Sunday, July 16, 2017

Taking learning to the next level through structures that allow for TWIRLS... #flipblogs

Design Credit: Matthew Moore
Credit: Andrew Swan
Introduction & Background
A random Twitter conversation between myself, Andrew Swan, and Matthew Moore led to the launch of a flipped learning chat modeled after good flipped learning practices.  You can read the goals and purposes in the image above.  I hope this encourages many of you to open up the walls of your classrooms by blogging about the prompts that will be posted to the #flipblogs hashtag.  Here is my attempt at going back in time to share a moment from my classroom.  If you'd like to read more, check out my weekly reflection posts (2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014) or my book, full of practical strategies, examples, and recommendations at  I hope to chat with many of you during the Twitter Chats on #flipblogs!

Credit: Andrew Swan

I was in my 5th year of teaching when I started flipping my class.  I remember having an unfulfilled desire every year: I wanted my students talking more and writing more in my math class.  I tried so many strategies that I learned about in different workshops, but I was not able to find a way to successfully and consistently provide opportunities for my students to talk and write to the extent that I desired.

One of my first posts when I started blogging back in 2012 was titled TWRLS, and briefly explains the transformation I began seeing in my students being able to show their thinking through writing, reading, listening, and speaking. (Note: Later I added and "I" in the middle for "Interacting" and it became TWIRLS.  Someone at a webinar I was hosting mentioned it in the chat and I loved it, so I added it!). 

It was so rewarding and gratifying to find a way where daily my students were taking their learning to the next level and expressing their learning to me (and their peers) in many more ways than just solving rote problems.

So, how did flipping my class allow my students to demonstrate TWIRLS (Thinking, Writing, Interacting, Reading, Listening, Speaking) effectively and consistently when I tried for so long with success?  I believe it can be pinpointed to 2 things, all that deal around structures that provided the time and space for students to do so.  If you've read my blog before, you know I am a fan of structures, because I feel like having consistent and clear structures help to set students up for success.  Here's a very brief overview of the structures I feel helped to make the transformation for my students.  For more info, check out the 4 part series I wrote in August of 2016 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

1. Pre-Class Structures
Students don't "Watch a Video", they complete a WSQ.  I'm going to just direct you to the 4-part series linked in the previous paragraph (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4) or to my book to learn more about how to utilize the WSQ method effectively.  Please ask questions in the comments and I'll clarify or direct you to a more specific place.

2. In-Class Structures
Class time transformed from having students be able to just work on practice problems and get individualized attention and support to a place where I was actually able to talk with every student every day (it's not just a coined phrase - it can actually happen!).  Because we started class with a WSQ Chat (see part 4 linked above) and then provided opportunities for students to process their learning and demonstrate their understanding through blogging (see more student blogging resources here), I began to see that it wasn't just me (the teacher) who could demonstrate TWIRLS in class.  It became my goal that my students were always the one demonstrating the most TWIRLS on a daily basis.

In my classroom...
I can't just pick one story to share in this I decided to pull a video from the archives where my students share about their experience and how the flipped classroom helps them demonstrate TWIRLS in many ways.  It's 10 minutes long, but I think hugely valuable to give a window into my story.

Also on at

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