Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New blog address!

I have loved the journey that this blog has taken me on. However it is time that it has a new home. Although I will leave the content here for those that are interested, I will not be adding additional content. To continue to follow my blog posts, please go to my new site, I hope to continue hearing from all of you!


Flipping History Course

Welcome! As I've mentioned in posts below, I no longer update this site as my blog is now hosted at However, I did want to make sure that I left the materials here for those that may be interested in flipping their classroom.

I receive a lot of emails asking for help and advice- please keep sending them! I love, love, love, connecting with other teachers. The best way to reach me is

If after exploring the materials here, you are still interested in flipping your classroom, but need a more concrete road map, I have created a self-paced course, "Flipped Classroom 101." This course is available at or via my website

The cost is $10.00 which includes a PDF copy of my book, Flipping History. I have tried to keep the cost affordable to teachers, while offsetting some of the costs associated with maintaining my blog and website. I really tried to provide a lot of value for you, and lay out exactly how I started flipping my classroom, and some ideas of where to go once you get the basics down.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions! Happy Flipping!


Thursday, April 7, 2016

More Exciting News!

As mentioned in my previous post, I have a book. The new(est) news is that it is now available in paperback! I know I prefer a hard copy of a book, and now that option is available to you. Click the image below to purchase!

Additionally, I have been receiving lots of emails looking for more of my "Coursepacks" and other materials. After a lot of work I finally have a place to house them, and they are available for purchase as well. will be where you can purchase workbooks, professional development books, and eventually self-paced courses. You will have to give me some time to get things up and running, but I will update here as things become available. I will also have digital downloads of materials available.

Thank you for all of your support. Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with! I love, love, love hearing from each of you and sharing what I've learned (and learning from you)! Available soon:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Exciting News!

I have been receiving countless emails from teachers who are looking to flip their classrooms. I love discussing the flipped classroom with each and every one of you. However, during the school year it can be difficult to keep up with everyone. I have taken what I've learned and put it into ebook form. You can now download Flipping History: How to Flip Your Classroom Today on It contains information found here on my blog as well as additional resources, tips, and tricks I have learned. I am still happy to answer your emails, but if you're looking to start flipping ASAP, the book version of me may do the trick until I can respond ;). You can get it for FREE 8/18 and 8/19- don't miss out!

You can get your copy of Flipping History here.

Just as a reminder- my new content is being housed on I will always keep this site running as a resource for you, but if you're looking for updated information its on my new site. That being said, I know many of you have found me through this avenue, so I wanted to make sure you had access to the book.

Finally, I want to thank all who have reached out. The sharing of ideas that I have had with many of you has been so awesome, its one of the best parts of the job! Let's keep the conversation going!

Monday, May 18, 2015

My blog has moved!

All future posts can be found at:

It has been almost a year since my last blog post at How did I let it go for so long?

I started blogging several years ago as a way to think out some of the ideas I wanted to put into motion in my classroom. I also hoped in the process to connect with other educators. As time went on due to curriculum changes, level and school changes, and life in general, I felt myself blogging less and less. I was still active on Twitter, but not everything worth discussing and learning can be condensed to 145 characters. I realized that part of the problem was that I was taking all of my interests and keeping them separate. I began associating my education blog as part of "work." It became one more thing I had to do, rather than what it started out as, something I had a passionate interest in. I knew that if I was going to get back into blogging, and reignite the passion, I had to stop separating all of my interests into separate blogs, separate sites, separate parts of my brain. 

With this in mind I have decided to move my blog to my personal website. It can now sit side by side with my other interests. It is my hope that I can continue to connect with other educators, and to share thoughts and ideas through this site. I also hope however that this new site will give a clearer picture of who I am beyond the classroom, and help me connect with others that share additional passions and interests with me. 

I will keep active for those that are interested in past posts and archives, but all future updates will be posted to . From the main page if you click "my blog" you will find a new place for my posts. 

Thanks for making the jump with me, I'm excited to start again! 

How do you balance your personal and professional interests? Does it all merge for you, or do you compartmentalize? Head over to the new site and tell me!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Shocking Discovery: Students have valuable conversations!!

I realized something about my students not so long ago-their conversations have value. Like actual, real life, important things are being discussed value. Even when the stuff they are discussing doesn't seem real life and important to me. I learned a tip this past year that has really changed how we start class now- and it has made a huge impact on my relationship with my students.

This one will be quick, and I can't take credit for it. I had a professor that used to start class like this, and it left an impact on me.
When I enter the room at the start of class, students are sometimes chatting if they've finished whatever warm-up or class activity was given day. First of all I want to be clear on this- I don't mind students chatting just before class starts. If they have finished their work, I see nothing wrong with engaging in conversation. Usually students have things they need to jump right into- so sometimes this chatting is occurring while they are gathering supplies for the day.  I realize most of these conversations are centered around who broke up with who on Instagram last night (yes, that happens, #sogladimnotinmiddleschool) however you just never know. No one has ever learned anything sitting in silence, so I say why not take the chance they might pick up some random knowledge. I have been continually impressed by some of the meaningful discussions between students totally without facilitation by a teacher.
Anyway, I bring up the conversation because there was a time (back in the dark days before I smiled in October) when I would have entered the classroom, shouted something like, "quiet down" and been frustrated and upset (more frowns) when they did not immediately drop conversation and turn their attention to the all knowing all powerful teacher at the front of the room. Are you  kidding me past Liz? When have adults ever responded to something like this? I'm willing to bet my California Chrome, Kentucky Derby winnings (kidding of course but you get the point) that at your last staff meeting when the principal said, "ok let's get going" people whispered to the person next to them to finish their conversations.
We do it all the time, that's why there are dancing hot dogs at the movie theater to remind us to be quiet during the film (and buy some overpriced Junior Mints from the concession stand). We are social creatures. Why do we some how expect teenagers (the most social of the social creatures) to halt their conversation in silent reverence of us? I'm not suggesting students shouldn't respect us or listen when we are speaking, I'm merely suggesting we rethink our approach.
Ok, ok, so what is it that this professor did? You probably already do this sometimes and don't realize it. She would say, "we are ready to get started, take a minute and finish your conversations." That's it. It doesn't seem like much, in fact it doesn't seem like anything significant. However when you do this, it sends a message to your students. It let's them know that you feel their conversations have value, and that you recognize that they have ideas, thoughts, and concerns of their own. It also gives a chance for them to wrap up their conversation so  that when you do start talking, it is not unrealistic to expect their attention. We have all seen students, so desperate to finish telling their friend something that they can think of nothing else. Why take the chance that they are going to miss important instruction? Give them that precious  minute, let them finish up, show them you respect their conversations, and in turn you should expect them to respect what you are saying. Again, it sets the tone of a classroom that is full of kindness, caring, and mutual respect.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Don't Smile 'Til Christmas or Why the Curmudgeons Were Wrong

Maybe its the time of year, but I'm struggling to remain motivated. Am I burning out? I hope not! I've decide I need to get back to blogging. I'm going to try something new. One of my friends outside of education asked  me recently what is one thing I would change about education. What a loaded question! I'm going to take a different approach. Standardize tests, and data driven curriculum aside, I'm going to say that we all need to smile more! Naive, I know. Stay with me though, I'm going to do a series of posts with small simple changes I have picked up from other educators, readings, classes, and some I've  stumbled into on my own. They will all formulate around SMILE, the S standing for "Setting the Tone". I'm sure there will not be anything here you don't already know, but sometimes its good to stop and think about why we do what we do, and what it can mean to the kids. So part one of Setting the Tone is going to deal straight up with SMILING, curmudgeons may want to stop reading now..

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the hostess greeted you with a stern gaze and suspiciously looked you up and down? As if you were the plebeian scum that they had the unfortunate luck to deal with every day? In one look they have let you know that they don't trust you, they really don't even like you, and their time could be better spend elsewhere? Of course you haven't....oh wait you have? In that case I need to pose a follow up question- WHY? Why, if you ever experienced this kind of greeting, would you return to that estalishment? Chances are such a greeting would sour your meal, possibly warrant a complaint to management and- barring spectacular service or food, make you hesitate to return.

I bring this up because first impressions are everything. How you greet a child entering your room sets the tone for the whole class. When I first started teaching I worried a lot about the "first day" impression. I spent a lot of time trying to create an image that said, "I am stern but kind. Intelligent but creative. I know everything and you are here to absorb as much of my wonderfuness as you can before you leave.  Oh yeah, I also have lots of rules and this will be a well organized class and you will come in and act exactly as I envision at all times, and you will come out of here ready to take on Watson and Ken Jennings with your eyes closed and when you win millions of dollars you will fondly think back to today and thank me saying something like, "I  didn't appreciate her then, I thought I hated her,  now I know she was preparing us well." I assumed that after the first day they would know all this about  me and the "tone" would be set for the year.

Um OK past Liz, how did that work out for you? I won't get into my misguided thoughts about what it means to be a successful educator, or how facts from history class have a hard time winning precious space in the hippocampus that is overflowing with lyrics from Drake or the Beibs. I won't even address the fact that a student thinking fondly of his middle school teacher is a rarity akin to Punchers the Lobster (which is very rare in case you didn't know). Actually if you didn't know that Punchers is a rare lobster beanie baby from the '90s you are probably not my target audience. I'm kidding of course (you are obviously far wiser than me and chose to invest in stocks rather than beanbag animals- you should cash those in and retire as Punchers in place of retirement hasn't panned out as planned) but my point is I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and the thing I was most  wrong about? Setting the tone for the whole year.

I'm not denying the importance of first day impressions, but setting the tone is something you have to do every period,  every class, every day. I have heard many a teacher lament because they planned what they thought was a fun and engaging lesson, only to be met by teenage eye rolls and a lack of excitement. I'm guilty of feeling this way occasionally too. What I've noticed though is that you can have the most  engaging lesson ever- heck you could have students doing handstands and disecting real life cadavers (on second thought- don't do either of those things) but if students enter the room before you get the chance to greet them- you miss the opportunity to pump them up or build them  up (whatever they need that day).

Our students carry a lot with them throughout the day. They carry their physical belongings, books, pencils, cell phones- but they also carry emotional things with them- crushes, home life, depression, a bad grade from the last class, a moment of sadness in the hallway. It is our job as educators to ensure that they enter our classroom ("our" meaning the classroom belonging both to the students and myself) in the best possible frame of mind. We cannot fix all of their troubles in the three minutes between classes- but we can set a tone that says, "for the next 45 minutes, you don't have to think about that stuff- take a load off and be a 13 year old student."

There are lots of ways to do this, but the easiest way I have found is the simplest way-  stand outside the door and greet them with a SMILE as they come in. I'll admit I've been waning in doing it this year, and I need to get back to it, because it is so powerful. This looks differently depending on the day. Some days I want my students energy through the roof- and on  those days  I'm in the hallway whooping and  cheering (you know quietly enough so as not to disturb the other classes around me- more later on how to do a quiet whoop) and welcoming them to the activity. I am often met with the teenage eye roll when I do this (middle schoolers are not supposed to smile or laugh at something on purpose), but I usually can crack a smile (yes I realize they are laughing AT me- who cares- whatever it takes).

Other days I simpy smile and say "hello." That's it- its as  simple as that, and yet how often do we forget to do that? We would never open the door for a friend with a surely glare or a disapproing eye- why do we  do this to our students? I try to make eye contact with each student and smile directly at them. Too many of them live in smileless worlds, they need this  emotional hug. I can also use this time for quick questions, "how did the science test go Jane?" "Hey did you win your game last night Jimmy" "Claire you look very nice today, I really like that color on you." The important thing here is that I mean what I'm saying. Claire did look nice, I did want to hear about Jimmy's game, and I know Jane was worried about the Science test.

I try to stay in the hallway until the second bell rings, so that even the late students, the ones that would normally slip in right when the bell rings and try to go on noticed, get a big smile or a compliment from me- they deserve it too, and may need it more than others.

I think the teachers I work with do a really nice job at being in the hallway in between classes, but I've heard some educators say, "I don't have time for that I need to be at the front  of the class ready to go as soon as the bell rings" or "I need to be in my room inbetween classes to talk with students or to set up for the next group." I understand these concerns, and maybe this is not something you feel you can do every day- but try it even once a week (maybe on Monday to set the tone for the week)?

This is such a small act that let's the students know that you care about them, you're excited for them to be there, and they are in an emotionally safe space.

I'll admit that I have been waning in my hallway presence as this year has gone on- just in thinking about the importance of this and writing this post, I need to get back out there. I really believe it is so important to greet students with a smile.

Let's revisit the restaurant analogy again. Does it make more sense now? In the same way that the hostess is the facee of the restaurant, we are the face of our classrooms. Unlike a restaurant however, our students cannot simply choose to leave, or not return in the future if they feel uncomfortable. They are required to come to our class- but if we're being honest, shouldn't we want them to come to our class?

I smile at my students as much as I can- but they make me smile, and even  laugh. Sure, some of it is that working in the trenches of hormonally charged awkward middle schoolers can make you laugh (occassionally at them, often with them, sometimes in spite of them, always at myself) but I like to think that students are the bright spot in education. Data, standardized exams, and minute by minute state approved plans may be dampening the school experience both for educators and students alike- but my students? They're human- which is the one variable we can't graph- but getting a student to smile who never shows emotion? Off the charts.

Do you smile before Christmas? What are some ways we can set a positive tone for our students?