Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Flip your classroom and more with TedEd videos

Guest post by Shawn Rubin

TedEd is a a new resource from TED talks with a focus on the flipped classroom model. The idea behind TedEd is that teachers can take the best of YouTube or create their own videos then flip them, which means adding titles, directions, questions and links to other resources.

These videos then live on the TedEd website. They each have their own unique URL and can be sent around to the general public for viewing and learning.

The beta version is quite useful for teachers looking to enter the flipped classroom space. Educators should note that there are a few missing features that will hopefully be addressed in the future, but until then, users should note that you don’t have the ability to create or edit the “Quick Quiz” section when you flip your lesson and once you flip your lesson you cannot edit it any further.


As a teacher who has been using YouTube for years with my kindergarten and second grade students I see TedEd as much more than a flipped classroom tool. In the lower grades TedEd is a resource for building video based lesson plans that can be delivered any place, any time, and by any adult.

YouTube is full of fantastic videos that reinforce early learning concepts like vocabulary, rhyming, numeracy and science. Each of these videos provides a way for teachers and students to engage with new content, but when they stand alone they have much less impact on long-term retention of information.

Flipping these videos on TedEd provides teachers a framework in which they can document the activities they use to enhance each video.

Here is an example of a short vocabulary lesson I built for an ELL kindergarten classroom that was working on increasing its Tier 3 vocabulary words. This lesson took me less than 10 minutes to build. I used one of Sesame Street’s “Word on the Street” episodes in which a famous actor teaches about the word “prickly”.

As you can see in my flipped lesson, the first step is to rename the video and provide some direction around what students could be doing while the video is playing. Physical gestures, movement and shout-outs during a video increase student participation and drive home the concept by engaging the brain in multiple ways.

Once the video has been completed or at various points throughout the video the teacher can click on the “Think” section of the lesson to get prompts on activities that students can do to further solidify their learning.

In my example I want students repeating the word “prickly” as often as possible. I also have prompts for taking the learning deeper by pushing student conversation toward the nuances of the word “prickly” and how it differs from the word “rough”.

Lastly, I built out the section called “Dig Deeper” with one activity in which the students must pick one prickly object to create. I then suggest different mediums the students can choose from, providing a degree of academic choice to them around how they express their “prickly” noun.

I finish the “Dig Deeper” section by pasting some links to prickly images from the web. Then I hit the “Publish” button and my video lesson is ready to go. I’m instantly provided with a URL that I can share with anyone.

These flipped lessons are excellent resources for:

  1. Morning meetings and carpet based learning.
  2. Unit starters or kick-offs to new exploration.
  3. Support staff to use with students when the classroom teacher is engaged in small group instruction.
  4. Families to use at home to reinforce the learning that is taking place in the classroom.
  5. Movement based transitions throughout the day
  6. Fun sub plans

Early grades teachers it’s time to get out there and flip your favorite videos. Register for TedEd today, find your video and flip away. Be sure to incorporate lots of movement and choice so your students will have never-ending fun with your TedEd lessons.

Once you’ve flipped your lesson share it with us! At the Highlander Institute we are building a list of great, early grade, TedEd, flipped lessons. Tweet them to us @HighlanderInst or send the link via email to srubin@highlanderinstitute.org. We will promote your lessons for other early grade teachers to benefit from.


Shawn Rubin serves as the Director of Technology Integration at the Highlander Institute in Providence, RI. Shawn oversees the Institute’s blended learning and technology integration professional development programming. Shawn is also the CEO of Metryx, a start-up mobile software company that is building flexible assessment tools for educators to use on tablets and smartphones. Shawn began his education career as a founding faculty member of the Highlander Charter School teaching a range of grades including four years of kindergarten during his 11 years in the classroom. Shawn lives in Providence with his wife and two sons. You can find Shawn @shawncrubin or srubin@highlanderinstitute.org.
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