Monday, June 24, 2013


One of things I promised myself after attending FlipCon13 in Stillwater, Minnesota, was that I would be more intentional on reflecting and sharing my flipping journey. In their final "chat" with us, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergman asked us all to write down what we would be doing in the next 5 days, five weeks, five months, to move our flipped classrooms forward. And then, we did we see ourselves in five years.

That's a lot of thinking.

And it's been in the back of my head since last Wednesday.

Now it's time to put those thoughts into the universe.

These past five days....

It's been percolating (that's what I call prewriting in my little universe)

I've looked through notes and visited blogs
I've gone back to presentations. Watched them. Remembered the excitement I felt as I listened to those who are flipping with success.

And one keynote, one person, stays with me.

Ramsey Musallum.

I've seen him twice--once in April and again in June. I love his passion for learning and teaching. Here's his TED talk video.

This resonates with me because I want to be a "curator of curiosity", not a "disseminator of knowledge". I want my kids to be passionate about their learning. I want them to figure out things on their own. I want to be their mentor, their guide, their partner in learning.

When I saw him in April, Ramsey shared his "Explore, Flip, Apply" method that he uses in his chemistry classes. This just clicked with me. It made so much sense to have students explore a bit before they started new learning. This is what I want my students doing in class.

How will I work this Creative Writing and English 9?

Well, that's what the next five weeks will be about. I'm going to start with a unit on Why People Write. I think I will use it with both classes. So I'm going to be collecting pieces of writing for students to read and think about. They'll discuss, together and as a class, about the purpose of those pieces. Why did someone feel compelled to write the piece?

They'll write themselves--what are the reasons that they write? How do they feel about writing?

And then we'll move into the real work of class (not that the above won't be real work). My units based on Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle's work will include examples of the genre, to be followed by discussions, practice, and writing their own pieces. They'll also be blogging and creating an online portfolio. Hopefully, I can get a good start on these ideas over the next five weeks.

English 9 is a little different. I'm still thinking about this one. Writing units will be similar to Creative Writing, but the reading and the lit I need to think about a bit. Background knowledge will be relatively easy for me to flip, but the reading of the lit is what I need to consider. I don't want to send them home to read and discuss in class. I believe kids need more support than that. So I'll keep thinking....

In five months, Thanksgiving break or thereabouts, I plan to have this up and running. I also plan to be writing about this journey more, reflecting on my practice (something I haven't been very good at!). I'm thinking I need to pick a day of the week and schedule that blog post in. I seem to work better that way.

In five years...well, that remains to be seen. I could be retiring by then, although this concept has me fired up about teaching, so we'll see. I will be a "curator of curiosity" and there may be something new that has me fired up and ready to teach!


  1. Awesome, Deb!

    I will be following your blog closely as you embark on this new challenge in your English classes. Please share some of your lesson ideas!

  2. Sounds very exciting, Deb, rather like what we do at my school. Kids start by exploring to see if that topic really is what interests them. Curator of curiosity is a terrific term-I hope too you will have assistants within the class, helping you as much as possible. Remember that chapter (or more) when Penny emphasized how much she relied on the students taking much of the part in responding, etc.? I found it so empowering to hear she did that. Can''t wait to hear more!

  3. Saving this for my planning days - it sounds so exciting, such a wonderful way to get our kids involved in their own learning.

  4. Isn't Stillwater a fun town? How cool to attend a conference there! No wonder your brain is buzzing. As you think it through you will be able to settle into your summer. I look forward to learning more of your journey.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thinking and inspiration Deb! Your vitality and passion spur my thinking, too.

  6. Deb, I will be following you journey. I teach sheltered 9th grade English and I am trying to write a better plan for next year. How to get my students more engaged in the required material. Thanks for including the TED talk!