Flipping the Elementary/Middle School Technology Classroom

Posted on Feb 14, 2016 by Bertha Kirschten Latest activity: Dec 11, 2016

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I am interested in flipping some of my elementary/middle school technology content. I teach business and computers in grades 1-12. I am considering flipping some of my content - in particular tutorials that teach students about the various tools and techniques in many Adobe applications.

In our district, I know that all students have internet access at home, so it is plausible that the flipped learning model would work for certain types of instruction. There are so many high quality tutorials for learning that it would be a better investment of time to use these for students to watch and learn at home and then practice skills at school. Implementing the flipped classroom model would give students more hands on time learning and practicing the skills with guided help from me when needed.

My questions to those of you who teach at the elementary level --

  1. At what grade level have you used the flipped model?
  2. What types of materials do you use when flipping the elementary level -- video tutorials, handouts, etc?
  3. How do you ensure that students view materials at home?
  4. What advice/hints/tips do you a have for a flipping newbie?
  5. What Adobe products do you teach at the elementary level? At what grade do you start teaching Adobe products?

Thanks for you input. I look forward to the discussion.

Comments (17)

Joy May

Posted on Dec 11, 2016 2:42 AM - Permalink

​I teach 3rd grade math to 125 students in a Title 1 school. I teach groups of 25 students for 55 min. - 5 periods each day. Most of my students do not have internet access at home and have limited experience with technology. I currently have 25 tablets - one for each of my students in each period. The way I am infusing technology independence into our everyday curriculum is through a blended curriculum. I have created a simple website that contains a daily assignment(s) and links to free sites that offer free math facts practice. When students enter the classroom they log into our class website, check their homework and complete other assigned tasks such as watching a video (LearnZillion or Brain Pop) and or use their white board to demonstrate their use of strategies to solve a problem that I have posted and share their solution with a learning partner. These activities give me time to take attendance and take care of other "housekeeping" duties. I then call students together to ask questions about their homework and discuss their solutions to the problem of the day. These activities also act as a lead in to our whole group instruction for the day. After the whole group portion of the period, students return to their computers to practice math facts fluency while I pull small groups of students for extra support or augmented opportunities to go beyond what is being presented in the classroom. I have not used Adobe products in my teaching yet, but I plan to use this site to help me get started!

Mike Skocko

Posted on Dec 11, 2016 4:12 AM - Permalink

+1 Joy. Your kids are lucky to be in your classroom!​

ME Odom

Posted on Jun 24, 2016 1:12 PM - Permalink

I work with middle school arts students and collaborate with their teachers, being the person in the know about creative technologies. My classes are flipped for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. I create my own videos and handouts on the most part or take clips from various youtube tutorials on "how to" use the software or understand certain arts concepts. Because my students are doing "hands-on" in the classroom, I pretty well can see if they have worked with the tutorials or not. They also have the opportunity to view tutorials in class, but have a deadline to meet. They learn quickly that watching and practicing at home is a good option.

I would suggest checking out Adobe's Behance and Blendspace.com. We also work heavily as a school district with Google Chrome, especially the Google Drive and Google Classroom.

I've taught Photoshop and Premiere from third grade up.

Robbie Collett

Posted on May 17, 2016 5:20 PM - Permalink

I didn't flip, but I blended, which is what I recommend you do.

  1. I taught grades 7–9 (ages 12–15).
  2. I used Canvas (free for teachers version) as my LMS and Screencast-o-matic for creating software tutorials and mini lectures. The Canvas LMS has very good content page, assignment, and quiz features to convert all your content to the online version.
  3. The blended model means they watch the materials during class. They would have a hard time completing assignments without watching the videos, and if they try, it's immediately apparent when I graded, so students would only try once.
  4. (a) Keep videos to six minutes or less. If something takes longer than six minutes to explain, split it up into more than one lesson/tutorial. (b) Plan for a learning curve. Most students are not familiar with a flipped/blended model, so they will require a week or two to become familiar with it. Be forgiving and extremely helicoptery during this time to help students figure out what they're supposed to do. (c) It won't work perfectly at first, but the investment is worth it. (d) Be mindful of what strategies work in a blended model versus a typical classroom model. Not everything transfers directly, and that's ok, because most of our teaching practices are learned to fit the model, not the way a child learns. The blended model is incredible because it allows students to work at a different pace than one another, and as you continue to build up the course, students can even pick which projects to work on, personalizing their learning.
  5. I taught Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere starting in 7th grade, and many of my students came having learned Photoshop in 5th or 6th grade. They can handle it if you just introduce a little at a time (not unlike adults learning it).

Mike Skocko

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 4:32 PM - Permalink

Bravo, Bertha, for having a go at modifying instruction. I'm a high school teacher so season to taste (or toss this out if it's unpalatable). I should say up front that my students have received virtually all of their direct instruction via video for years and we've had some success with the model (but I do NOT assign any of it as homework). I've come to the conclusion that successful implementation requires more than just "flipping" stuff around.

There's really no way to sum it up in a few paragraphs. Heck, I've been trying to communicate this in vain for years so I finally sat down, wrestled with words for a few weeks, and recently published it. For what it's worth, here's one version.

Best of luck with your edu-adventure!

Timothy Fletcher

Posted on Apr 20, 2016 12:16 PM - Permalink

Hi Bertha,

I am primarily a dance and drama teacher at an international school. I have flipped activities at school and have had some of the problems that you are concerned about. Getting students to do the activity (even when it is just watching a video!) can be surprisingly hard. I would encourage you to look at the structure of what you want to do in a different way (I am very into a book by George Curios "The Innovator's Mindset"). Does getting students to watch material at home motivate them? what would? How do we motivate students intrinsically?

Twitter is a great place for mining and sharing ideas. Here are some hashtags to search that might be helpful:

#artsed – the arts in education

#Ecbusteach - economics and business in education

#STEM – widely used for posts and resources in STEM education

I am just getting into the whole twitter thing so not yet an expert but am seeing the power of sharing ideas. What about getting the students to MAKE a video tutorial about their process to do something (for business)? - of course you supply the necessary resources (there are heaps of adobe tutorials around) but their motivation to learn these is involved in the process of the task. They could then present in class.

Bertha Kirschten

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 1:19 AM - Permalink

Thank Timothy - those are great ideas!

I am new to Twitter myself - as much as I love technology, I had avoided this particular platform until recently. Our State Department of Education has really been pushing it for PD this year. I finally gave it a try and am glad that I did - it is the one social networking site that I have strictly for connecting with other educators. I am finding a lot of information.

I am trying some flipped learning activities in one class and AM definitely having a hard time getting the students to view the videos before coming to class. I think part of it is because it really is a different learning mode and one that they haven't tried before. I am still pushing ahead, hoping that they will get more used to it by next fall. I will really get to test it out the first two weeks of May because I have two conferences back-to-back and will be out of the classroom for 11 days. They will be forced to watch some tutorials while I am gone, so hoping they see the value! When I am back, I plan to continue and keep encouraging them to watch at home before coming to class.

Brett Beckett

Posted on Apr 19, 2016 6:11 PM - Permalink

Hello there Bertha.

I am a middle school teacher in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Douglas County Schools. I run a flipped classroom for most of my curriculum. Just an example of what I do....

I teach Multimedia I and II. Basically a movie making class. I had to flip my classroom about four years ago by necessity. We received a grant for a "broadcast studio" that I wanted all of my students to be able to access during school, and learn how to use. The only way I was able to implement this was to have my students split into groups of 6. I divided my usual lessons into 6 different "stations" that the students rotate through, one of them being the studio. It took about a year's worth of working and adapting, but it finally fits into my semester long timeframe fairly well. Because of technology needs, the students do all of their work during the school day. It took a while to adapt the lessons, and a lot of it was trial and error, but it works well now. I also spent a winter break (about 40 hours) at school recording instructional videos that I posted online for students to watch. Even if they miss school, and don't have the tech at home to do the work, they can still get the instruction. For my class, there are rules and guidelines the students must follow, but their content of what they create is up to them. There is a rubric we use for assessing, and the students assess their creations as well as myself.

The adobe products we use in class are AE and Ps.

Bertha Kirschten

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 1:27 AM - Permalink

Hi Brett

That sounds so interesting! Since you have some experience with this at the middle school level, maybe you will be willing to answer a few questions for me. I would love to hear more about how you implemented flipped learning. The current issue that I am having is getting the students to watch the content at home. I guess I should clarify that I am trying to flip a multi-media class. I have always focused on limiting the amount of time that I spend on direct instruction, so they are pretty used to being able to create during class time. At this time, they know that I won't spend more than 10 minutes of class teaching them what they could have learned watching the video. I guess they aren't seeing the loss of 10 minutes of class time as a big deal right now.

Were the students resistant to the idea at first?

What did you do to motivate them to watch at home?

Did you have to tie some assessment/questions/points to watching the videos on their own time?

Brett Beckett

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 2:27 AM - Permalink

Hey there. :)

Well, having the students watch at home is one thing, but as you said, the accountability for that is another. What I do, is that when the students watch the instruction at home, the next day that instruction is, or can be, implemented in their work. So that is one way they can be held accountable. I know that sometimes, especially in group settings, that it isn't always that obvious that students "got it." That is where the formative assessment comes in. Wander the room, check on what they are doing, verbally check in with them. Ask random students different questions about the prior night's learning and see if they comprehend and can apply the learning to their assignment, or have them describe for you how to apply the learning.

If you are just looking for a quick check mark in the grade book as to whether or not they read it, there are a couple of other options. One, you could post a blog question online about the learning (or the video) and make it a requirement that they address the question or questions posted in the blog. If there is no internet at home, they can do that in class for the first five minutes while you take attendance (for example). Another option, which may or may not apply to your situation....our district has gmail accounts for all staff and students. Through that we have websites, online drives, yada yada....anyway.....I have set up learning reflections at the end of every week long "station," again, which is all online. Students have to fill that out after the end of the assignment, letting me know what they learned. I should preface (too late) with the fact that all of my learning is done online. On my website, there is a page for each station. On each page there is a form to activate prior knowledge, an assignment, a rubric for the assignment, instructional videos, and a reflection of learning. Some of them can be done online anywhere. Some have to be done in class because of the tech needed for the assignment.

The students in my classes switch at the semester, and since I implemented it first in January for the second semester (a few years back), students didn't know any different for my class. I explained to them that it allowed for more freedom in their creativity, more responsibility for their problem solving, and a greater accountability for their learning. I think they felt more "free" to learn how they needed to at that point.

I hope this answers your questions. I'm sure there are hundreds of ways to work a flipped classroom, but this seems to work well for my class. If you'd like, I can share one of the webpages with you if you would like to see how I set things up. Again, this would be just one way of doing things. :)

Ted Borduas

Posted on Apr 19, 2016 6:01 PM - Permalink

For your setting, grades 1-12, it may not be possible for all student to preview the material at home before they come to class. In my experience, replacing the typical twenty minutes of initial instruction (which usually gets interrupted and off task) with a focused three to five minute video is key. You essentially have cloned yourself, and can monitor your class as they watch the video. Believe it or not, video attention rates are 100%, as opposed to 80% face-to-face. We've flipped PD at the District level, and I've captured an audience of over 200 teachers and administrators with video. Being able to point out to the Superintendent that everyone in the room was attentive (you know how teachers are during meetings) was a plus. Also, student who have access at home will include their parents at some point, even if it is for just one video. That connection puts the teacher in a new light in the parent's eyes, and is incredibly helpful. With access to closed captioning and "pop-outs" you easily insure that all students have access to your content. There is a lot of good guidance out there about flipped classroom and UDL/differentiation.

Bertha Kirschten

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 1:12 AM - Permalink


You mentioned that you know when students have viewed the video; how do you ascertain that they have watched the video. Do you have some type of assessment/questions that they answer or submit? I am just curious as to how you make this work. We are drawing close the end of our school year and I am looking forward to summer so that I can really work on this concept for at least one of my classes this fall.

I have a couple of PD session set up for this summer and I plan to set up some flipped learning materials for these sessions, to get some practice with it. How did you get your teachers involved? (I have been known to not look at materials before training ;0) Now that I have participated in flipped learning for myself, I see the value and how it can save time in the classroom; but am curious how you got other staff members to buy in.

Jean Yang

Posted on Nov 3, 2016 4:03 PM - Permalink


You can embed questions into videos from several sources, such as YouTube, with ​EdPuzzle. It allows you to if they've watched the video, what answers they chose, etc.

Fred Allard

Posted on Apr 2, 2016 1:02 AM - Permalink

Our district provides free Internet hotspots and computers for checkout. The 1-to1 initiative is in its infancy at this point. We see great potential for blended learning, on a whole, to be more widely accepted that a flipped model. The HS I teach at has varying degrees of student-teacher flipped models, more on the LESS side than the widespread usage aspect. Flipping content is very similar to running a classroom in online teaching mode. Not the best for every content area nor differentiated learning.

Bertha Kirschten

Posted on Apr 21, 2016 1:31 AM - Permalink

Hi Fred

Yes, I believe and agree that the flipped model may not be ideal for every content area. I think it could vary from year to year depending upon the makeup of students in your classroom.

I am focusing on flipping a multi-media class for my first try. I think that it could be an ideal subject to try and flip because student can watch tutorials at home and then they can practice those skills in class after a quick review.

I am not sure that I would try to flip a class such as my accounting class. I love teaching/explaining and working with the kids hands on and one-to-one in the classroom.

april olson

Posted on Mar 4, 2016 2:31 PM - Permalink

I have a question for you but not an answer.

My school district just went fully 1 to 1 in middle and high school this year, and they are working towards including elementary. However, not all of our students have internet access at home. Does your district provide the internet access for the students while they are at home? Or is there access personal?

Bertha Kirschten

Posted on Mar 4, 2016 2:49 PM - Permalink

Hi April

The district does not provide internet access at home. We are a very small district and it the first time that I have worked in a school in which all students have internet access at home; but it is nice. For the most part, students haven't had problems getting their work done in school. At this time, they do not take their school owned equipment home with them because there hasn't been a need to do so; if a student has a need, they can check their Chromebook out for home use.

I know in some districts in which students do not have home access, the teachers that are flipping content provide time before and after school for students to view the content. Using the public library after school is another option for some students.

I know that I will have a couple of students who are resistant to watching content at home, but I am hoping to sway them into doing so by showing how much they are missing out on in-school hands-on time. I hope when they see their classmates coming into class and getting to work on their projects and practice sessions, while they are having to participate in a lecture because they choose not to do their homework, will be enough incentive to get them involved in the flipped model.