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A flipped classroom is, in short, a style of class that involves students learning at home and doing work in the classroom. This way instead of students struggling to do homework when the teacher is not around to ask questions the students is able to ask right away and not be confused about their work. It’s a pretty  cool concept but there’s a lot that needs to be done before a classroom attempting to flip can be fully successful.

Simple tools like Powerpoint aren’t effective enough to use in a flipped classroom. Students don’t want to sit at home and click through some slides, they would probably pay very little attention if they even open it. So a flipped classroom requires something a bit more engaging or at the very least more interesting. Using a tool like Screencastify to record yourself teaching a lesson is super quick and adds more to the at home lesson. While it’s still a bit dull for your students to watch a video of you teaching the information on the Powerpoint it at least allows you to teach more information and show students other things. Additionally you could use the tool to record yourself working through some math problems, to show examples of grammatical errors and explain them, or balance chemical reactions. Screencastify allows you to upload the recording directly to Google Drive too, which means its easy to share with students. It’s a simple tool but something like this is necessary to teach students while they are at home.

Simply recording your screen isn’t always enough though. Utilizing a documents camera or a camera and tripod to get more into the “ninty-gritty” with your students is important. With a document camera you can take notes along with your students, walk through difficult problems with them, or point out areas in the textbook that are important. Being able to record yourself with a camera and tripod, or even just a webcam lets you talk directly to your students. You could have a projector behind you or be demonstrating something important. As a science teacher you could hold up a model of a brain and point to the structures, show examples of chemical reactions, or even just wear a funky lab outfit to make things more entertaining. While a lot of these could be done with online tools you’d want to mix things up. If you want your students to go home each night and learn your lesson then you have to keep them engaged, they won’t do that if you screencast every time or only use the document camera.


The SAMR Model

I’ve learned a lot about the SAMR model this year in my Educational Media Applications course. It’s a great model that breaks down usage of technology in education and attempts to increase the usefulness of technology in lesson plans.


The model itself is really pretty simple. Each level of the SAMR model represents a level of change to the education. Substitution being the lowest level and Redefinition being the highest or best level. The model is split in half because it’s at the midway point that technology is really allowing for a change in the education. When coming up with lesson plan ideas this model has always been in the back of my mind.


The above model shows several ideas on how to take existing classroom procedures like taking notes and improving them with technology. Even a simple task like note taking can be improved up to the redefinition level. A power point presentation fits somewhere around the Augmentation level, but one can reach the Redefinition level with collaborative programs like google slides, interactive presentation, and more. There are so many tools that can be used to improve lessons. Many times teachers believe that they can simply use technology as a substitute and it is improving their teachings when it is really not doing much at all. At the Augmentation level there are improvements being made to the quality of learning but once the Modification stage is accomplished the quality of learning has improved quite a bit.


As a avid Coffee drinker this model by Jonathan Brubaker really helped me understand the model more. The irony of this  model is that I actually found it while I was drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte. So I was able to think more clearly, think about how different the flavor is from a black coffee. More importantly I thought about how much better it was. If technology changing a lesson can make a lesson that much better than I’m going to work my hardest to modify or redefine every lesson I’m able to teach.

So Kahoot Exists…

Everyone seems to know about Socrative and a few other tools to help quiz students in “new and exciting ways.” Recently I have had quite a hoot with Kahoot, and yes I realize that phrasing was bad. It makes quick quizzing and review a lot more fun, and I actually mean fun. While it sticks to traditional multiple choice answers, it’s also colorful and kind of exciting.


Students use their smart devices like their own phones, tablets, or laptops if they have them, and follow along with the main screen in the classroom. Students would be able to use their personal devices if schools don’t provide smart devices for them, or a computer lab could be utilized.

You can start a quiz, a discussion, or a survey super fast. The setup time is only as long as you take to type in your questions and then Kahoot is ready to go. For now lets just talk about the quizzes, my favorite part. You type in your questions, add an image or video if it’s necessary, and then type in some possible answers. As far as setup goes that’s all there is to it. When it’s time to start the quiz you open it up on the projector or whatever large screen is available in the classroom, students pull out their smart devices and go to kahoot.it. On the screen there is a PIN that students type in to their devices and they join in. Students not only get points for the correct answer but for how fast they answer. It makes the quiz competitive and I’ve seen students get super into earning more points than their friends about a book that they read.

Survey and discussion both work a bit differently.  Survey is similar to the quiz but doesn’t assign points. Discussion allows for free response, and the best part is these responses appear on the screen. So you could ask a question like, “What do you think will happen next?” when reading through a novel together. Students can see each others thoughts and as a class you can discuss the classes thoughts without having to pull those thoughts out of them.

Kahoot isn’t doing much new, but it brings together elements that have been done and adds some fun to them. A competitive element to a quiz makes it more fun and gets students more engaged. On top of that it’s way more colorful than any tool I’ve seen like it.

Wait Wait Wait, Not so fast…

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend an education conference in Wisconsin Dells with my instructor Jessica Brogley. Myself and a few other students attended WEMTA and even got to present how to use a green screen effectively. It was such an amazing experience and getting to hear the other speakers and wander through the vendor hall was a great time. I can’t deny I was overwhelmed though. Each one of the presenters had something different that was their own ideas and they wanted to share them, and there were so many great ideas. Each of the presenters I went to I took notes, I visited their websites, and I took down their emails and twitter.

Each of the speakers I attended was geared towards English classes at varying levels. Two presentations in particular, Pernille Ripp and the teachers behind 369digitalsalon.weebly.com,  overwhelmed me with some great ideas on transforming the way and English classroom is taught. My English classes in high school were very dull and didn’t have any sort of workshop environment or any real interaction aside from book reports and maybe a journal. The examples on 369digitalsalon.weebly.com and the ones they presented to us at WEMTA show a lot more engagement by their students while also having students showcase their knowledge even better. Running a book report as a video project or a podcast requires that the students think more and gets their creative juices flowing. Pernille Ripp showcased how she runs book clubs in her classroom, utilized what she calls connected literacy, encouraged teachers to stop using reading levels and labels, and talked about book shopping. She has a blog where she talks about many of her ideas, pernillesripp.com, and I really encourage checking out some of her methods.

So much was covered in such a short time that I feel each of these presenters could have taken up a whole day if they were given the time. I’m really looking into utilizing the podcast idea from 369digitalsalon.weebly.com in a future lesson plan, and have so many ideas for my future classroom from Pernille Ripp.


The Echo

Many of you likely know about the Amazon Echo device, it’s a sort of home assistant that goes by the name “Alexa.” It’s a pretty cool little device as it can use IFTTT to interact with hundreds of apps and even in home devices like your light bulbs to your home security system. It’s really pretty amazing, and Alexa can control all of it with just your voice. It’s been on my intent to buy list for a while now but I recently read several ideas for using the echo that were a bit different that what most envision it for,  using Alexa in the classroom.

My first reaction was not positive, I thought it was a dumb idea but as I kept reading about how this elementary school teacher utilized echo I was amazed. The idea was to have an echo set up at a table where students are working. These students are then able to ask Alexa questions just like they would ask their teacher. “Alexa how do you spell ____?” or “Alexa whats 547+205?” This doesn’t make Alex a substitute for the teacher but it allows students to get help when their teacher may be helping another group or student. A sort of “budget teaching assistant.”

Now there’s dozens of reasons why this isn’t the best idea such as students being able to order a pizza through Alexa and asking inappropriate questions. Additionally the Echo is currently priced at $179.99, which isn’t the most expensive item but certainly isn’t something I would pick up on a whim. Recently though Amazon made realizing this concept a lot easier with their new Amazon Echo Dot. The Dot works almost exactly like the original echo but is lacking the much larger speaker for playing music. However eliminating this feature brings the dot down in price to a much more affordable $89.99.

It’s an interesting idea to use Alexa in the classroom and I think one day I might try it in a classroom of my own. Being able to answer simple questions for students is all the functionality it needs to be viable in a classroom and Alexa does so wonderfully.

Well, Here I am!

I’ve written this first blog post about five times now, just trying to decide how to introduce myself. So, before I decide to start over again, let’s get the awkward introduction over with, shall we?

My Name is Baustin Bowers, a third year English Education Major at UW Platteville. I didn’t start out as an education major though, originally I was a forensic investigation major which is what brought me to Platteville. I feel Like I’m just really getting into my education courses this semester and am loving every one of them.

I plan on blogging about a variety of things. From random topics that pique my interests to education to tech stuff that catches my eye.  This could be anything from Amazon’s echo device to a video game tournament. I’m a huge gamer and as a result I’ll probably share stories, thoughts, or just make a lot of references. Don’t worry though, gaming is far from the main focus of this blog. I want to emphasize education and technology in education in this blog. After all, education is what I want to do with my life.

So why do I want to be a teacher? That’s not the easiest question for me to answer to be entirely honest. I didn’t enjoy school throughout middle school and high school, and English was actually my least favorite subject. My teachers weren’t bad, I actually liked most of them. However they often fell into a pattern of “Read this, write about it, take a test on it.” My college professors quickly showed me that there is a different way to teach English courses. As lame as it may sound I want to be a different kind of teacher to students. I want to be the teacher that brings technology into the classroom to improve learning, but also redefines what students had thought of English classes before. High hopes I know, but I plan on giving it the best I’ve got.

Well, let’s give this a shot…