As the world of educators spends an abundance of time, energy, and money on researching best practices in order set students up for the needs of the 21st century, three beliefs have become cemented as truth:
1) That homework should be meaningful and not too time consuming
2) That a classroom should be a place where students have ownership over their own learning.
3) That what constitutes best teaching practices is more and more helping students evaluate, communicate and apply information and less the role of supplying them with knowledge.
After my Cohort21 experience, I am confident in saying that the flipped teaching method applied with thought and care, makes it easier to do these things.
The Learning Process
Right before I stated this experience I had briefly heard about “Flipped Teahing.” I wanted to learn more. Through the help of Garth Nichols and Justin Medved I was able to quench my wish to learn more with research like this:
- The Economist: “Flipped classroom environment improve student learning”
- From Aaron Sams (popular ‘creator’ of the flipped classroom movement): “Shedding light on the confusion, critique, and hype”
- By Donald Clark: “How flipped classrooms change assessment”
- The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/the-flipped-classroom-model-a-full-picture/
- 3 Keys to a flipped classroom http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/3367
- A professional learning community for teachers using screencasting in education. http://flippedclassroom.org/
- Diigo community links for flipped classroom teaching – http://www.diigo.com/search/community?q=flipped%20classroom
As read in the above articles (all most of what is said about Flipped Teaching), and through conversations with colleagues like Steve Baumgartner, Rita Iafrate, Anthony Chuter, Ckrish, Garth Nichols, and Justin Medved, there came to be a common theme: that when you curate well thought out flipped videos/tasks, you give yourself the gift of time. As any teacher knows, time is precious, and the more you have the better you can teach.
With this in mind, I took on the flipping experience with a positive attitude. I love the gift of time.
I chose to teach fractions in math.
I set out to make videos.
I set up the slides on my smartboard.
I made notes.
I practiced the notes.
I set up my video recorder and started.
I tried to make a video….
I fumbled through and sounded awkward.
This happened repeatedly.
As I reviewed what I had created I pictured the parents of my students standing over their children saying things like, “Why am I paying for this guy to teach my child?” And that is the truth, I felt very naked doing this.
I had never been in front of a camera and I always want to be giving my students the best. I want to make sure that the product I deliver is of a high quality. These videos were not. This is why I went out to sites like http://www.showme.com, and http://www.youtube.com/education. To find videos that worked for me.
There I found teachers that were able to convey a more relaxed tone while providing concise and clear video explanations that covered the material I wanted to teach. So although, I was not the one on screen (which I felt guilty about) I moved to the next phase.
I provided the families of my students knowledge of what flipped teaching is.
I then planned out following day’s “Gourmet lessons”, which I poured a lot of thought and care into how I could best leverage the videos to make the classroom experience optimal.
- 95% of my students said they enjoyed the homework experience more than traditional homework.
- 95% of my students said they enjoyed the classroom activities more than lessons where there has not been flipping.
- 95% of my students would want to do more of this homework
- 95% of my students liked the differentiated nature of the following day lessons.
- 17 of 18 parents really liked the experience, one family said they were undecided.
- The students did better on the end of unit assessments than on any other unit taught to date.
- I really enjoyed the experience and have since then sought to expand my knowledge of flipped teaching and want to do more of it.
(both students and parents willingly took part in anonymous surveys)
The positive reinforcement from the parents and the students were the result of a lot of time and energy. It is important to unfold flipped teaching properly. Like most worthwhile activities, is time consuming at first.
It is important to learn about flipped teaching for yourself.
If you want to go down this avenue, teach the parents. They are major stakeholders in their children’s education and when new concepts are introduced, they need to be brought into the loop. This is especially true at a younger age, in which parents or guardians are needed to use technologies.
Find or create videos that are not too long, have enthusiastic voices that are clear and have good visuals. Here is a list of tips that techsmith suggests: (http://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-recording-tips-prior.html) that I have been using and have found myself getting more confident in creating flipped videos.
Provide different points of entry into the curriculum that are based on your students’ knowledge and confidence with the work.
Go around to the students and help them direct their own learning.
If you are prepared to spend some time at the start, and go through these steps suggested, you will be providing homework that is meaningful and not too time consuming; create a classroom environment where students have ownership over their own learning; and free up time to help students evaluate, communicate and apply information in meaningful ways.
Isn’t that great?
I think so!