Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Coronavirus has Changed the Game

Just a quick post. 

Like you... I'm flat out organizing content for students, and supporting staff to create

learning videos for their own students.

It seems the time of the 'flipped' classroom, or at the least the time of online learning,

and incorporating the use of learning videos is well at hand. 

I don't think education will ever be the same again.

This isn't the new normal...but educators across the planet are now embracing google classroom,

screencasting tools and Youtube.

Even when classrooms are full again, these practices won't be forgotten.  

WiFi, student devices and Youtube have come together in a manner over the past few years,

that makes a compelling case for the way we engage in learning to change to some degree.  

Stay safe. Wash your hands.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Learning on Tap

So I want to tell you a story.

It's a pretty ordinary story, but it's actually a bit of a miracle.  

Here's how it starts. I walk into my kitchen and there are dishes to be done. We have all experienced this, right?

So I go to the tap and I push the tap arm up and to the left. And - it’s incredible.

Water comes out.

It just comes right out it gushes out all over the dishes. As much as I want. It's amazing.

Here's what I am not doing.

I'm not carrying a container down to the local water hole each morning in
order to procure water for the day's activities. I'm not doing that. If I want
to shower I am going upstairs to my shower and I am turning the taps
on and as much water as I want comes out.


We take it for granted but it's actually incredible. How does the darn water come from the river to my sink? I don't know. I'm sure some of you know. But I don't know.

But I know this...

The amount of time in my daily life, saved, by not having to go to the
river in order to get water for my day's activities, is significant.

It allows me to do other things.  
It is a significant opportunity cost saved.

For example, instead of going to the river I can play with my son.
Instead of going to the river, my son can go to school.
Instead of going to the river, I can read a book, or build a wall, or build a
next generation computer.

Do you get it? :)

Plumbing took a long time to build. It took a long time, but oh boy!
Was it worth it! And now...we have water on tap.

Imagine we could have learning on tap.

What if, just like water, we could turn on a tap... and teaching could come out. Quality teaching.

Whatever lesson we wanted, whenever we wanted,
wherever we wanted, however we wanted.

What if learning was on tap?

Matt Burns
Flipped Classroom International Faculty
Stage 3 Coordinator - William Carey Christian School


Photo credits: 

Dishes: Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash
Running tap: Photo by Imani on Unsplash
Plumbing: Photo by Samuel Sianipar on Unsplash
Electronics: Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash
Teacher: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Gonski 2.0, Personalised Learning and the Flipped Classroom

Dear Mr Gonski,

You mentioned that student learning ought be personalized in the future.

Well, I think that’s a great idea.

Here’s how we can do it.

The Flipped Classroom is a strategy which depends on teachers creating and recording their own lessons for their students. They can do this through a variety of means. They can make a video using a light board. Like this:

They can record a lesson using the PowerPoint Mix software (this means just recording voice over a PowerPoint presentation with some animation). Like this:

Or they can record themselves out the front of the classroom teaching on a good-old fashioned white board. Like this: 

There are many ways to record a lesson. The important thing is it is recorded and uploaded to the internet. This is in order to allow students to access these lessons at any given time, at any given place, at any given pace.

Why am I talking about this Mr. Gonski? It’s a good question. Here is the answer.

If you want to personalize learning for 30 students in one class, and one teacher, you are going to need to use learning videos that have been uploaded to the internet. (One teacher cannot teach 30 different lessons at the same time. Not even the very good ones.)

What a teacher can do, is facilitate the interaction of students with various online lessons pertaining to their specific requirements at any given time. This is possible. This is feasible.

And furthermore it’s an example of excellent differentiation. Mr Gonski -  I would like you to meet the 'Flipped Classroom.' We couldn’t do it a few years back. We didn’t have the Wi-Fi and we didn’t have the devices. But now we do. We just need a little enthusiasm, a little training, and a little open mindedness.

A lot of teachers are concerned about the flipped classroom. They think they’ve got to be masters of technology in order to do it! They think 'normal' teaching is being asked to take a back seat. That’s not true. Here's why!

It’s easy to make a learning videos. You just need to be shown once or twice and then you’ll get it. Check out this guy! 

The more experience that you’ve got teaching, the more important it is that your teaching should be able to be accessed in this manner. Expert mature teachers are where it’s at. 

Sure! :) Of course new teachers have got value to add! I'm not saying they don't. They do! And of course, new teachers are usually the most open to new ideas - so in that sense, new teachers are really important!

But the bulk of educational material should probably be coming from expert teachers. These are the teachers (generally) that have been teaching for a little while now, the teacher that knows the common mistakes that student make, and the errors to avoid.

These are the these are the teachers that we most need to make learning videos. Here is probably the most value!

Mr. Gonski  - I don't think you will be able to create a classroom environment which caters for each individual student and provides realistic individual learning plans, unless you to some extent embrace this sort of strategy and technology usage.

It’s been around for a little while and it’s called the Flipped Classroom. That name might not be be entirely helpful because the origins of the ‘Flipped Classroom’ terminology, came from the concept of flipping [inverting] the classic homework and instruction model. This means that the ‘Flipped Classroom’ (originally) referred to a very specific structure in which the ‘homework’ was done in school, and the ‘learning’ was done at home. 

See how it ‘flipped’ the normal paradigm? :) 

So...that’s where the term ‘flipped’ came from. 

But  – Mr Gonski ...that’s not the case anymore!

Times move on. Things have changed and educators have realized that, whatever
you want to call it, most students now have devices that enable them to access very specific video lessons, at any time, at their own pace (as students have the ability to pause and rewind and fast-forward) and at any long as there is a working WiFi connection! :)

So it doesn't really matter whether the learning videos are watched at home or at

What matters, is that what is watched, pertains to that student's specific learning

In short - it's about how schools can enhance student learning, by leveraging
available Wi-Fi, a video platform like YouTube, and the range of personal devices available today.  

Personalized learning is not a pipe dream. It’s possible. It’s here now.

It’s just going to take a little time, a little effort and a little open-mindedness to
reach every student, in every classroom. 

Matt Burns
Flipped Classroom International Faculty
Stage 3 Coordinator - William Carey Christian School


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Maths Matrix: Differentiated Mastery - The Flipped Classroom

Do you want to be more available in the classroom?

Do you want to have more time to help individuals or groups of students with their specific needs?

Good. So do I . Read on...

Every single time that I present at Educational Technology conferences I am asked for further details as to how this Flipped Classroom Maths Mastery Program works. The audience always wants more.

It's a bit of a case of... 'The presenter was OK. A little boring at times...but this Mastery System he had! Wow. I want it!'

So - here it is.

What I'm sharing with you is a mastery system based heavily on differentiation. This is not your classic mastery system whereby students just proceed through content once they have demonstrated they have mastered it. I'm aware of such systems and I think that they are superior to the current traditional model of teaching, but the system I am sharing with you today is more sophisticated, and (I think) better for the learners.

In hindsight, the system's a little obvious. But I guess with Wi-fi, student devices, and Youtube all being sort of new, it took us a while to wake up to it. Let's step through how we get here, below.

Step One

Students are pre-tested. The pre-test is divided up into, let's say 10 questions. Each question represents a specific part of the unit. This is to say, each question on the test represents one of the 10 things that the student has got to learn in this unit. Each of the 10 questions represents one of the key content areas of the unit. For example... here are the first 3 questions:

This unit is all about Fractions. So there are 10 questions which cover all the items we want to learn about fractions for this topic. Please note there are more than the 3 questions I have pictured above. There is about 10! I just included the picture above as a small example.

Step Two

The unit is then marked. This can be marked by teacher, or as a class by the students. I highly recommend that you mark it as a class, with the student, as then they will own the learning. They will then see the mistakes that they have made and be more prepared for the unit to come. Yes. They might cheat. That's a problem. They might make mistakes. Yes. Another problem. But I think you can negotiate this as a teacher. What is far more important than these two problems is the students own the learning. Marking their work, themselves, helps them to achieve this. 

Additionally, it is very quick feedback for the student. It keeps the work relevant. 

Step Three

Now you have a marked pre-test for the entire class. Of course you have got 28 different pre-tests because each student has their own. Here is where it gets slightly sophisticated. Let's say Student A gets questions one through five correct. But they get questions six through ten incorrect. Please see below:

Let's say student B gets questions 1 through 5 incorrect. And they get questions 6 through 10 correct (unlikely, but for simplicity's sake...let's say this happened). Please see below:

Okay so now student A and student B both have their marked tests, and have got different questions right - and different questions wrong. it is time to meet the Maths Matrix. Here it is.

The Maths Matrix is a model devised by myself, Richelle Hatton, Brian Host and Eliza Lindeback during the 2016 school period. It evolved largely from models that Richelle and myself were using through the 2015 period. What it basically is, is a chart or matrix, showing a range of activities that students will be required to complete (though there are some choice areas) in order to achieve a satisfactory mark for this unit.

Let's look how students will use the Maths Matrix.

Student A has gotten questions 1 through 5 correct. They have gotten questions 6 through 10 incorrect. So student a highlights questions 1 through to 5 indicating they have already achieved mastery in that area. This means questions 6 through 10 are left blank. 

Please see below (Please note is only a demonstration for the concept...the actual matrix can be seen below.)

Student A will then proceed to go through the activities and learning videos in question 6. When the student has achieved mastery in question 6, they will then highlight question 6, indicating that they have achieved mastery in this area, and so on.

Student B will do much the same, though of course differently. Because student B got questions 6 through 10 correct they will highlight questions 6 through 10. So it will look like this:

Student B will then begin work at question 1. (I suggest the student work through the questions chronologically when they have got them incorrect.) When student B has successfully completed question 1 they will amend their Maths Matrix so that question 1 is now highlighted. 

Looking closely at the (actual) Maths Matrix below you can see that it is divided into a number of sections. Let's have a closer look at those sections now! :)

The first column is the title of the topic area. 

The second column is a learning video that I have created, and that I require that they watch in order to gain instruction about that specific topic area. This column might include a learning video that I have procured (not mine) from a third party - sometimes a professional website. This second video gives students some extra choice to determine how they would like to learn the content, from me, or somebody else. Students have made it very clear to me that they prefer multiple videos as an option for their learning, because it gives them a different perspective on the same topic area. Students are just like us. They appreciate one or two options. This is not essential. But I think it is good practice. 

The third column are the actual activities that students have got to complete with a successful pass mark in order to satisfactorily complete this topic area (this column is labelled essential). Where possible I keep these activities online for ease of student and teacher access. You will note that this column is labelled 'Essential'. This column is based on the Bloom's taxonomy area of 'Knowledge and Understanding'. It is unavoidable that you must master this specific content in order to demonstrate mastery about this particular topic area. 

The fourth column is labelled 'Application' - again this is derived from Bloom's Taxonomy (Still cool after all these years.)

In this column is a choice of learning materials for the student to engage in order to apply their  learning. This is an application section!

Once the student has completed the entire row successfully it can then be ticked (or highlighted) off.

Time for the next row!

If a student complete all of the rows, great! It is time for extension work. The last column you will see is an 'Extension' column. This should include some project-based learning activities or some higher Blooms 'order of thinking' style activities. 

This image, which you saw at the top of the page, might make things a clearer, and make a little more sense now:

Yes - this involves some considered set up.

Yes - you cannot just walk up to class and do this is in one minute. But… the advantages to this model are enormous.

1. Extreme differentiation from the outset for the students. 
They are not learning material that they already know as they engage in a basic pre-test in order to prove their knowledge (or lack thereof) immediately. Then they advance upon an educational path specific to them, pertaining to the results of the pre-test. The obvious benefit of this is that they are only learning material that they do not know. This is showing a tremendous respect for students time – and your time as well. They appreciate this. I know they do, because I've asked them.

2. This setup in your classroom now allows you to roam more freely.
You are generally not at the front lecturing - unless you want to be. And admittedly, sometimes some groups of students will want this. But...(if this is the case) it won't be everyone. It will be a smaller group. This is because all the learning material you require is really already on-line for the students to access. 

3. This model I'm outlining is a Flipped Classroom Differentiated Mastery model.
Because it is a flipped classroom, all the standard advantages of the flipped classroom apply. Briefly, this means that students can pause and rewind videos. They can learn at their own pace. They can discuss the learning without interrupting the lecturer. They can continue the learning at home. They can show their parents. By watching the videos, Mum and Dad can finally understand what the teacher is on about. The list is endless....

I'm proud of this model. It is the result of a few years of cumulative work of an entire team. I think it's got more application than just mathematics. Let's see what the future holds! :)

Matt Burns
Flipped Classroom International Faculty

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Why I Flip the Classroom

Sometimes a little moment occurs which neatly sums up exactly why I flip the classroom.

I won't write much because I'd rather you just watch the video.

Meet Nicholas.

Here is one reason why I flip the classroom. This happens all the time.

Nicholas missed out on key parts of the lesson. He found himself at home not knowing how to proceed with the homework. He remembers I mentioned the videos. He finds them. He watches them. He watches more. They help him. He takes his own notes...totally independently. 

He didn't find the videos useful. 

He found them very useful.

This stuff is easy to do. The problem is, once you start you won't stop. If you are interested in starting to make screencasts and flip your own classroom you can click here. 

Alternatively, email me at and we can talk about me coming to visit your school. Tweet me at @BurnsMatthew. 

Or come along to FlipCon Sydney 2017, or the AIS DigiStem conference 2017 - and we can chat!

Flipped Classroom Consultant
P: 0411 824 123

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Perks of a Flipped Primary Classroom

"Perks of a Flipped Primary Classroom - You can do it too!"

Written by Matt Burns

There are some teachers who think that the flipped classroom is just for high school. I don’t agree.  In a sense – it all depends how you define ‘The Flipped Classroom’.

If your definition of the Flipped Classroom is this: ‘a classroom in which all the instructional content is viewed at that home, and in which the homework is done in class’, then yes, I would agree with you. The Flipped Classroom is probably not for Primary schools.

But I do not think that is an accurate definition of the Flipped Classroom. I prefer Aaron Sam’s definition (a leader in this movement) first posted on his blog in 2011.

When you read anything about The Flipped Classroom mentally substitute
"a class that uses screencasts as an instructional tool" for "the Flipped Classroom" and all will be well.

I hope that opens a few doors for you. All we are really talking about today is the concept of using screencasts, or ‘learning videos’ in order to help your students learn (in or out of the classroom).

I have been doing this for five years in my primary classroom. And I have seen the results. My classroom is transformed. It is transformed for the better. The students learning has improved, and they prefer it. I've got more time to work one-on-one with particular groups or individuals. Furthermore – I am able to differentiate the curriculum to a degree which I was not able to previously.

I suggest it's all down to personal devices being more available to individuals, and the latent growth of Wi-Fi we have seen in classrooms, and a little creative-thinking. That's it. In a nutshell, there are new technologies available that can dramatically (for the better) change how we as teachers teach. It's not rocket science.

How can you do it?  Make some screencasts or learning videos that you think you can use in your classroom (students tend to prefer your own).  The videos do not need to be Hollywood productions.  They just need to be. Here is a pretty basic example of a very low – tech video that I put together recently, that my students found very helpful.

You can incorporate screencasts into the students learning in any way that works for you – and the students.  Perhaps you can have them watch the lessons at home? (This doesn’t really work for me. Though…it might for you.) 

Perhaps you could put them into small groups and have different groups engaged in different lessons pertinent to their specific needs? (I tend to do this a bit.)  A regular practice for me is to perform a pre-test with the students (before the final summative assessment).  In this way I very quickly, in an ad hoc manner -  gather some information with the students about what they are specifically struggling on.  After this, students access topic specific screencast that the pre-test has revealed they need some help with.  The screen casts contain brief lessons and activities within.  I am then able to then wander around the classroom helping individual students as they need, whilst really, the entire class is receiving multiple different lessons pertaining to their specific needs.

Another classic example is the weekly spelling test.  Are you still reading out one list for all the students to write down?  Are you still waiting for the slowest speller to move at the pace of the class?  You don’t need to do it this way.  You could record the spelling list on You-Tube and students could access it, at their own speed on separate devices.

Yesterday I had six girls away at the soccer competition. It was four days before the highly important yearly standardized (NAPLAN) testing we complete across Australia in Year 5. They missed a very important writing lesson.  The lesson itself was broken up into separate parts and took about one and a half hours. The lesson was not all lecture. There was plenty of ‘listen and do’ in the lesson.  I made a very basic recording of the entire lesson in 15 minute segments, as I taught it. I just used my ordinary old iPhone to record and the ‘old-school’ whiteboard (not electronic).  

All the girls came in the next day, put on their headphones, accessed their devices, turned on the lesson, and caught up to the rest of the class. Here’s one small part of the lesson. Please notice how basic it is! :) It didn’t have to great. It just had to be available. (So pleased with the 'still-image' YouTube has captured.)

I asked the girls did they feel part of the lesson? They said yes.  Subsequently, I saw the girls' writing. It was more than adequate.  They were prepared for the exam. Of course, students will need devices. They will also need headphones. This you will have to sort.Technology is changing. And so should teaching. Some people think that students can't learn from devices. That’s simply not true.  Of course they can.  At this point, what student can’t do with devices is debate, collaborate and empathise with. Devices will not be able to facilitate the lesson. Students still need each other, and you. 

But the days of standing out the front delivering one lecture to the class, at one speed, at one time? 

I think, given the Wi-Fi access that we have today and the devices available to many students, those days are probably coming to a close. 

Matt Burns is the Stage 3 Coordinator at William Carey Christian School, Sydney, Australia.
Previously he was the Flipped Classroom Coach K-12 at Inaburra School, Sydney, Australia.
He is a regular speaker at Australia Flip-Con, and is happy to speak at your school as well. He can be reached at mattburns1976@gmail or @BurnsMatthew (Twitter)