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Flipping the Classroom

23 May

I recently was asked to be part of a Think Tank to promote global education through the use of technology integration in our schools (many times highlighting the power of mobile devices & Web 2.0 tools). I have since then been inspired to share this video and its message with anyone and everyone that will lend me their ears.

As a Math teacher, I am familiar with the direct teach… assign guided/independent work in class… work not finished becomes homework… homework is not completed or completed inaccurately (and oftentimes with misconceptions) due to lack of instructional support at home. This cycle has gone on for much too long and is clearly still a practice as we see multiple interventions occurring to save students from failure on high stakes assessments and grade level promotion.

Though I was aware of the Kahn Academy app and am quite familiar with other Math apps that can be used to build math capacity and strengthen math skills, it was not till last week when the idea of “flipping the classroom” was added to my vernacular. How exquisitely simple the idea for such a powerful change to pedagogy and student results. Ask yourself, “How would our knowledge of Math or Science differ if Einstein & Newton had left detailed videos to explain their theories and concepts?” The entire video is linked below (it only takes 20 minutes to be inspired).

Let’s use video to reinvent education: Salman Khan on TED.com.

While this is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all approach, it does have many benefits for our learners:

  • allows learners who fall behind to not feel ashamed in asking for help as they can access the videos from home (rather than ask a question in front of the class)
  • allows self-directed and self-motivated learners to move ahead at a pace that is right for them
    • One example that was given during our meeting was that of a second grade student who had not qualified for the GT program but was extremely interested in what those students were doing in the program – especially with Math. The GT teacher directed him to her website with all of her teacher videos and assignments for the next few weeks. He quickly returned and wanted to know when she would be posting the next video, as he had not only completed the first video and assignment but all of them. Some times the walls of our classrooms are too small to contain the voracious appetite for learning and discovery that many of our students possess. She has since then began coaching him as a student in Khan Academy.
    • I too had a similar story. I taught a Pre-Algebra Advanced course for 7th grade students. While the students were predominantly GT, the levels and spectrum of GT varied throughout the classroom. One student always stood out to me. He would receive perfect scores on his assessments and he would actually read ahead to the next 2-3 chapters in the Math textbook. I recommended him to move to Algebra that year and he did well being two years ahead of his peers in Math. At the time we did not have access to or knowledge of the wealth of video and online resources available for a student of his caliber. Looking back, this would have been a wonderful gift to empart to all of my Math students.
  • allows students who missed class or have transferred from another campus, district, state to fill in the gaps (lessons & skills) that they may have missed
  • provides copious amounts of data (e.g. time spent on video or activity, problems missed, how many attempts, etc…) to teachers to track students and provide more resources and remediation of needed

Much of the Criticism I have seen against the Flipped Classroom highlights the lack of technology available to access the videos, inability and delay to ask questions, the idea that videos should not be the primary delivery method for all students, the necessity of additional resources to accompany lectures. While I do agree with many of the criticisms highlighted in this article, I believe there are ways to work around them:

  • It is true that not all students have internet access at home. However, many of them have mobile devices that will solve this issue. This may lead to a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) classroom concept as well. For those that do not, perhaps teachers and schools can agree to some sort of check out process for mobile devices.
  • It is true that while watching a video, you can not ask questions and have them answered. Even if students do write down their questions for the next day, they may be overwhelmed with how many questions that have. This is where social media and peer collaboration is key. First, most teachers will have a good idea where students will encounter an issue and they could supply additional resources to scaffold and supplement these topics and ideas. Also, peers are an excellent (and oftentimes underused) resource – especially if the teacher creates some form of online learning community (e.g. Edmodo, Moodle) for students to collaborate and support each other.
  • It is true that this should not be a one-size-fits-all approach nor the only instructional resource in the classroom. It is more the idea than the resource itself and it could be used as much or as often as an instructor sees fit. It is not intended to completely replace the role of the teacher or of good current instructional practices.
    • Some schools may call upon teachers who are strong orators and have a way with teaching a particular concepts to create videos of their lectures and disseminate them for other classes. Others may want to record student explanations as well. Both of these ideas can be easily accomplished using a document camera (the actual person delivering instruction would not even need to appear in the video – just the action of explaining the instruction or problem/examples).
    • Teachers should work together to create and supply resources to accompany videos. Resources could range from PPT’s, to interactive websites, to SMART lessons, to podcasts, to videocasts, to apps, to Khan Academy activities, to math-themed children’s books, to ePubs, to online learning communities. A veritable scmorgasbord of resources and support to meet the needs of any and all learners.
Though the focus on this blog is Math, the idea of reversing your classroom could be applied across the curriculum. How will you FLIP YOUR CLASSROOM?
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2 responses to “Flipping the Classroom

  1. David Truss

    June 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Here is a webinar on the Flipped Classroom that you may be interested in, and where you might also be able to contribute some insight!
    http://bigthink.com/ideas/38763
    Cheers,
    ~ Dave.

     
    • lisajohnson2007

      June 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks so much. This is a great resource. I will be sure and send this out to some of our admin and interested teachers.

       

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