to make sure that each need is met.¬† With a flip classroom students become responsible for their learning and are given the tools to be successful in class if they really want to.

I currently use Edmodo ( as our flip class platform.¬† This flip class site is set up a lot like Facebook which makes it¬†easy to maneuver thru for¬†many of my students.¬† I am able to post pictures, documents, link videos and articles.¬† I can also create¬†assignments and quizzes¬†that will¬†easily show¬†the teach who¬†has and hasn’t turned in assignments as well as help grade assignments and quizzes depending on how you set it up.¬† Students can ask questions about an assignment or quiz online and I am able to answer those questions for them and others to see.¬† Students can post their own homework, videos and pictures directly online which helps teachers when it comes to grading.¬† Now instead of taking folders home, or having to save all these videos on a USB I can login in and directly view student work.

So what do about students without internet access at home?¬† Lucky for me I have an amazing District Dance Coordinator who is eager to see this succeed¬†in my class.¬† In addition to the school provided desktop computer for students, teacher desktop computer and laptop, she has provided me with 5 mini iPads.¬†¬† I am sure I could get more computers but since I teach dance, it’s not safe to have 10-20 desktops lining the walls as we dance.¬† That is why these iPads are key to the success of this concept.¬† They are easy to use, fulfill all the needs of a flip class room (online access, camera for recording, music editing, etc…), and are easy store and get out of the way when we are dancing.¬† With all this students have access to the technology and internet needed to complete assignments before or after school.¬† I also tell that in today’s world internet access is everywhere and that it is their responsibility to¬†learn how to access it whether it be at McDonald’s, Starbucks or their local public library.¬† Not having a phone or internet access at home is not an excuse for the work needed to done for class.

So far I have seen great success.¬† Every year I struggle to get students to sign onto Edmodo but by the 2nd 6 weeks students are accessing it weekly, if not daily, and are participating in all assignments and quizzes online.¬† It’s not easy, but what I find I have to make this tool key to their success and once they see that they jump in!

If you have any questions or anything to share that you have done to institute a flip class please share!!