Thursday, 27 February 2014

First Week Coding and Flipping My Classroom: So Far, So Good.

First Week Coding and Flipping My Classroom: So Far, So Good.

Video at home and in the classroom.

I launched into two new adventures this week with my first videos for my flipped classroom and began the long road into coding with my Year 3 class - what a great first experience!  The children and parents seem incredibly enthused by the whole prospect of coding, the use of videos, and I've received some great feedback at parents' evening this week.

My first GarageBand 'How to Video.'
In my first ever blog GarageBand Video explained why I needed to start using video in my classroom.  It saves time, gives children a continues reference point and allows pre learning of a skill.

I sent the video to the children at the beginning of the week via their weekly emailed newsletter explaining that we'd be using GarageBand to record our Blitz Personification Poetry.

It was only when I got to school on Tuesday (INSET Monday) that the children started asking questions. "Was that you on the video?" "My mum tried to follow the instructions, can you do more?" "Can you do one for iMovie?" A very promising start to the week.

The first group of children set about recording their poems and all was going well until they reached the export point of the task, one child came over and asked how to do it. "Did you watch the video?" Their response "I did, but I only watched it once."

Teaching Children How To Watch a Video

It dawned on me that I had jumped head first into this way of learning without actually teaching the children how to watch a video, actually, how to learn from a video. I did get a few laughs from my Year 3s when I suggested that they didn't know how to watch a video and that I'd need to teach them. But, that afternoon I put on the GarageBand video and taught them how to 'pause, rewind, try a bit, pause, rewind, watch, try it...' I explained the difference between watching and learning from a video and we had a really good conversation around how they would make better use of the video. 

This proved to be a masterstroke, as the next day the children were much more equipped to deal with the task of recording and completing the very new skill of exporting the .mp3 file, ready to be emailed.  It strike me as quite impressive that a class of 7 and 8 year olds were recording, editing, exporting, and attaching an .mp3 to an email and sending it to their teacher ready to share on the school Facebook and Twitter sites.

I even realised that it was easier to have spare iPad running the video, ready so the children can instantly view, without the need to log in to email accounts to find the link to the video.

Vittle for Maths Calculations
Video for Mathematics - A Guide for Parents as well as children?
At the weekend I had created a few videos in preparation for my upcoming mathematics work this half term.  You can watch them here - Videos for My Classroom.  

It was only at Parents' Evening this week that I realised how useful these videos had been for the parents of the children in my class.  They'd been watching too!

I'd put the link in my weekly email to parents, informing them of some of the new approaches I would be trialling this half term, the response was very positive. Some parents had already used them to prepare their child for the maths this half term, some had shown older children in the school to help them consolidate their learning ready for SATS tests in May and I even had a request to create an iMovie guide for one parent who was struggling to edit a movie for  their child's homework. A really positive start!  

I'll be using the division video next week in the hope that the children can come to school ready to apply the skill, rather than sit and learn a skill.

Writing Code or 'Hacking Games?'

I decided that this week would be a great time to introduce the children to the beauty and creative world of computer programming.  So on Wednesday afternoon we spent the whole afternoon learning what code is, we watched this video to get a bit of background - What Most Schools Don't Teach

My class were sold when 'Will I Am' came on screen and told them they could be the next Rockstars!  Interestingly, they couldn't believe people were actually working in the Google offices, they wanted to work at Google and Facebook after seeing the fun they were having. As an aside, I do think that ALL schools should adopt this model of collaborative learning in an open school, old and young working together - we'll save that for another blog.

I chose Scratch as I knew it would be a language and format the children would like and find easy to use and understand.  The blocks proved popular, as did the ready created games.

Hacking Pong
I'm so glad I started with the Scratch Starter Projects as I wanted the children to see what could be done using the programming language.

The children started playing the pong game and quickly got bored with its simplicity. "What would make it better?" The beauty of the Scratch projects is you can SEE the code of the game.  I modelled how you can change the game by adapting the code and the children were amazed at how they were now playing a more challenging game.

"We're hacking the game!"  

I loved the idea that the children were being so creative, improving and then sharing their learning across the classroom. Our classroom had become the Google offices, children dashing around sharing code, ideas and games to be tested and then improved. I just sat back and watched it happen.  The children went home on Wednesday night and have already been 'hacking games.' They came in this morning and shared skills during Computing independent time

I received some great feedback on Twitter and Facebook from the parents when I published the photographs and pictures of some of the code.

"Green class are doing the best stuff, It makes me want to go back to school" 
"I have a child who wants to be in your class, ready to code."
"When can I come in to have a go at creating my own games?"

I'm thoroughly looking froward to next week and reporting back on the use of video and our continuing adventure with Hacking Games.  I've also got my first of six training sessions I'm running for staff on various computer skills - This week, iMovie - The video is ready for the staff to watch Creating Video with iMovie Flipped CPD!

Next up Edmodo for Our School. Bring on the Social Media Revolution.

Follow Me on Twitter @chriswaterworth


  1. This is beautiful. I focused on your initial efforts to obtain buy-in from parents and thought your three reasons provided an excellent starting point for explaining the benefits of the flipped classroom. I passed them along with some commentary in my own blog where you are credited with the initial rationale:

  2. Implementing that kind of strategy in giving some new learning to your students looks good especially that you can promote some new experiences that they weren't used to have that might be suitable on their needs to learn.