Sunday, January 13, 2013

Flipped Classroom

This year my colleague and I have been working on the idea of the Flipped Classroom.  Do you know what that is? It's an idea where instead of content lectures in class, they are presented with content material at home.  The idea is to "flip" lectures, so that there is more time for exploration and investigations in class

I have never really been a "lecture" teacher - but, truth be told...we do need to teach content.  In the past, I have spent time introducing content through non-fiction books, content charts, diagrams on chart paper, and through videos.  All of these methods I still use, however, now I have also added the blog idea for homework.

We started this idea of flipping by subscribing to a very well known "flip" resource that my son was using in high school.  I thought...why not!  Well, it didn't work for us...within one hour of the  site going live we had over 200 comments from our students.  They were using it as a social outlet - since they are too young for Facebook!  Yikes! That was not our intention...parents were not happy and so we stopped it at once. (Disclaimer:  this was our experience and you may not have the same results)

We came back to the drawing board and agreed on a more controlled approach to this model.  Since I was familiar with blogger, I knew that we could easily set up a site for them to access at home.  My younger son is in fourth grade and so we practiced with him first, to make sure it was easy to use. When the second site went live, we had no problems! Phew!

How do we use our blog? We assign it for homework the night before a new concept. This way, the children are introduced to new content before class.  It allows us to start our lessons by reviewing the content from the night before.  We usually assign a reflective piece for them to record - sometimes on a graphic organizer, sometimes in their notebooks.  We have created a few of our own videos, but we are both a little nervous about videoing ourselves.  Most of the videos come from YouTube - but because we can embed them in the current blog we can control what they see.

What about those kids who don't have access? We have a set time at the end of the day for homework.  Those students who do not have computer access at home are able to watch it on laptops if we have them that day, or one of the teachers will put it on the projector for those who want to watch before going home.

Any other tips? We created a QR code for smartphones.  Did you know that even if people do not have a computer at home, they are likely to have a smart phone? In poverty stricken homes, research shows that 80% have smart phones while less are found in middle income house (75%).

Positives? The response has been really good.  The kids like it and the teachers share the responsibilities.  Another positive? When it is time to review for a test they have all the content videos available at home to review.

What are we looking to add?  Choice.  The more we are into it, the more we know we need to offer up some choices.  While many kids learn by videos, just as many would learn by having an interactive computer game (there are many new tutoring type clips out there) or even visuals and vocabulary.  We have a lot to learn as we move forward!

If you would like to check it out, you can visit it here. 
We are open to any suggestions you may have!


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