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Tools of the Flipped Classroom

Apr 19, 2019
Making the decision to flip your classroom is no small commitment to make. In my second year of teaching I had come to my wits end in many aspects of my classroom and decided to make it happen over the summer, so I was all in from the beginning of my discovery of the concept. Building your flipped classroom over the summer is not required, but can be ideal if you are wanting to roll with a fresh start from the beginning, and it can be helpful if you're wanting to do a complete flip, that way you have the time to really make it happen. However, I know many teachers who started implementing small aspects of the flipped classroom here and there throughout the school year, learning crucial lessons and takeaways to build it in to what they really wanted by the time they were ready to go all in.
Whether you find yourself wanting to flip your classroom right now or are considering making it happen once you have the summer to commit to making it happen all at once, I'm writing this post to help you start exploring and becoming familiar with some tools so you can start learning sooner rather than later. And, who knows, maybe you'll find yourself making smaller lessons or stations here and there for students, then by the time you go to build your flipped classroom you know exactly what tools to use and, more importantly, how to use them.
There are so many tools out there to use and it really can paralyze teachers when they are trying to make decisions that have the most impact on their classrooms. In this post we will focus on the first aspect of the flipped classroom which is what students will do to get the content. In many flipped classrooms this is what students will do for homework before they come in for the flipped lesson. In my classroom these were videos my students would watch of me lecturing over slides. They would see my slides and a little webcam shot of me in the corner, all while taking notes on scaffolded, guided notes I created for them. Check out some of my flipped videos on my YouTube channel to see some examples of flipped video.
In other classrooms though, this is not homework. It's just an introductory part of the lesson (not necessarily the hook, but definitely toward the beginning of a lesson or topic) where students are delivered the content of the standards they must master by the end of that lesson or topic (multi-day lesson). If you consider the graphic below from the University of New Hampshire's Information Technology page on the flipped classroom, it points out what we'll be focusing on - the "Pre-classroom content" component of a flipped lesson - where students work in the lower level of Bloom's to understand and remember the material.

Part One: Video

The first big question you'll want to ask yourself is if you'll create your own lecture videos or use someone else's.
A quick note about this is that you do NOT have to decide one way or the other for the whole year or even for an entire unit. If you know a bit of routine for your students would be helpful, then I would suggest doing it one way for one unit, but then it's totally up to you if you'd like to do it the other way for the next unit. No matter which way you decide, I've got some tools for you to consider.
A goal or challenge for you would be to explore these tools, do some experimenting and learning by trial-and-error, searching and figuring out what could work for your content, for your students, and for you (yes that is important).

Tools to Create Your Own Videos


First up is Camtasia Studio. This is the tool that I used to make every one of my flipped videos in my AP Psychology class that I flipped in 2012, and I can tell you that it gave me the comfort of knowing I could edit out any errors and make any enhancements (meaning add anything I forgot to mention) in a simple way. There is plenty to learn within the tool, but if you've got down a few skills that are easy to learn, you can totally start there and build up your skill set later as you have time. I highly recommend checking out their website and what Camtasia might be able to do for you.
If you are on a tight budget, which of course you are as most teachers always are, the price might be a difficult sticking point. It does cost - but I still highly recommend it. If you want your videos to look professional, and to be an enhanced learning tool that guide your students through the content (rather than you just talking at them over slides, even though that is a great place to start), then Camtasia is the go-to tool. Stay tuned for a demo video I'll be making in the near future - I'll come back to this post and add it in.
Please note, I do make a small commission through Techsmith (the company who makes Camtasia Studio) when folks purchase from this link, and I am excited to help you learn about Camtasia since it was the most influential tool I used (and continue to use) when flipping my classroom. Check out Camtasia here.
P.S.  I love Camtasia so much, if you can't tell yet, and recently they've returned the love :) . I'm so excited that for the teachers who are students in my online course, Flipped Classroom Formula, get an exclusive discount on Camtasia!!!!  Stay tuned for when Flipped Classroom Formula opens again soon.


Another tool that is cloud based and free (with an upgrade option) that I recommend is Screencast-o-matic. In the free version, this tool allows you to record up to 15 minutes of a video, but does not allow you to edit. I find this tricky for teachers just starting out on their flipping journey because they haven't quite mastered recording themselves and find that there are quite a few things they need to edit out.
Alas, it is free, and that's a super important aspect in the education field. I liked using Screencast-o-matic when I for some reason didn't have my laptop available that has Camtasia on it - it was a quick and easy back up option when I needed to make a quick video, for instance, when I wanted to talk to my students when they would have a sub without notice. The upgraded version does allow you many of the tools that software like Camtasia Studio would offer. Please note that at the following link I earn a small incentive towards my own pro account when folks upgrade. The free version is a great combo tool to have ready with Camtasia being your main video creation tool. Check out Screencast-o-matic here.

Tools to demonstrate (not just lecture)

If you need to show students something - how to work a formula, how to write a thesis, how heroin is an agonist of endorphins at the neurotransmitter level (ok, that one's coming from personal experience) etc. these tools are great options to do make that happen.

Quasi-Old School?

Quick note... the apps I describe below are really awesome for an ipad, but what I have used is simply a document camera with Camtasia. Check out my setup with a HUE PRO Camera where I demonstrated note taking of flipped video lecture in one of my Instagram posts here. I love my new HUE PRO camera and highly recommend them - you can check them out here, making sure you use the code TEACHONAMISSION10 (note that I get a small commission if you decide to go with the HUE PRO camera, but that's because I really do love and recommend it for any classroom). My advice would be that if you're going to use Camtasia, and need to be demonstrating on paper, the HUE PRO camera is the way to go. They even have ones with a light so that if you need the light off so students can see your dimly lit projection board (that's a little more personal experience for ya), the camera can illuminate your paper. Here was my set up. I love their color choices as well.
P.S.  Yet Another perk for my students of Flipped Classroom Formula only, Hue HD helps me offer a discount on my favorite document camera.  So be sure not to miss out when the Flipped Classroom Formula course opens again soon by getting your Ultimate Flipped Classroom Starter kit here.

Ipad Apps

So what about some whiteboard-like apps? The first one I recommend and use a lot is Educreations. I have used this on my iPad to easily record a quick screenshot where I demonstrate concepts like normal distribution and reuptake of a neuron. I can totally see it being used for formulas, writing strategies, etc. I love how simple this app is - just take the link of your video and put it on your website or Google Classroom and use it just like any other video lecture. Check them out here. See one of my videos here.
Two other apps I like for this reason is ShowMe and Explain Everything. I have used them both, but not as extensively as Educreations. Feel free to explore those, but they really are very similar to Educreations.

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!!

But what if you don't have the time, skill, or energy to devote to learning new tools like the ones described above, but you really would like the benefits of the flipped classroom now?? Fret no more, because flipping is still totally doable. But instead of time spent creating your own videos, you'll spend time (albeit a little less than the time you'll spend creating videos) researching and looking for the videos you like the best and will use with your students.
The first place to look is, of course, Khan Academy. They have so many subjects to choose and search from, even broken down by grade level for math. It's not just video either; there are tons of reading you can use to give an overview of a topic, with questions at the end you could use in class.
The last tool I'm going to leave you with is YouTube. I can almost hear some eye-rolling at this suggestion because, well duh! But here's the thing. We often times look to YouTube for documentaries, various clips, or examples of what we discuss in class, but there are so many teachers out there (that's right, real teachers) who make their lectures available to all on YouTube. This will take a bit of time, but if you search for a specific vocabulary term, concept or skill, you'll be able to narrow down your options. If you'd like to see some of my flipped videos, please checkout my channel here.
This is totally a lot to take in when thinking about flipping your classroom, among all the other responsibilities of a teacher, so I've created a one-page freebie to allow you to see it all in one place.  Click the image below to get that one-page run down.
I hope this brief description of some tools is helpful for you as you consider the flipped classroom or even start making plans to make it happen in the near future. I have started working with some teachers one-on-one as they work to flip their classrooms and am totally loving it. If you would like some guidance and assistance in flipping your classroom I would LOVE to chat - make sure you get on the waiting list for the Flipped Classroom Formula by getting that starter kit AND (I'm super pumped about this) join us over on Facebook in my exclusive group, The Flipped Teacher where I go live EVERY WEEK to answer your questions about the flipped classroom.  I can't wait to see you in the group!
All the best in your flipping endeavors and...
Until next time,
P.S. If you didn't catch the Is the Flipped Classroom Right For Me Checklist, I recommend checking that out here.
P.P.S. If you are a skimmer like me, I have the whole run down one-page version of this post where I show you all these tool options to choose from to start experimenting in your own flipped classroom. Go here to get that one-pager.

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