Another Impact on the Environment of the Classroom Article
I fill the position of “math teacher” for high school-level students. From my perspective, it feels as if the required amount of material increases every year. The question becomes whether I can cram it all in to the allotted time (that seems to be getting shorter too, or maybe it’s my age) and whether all of my students are able to grasp the majority of the material thrown at them.
Those darn standardized tests! I would rather have the chance to do some project-based learning any day, and I am sure that my students feel the same way. How do I fulfill state requirements and, at the same time, the wish for me and my students to learn something while at school? One of the ways in which my quandary can be answered is by considering a flipped classroom environment. However, as with all options, there are pros and cons through which to wade. In Dr. Jackie Gerstein’s post entitled, Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education (May 2012), she does an outstanding job of describing both positive and negative aspects of the flipped environment. In addition, she provides quite a few resources to pour over.
Not having created a flipped lesson before, I gave it a try. Since I did not have a clue as to what the process was, I downloaded a Lesson Plan from Shippensburg University.. If you click on the link provided above, you will find the following Word Documents.
I thought they were quite helpful in keeping me to task.
The following is a plan for studying fractals, a topic that all of my students seem to enjoy, but which can be difficult to tie into the common core standards. However, it seems an ideal topic to present just before a holiday break.
In this lesson, I have used an original, narrated PowerPoint, along with other resources from the web. I decided to create it in a Blendspace digital format here:
The process was interesting; the result was OK. What I noticed was that I would more than likely pull the same resources for my class when I post an assignment onto our online gradebook. However, it’s true that if the students chose not to hear my voice, they could mute it in the flipped version.
So, how would this process affect the climate of my students’ learning environment?. I thought I should look at evidence from a student’s perspective:
After viewing this video, I realized some details which makes me hold firm to my resolve of balking at flipping. The students shown in this video have nice homes and digital gadgets. What happens if a student cannot afford these items (the same issue was addressed in my last post on BYOD) or a fast internet connection at home (many of the assignments include streaming videos, for example)? I noticed that the video showed a student reaching for a laptop while at school, but unless the school provides take-home devices, these less fortunate individuals are left out.
The most positive point I saw in the video was that the lesson was always available, so those students who miss a class still get the information. Again, this issue has not been a problem for my students.
I already view myself as more of a assistant, rather than an instructor. When I present a topic to my students, we toss it around to see if anyone has an idea of what is going on with it. If no one has an idea, I review some information and ask if anyone sees an application to the new idea. This can go one for quite some time. The students may decide to use internet tools (videos, websites, etc.) in order to move forward. Often, the students are able to teach themselves through this process.
In 2013, Shelley Wright, in an article in Ed Tech Magazine, wrote about her decision to “unflip” her flipped classroom. In it, she spoke of her enthusiasm for the process, but realized that she and her students were moving away from the online lessons as they, as a team, moved more into a student-driven education mindset. She has reiterated what I was trying to convey in this post, that perhaps the act of flipping a classroom can be seen as a step towards implementing project-based and, more importantly, student-based learning with the educator in the position of facilitator.