I’m part of Fort Sam Houston ISD’s District of Innovation Team in San Antonio, and I have the pleasure of sharing with you how we have flipped football practice here at Robert G. Cole High School. We’ve spent the last two years using the Schlechty Model of Design to help foster a school culture of risk-taking in order to serve the military child. Technology is a huge part of this initiative.
Because we are a District of Innovation, one exemption we received from the state is that we start the school year early. This helps us better serve the 99 percent of our students who are military children. This also means we start all our back-to-school professional development at the same time as football practice. One of my main concerns as the football offensive coordinator is the impact this early start to the school year could have on our meeting time with our athletes during two-a-days. The impact on meeting time could have potentially put us at a significant disadvantage to our competition since teaching time would be so limited. So, I began searching for solutions.
The Innovative Solution
While in our PLC, I heard our teachers explain how they found success with our students by flipping their classrooms. This is an instructional strategy that involves first exposing students to the content outside of the classroom and then using class time to go more in depth. At Cole, one of our top priorities is serving our kids who have different needs due to the transient nature of the military. Flipping a classroom just makes sense.
I decided I would create a flipped version of our two-a-days offensive camp installation plan to share with our athletes. I need to create something that would explain to our players things they would need to know: formations, coverages/weaknesses, plays, alignment, defenses, and personnel groupings. However, I wasn’t sure what program would allow me to use my John Madden teleprompting skills. After several long Google rabbit hole searches, I found out I could record myself on PowerPoint while drawing and explaining the concepts I wanted our players to know. I first created the PowerPoint with the information, field markings, and pictures I needed to complete my task. Then I unlocked my inner Madden by using the Record Slide Show function in PowerPoint, located under the slideshow drop-down menu. Game changer!
Within this section, I chose to turn off the camera and turn on only the microphone while recording the screen. I also used Hudl to add game film to my presentation. I simply created a presentation, uploaded my PowerPoint into Hudl, and then shared it.
Hudl is the video recording/playback program high schools across Texas use to record, share, and play back practice and game films for football. On game nights, films are uploaded into Hudl, and then coaches spend Friday nights and Saturday mornings adding information to the videos in an Excel-type breakdown of columns underneath the film. There are also drawing and text overlay features that allow coaches to annotate the game film.
Once coaches are done, they share the film with their team, and then they all meet on Saturday in order to talk through corrections. Our coaching staff decided we would be different and not require athletes to meet on Saturdays. Athletes can view film anywhere using the Hudl app. We did send them notes and their corrections in Hudl. Ultimately, this saved us and the kids time at school. But more importantly, this allowed us to best serve our military families. There are many weekends in which our parents are on military leave from serving in other states or countries. Weekends may be the only time they get to spend with their children for months at a time, and we wanted to value that time. We would instead meet with them briefly Monday morning before school in order to answer any questions about the film from Friday’s game. We would then answer questions over the scouting report.
Traditionally, coaches have printed out lengthy paper copies of scouting reports of each week’s opponent. Times have changed, and kids use technology to study more now than ever. We decided to save paper by sending out scouting reports through Hudl. Like most of us, our athletes are visual learners. In this format, we not only provided them with the old school, hand-written x’s and o’s, but they also got video, so they could actually see our competition. We used the same previously-mentioned process to upload and share our scouting reports through Hudl. A friend of mine showed me a cool way to use PowerPoint to create my offensive formations and playbook in a streamlined fashion, but let’s save that for another blog!
I believe flipping our football installation and practice planning has made a huge difference in our performance and, hopefully, in the quality of the lives of our students. We finished this year with a 9-3 record. We won a playoff game for the first time in 12 years and finished with the school’s best record since 1987. Now watch two of our players explaining how flipped football practice impacted their senior year in these Flipgrids turned WeVideo.
This is a guest blog by Joel Fontenot-Amedee. Joel is an ELA Intervention Specialist, football offensive coordinator, and head track coach at Robert G. Cole High School. In his 13-year career in education, he has served the communities of Lamar Consolidated ISD, Austin ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Medina Valley ISD, and currently Fort Sam Houston ISD. He is originally from Pride, Louisiana. He has received a Bachelors degree in Health and Physical Education from Nicholls State University and a Masters degree in Educational Administration from Lamar University.