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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4 thoughts on “Does Flipping Lead to Future Steps Forward…

  1. Hi Misty:
    You’ve made several strong points in your post. The most important being access to technology. Even though my district has provided a device for all students to take home, I’m aware that some students might not have internet access at home. I’ve solved this in my classroom by only assigning “flipped” or online learning homework when students will have an in school study hall. In his post Jonathan has cited Amber Smith as a resource and she has also addressed this concern with a variety of creative solutions such as encouraging “learning parties”, and hosting 15 minute before or after school learning sessions. http://www.amberbridgesmith.com/

    Student accountability is another concern you’ve addressed. Just as kids can tune us out during class, they can do that at home as well. This point really points to the importance of requiring students to produce something that shows they’ve thoughtfully completed the assignment.
    Betsy

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    1. Thank you for your response, Betsy. I know that my position on flipping is pretty obvious here, but there are so many good things that can happen as a result of teachers implementing at least part of the flipped idea. The important aspect of this process is to have movement forward so as to benefit our students.

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  2. I found the article by Shelley Wright very interesting as well. She talked about moving away from a flipped classroom, but analyzing what she said had happened, flipping is an essential part of her teaching. She allowed the students to become life long learners, which I feel is the ultimate goal of an educator. Yes, we are teaching content, but ultimately, we are preparing our students to be able to learn on their own.

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    1. Kelly, All of these innovative measures to push us past our comfort zone does us a huge favor. It keeps us fresh and interesting to our students. It helps us stay abreast of new technology, which helps us to relate to our classes. In becoming facilitators, we raise our students to our level, which creates a new playing field for both of us (and I do mean, playing field!). We are so lucky to be a part of the world in which students start to take on the responsibility of their own education.

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