Flipping the Class With Emails and Videos

by Cherie Herring on February 23, 2014 · 10 comments

in 1:1 iPads, Aurasma, CPHMusic, Flipped Classroom, Recorders, Teaching Ideas, Technology Resources

Flipping the class with emails and videos requires organization and file management. Here is how I do it…

Flippiing the Recorder Class iconFlipped: Learning at Home

As I mentioned in my last post, my recorder students are accessing their recorder assignments via recorderkids.wikispaces.com site that I created. Since almost all have access to either an iPad or smart phone or both, my students have completely flipped the learning and are working from home to master each belt in recorder karate.It wasn’t planned; it just happened because of all the technology available at home.  The availability of  technology enables flipping the class with emails and videos.

The Video Tells All

Through their parent’s email address, the students are sending me videos of their learned pieces. I listen to the playing on the video and respond via email. If the student’s playing  demonstrates mastery of the musical concept, I email them back saying they have passed the piece or belt and  that their video has been accepted into the Recorder Hall of Fame. Here is an example of one that made the cut,  but only after three tries.  It is so important to insist that the children show their fingers in the video so that incorrect fingering can be addressed. In the beginning, I made the mistake of passing off pieces that sounded correct only to find out during the next class time that the student was using incorrect fingering all along. For example: fingering from F# to E to D. If the video is the proof of mastery, make sure it shows everything. In the case of Recorder Karate, an audio recording will not do. Giving specific instructions and demonstrating good and bad video taping preps the students and  saves time and disappointment when flipping the class with emails and videos.

Writing Emails that Motivate

As I’m writing this post, four more emails from my students have popped up! Responding to them is kind of  like writing thank you notes for wedding gifts…. I have to stay up on it every night or I’ll get way behind! In my former life, I traveled and adjudicated piano competitions. It’s easy to come up with nice things to say about a performance, but it is challenging to encourage and correct a performance at the same time.  “Now that you have learned all the notes in this piece, let’s focus on the finer details like: phrasing, dynamics, and correct rhythms!” haha!  Here are a few examples of emails I have sent to the children in response to their videos, and emails I’ve received from parents regarding this whole new adventure of Recorder Karate videos. I share these only to give you examples of the dialogue going  on between teacher and student. Flipping the class is hard work for the teacher, but the children own the learning.  Our most important role is one of affirmation and, well, just plain loving on the children through our words.  Our responses can have an incredible impact on our students long after this unit of study is over.

Inbox icon

Keeping the Emails Organized

As soon as I have responded to each email, I move the email to a special folder in my email Inbox.  Moving the emails helps me keep track of those that still need a response. I also have a back up in case I need to download the video again. Still, I have to go back through my email often because it is easy to overlook one when they all start coming in at once each night. It doesn’t take me long to listen and respond while I’m working on my computer, and though some might think it is too much extra work, I find it to be the most exciting way to touch my students’ lives individually.

Dropbox folder icon


Keeping the  Videos Organized

When I receive the video, I listen to it, and if it is good enough, I upload it to my Dropbox folder called, “Recorder Karate Videos 2014.” I only download and upload from my desktop, not my iPad. The reason is because I can download, SAVE AS,  and put the video directly in the Dropbox folder without having to have two copies of the video: one on my desktop and one in my Dropbox. I rename the videos with the student’s name and piece. It isn’t hard to just MOVE the video from my desktop’s download folder to my Dropbox, but it is an extra step that isn’t necessary if “Save as” is always used. Hint: Always use “Save As” so you can tell it where to go!

Sometime in the next few days the student will drop by my music room to pick up an earned recorder karate belt and a bead to add to their recorder strap (shoe lace). They also move their name up the recorder wall.

If I stay organized, current, and thoughtful, flipping the class with emails and videos allows assessment and encouragement to work beautifully together.

Have you flipped your recorder class? Do you have any hints for Flipping the Class With Emails and Videos?

Aurasma how-to is coming…….

Cherie Web signature 11


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Josie February 24, 2014 at 9:44 AM

This is awesome! One question, do your students need to master one or all of the songs for a belt?


Cherie Herring February 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Hi Josie! There is one required piece per belt. All of the other pieces are for earning extra beads. I try to include one easier piece per belt just so the kids can play something without struggling. – Cherie


Nona February 26, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Dear Cherie,
Thanks a lot for sharing what’s happening in your classroom!
I do too receive videos and assess them at home, saves time to help those kids who are behind in the classroom. My Gold Belt Masters assisting me in the classroom, it works so well!
My Grade 2 students are ahead of other classes, that is how much they love making music, especially the Recorder program.
I have read your post about using Aurasma, but it doesn’t work as you desribed. Is it possible they’ve made some changes since then when you were using the app?
Thanks again!


Cherie Herring February 28, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Hi, Nona! thanks for the comment. I’m sorry it has take me a while to respond… We just had a big program this morning and the week has been packed!!! It’s Friday night and I’m finally able to catch up on all the eamils. I wish we lived close to each other so I could invite you over for a demonstration and helpful hints! :) I’m currently working on another blog post about how to use Aurasma. Are you trying to make your own Aurasma Auras? Have you tried creating the auras from the Aurasma Studio website? I have found that using the website from my desktop computer is so much easier than trying to create from my iPad. Please let me know what is not working and I’ll help you work through it. I’m a visual learner and a demonstration video always helps me learn better than reading the directions. Would it help for me to demonstrate how Aurasma is set up? Using Aurasma is so cool… I just have to tell everyone and my mission is to get you hooked on it as well!

Let me hear from you, Nona!
Hurrah for the weekend!!


Stephanie Rains May 31, 2014 at 3:09 AM

The way that I have flipped my recorder classroom is to create videos of me teaching each of the songs to the kids. I walk through probably the first three and then explain to them that they have all the tools to learn the others by themselves. When I recorded the videos, I first had the kids clap through the song, then we figure out note names together, then we finger the notes and say the names, and finally we play it together. It was awesome to see the hits on the videos go up and up because my students were going home and accessing it on their own to learn. It also gave me several student tutors because they would then be able to whelp out struggling students because I knew that they were practicing so much at home!


Kate Smith June 12, 2014 at 6:17 AM

Hello! Just curious, how many students do you have?


Cherie Herring June 18, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Kate, I teach at a private school and we had 80 fourth grade students this year.


Sheryl Hicks June 26, 2014 at 8:15 PM

I’ve been thinking about flipping my recorder class for about a year. This makes it sound so easy to do. I also use recorder karate and give belts for the nine songs. I have added 9 more difficult songs as advanced belts. How do you incorporate the beads? Can you post a picture of that? Do you have students who still play for you at school and do not send video? Thank you for the great ideas.


Cherie Herring June 26, 2014 at 10:29 PM

Hi, Sheryl,
Thanks for dropping by. In many ways it really was easy to flip the recorder class. Most of the children had access to movie-making technology like an iPad or smartphone, and were competitive enough to buy into the program. As with any challenge, there are a few who are lazy and make excuses, and those whose parents are not involved enough to make sure they are home long enough to make the recording. Our school is private and the kids are somewhat privileged (spoiled!) Kids always respond to a competition and especially 3rd and 4th graders!!The evidence proves that it is possible to extend the learning and individualize instruction.

For each belt I had two pieces that could be played to prove mastery of the skill. Most were similar but some were a bit more challenging than it’s partner piece. I found out quickly that I needed to provide options within a belt because I wanted the children to work to their highest level of ability. Some kids just get concepts quicker and needed a challenge. I didn’t want them to move on without really mastering the level so having a 2nd piece worked for that group.

The kids earned a belt for correctly playing one of the required pieces and a GOLD bead for playing the 2nd piece. I don’t have a good image of the kids with all of their belts and beads… I’ll try to get one the next time I’m at school. Here is a fuzzy image of what the beads look like on the shoestring and with the belts at the bottom.

I do have a few children who need to play for me at school. I make time during their recess, after their lunch time, and after school once a week. I only have a few who need that extra time. The wonderful thing about flipping the class this way is that my class time actually allows me to work with those children who need extra help to pass off a belt. I’m already working individually with the other students and they aren’t starving for my attention.

I have a giant drawer full of pony beads. The only color bead that I take out is the BLACK bead because I want that one to be special. There are multi-colored beads and various shades of the basic colored belts. I award beads this way:

1 bead for each piece played correctly. If the White belt is earned, the bead must be some shade of white, etc..

When we are playing together during class I might award an extra bead for correct counting, or I might spotlight a kid who is really trying hard, or who has the correct hand on top, or who can demonstrate correct fingering that they learned at home, or someone who answers a question correctly, etc. I always try to catch them making an effort. I’ll even award small groups of kids who can play a piece correctly.
1 clear bead if they tutor another student
1 gold bead if they TEST a student

When I listen/watch their videos from home, I’ll tell them, “You did such an outstanding job on that piece – I want you to drop by the music room tomorrow and get a METALLIC bead for playing so well!” I let them know via the email response if they have played a piece perfectly enough to be a TESTER during the next class. If they are a TESTER, they wear a Special Fuzzy Neon Hat and all the kids know to go to them to be tested. They can only earn one Gold tester bead per day, however!!

You’ve asked a great question and I think it needs a clearer response. I’ll try to post a complete overview of the beads very soon. The deal is… that’s the way I do my beads, but you may have another way and it’s all fine. The bottom line is – don’t GIVE them away – the kids will do anything to EARN those beads. Saying “That’s not good enough yet” is very motivating and makes it all the more run and rewarding.

I hope that answer helps. I’d love to hear how you make it work next year!!

P.S. It is a lot of work for the teacher, but soooo worth it!!


Sheryl Hicks June 26, 2014 at 10:51 PM

Thank you for such a quick reply. I also teach recorders to 3rd and 4th grade. I have done it so long, however, that the students need something extra to motivate them. I feel I’m stagnant. I do not normally offer two songs on the same level. I like giving them a choice and letting them choose. I teach in a public school with about 100 students in each grade level. We are not a 1:1 ipad school, but many children do have access outside of school. Many students have phones themselves, so this may be something I can do successfully. Again, thank you. I will be following your blog pages move frequently.


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