Friday, August 23, 2013

It is so much more than the video!

Last year was my first year implementing the flipped classroom. At about mid-year I reflected on how it was going. Here's an excerpt from my PGP:

"I have been creating several videos over the course of the semester. In November, I surveyed students on their feelings about the videos. Students were very positive about being able to access the lectures anywhere and anytime. Student appreciated that they could rewind and re-watch whenever they needed to. They could watch it in an environment where they could have better focus. Students also understood and could articulate that we are able to do more interactive activities in class. The main problem students had with this method is that they would often forget to do it because its not “traditional” homework. Also, they sometimes ran into technical difficulties which would cause undue stress."

I really do have some terrific students. I did not have very many issues with students not watching videos. If they did have technical difficulties with the video they would come to me ahead of time and I would let them watch it on my computer at break or lunch. Flipped 101 (putting lectures online) really did work well. I feel like I had so much more time and opportunity for interactive, higher-level thinking activities in class. It is also important that they can view a lecture at their own pace. At my school we have several international, Korean student with language difficulties and little background knowledge in American History. I can only imagine how difficult in-class lectures would be for them. When students have a lecture online, they can go as fast or slow as they need.

But of course, as time goes on as a flipped teacher, many of us begin to realize its not about the video. Its about putting the learning in the hands of the students. Below is an excerpt about an activity I used that helps to exemplify the flipped mindset: student choice, higher level thinking, and a great use of face to face time:

"One of the more “interactive” assignments I discovered by reading blogs, was the EdCafe. Each student received an article that they became an expert on. They summarized it and developed discussion questions. Then each student could choose another cafe to attend (when they weren’t presenting). Student surveyed said that they enjoyed the casual, discussion environment. They enjoyed “teaching” other students, trying to make the topic relevant and interesting for the people attending. They also enjoyed the food and drink provided. This was a really successful assignment that I would like to again. If I could find enough articles on enough topics, I would consider doing it monthly."

An EdCafe is modeled after EdCamps. I learned about it through #sschat on Twitter. Its a great activity that I used several times last year.

Finally, as much as I wanted to focus on only one of my preps to flip, I found that I couldn't do it. As I planned for my other classes, it seemed so wrong for me to plan teacher-centered lessons. My lesson-planning brain wanted to create lessons that made the students more active in their learning. Here's an excerpt:

"Although I tried to focus on only one class at a time, the flipped classroom philosophy that students are most active in the classroom and take ownership in their learning spilled over to my other classes. Three of these projects included a Cold War timeline, Medieval Village Game of Life, and Reformation Trading Cards. For two of these assignments, many students tried Google Apps for the first time and found success. In reflections by students, many could articulate that they needed to take more responsibility for the knowledge and felt like they knew it better because of this. In these assignments I enjoyed being able to have face-to-face contact with each student, each day. I was able to act as a coach, rather than a “sage on the stage.”  In the future I would do even more coaching and guiding. I would also like to give students more choice in assignments like these so it is more student-centered."

This is the direction I moved in as the year progressed and as I plan for the upcoming school year. Coaching and guiding on the side, finding out where the students are at in their knowledge and helping them figure out what they are missing or where they need to go next. 

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