Joel Cohen

and the internet stalking begins!

I feel my status as a teaching geek has now been confirmed, as I have been voraciously researching flipped classrooms (among other topics) in the first few days of my Christmas vacation. Some people prefer the beach or the slopes, but I prefer research geekery. In all honesty though, I love the lavish vacations teachers receive simply because it allows me to research, learn, reflect, and just generally figure out ways to be awesome. I think all professions should have mandatory “research” days where we just learn more about our profession.

And I digress…

I wanted to share some information I’ve been gleaning about flipped classrooms. Although I know the general concept, I don’t know a great deal about how other teachers have worked with the flip and how they have navigated potential challenges. I have officially started internet stalking experts on classroom-flippery, trying to learn more at all costs. Here is my first one:

Joel Cohen from the French American International School in San Francisco. 

Joel Cohen is a science teacher who has started a website for teachers contemplating the flip. From his writing, Joel seems like a teacher who has successfully inverted his class model and has a great deal to share about his experiences.

I think the most useful pieces I’ve pulled from Joel is the idea that the videos don’t have to be perfect…they should just be functional. Getting wrapped up in making the final products polished or beautiful will hold you back from actually creating a video. Get it done. Make it perfect later.

I was surprised that he recommended video taping your face so your students can connect with you. I would never have considered this important, but of course it makes a great deal of sense. If you watched the first two comma videos I’ve created, you clearly have noted that it is just my voice. I’m wondering if other videos I create with me talking would be more effective? I will just have to experiment to find out!

Also, on more of a curious note, I really loved how Joel included some historical facts and faces (see above) of differentiation. I was fascinated by the notion of The Dalton Plan.

The goal was to tailor every student’s program to his or her individual needs, abilities and interests. The students would meet with a mentor at the beginning of the academic year in order to identify their weak and strong subjects and a contract was established. Students would have access to laboratories (one per subject) where there would find a teacher and other students to engage in collaborative work according to their needs. The goal of the teacher was shifted from “sage on the stage” to “coach on the side” and the priority given to student learning. This student centered approach has since been visited by many famous pedagogues from Celestin Freinet to John Dewey and others. It can be described like this: “Providing instruction in a variety of ways to meet the needs of a variety of learners”.

This, obviously historical approach, could not be more modern if it tried. I must read more about this. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve heard of this.