Ironman Arizona Triathlon

Today’s post is not about education or the flipped classroom.  It is about one of my other passions: triathlons.IMAZSetingUp2014
What and Why
As some of you may know I have had an obsession with triathlons for the past fifteen years.  I am not sure what it is about triathlons that gets me, but I think a lot of it has to do with finding gratification in pushing myself with new and different challenges.  To that end last year I signed up to compete in the Ironman Arizona Triathlon. The race is this Sunday and I want to share the day with you.  The race is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride,  and 26.2 mile run.  Yea–This is a challenge–or maybe insanity.  So along with about 3000 other people I will enter the water in the Tempe Town Lake at 7:00 Phoenix time (9:00 Eastern).
The Preparation
I have kept track of my workouts via my Garmin for the past year and below is a summary of all the work done.  As I look at these numbers these are lower than they probably were because in some instances the watch wasn’t working or I ran on a treadmill or rode on a bike trainer, etc.
Type of Workout Number of Activities Distance Time Calories
Swimming 82 109 miles 53 hrs 35,000
Biking 162 3946 miles 242 hrs 125,000
Running 136 551 miles 91 hrs 56,000
Strength/Other 99 NA 83 hrs 9000
Totals 479 4679 miles 469 hrs 228,000


Not Alone

Getting ready for this race has been a huge commitment.  The commitment has not been just mine.  My family, especially my wife, Kris, has had to put up with me gone for long times to workout, decreased energy for home chores, and many other things.  I can’t thank her enough for letting me do this and supporting me throughout.  There have also been some great folks who helped me get ready.  My coach:  Kate Schnatterbeck from Team Tri-Umph (, and some of the guys I have ridden and biked with.  One group of guys even joined me for a 120 mile bike ride (what a glorious day it was)

 How to Track Me

And in the semi-narcissistic vein of this post, you can follow me during the race in real time.  I will be wearing a GPS tracking device during the bike and the run (the bulk of the race) and the official site will track me at specified locations on the course. If you are interested in following me you can go to:

The race is this Sunday11/16/14 and starts at 7:00 Arizona time = 9:00 a.m. Eastern

  • Official Ironman Triathlon Site: and find the race tracker.  There you will see my splits occur.  My race number is 2842 which will make it easier for you to track me.
  • Real Time GPS tracking.  This may be the best way to track me as you will have real time data on my journey.  At this site you will choose Ironman Arizona and then find my name.  They also have mobile apps for both android and apple devices.
  • You can also watch live video of the event and there is a finish line camera where you could see me finish.  If you use the real time gps tracker you could anticipate when I will finish and tune in.  I anticipate it to finish somewhere between 5:30pm-8:00pm local time (7:30-10pm Eastern).  I anticipate the race taking me anywhere from 10.5hrs to 13hrs depending on many variables.

And if you want to know my goals for the bike and run.  I am hoping to ride at about a 19mph clip and run around 9:10 min/mile pace.  If I am faster, that would be good, if slower then I am probably having a hard time out there.

Thanks for hanging with me for this long post.

Flipped Learning Toolkit: Overcoming Common Hurdles published this video and article on their home page co-authored by Aaron & Jon

Flipping your classroom is a great way to move from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side.” But that shift can also bring about a number of other complications. For instance:

    • What if students can’t access the internet at home?
    • What if students simply don’t know how to watch an educational video?
    • What if students blow it off and don’t watch the content at all?
    • What if you don’t feel confident at making videos?
    • What if you don’t even know where to start?

The answers to these questions are in the video above.

Meanwhile, the rest of this post will delve into one of these questions in more detail: What happens if students don’t know how to watch an educational video?

Watching vs. Interacting

To answer this question, there is a word that I would like to take out of the vocabulary of flipped classroom teachers. That word is watch — as in: “Students are supposed to watch a video at home and then come to class prepared to learn.” Watch is such a passive word. Students watch a Batman movie, they watch a TV show like The Voice, but we don’t want students to watch flipped class videos.

Rather . . .

We want them to interact with the video content. There is research which states that passive learning (even learning with video) doesn’t help students achieve more. Here are a few practical ways that you can bring some interactivity into your flipped class videos.

Low Tech

1. Set up an advanced organizer for students to use as they interact with the video.

2. Tell them to pause the video and do something like solve a problem, predict an outcome, or write down an interesting question. [Hint: If you tell them to pause the video, make sure that you pause your presentation for a few seconds, giving them time to hit the pause button.]

High Tech

1. Create a Google Form that the students will use to answer questions. Here’s our video on how to do this:

2. Use the built-in quizzing feature in your school’s Learning Management System.

3. Use some free tools like eduCanon or Zaption, which will pause the video at teacher-selected times and insert pop-up questions. Afterward, the teacher knows who watched the video, how long they watched the video, if they skipped any parts of the video, and how well they did on each question.

4. Use a questioning app such as Verso, which has students interact with each other on learning objects such as flipped videos.

5. Build your video using one of these tools, which provide analytics of student responses:

So let’s take the word watch out of our vocabulary, and start telling people that we are having students interact with content before class.

Please share with us other ways that you encourage students to interact with your flipped class videos.

Click here to view the original Edutopia article post.

3 Ways to Take Your Students Deeper With Flipped Learning published this video and article on their home page co-authored by Aaron & Jon

Flipped learning is more than just an efficient way to teach. It is also an opportunity to take students to deeper levels of comprehension and engagement. One of the most important benefits of flipped learning is that it takes the teacher away from the front of the room. No longer is class focused on information dissemination, but instead, time can be spent helping students with difficult concepts and extending the learning to deeper levels.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of flipped learning is that it gives teachers more time to interact with students one-to-one and in small groups. Teachers are using the time that was once used for direct instruction in a variety of ways to deepen student learning. Here are three suggestions for ways in which teachers can use that extra time for taking students deeper.

Help With the “Hard Stuff”

An integral part of the learning process is when we are stretched outside of our comfort zone — without being stretched too far that we are incapable of succeeding. Much of what we teach is necessarily difficult for students to understand. When they are exposed to a topic for the first time, they will struggle. Ideally, the teacher is there to help students navigate through their struggles, but in many traditional classes, students are sent home to wrestle with the “hard stuff” by themselves. In a flipped learning environment, the “easy stuff” (content delivery and lower-order thinking) happens outside the class, and the hard stuff happens in the class where the teacher is able to assist the students. This better matches students’ points of struggle with the right resource: the teacher.

Correcting Misconceptions

Students sometimes learn things incorrectly. As science teachers, we especially saw this when they would come to class with misunderstandings about the natural world. Students who hold these misconceptions need to be retaught, or they will leave class with misinformation. In a flipped learning model, the teacher is continually interacting with small groups of students or working with them individually. This enables many opportunities to monitor their learning. When a teacher spots misconceptions, she is able to quickly intervene and prevent further problems.

Questioning Activities

Many teachers who utilize flipped learning check that students have interacted with the required video material by asking individual students a series of questions about the content. When students arrive at class, the teacher can address the questions in a large group. But better yet, as the teacher circulates throughout the room, he can interact with each student and have them each ask their own questions.

We utilized this technique and found it to be one of the most useful strategies we ever implemented. In this instance, each student was able to ask his or her own questions, and taking the time to answer those questions individually or in small groups proved to be truly powerful learning interactions. We found that some students didn’t know how to formulate and ask a good question, that others often revealed misconceptions by their questions, and that others wanted to take what they had learned to deeper levels than we could ever have imagined. Those students who struggled to ask good questions were able, over the course of the school year, to develop their questioning strategies. Those with misconceptions learned to explain things in a new way. And those students who took the content to new levels were able to stoke sparks of curiosity as they explored their deeper questions.

These three strategies are by no means an exhaustive list of ways to take your students deeper with flipped learning. How have you been able to take your students to deeper levels of understanding? We would love to hear your strategies.

Click here to view the original Edutopia article post.

A Look back & A Look Ahead at the Flipped Class

Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) and Jon talk about how the flipped class is changing the world.Bammy_J+A+Award

Listen to all episodes of “The Flip Side” by clicking HERE or click below to listen to just this episode

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