Sioux Central’s Dan Strohmyer and John Barbier, shared their flipped journey at Iowa Technology and Education Connection Conference. It is not unlikely for students to continue conversations about learning after they exit Mr. Barbier’s high school classroom. In fact, those conversations have entered Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Students seamlessly use their cell phone, an iPad, and/or their Macbook to connect, to solve, and to share. As a former Sioux Central High School colleague and connected educator, I have witnessed complex calculus problems being solved through screencasts. I have followed a class Twitter stream filled with pictures taken of the steps to solve a problem. I have read student responses to published solutions. Impressive, really.

Sioux Central physics instructor and technology integrationist, Dan Strohmyer, provides insight about flipping in the following email exchange:

Describe a typical lesson using a flipped format.

DS: A typical lesson in flipped 2.0 format would be giving students a short 20 minute video to view and take notes on prior to class.  This could be a short document, video, or really anything you would consider the nuts and bolts of your content.  In class, the students are equipped with the mastery level material already and the teacher can move to application, evaluation, and all of that “good stuff” (upper level Bloom’s taxonomy) you have always wanted to do in your classroom, but never had the time.

What prompted you to change, what inspired you to teach in this way?

DS: The change in Mr. Barbier’s classroom was prompted by many students missing class during the Clay County Fair.  So he decided to screencast the lessons for that week.  At the very least, he could not do any worse.  He was pleasantly surprised by the results of the learning that took place.

What is something you did not expect to happen, but happened?

DS: The students that were gone for the fair learned as well (or better) that the students in the classroom.  He [John Bariber] attributes that to the following:

    1. That his teaching can now be stopped, rewound, and played back.
    2. Students are not always in the proper frame of mind to learn in your classroom.  Students could be thinking about other issues in their lives.  Flipped teaching allows students to learn when they are ready.
    3. Students were communicating with each other out of class about Calculus.
    4. Students were coming to class with an advanced knowledge of Calculus before class even starts.

Describe the technology utilized and how it is utilized. 

DS: We podcast using Camtasia.  This is a paid screencasting program, but there are many free alternatives.  We upload videos to screencast.com (part of Techsmith – a parent company of Camtasia).  The links are posted to the learning management system – Canvas.  None of the brand names are important.  These are simply the tools we use and again these are just tools.  The process of increasing student learning is important.  There are many other programs that do the same thing.

What would you say to teachers who are reluctant to think technology fits into science or math?

DS: First of all, I would say you are completely wrong.  This is a tool that fits so well into students’ lives, why wouldn’t you want to try this?  I would say to pick your favorite or least favorite unit and give it a shot.  Make that leap.  For starters, just have a student use a flipcam or camcorder and record your lecture.  Keep it on your computer to use for next year or next class.

Why do you think what you are doing has been successful?

DS: The topics in class are becoming deeper and more involved.  Students are asking for the videos.  The student perception of the method of teaching has been very positive. Students are taking responsibility for their education and owning this classroom.  It is very hard to explain.  The students refer to themselves as the Calc Family and made t-shirts such as a school club might do.

What are some common pitfalls and misconceptions with flip teaching? How have you avoided disasters?

DS: You will always have one or two students that don’t watch the videos in the beginning.  As a teacher, you have them sit in the back and watch the videos while the rest of the class is having a great discussion or really motivating extension project.  The key is to have your classroom activities with flipped 2.0 so engaging that they don’t want to miss the fun.  A student that doesn’t watch the videos is rare and usually only happens once. We have also found that you have to teach kids to learn with the flipped strategy just as you would any other strategy.  You have to model how they should watch it and say, “Ok, pause the video and write a couple of notes about this concept.”  You would not be able to expect students to write an essay without any instruction how either.

Describe one of the many student work examples. 

DS: Just as delivery of instruction has changed, so has student evidence of learning. Students’ thinking is made transparent. In a video made on an iPad using the ShowMe app, students showcase their work: Student Example. This is unpolished and made by two students for other students to observe and critique.  The purpose is to post these links to a discussion board, have other students watch them, and evaluate.  It was meant to be unpolished.  I like iMovie projects just as much as the next guy, but this is what students do everyday.  Each pair of students do a different problem and comment on others.


Dan Strohmyer and John Barbier are flipping, but what is most impressive is the student involvement in the management decisions for class learning. What they are doing works for students, and as long as it meets learner needs, challenges learning, and inspires learning, I am certain they will forge ahead…flipped.

For more information, feel free to connect with educators Dan Strohmyer and John Barbier.

Dan Strohmyer
Website: www.dstrohmyer.com
Email: dstrohmyer@mac.com
Twitter: @dstrohmyer

John Barbier
Email: jbarbier@sioux-central.k12.ia.us
Twitter: @MrBarbier