Flipped Teacher: Enriching Brad’s Google Classroom With Better Collaboration

Brad Nikunen is a fourth grade teacher based in Kalispell, Montana. We asked him about his recent flipped classroom experiences and how he’s using SMART amp collaborative learning software. He kindly obliged and contributed this guest blog post. Over to Brad!

With the sudden increase in flipped classrooms, or blended learning, I believe that teachers are the ones experiencing the biggest successes, along with the students.  What do I mean by that?

Well, let me tell my “amp story.”

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SMART amp started as an add-on to my newly-acquired Google Classroom. I was beginning “Techie Tuesday” where kids were completing their entire reading lesson in a flipped classroom. Pre-reading vocabulary, listening to the story digitally and post-reading comprehension were all part of it. But, the missing piece was collaboration. Sure, students could collaborate a bit on Classroom, but as I began to experiment with amp more, the collaboration possibilities are far greater with SMART’s product.

Today, SMART amp has transformed not only my reading lessons, but also every other aspect of my teaching.  My most noticeable thing has been my shift from a teacher-centered classroom manager to more of a coaching model.  I am shoulder-to-shoulder with my students now, rather than the “sage on stage” attempting to master the art of student engagement from the front of the classroom.  Now I am trying to master the art of engaging every student in every lesson — and I see it happening in every lesson I deliver with amp.

My reading is still very much the same.  We still read from our textbook.  We still complete the reading skill worksheets.  We still take the end of the week assessment.  We still learn the vocabulary words.  We just have added a new tool…amp.

SMART amp has transformed not only my reading, but other areas as well.  I am able to eliminate paper in many of our lessons.  Where we used to meet as small groups, we now meet in a digital environment.

Reading is still pre-reading, reading, post-reading, but it all happens within SMART amp.  Kids are collaborating in their workspace with two or three other group members.

Here are a few examples of how I am using SMART amp:

Reading template for the week’s main selection story (pre-read/vocabulary; read/listen to story; post-read/comprehension and close reading skills).

Exit slips: Eliminate paper stack of exit slips with all kids responding to lesson/skill within a SMART amp workspace.

Lit circles: Rather than have kids meet in small groups and do lit circles, my students meet within an SMART amp workspace to discuss the novel they are reading together virtually.

Read aloud: Kids post symbols or objects that represent meaning in the book on an amp workspace.  Other students make connections to the story through those objects.

Math workshop model: A great way for students to show solutions to a problem.  Other kids can analyze, view, comment on their classmates work.

Star student of the week: We use SMART amp to share who we are in a workspace called “Weekly Superstar.”  The template the student creates is shared out to students in class so they can access information from anywhere as they complete their writing project on the star student

SMART amp has not only increased engagement in the students in my classroom, it has increased my own engagement as the teacher. I am motivated to find new ways to have my class collaborate together.  I am excited to see where my “amp learning” takes me and my classroom.

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