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The Idle American
"On Flips, Flops and Flip/Flops..."
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 • Posted October 24, 2012

Writers who have tackled media assignments for any length of time at all realize their literary efforts, however brilliantly composed, rest squarely on readers’ decisions to read in detail, scan quickly, or flip over to another section of the newspaper. In the case of this week’s epistle, I realize readers may opt to “flip”—or even “flop”—to other options. Whatever, I fully acknowledge that combining unrelated news stories with “flipping, flopping and flip-flopping” angles risks comparison with preachers’ “Mother Hubbard sermons.” You know the ones I mean—like “Mother Hubbard dresses—cover everything but touch nothing.”...

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Let us begin.

High school football coaches thought we already knew it. At most games, the “coin-toss”—conducted at midfield before alma mater music is rendered—is totally ceremonial. The “real” one typically occurs an hour or so earlier, with coaches making the calls while the coin is still in the air.

They explain that too often, players are so hyper-excited that they make ill-advised choices concerning whether to kick off, take the wind, choose end of field, etc. Coaches say it’s been a decade or more since players routinely made the calls.

And to think that for years I’ve joked about pitiful teams whose fans get excited when they win the toss. So much for “flipping.”…

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Basketball fans realize that in the NBA, “flopping” is an art form. “Flops” to the floor are “performed” by players whose response to bodily contact might suggest they’ve been flattened by Mack trucks. They hope, of course, to activate officials’ whistles, signifying that they’ve been dealt with harshly by an opponent.

Starting this season, NBA moguls are taking a harder look at “flops.” They’ll study them at length following contests, and from many angles. If they feel “floppers” add too much theater to falls, fines will be assessed.

To carry on a theme already fatigued, I suppose fining “floppers” whose “flops” flop could result in more legitimate playing and less acting….

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Now, if you’re still reading, the “meat” of this piece is “flip/flopping”—not by political candidates, as you might expect—but by educators. These are, I believe, “cutting edge” teachers who have found a new way to teach that turns old practices upside down.

Growing numbers are assigning schoolwork at home and homework at school.

In effect, they’re “flipping” schedules, and the results suggest considerable learning enhancement. The “flipping” is not flopping….

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In essence, “flipping” means that students aren’t “lectured.” Instead, they have pre-recorded materials on their computers or smartphones for what used to be considered “homework.” Thus, school time is available for more active learning.

There’s far more interaction, and a bonus is that students can “pace” their learning.

In the Allen,TX, ISD, some teachers in grades 5-8 have introduced the “pilot program,” utilizing “flipping” for specific lessons in units….

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“For this program to work effectively, parents must be involved in the process, and we know this is a gradual process,” said Lisa Casto, Allen Director of Curriculum and Staff Development.

Since the program is new, longitudinal studies aren’t available, but in Detroit—one of the first cities to initiate “flipped” scheduling—measured results are impressive.

Earlier this year, some 400 educators met for a national conference in Chicago. A few months later, Allen offered a similar program for North Texas teachers, attracting about 330 innovative teachers….

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There always are “better ways” out there. I salute educators like Mrs. Casto and others who dare to be trailblazers. Kudos likewise are in order for a couple of science teachers who came up with this idea that now is practiced by at least 50 teachers in grades 9-12 in Allen ISD.

Such grassroots movements are impressive, and in some respects, daring. Oh, there still are refinements to be made, such as whether dogs eat students’ homework or their schoolwork. I leave such decisions to the educators and the students.

May they always be open-minded. I’ll keep my mind in neutral, its usual gear in these days. Later, I’ll put on my flip/flops for a leisurely neighborhood walk. If beautiful fall leaves get between my toes, I’ll stop to remove them—the leaves, not the toes—first enjoying their beauty before tossing them aside….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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