Wednesday, November 19, 2014

“Be the Best Flipper in the World.”

“Be the best flipper in the world.Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.” 

Simply put, you have to know your stuff before you master your craft. You have to have a certain mastery of teaching to flip your classroom. Flipping comes naturally to art teachers because it is the way we teach. Here’s a great quote from Susan Riley (2012), founder and president of the Education Closet: Professional Development for Integrated and Innovative Teaching, explaining the divine ground of connection between art teacher and the art of flipping:

“The very heart and soul of the arts lies in the idea that students are in control of their learning and the teacher is critical in facilitating the process of exploration and skill within that art.  Student-created work is the very center of what we do in arts classes.”

I did not want to like the flipped classroom concept. I wanted to give it a good look, find it didn’t relate to me and mine, and say the heck with it. As an online grad student, I am a flipping learner so I was prepared to be a hypocrite. I am always keeping my projects, methods, and committees’ dance card current. Isn’t that enough? Yet it was almost impossible to resist flip class as I am passionate about art, the student centered and self-discovery medium.

I am inspired by the passion of those who flip. Check out this arts integration middle school where “every teacher is expected to use arts integration in their classroom, in some shape or form, in every content area. (Edutopia,2012). This is a magnificent flip with Arts on top.

In Monday night’s Twitter chat #flipclass Waverly Ann had the same appreciation for the big bonus of flip I do:

a6: Ss want to be the teachers too! There is power in them being able to share with the class rather than just the ones listening ‪#flipclass

Early in the week, I found an article pro Flip which created consternation on my part. The article, What is theFlipped Classroom Model and Why is It Amazing (With Infographic )(Gobry, 2012), took arguments against the flip classroom and pontificated on why they were “ hilariously silly.”  He speaks about how flipping the classroom is working actively instead of the classical mode in the classroom, passively listening. I say bravo. Go on. He nosedives by mentioning listening to lectures at home. Be passive on your own time but come to class ready for action. I think of the 5 years old in a neighboring county who have Internet homework every night that their parents have to supervise and check. They don’t have a choice about having their child on the Internet. It has to be done. Another argument for flipping according to the infographic (it is a nice looking Piktochart by Benoit Anger and Thomas Roulet) is # 4 Levels the playing field all students, regardless of socio economic background, are supported at home. This is not true. How are they supported if they don’t have Internet or a computer? How can you know there is support at home if you aren’t there? It just bugged me, the comment with no support to back it up.

In the against column:
Argument Con # 3 The Digital Divide

“This is actually a reasonable argument. The flipped classroom model assumes that kids have access to Internet access and internet-enabled devices, and this is not yet true for everyone.” (Gobry,2012). This argument against is sound by the author’s account not  “hilariously silly” and goes against pro #4 from the infographic, all things are equal in flip. The author did stir up debate and acknowledges arguments, which is more interesting, then non-practicing teachers reporting on flip.

The passion for flip education is ignited when you hear and see teachers who use it in their classrooms. They support each other and often team. They speak about rebuilding what is economically valuable in their content and creating their relevant videos based on their classroom needs. Through these created videos, they build and strengthen their relationship with their students. Learning can go deeper and time can be flexible. Achievement becomes more lasting than a test score. They work with others and technology devices. Students inquire, have a voice and a choice, and they reflect in a journal or with their peers. Scores rise with student and teacher investment. Whether you start small or dive in deep, there are support networks and other educators to reach out to. The best way to know what works in your classroom is to try it. Waiting for the research and data is wasting the opportunity to explore what you know in your gut works.

The quote from Snoop Dogg was about flipping hamburgers not classrooms. Yet mastering your craft as a teacher and your students mastering content to build on skills as life long learners are goals of value in human potential. These goals see the future of learning in the hands of the learner guided by innovative facilitators with achievement for all. As an art educator, I see the possibilities in flipping my classroom. Art strategies and skills cross boundaries encouraging collaborating and problem solving. “You have to figure out work will work, and you have to work through it” (Edutopia, 2013). You gain from failures in art so learning is its own reward and fun. That’s the beauty of flipping over art.

Here are some things I would like to explore.

Can you flip when the students do not have technology access at home?
Are four year olds too young for a teacher to have a working flip model in the classroom?
If you see hundreds of students a week, what does a manageable flip class schedule look like?
I will continue to look for elementary art examples of a flipped classroom.

Great ideas and Insight are welcome.

Flipping Resources:

Crockett,H. (May 29th, 2013).Will You Flip for “Flipped Teaching?” The Art of Education. Retrieved from An art teacher’s introduction and comments from other art teachers.

Dogg, S. (2014). Flip Quote. Retrieved from:

Edutopia. (August 29, 2012). Arts Integration for Deeper Learning in Middle School. Retrieved from

Gobry, P-E. (December 11, 2012). What is the Flipped Classroom Model and Why is It Amazing (With Infographic). Forbes. Retrieved from

Incredible Art Department. (2014).The Flipped Classroom, a New Approach to Teaching. Retrieved from
For Art Ed Resources and great Q & A.

Riley, S. (August 2, 2012). The Arts: The Original Flipped Classroom. Education Closet. Retrieved from

Shareski, Dean. (April, 5, 2014). EDIM 516 The Flipped Classroom Discussion Take 2. Retrieved from

Waverly Ann.[WaveJacksonElon]. (November 17th, 2014). Ss want to be the teachers too! There is power in them being able to share with the class rather than just the ones listening ‪#flipclass. Retrieved from


  1. My random thoughts... I'm thinking you can still flip without the technology, I don't think it's really about the technology. Technology just make lectures possible, but there are other ways to communicate. To do it with four year olds, I'm thinking you have to get the parents on board to help scaffold it. It would be absolutely wonderful to get them involved. Perhaps you could just plan one unit to flip which you can find really good resources for and see how it goes? Or instead of a unit, perhaps a project that would be good for the parents be involved with? If you have a list of content goals for the four year olds, you could make a hand out explaining those goals to the parents and ask them to review them, giving them resources to do that. Of course, art is more hands on to begin with, so flipping may be unnecessary. If you're sneaking information into the kids while they're making things, I don't see why you would flip it. If you have some extra content which you want them to go through, this could go home. Good luck, it's fun to hear from an art teacher's perspective!

    1. Melissa,

      I have a project about India I want to with Prek and Kindergarteners. I want the finale to be a color run. I would need help to pull this off and I do not know if I would get it.I may just do it with one class (my son's or just Prek which would be less than 60 students) as I always end up paying for everything out of my own pocket and I need to have supplies for it donated. In the past, I was told not to ask for supplies from parents as they have their classroom teacher to support. One year my budget was 50 cents per kid. I used to organize volunteers but when the school took it over I get one volunteer for one class if it is something a volunteer wants to do. I have been doing Artsonia for years and most parents don't become a fan of their own child. I get parents who sign up who do not have Internet access so you can't fault them for it but there is a phone app for that. I find almost everyone has a cell phone. I collected toilet paper rolls and when I had enough for a project a custodian threw the box away. I guess the sign "do not throw this away" and hiding the box was too subtle. One thing I like about grad school and big projects is I have excellent plans written out for them so if I do get enough support whether it be volunteers or donations I am ready to go. You never know when you will get that parent or co worker than gives you just that little extra support or encouragement that makes a difference. Until then I work on a smaller scale and that's okay.


  2. I have read about In Flipping on a couple of sites like this one who realize that flipping at home may not work for all schools or classrooms.

    What they suggest is that you take the flipping process and do it all in class in centers. Some kids are watching the videos while others are working with the teacher in small groups. What I don't know is if that would work in your classroom. You have much less time with the students than a classroom elementary teacher does. That and I know you don't have multiple computers for the students to watch videos on in the class.

    1. Chris,

      I have every intention of setting up classroom centers but as of now I do not have the money or extra person to monitor. Why do I need this you ask? Well I used to have a bookshelf, a bean bag chair, I got another rug and then they said we will have none of that and got rid of it. They sold the book shelf. Said no to the bean bag chair and made me give away the carpet. We were told not to have old stuff in a newly renovated building and as classroom teachers get funds for replacing these things, I do not. I am working on adding technology and I did get a new to me rug I could afford so I will get around to it. I find even with the simplest centers someone has to supervise and that is all I will say about that. On the upside, I have a will and when I figure out a way I go after it.


  3. Hello Valerie!

    I will take a shot at your questions...great blog post, by the way. I enjoy reading your blog because your passion for teaching art always shines through and I admire your passion for teaching.

    Can you flip when the students do not have technology access at home?
    If students do not have technology access at home, requiring the students to watch videos would not work. However, are there study halls or after school programs that would allow students to watch the videos at school but not in the classroom?

    If you view flipping the classrooms as a form of project based learning, and dealing with no technology at home, would reading a text prepare them for work in class. For example, reading about typography, the history of typefaces, type designers and basics of fonts prepare the students to experiment - hands-on or with technology - with typography in the class. Or is that moving too far away from the principles of flipped classrooms.

    Are four year olds too young for a teacher to have a working flip model in the classroom?
    If you have parents that are engaged in their child’s learning, I think you would be able to flip a lesson to test and work from the results. For example, you are teaching shapes - and tell the parents to watch your video on shapes with their child. If would have to be a short video, repeatable...maybe more for the parents to work with their children on shape identification.

    If you see hundreds of students a week, what does a manageable flip class schedule look like?
    I do not know anyone in this situation. I guess the schedule would depend on what the teacher is teaching - X number of classes/ all of the same subject, or X number of classes/ X number of subjects.
    Serenity now. ;)

    Thank you,


    1. Lauren,

      I do not have the same schedule everyday or the same as any other teacher. My lunch is after the lunchroom stops serving. That should give you an idea of what I am dealing with.Somedays I do not have a planning period. We used to have an after school program for 3 years and when the grant went away it did too. Parents and students would have to have Internet access at home and many do not.

      I think the idea would be have something set up in class and this is difficult because I do not have technology access for students but I will keep working on it.

      If it isn't artistically inspiring for my kids, I don't want to do it. They pull them out of my class for remediation and AR so let them worry about the assessments. I want to put the fun and play of discovery and creating in them not knock it out. If it is something they and their parents want to do at home, they will be willing and I will find a way. If they have access to a smartphone, they could access what I would do on the Internet. Perhaps if I put it on Facebook as a rumor...


  4. Hi Valerie,

    I enjoyed your post. Your enthusiasm shines through in all that you write! I like what you said about knowing your craft before you can master it.

    One thing I have noticed is that younger students are often more enthusiastic about learning and doing work at home than older students are. There are some advantages of working with younger groups because of their enthusiasm. They do require more guidance than older students. I agree with Lauren that involved parents help to make the model more successful.

    I think that flipping classrooms does work but there are influencing factors such as having devices to use at home which render it more successful or less so. I agree with Chris in that you don't necessarily need technology to flip your classroom however.

    Good thoughts in this post.

  5. Jeanne,

    I think you have to be at a place where you have the time and the energy to flip your own classroom. If I was waiting for encouragement and support and not going after it, I would still be waiting for everything that is worthwhile.Flipping -Some of it is doable in my current situation and most is not. If I make effort to make things happen it can only bring more possibilities to my classroom. That is worth doing whether I am successful or not. We are almost guaranteed to learn something and parents might join the cause.


  6. As always the comments give encouragement. The discussions gives me ideas. This week it is enough to know I am not alone and someone appreciates who I am and what I do. The sermon today at church was about the gift and vision of art teachers. My cup runneth over.