Does Flipping Lead to Future Steps Forward…

 

or can flippedAnother 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.flipped classroom lesson plan

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:

An Introduction to Fractals

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.

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To B(YOD) or Not to B(YOD)

An Impact on the Environment of the Classroom Article

byod imageThat is the question….

My scenario starts like this:  My classroom has had close to a one-to-one ratio of tech to students.  Some of the equipment will need to be replaced.  The question is, do I maintain the status quo with desktops and a few floating laptops and iPads, or do I take the plunge and push for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

After searching my resources for an answer to this question, it seems that this topic causes conflict among educators, administrators, tech support, and parents.  For example, in the post, 5 Reasons why BYOD is a bad idea for Schools,  appearing in the blog, Emerging Ed Tech, Kelly Walsh (2012) cites major reasons for rejecting BYOD

  Equipment Inequity, Tech Support, Bring Your Own Distraction, Internet content filtering, and“MBTY” (Mine is Better Than Yours) Syndrome.   

To determine if BYOD could even become a consideration, one has to inquire as to how personal devices could be utilized in a classroom.   Check out this YouTube video created by Jaymee Bohmer two months ago:

In Peter DeWitt’s (2012) post in Education Week, he asks the question, Are Schools Prepared to Let Students BYOT?  The article outlines a number of important questions that districts and individual schools must ask themselves before deciding to tackle such an undertaking.  They include safety issues, staff development, defining what is meant by BYOT (BYOD), and new policies which must be put into place.

The push for BYOD in the classroom started with vigor in 2012 (at least, that appears to be when most of the articles, either for or against, were written).  I contacted several bloggers regarding their updated opinion of the matter.  The following questions were posed:

  1. What type of technology do you feel best suits the middle- and high school students presently?  What types hardware are currently used?  This would pertain to laptops, desk tops, or BYODs.
  2. Is BYOD a consideration?  If yes, then how is the school dealing with different platforms involved?  If no, what are the issues at hand preventing this to be a consideration?
  3. How would you say that technology is supported by a) the educators  b) the students c) the administration d) the parents?

I received one response.  This was from Doug Johnson, Director of Technology for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) Public Schools  whose post, BYOD and the School Supply List,  attracted my attention.  He wrote

 Since 2014, we found BYOD did not give us the results we wanted so have now moved to a true 1:1 initiative. Equity was a primary driver. 

As I was still looking for more first-hand experience, I sent these questions to two other professionals.  These individuals are not bloggers, but they have definitely explored this question.  The first, Gary Finkel, Director of Technology at Island Village Montessori (k-12) in Venice, Florida, sent back the following responses:

  1. Laptops, desktops and tablets
  2. No I would not consider BYOD as this may cause a security issue with the network.
  3. All systems are supported by an administrator. This ensures the network is secure and a safe environment for students and educators to work.

The third response I received was from Major Becky Morris, Assistant Head of School, Sarasota Military Preparatory School, Sarasota, Florida:

  1.  I think it is important to use technology that is accessible to students both at school and home.  This means using an online platform that is available on mobile devices as well as computers with hardware that supports Internet access.  It is important to have technology that is current and responsive.  Using old computers that are slow or unable to use updated software is pointless.For students, we use mostly hardwired desktop computers: 5 in each classroom, 50 in a media center, and 24 in each of 2 design labs.  Teachers also have their own desktop computer, iPad, and a large screen TV with Apple TV to display from computer or Apple device.  
  2. Right now at the middle school level, BYOD is not a current consideration.  We do not have the resources to allow for monitoring safe use of personal devices at this age level. 
  3. Technology is supported by teachers when they use it to provide an engaging learning experience where students can collaborate, create, and develop critical thinking skills; also when they use it to support their own professional development and learning. Students support the use of technology when they use it for communicating, collaborating, creating, researching, analyzing, and presenting what they’ve learned. (They also support its use when they remember their usernames and passwords! lol!)  Administrators support technology when they use it to analyze data, collaborate, evaluate, and communicate with parents, teachers, students, and the community.  They also show their support when they budget for adequate upgrades, model its use, and provide for professional development opportunities, training, and resources.  Parents support it’s use by staying up to date on what their children are doing online, communicating with teachers, and modeling appropriate use at homeI would say that the support of technology must start at the top.  If the administration does not set the example and provide for an adequate budget, time, and resources for teachers, students, and parents to best implement the technology, then it will be a struggle to create a positive culture that embraces its full potential and use.

I find it interesting that for Doug’s school district, at least some of the schools had considered BYOD, but changed to school-owned equipment district-wide so that equity would be reached.   As far as the other two individuals (one being an IT specialist at a charter school and another, an administrator at a military school), I personally know that they have had extensive experience in grappling with  technology issues.  All three came to the same conclusion:  that the schools at which they were involved would not support student-owned technology.

In spite of the difficulties involved, it would seem that BYOD may be here to stay,  however painful the startup.   According to Nick Morrison, contributor for Forbes, BYOD is the Next Revolution in School Tech  (2014).  There are still quite a lot of issues that need to be resolved before most school districts become comfortable (financially, legally, and employee-wise) with its implementation.

Due to the expense and risk involved at this time, I believe that for my suggested scenario, I would continue to encourage the use of school-owned tablets and iPads at this time and discontinue anything more cumbersome as the current equipment becomes antiquated.   Perhaps a re-evaluation at a later date will reveal that many of the problems previously associated with BYOD have been resolved.

(This post originally appeared in http://www.mistartblog.wordpress.com on November 18, 2015.)