DJLN Educator Spotlight: Flipping the Classroom with Randee Groveman

| By Yonah Kirschner, Program Manager, DigitalJLearning Network

We are proud to introduce Randee Groveman in our very first DJLN Educator Spotlight! Read the full interview with Randee below to learn about her experiences with flipped classroom!

 

Randee Groveman’s teaching philosophy follows Robert Frost’s quote: “I’m not a teacher, but an awakener.” Randee is an English teacher at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG). She teaches the ninth and eleventh grades and the AP English Literature elective. Randee received a B.S. in English and Communications from the University of Miami, Florida and a Master’s in Educational Management from the University of Houston – Clear Lake, Texas. Beginning her teaching career in a Texas public school, Randee taught junior high, developed curriculum and lead district-wide professional development. Her next position was at a yeshiva, the Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston, Texas. Once she moved to New York, Randee taught at the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls where she served as a faculty advisor for the literary magazine and coordinated the school-wide English Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition.

 

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
A: When I was a little kid I used to make my brothers do homework assignments that I created! They were five and I was seven. I would play teacher and make up assignments and make them sit there and do work. I also enjoyed tutoring my brothers when they were older, especially for my brother who has a learning disability.

 

Q: Why did you decide to use flipped classroom?
A: I like computers. I’ve worked on a computer since I was 12 when PCs first came out. I like finding interesting ways to teach and doing different things in the classroom. I like being innovative and incorporating the technology that my students use during most of their free time. That way I can meld together their interests and the lessons.

 

Q: How do you use the flipped classroom model?
A: Instead of spending a whole 40-minute period to teach grammar, I now use flipped classroom for the 9th grade grammar lessons. For example, when the students were learning subject-verb agreement, I created an eight minute video to teach the topic and posted it on my Learning Management System (LMS), Haiku. The students watched the video at home and then took a short three-question quiz, so I could quickly assess what they learned from the video. When they came into class the next day, I only spent five minutes reviewing the lesson and answering any questions. The students were able to spend class time working on their assignments to apply what they had learned, and I could walk around the room to work with students in groups or individually. The flipped classroom model is a huge time saver!

 

Q:  How did you learn to use flipped classroom?
A: I actually was never formally trained in flipped classroom techniques. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just “come off the boat” and know how to do things. I’ve had technology integration training, and I’ve written a curriculum for integrating technology in the classroom, but it was basic back then - just Word, Publisher, PowerPoint! When I have a LMS at my fingertips, I’ll just go ahead and find a lesson plan that works. I really like technology. I just try and find ideas and put them together. I’ve used and had training on the Haiku LMS and Screencast-O-Matic.

 

Q: What advantages do you see for your students in the flipped classroom model?
A: One time, I had a class that read the play Raisin in the Sun, and I had them watch an episode of the TV show All in the Family at home. Then they answered some reflective questions and sent their answers to me online. By looking at their responses to those questions, I was able to see if they were making those thematic connections between the play and the TV show. This model was a huge time saver because we didn’t have to watch the show in class. Another advantage was that it laid the groundwork for richer class discussions. Also, I had 12th grade students watch a 10 minute video at home, write a reflection, and then they would come to class the next day ready for discussion and to apply what they’d learned.

 

Q: What are your favorite online resources to use for flipping the learning?
A: I use the Haiku LMS because that’s what I was taught and it’s also very user-friendly. Some of the teachers at YUHSG use Schoology. I also use YouTube for my videos and then I provide links to them on Haiku. I just search on the internet for ideas and don’t always know where I will get resources from, but the best ones are from other teachers who have posted their material online, and then I can tweak it to make it more my own.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on data collection for assessment?
A: There are so many different tools; it’s about integrating it little by little. Also, we tend to think that our students are good with computers, but that’s not necessarily the case, especially when you start with 9th grade. There’s a difference between the technology that they know and the technology we want them to use for learning. If they’re using the tools incorrectly, it can be problematic to rely on the data you’re receiving. As an English teacher, one of the hardest things is transitioning students from books to computer databases and internet research. They don’t always understand what they’re reading online and need to be taught to discern which sources are reliable and which are not. The teacher has to be able to convey that difference and what it means to have good digital citizenship.

 

Q: What advice do you have for other educators who want to try out flipped classroom?
A: It’s a trial and error kind of thing. You have to try small, little bits here and there and see how students react to it. Their first reaction is going to possibly be negative because most people don’t like anything new - I try to remember that - but if you do it in small bits, it doesn’t seem so difficult. Often, teachers want to teach what they’re comfortable with, so they have to be educated in the technology enough to become comfortable with it and pass on their techniques to their students. That makes professional development very important. I think it’s best when teachers learn the technology alongside others who teach the same subject.

 

Q: What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had using flipped classroom?
A: I put together a PowerPoint that had links and reflective questions and the students did all of that at home. The next day it was so nice to have students come in already prepared for discussion! It really created much more productive conversations in the classroom.

 

Interested in the online resources mentioned? See the links below!
Haiku Learning Management System (LMS): digitaljlearning.org/resources/haiku-learning
Schoology (LMS): digitaljlearning.org/resources/schoology
Screencast-O-Matic: digitaljlearning.org/resources/screencast-o-matic
Resources on Digital Citizenship: www.commonsensemedia.org