Month: January 2013

In protest of the pendulum

After yesterday’s 3rd F2F session with the cohort crew (kind of sounds like a weird band name), I have been thinking more about “blended learning”. We were placed into groups based off our research interests and I was in a room with others, but only one other was curious about flipped learning. The others were focused a little more on personalized learning.

I realized that flipped learning, in the context I am using it in, is really just a tool for being able to individualize or personalize the learning of my students. So, I think my new guiding question should read: 

How can I use the classroom flipping model in order to promote a blended learning approach in my classroom?
I was hoping that “blended learning” referred to combining elements of personalization and individualization, but thanks to this handy infographic below, I now understand that “blended learning” actually refers to the combination of online and in-person learning a student does (and in a blended learning model, both will exist). I feel settled about the “blended” term…but I’m still wrestling with the balance of personalization and individuation.

Here’s my beef: if all of the educational decision making power rests with the teacher, well, we move back towards a factory model of education where teachers pour knowledge into the little heads of students, just waiting to be filled up. In this paradigm, the teacher has all the power and there is a ridiculous inequity in the classroom. But I’m wondering if the pendulum swings all the way in the other direction, towards a system where the student solely decides what is important to learn, if we loose something here are well. In this model the student has all the power and the teacher serves to guide, mentor, and mediate the learning of young people. Think of us teachers here are “learning managers”.
I’m wondering what happens when important skills, facts, cultural knowledge, and possible passions never get unearthed? Imagine a society where people don’t learn about the Holocaust…just because they didn’t care about it. Imagine a world where people don’t learn basic math skills because they didn’t get around to it. Imagine a future where girls never get pushed to try computer programming or robotics because cultural forces that push them in other directions were just too strong. Perhaps there are some things that children should learn that they may not naturally gravitate towards. Perhaps there has to be a balance in power in the classroom…teacher and student craft together what is important to learn and partner together to make this happen.
We must be careful of pendulum swinging in education and use our practices, knowledge, and research to inform our choices in the classroom. Maybe I need to call what I am attempting “blended-balanced learning”: a balance between individuation and personalization with face to face and online learning.


My next steps

What are my immediate next steps (who do I network with? what do I read/watch?)

1) Connect with others who are using the flipped classroom approach and ask them 10, 000 questions (by February 3rd). 
2) Gain a better understanding of the interconnectivity between differentiated, individualized, and personalized learning and how this can relate to using a flipped classroom (by February 10th).
3) Create 3 more online videos for my students to use in their writing development (by February 17th)

When will I publish next? (what is my classroom schedule? when do I want feedback?)

I want to publish my next post by February 3rd and create a weekly blog schedule to update my progress in real time. 
I constantly want feedback. I am a monster hungry for feedback all the time.

How will I present my findings/exploration? (movie, powerpoint, blog, etc…)

In the spirit of a flipped classroom, I will create a movie to document my findings for the community outside of my classroom and a documentation poster / installation inside my school community for my fellow teachers. 


So how did it go?

I was in my classroom far too late on a Wednesday evening. I called to cancel a yoga date with a friend, while staring at You Tube uploading screen, wondering why this was happening now: the first night my students could watch the comma videos, I realized the sound and pictures stopped syncing halfway through the clip.


But of course this happens. Such is life and such is life especially in the Junior classroom.

After a few deep breaths, I tried to upload the videos through Vimeo and after paying a monthly membership fee, I was good to go (home). It is times like these these that I realize that we teachers can be as organized as can (I actually had these videos made and uploaded weeks ago…I just hadn’t watched them all the way through on You Tube)…but there may always been a certain percentage of our craft that is left up to chance and we just have to roll with it…and reschedule our yoga.

All these technical glitches aside, these were some of the comments from my girls after they had watched the videos:

– They were so funny. I wanted to keep watching them (score…unicorns, zombies, and donkeys win again)!
– It was great to pause and restart whenever I wanted to.
– They were too long. Can you make them about five minutes next time…you repeated yourself too much (point taken…I totally get now why many of the screencasting tools cut you off after 5 minutes).
– Can you do this again?

I bow to my students for giving me such honest, insightful, and helpful feedback. I hope that this is partially due to the class culture we have created together of offering kind, yet critical constructive feedback. I also love the idea that my students see me modelling something new, taking risks, and asking for help. I’m also really stoked about getting to try it again and see how it goes next time.