Saturday, September 14, 2013

Learning is a Process

Two weeks of school down! Now in my second year of a flipped classroom, thing are going well. I started my first inquiry question with my Western Civilization class. After watching John Green's Crash Course video on the Agricultural Revolution, I posed the question "How did the Agricultural Revolution lead to the $0.99 Double Cheeseburger?" After posing the question, a student said quietly, "I think it would be more interesting to trace it to the schools." A reminder to me of the importance of student choice and how I need to continue working on that.

They were to answer the question by creating a flow chart. Then they had a lot of questions and I took a moment to remind them of the marshmallow challenge we did in the first week of school. One of the lessons of that activity is that school tends to teach us there is only one right answer, only one way to do things. The Ted Talk asserts that the mindset that there is only one right method does not lead to success in the challenge. I reminded them that there is not one way to do this, which seemed to help settle them, and allowed them to draft without fear of failing.

As for resources, I gave them a list of possibilities. Some were video links, some were articles from, and even the textbook. I told them they could use what ever resource(s) they need. If they don't like videos, they don't need to watch them. If they love the textbook, they can use it.

The drafting and revision process was very refreshing. This is not something that was common in my classroom before. Students arrived with drafts on Monday and compared with others at their table. I visited each table clarifying points I viewed as essential and seeing how they were progressing. I loved hearing things like, "I wasn't really sure what to do, but this helped clear things up for me." They continued to refine their drafts with help from me and their classmates. The final drafts were great. I was pleased with the products, but even happier about the process. Again this is a big shift for me in my classroom.

On a side note, I played the Hawaiian Folk play list on while they worked. It really helped facilitate a calm, productive work time.

Even more importantly, learning seemed to happen. One student reflected, "we had to find our own flow and that involved going over materials many times." I like the sense of ownership this allowed her in her learning. Overall students had positive comments about the learning activity.

So, a quick assessment of how "flipped" this was:

  • Higher-order thinking emphasis--Students had to master the content and then reorganize it in a logical manner. Learning was also a process that was adjusted as needed, not just a race to "get it done."
  • Best use of face to face class time--students were actively working to put together knowledge in class. They had their classmates and teacher around to clear up confusion as it presented itself.
  • Student-centered--I still need to work on allowing students to develop their own questions. But students were able to use the sources that worked best for them, using as many or as little as needed. They could also emphasize various events on their timeline based on their interest.
I will continue to refine as learning is a process for the students and the teacher.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see someone's working out the kinks for those of us who may try this sort of thing later. I've been recording YouTube videos but am still a bit intimidated by "flipping." On another note, I played the John Green Crash Course: Mesopotamia today for my freshmen... should have previewed that! Haha