FlipCon Gold Coast 2016: Top 5 takeaways

So last week I attended FlipCon Gold Coast for a 3 day conference. This is the second time that I have attended this event and it didn’t disappoint. Not only were the keynotes fantastic and inspiring, the networking was amazing. Check out Clickview for recordings of all the keynotes from the conference.

Read about my top 5 takeaways from FlipCon in 2017

This year I decided not to present at the conference and just attend and experience all the sessions, as I honestly felt I missed out in 2016. However on reflecting on my experiences this year I think I will definitely apply to present next year as I have some great ideas for workshops that I think delegates would both enjoy and walk away from with something useful.

So in this weeks post is about the Top 5 things that I took away from this years conference.

My Top 5 List

1. “Flipping is about the videos” (Quote: Aaron Sams, FlipCon GC 2016)

2. Forming partnerships is essential to flipped success

3. “You need a balance of practice and ‘fun stuff’.” (Jon Bergmann, FlipCon GC 2016)

4. Flexibility in students learning the content is essential

5. Scaling of flipped learning will happen by good flipped teaching

My Top 5: Expanded and Explained

1. “Flipping is about the videos” (Quote: Aaron Sams, FlipCon GC 2016)

This is the first time I have heard this stated in any of Jon’s or Aaron’s keynotes, and quite often we hear that it’s not about the videos but here is the reason for the contradiction. When we heard at the conference that “It’s not about the videos” the underlying message was that it didn’t matter if your video was a production masterpiece or one that you made in 2 minutes, what mattered was the class time that you got back and what you did in that class time (group space). In contrast when Aaron in his keynote stated that it was in fact about the videos, he was expressing the sentiment that without the videos he never would have gained that class time back, he would still be trying to teach the content at the front of the classroom while the students went home and struggled and missed out on those great learning experiences. Without the videos  to facilitate the direct instruction at home (individual space) none of this journey would have been possible. I loved this sentiment because in the beginning so much effort goes in to making quite often simplistic videos in the effort to claw back that class time.

Move direct instruction to students personal space for a more interactive class.

2. Forming partnerships is essential to flipped success

Traditionally teaching has been about working hard to ensure that your classes succeeds. We operate in silos working hard for our students. Sure we network in staffrooms and attend professional developments once or twice a year but essentially we are heads down just trying to get the job done, get our students over the finish line.

A number of times during the conference it was reiterated that a key to a successful flipped classroom and the scaling of the flipped classroom is to form partnerships with other teachers in your school, share the load. When you first implement a full flipped classroom the workload can be horrendous, but totally worth it. Forming partnerships with other teachers helps to reduce that workload. it gives you someone to bounce ideas off, evaluate what you are doing because you don’t want to be sitting in a silo trying something brand new. How do you grow and move forward with just self reflection, it can only take you so far.

Developing partnerships with other teachers is the key to a less stressful flip

Extending those partnerships beyond the classroom is also important and following the conference I’m hoping to form a “Flipped Teaching Community” within my teaching district so that we can meet over “cake and coffee” to share our mistakes, successes and plans. Don’t get me wrong I have found a new appreciation for twitter this year in terms of forming PLN and I follow many discussion boards on the topic, but it’s just not the same as face to face. If you are a Queensland teacher flipping or interested in flipping please contact me using the contact form or our facebook page. 

3. “You need a balance of practice and ‘fun stuff’.” (Jon Bergmann, FlipCon GC 2016)

I recently completed my Flipped teaching certification and when I finished one of my worries was that I didn’t have the balance of my classroom right. Was I doing enough engaging activities with my class, because wasn’t that the point of flipping?

Diamond construct of blooms taxonomy. Spend more time focusing on applying and analysing through flipping your class.

During the conference Jon spoke quite a bit about finding that balance and that the balance would be different for every subject area and he validated what I had thought. In mathematics a large part of the requirements of our curriculum is to have students fluent in being able to carry out certain mathematical procedures, interpret problems and communicate their answers, and as any math teacher would know this takes practice. So that’s what I do, practice with my students. We have a group problem solving task every fortnight or so and maybe a few other activities scattered through but mostly it is practising problems until they are fluent.

When Jon spoke about this he said that most math teachers when he interviews them would put the balance of their class activities at 75-80% practice and activities for the other 20-25%. This pretty much reflects the balance of my classroom. So why was I so worried? I think that I was comparing my maths class to my science class that I flipped where I spent heaps more time on the fun stuff. But in reality to be good at science you have to do stuff, you need to act it out so of course you spend less time practicing.

4. Flexibility in students learning the content is essential

In moving forward in my flipped journey it was highlighted that once you beginning to move past Flipped 101 on your own pedagogical journey allowing the students options about how they consume content that fits their learning.

Meme: The Force Awakens in schools when teachers stop treating students like clones. Flipped teacher provides a level of differentiation for every student.

Currently  my students are required to watch the videos, but already some of my students are making informed choices about how they consume the content. Some students might choose to read the powerpoint of the sample notes that they have, and then if they don’t understand still go and watch the pertinent parts of the video. Some read the textbook because that’s what they had with them when they found the time to do their preparation for class and they refer to the powerpoint or video later to check that they got all the important points. Is there anything wrong with students making these choices for themselves?

If the aim of this after all is to create independent learners that can facilitate their own learning,  why wouldn’t I let them have some choice in how they make that journey for themselves. Realistically I think that this choice will occur naturally as students perception of how class works changes, as they understand that they do have control over what they are doing and when they do it. As long as they have ‘notes’ in their book or on their device that shows they engaged with the content, I think any form of their learning is perfectly acceptable.

5. Scaling of flipped learning will happen by good flipped teaching

All teachers at heart want to improve and they all want what’s best for their students. So if you want to scale flipped learning you need others to see how it could benefits their students and that anyone can start anytime.

In my leadership role I would love to see flipped learning expanded in my school, however we are at the beginning of a journey of scaling and that scaling begins with me.

If I can’t show my faculty how it is benefiting my students, that it is manageable there is no chance. So in the beginning it will be about those side conversations, those anecdotal comments about what you are doing in your class and more so the comments by students seeing how it can help their learning. A student asking a teacher if they are flipping, or do they make videos can be a very powerful thing.

So get that small group of teachers trying it out, you know those ones that have shown interest when you talk about making your videos or your talking about that project that you spent a week on that they couldn’t do because they just didn’t have time with all that content that they had to cover and soon enough you will be scaling. Once you hit that tipping point bring on the staff on board, set expectations if that is what you want and move from there.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on FlipCon GC 2016. I thoroughly enjoyed attending again this year and forming the fantastic networks that wouldn’t be possible without such an event.

Did you attend FlipCon GC 2016 or Adelaide? What were your takeaways? Please comment below, on twitter or on our facebook page. 



About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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