Monday, July 15, 2013

'in-video' questioning - another great way to highlight key points and check that homework is being done!

Dear Flippers,

I know I have been absent for a very long time. As most of you are teachers I know you will understand. Reporting. Assessment. Marking. Rinse. Repeat. Accreditation. Rinse some more.

I have (however) in my travels come across a new program that I have briefly experimented with that allows me to ask in-video questions of my students - thereby even more fully ensuring that they watch the pre-set screencasts.

'Camtasia' (I do not work for Camtasia. I promise.) Is a video editing program that allows for many different features? It is simple enough to use and permits me to ask students questions in the video, that is, the video literally stops, and students must answer a multiple choice question before resuming the rest of the video.

This is great for ramming home key points of the lesson, and also simply another way to ‘check’ that they have actually watched the video.

Answers and identities of the answerers are sent to an email address that I nominate – allowing me to keep a relatively easy track of who has watched the video, and answered the questions.

In order to be able to use the in-video questioning, the videos must be viewed via a site called, which so far is a free service -

This is also a great way to file your videos for students if creating a website is yet beyond you…

Perhaps you are ready to take the test below? Go brave...
(This is a video I made using Camtasia.)

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mathematics results/ comparing flip to pre-flip

Dear team,

Many thanks for your patience.

I have not posted in quite some time as have been very busy with a number of other projects.

However I thought that you might be interested in the following results.

Grade (number) Year 5 2012 Year 5 2013
A 14 13
B 9 15
C 4 0
D 0 0

Of course, the 2012 grades reflect a pre-flipped classroom, whilst the 2013 grades reflect this year’s flipped or blended classroom (a mix of standard face to face teaching and screen casts).

This is just one test, but other results have since come in and are equally pleasing. I will shortly post a comparison between this year and last year’s HSIE results that will lend arguable support to the superiority of the flipped classroom technique over standard face to face.

Of interest I think is the push from a C grade (satisfactory) to a B grade (notably better than satisfactory, but not quite ‘superb’). This result (I think) suggests that these previous C learners are better able to master the content using the screen cast availability.

I’m not sure what to make of the lack of movement from B to A yet.

But, all said, this is but one test. We can analyse further results and postulate together shortly.
Please feel free to comment on the post, or if you would like to discuss flipping the classroom directly, you can email me at

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Homework battle...

Dear all,

Greetings and salutations,

I'm back after an extended South Coast break.

Today I'm writing about the challenge of getting your students to do their homework.

Or more explicitly, in this context, the challenge of getting your students to watch videos that you have set for them, for homework.

If you are not differentiating your homework, then I think that there is little challenge in this area; a note home to Mum and Dad early in the year explaining the weekly homework structure should suffice. There. Done. Unchanging.

But.... if you are setting different students different videos to watch weekly, according to the students specific and identified needs, then you have a slightly more complex issue than the one listed directly above.

This has been my challenge for a little while now.

I would be very grateful if all my students just went home and watched (and commented on) their video homework. But all do not. Perhaps 80 percent do. The remainder can be a bit of a 'stay in at recess' battle.

The guilty 20 percent usually do their standard homework!! But they usually lag behind in the video watching.

What’s the difference?

I can only conclude it must be Mum and Dad; or more specifically, the fact that Mum and Dad know that little Jimmy has the same spelling and mentals homework every week, but they are not entirely sure what videos he has been set to watch.

So what to do.... (apart from missing my recess)?

I have previously referenced EDMODO as a learning tool I am using to adequate effect in the classroom. EDMODO has a system by which you can allot each child’s parent a code, so that they can see all work and events that have been set only for their child.

I would like to introduce the parents to EDMODO in this way, so that they can easily see just what is expected of their children from week to week (because in a differentiated classroom homework for each student will be different).

I will keep you posted as to how this succeeds.

Please note: official results based (at least partially) on this new ‘flip’ teaching model I am using are coming very soon. The students are still to sit the second part of their numeracy test, in order for me to accurately compare 2013 results with 2012.

This for me is the most exciting aspect of the whole process; that is, are the students learning more?

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

Friday, April 12, 2013

How to record with the Smart - Board (a video demo) and the first results come in...

Dear interested readers!

How are you? I'm validated! Today we marked our Maths assessment (Part 1) and the results are pretty strong. There is no doubt it is an improvement on last year's results at this time.

I have only had a brief flick through the test papers, but it is clear to see that...

a) the results are better than this time last year
b) the students have demonstrated significant improvement since the beginning of the year

There is also no doubt the students like the videos. Here is a comment that popped up on EDMODO...

So that's a nice bit of unsolicted (I promise) feedback.

So early results - FLIP classroom.. can work better for me. (And if it doesn't improve learning outcomes then what is the point?) I will not throw in the bin along with 'whole language' just yet.

That said, it is important to note that students are not just watching the videos at home. They are watching videos in spare moments in class. They are watching videos when I'm teaching another lesson to the bulk of the class that is not relevant to them (because the video watcher can already do it).

Further to this we spend some time after a pre-assessment, watching different videos as a cohort specific to our identified personal weaknesses.

Would you like a video on how to use the smartboard to screencast? That is, how to record on your smartboard? So you can share this with your students?

If you would.. here it is....
It is about 2 minutes and 30 seconds long....
Happy holidays Aussie teachers!

Matt Burns

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to make Videos....OR.... (Week 10)

This week’s blog is titled...

HOW TO MAKE VIDS (in a reasonably short time)

Or my alternate title..
The secret of SCREEN CAST software...

Hello again. (Please forgive the handsome head shot. I am experimenting with my blog.) 

I thought that this week I would delve into the past, because I have realized that in m first post I missed a reasonable deal of work that I put into actually making ‘vids’ for flip learning.

This is of course the first hurdle for any would be ‘flipper’.

If you are just a normal Joe like me, then the idea of producing, writing and filming your own lesson video can sound overwhelming. But...

First I read ‘Flip Your Classroom’ which talked about video cameras, monitor cameras and the easiest that jumped out to me were ‘screen casting programs.

Screen casting software. This is no doubt the easiest path. Screen casting means recording what is happening on the screen of your computer, or tablet, and recording your voice at the same time. This then saves as a video.


Remember you are looking for screen-casting software.

After a quick Google search on the superior apps (I have an Ipad) I found the most recommended ‘screen casting’ app was ‘Explain Everything’.

I think that this is currently still the best, though no doubt app fashion moves fast.

‘Explain Everything’ allows you to draw, work through various slides, speak, record, use images, and scroll, enlarge and minimize. It is very thorough.

I made a few quality videos with this app, and plonked them on my site. 

However the real goldmine was struck when I learnt that my IWB (Interactive Whiteboard) was a giant screen-cast recorder. I use the standard SMART brand; and by selecting the small SMART icon, and choosing the smart board recorder, and by inserting a microphone, anything you do on this board can be recorded. Visually and orally.

This was, and is, far superior to 'Explain Everything'. Though, my IWB cost the school thousands of dollars, whereas ‘Explain Everything’ cost me about 4.

Finding a microphone was its own saga. We have a fairly generous AV department where I work, though they still cannot permanently loan mikes. I found the easiest solution was to head to Dick Smith and pick up a 60 dollar mike and headset cheaply, with a USB connection. I plug it straight into the smart board speakers. Too easy.

But...back to the present. Today in class children watched differentiated lesson vids that I had set for them via Edmodo, because they are preparing for a maths assessment next week. I am very much looking forward to this test. It has been useful this week to allow some time to allow students to watch vids in class using their own technology, targeting their own and specific weaknesses.

I was able to look out at my class, and understand that 3 or 4 entirely different and appropriately differentiated maths lessons were happening simultaneously, all taught by myself or my grade partner. They simply weren't happening live. They were ‘pre-recorded’ as such; but still very relevant to the students learning needs. Please see below for a screen shot of a comment that came in (please forgive my clumsy privacy attempts). I am also assuming that the time setting is US times.

That’s enough for today. I look forward to the assessment to see if all this tech implementation is actually working. If I don’t post for a couple of weeks it is because I am super depressed due to worse results than ever. Hah! Just kidding... (I hope)

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Start

Dear internet,

Quite new to blogging. I can't believe that anyone would be interested in what I have to share, but my principal says they could be, so here goes..

I am a primary teacher in an independent school in the Sutherland Shire, Sydney, NSW.

This term I have started flipping my classroom, as much as reasonably possible, in order to improve student learning.

There have been some battles, stops and starts and outright wastes of time.

There have also been some successes.

I am going to try and start posting weekly.

A quick run down
1)      I read ‘Flip Your Classroom’ by two American authors - Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.

2)      I was inspired. It made sense.
3)      Our school went BYOT.
4)      I built a web page via Google sites and started linking topic relevant math videos to it.
5)      I showed my principal. he liked it.
6)      I pre-tested all the students for semester 1 maths.
7)      I organised the lessons so that students only sat through the topic if they struggled in that area. All others were extended.
8)      I began to give homework (on slips of paper) to certain students who had not mastered the maths skill being taught the next day. They were to go home and watch the relevant vid pre –lesson. In order to expose them to the content as such. I think it went well, but I was unable to ‘check’ whether they had watched it or not.
9)      I started to make my own, skill specific videos. Students like these more. Plus they were shorter than the Khan Academy videos.

10)  Our whole class got on EDMODO. I recommend it.
11)  I started setting videos through Edmodo as a link. This then told me the students had at least started to watch it. A plus!!
12)  Now I am currently setting skill specific videos, through Edmodo, to certain students who had not mastered the specific skill in the original assessment. They are watching them for homework. The class will be re-assessed as a whole in a fortnight.
13)  It is my ‘vision’ as such, that the intense skill specific lessons, alongside the videos teaching that particular skill, will have really filled the gaps in their maths knowledge. All will be revealed at the next assessment.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment! 

I have also started to consult in NSW primary and high schools with regards to flipping (or blending) the classroom. If you are interested in having me come along to speak to your staff, details can be found here: