Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why Flip Your Class? #flipblogs

Early in my flipped learning journey, I presented at a conference attended by district administrators who were unfamiliar with the concept of flipping a class. After listening to me talk about how much my class had improved, one of the questions that struck me was “Is this the silver bullet we’ve been looking for?” I wanted to say yes, but the real answer is no, but it is worth trying. The simple act of moving direct teaching moments out of a whole class session and into homework or other student driven time is not enough to change much. The real change comes when the teacher uses the face to face time purposefully with well designed lessons and active interactions with students.  Since all high school students in Texas are required to take physics, I was desperate for ways to help my students succeed, so flipping my class was worth a try.

Teaching is about student learning, so I will start with how things changed for my physics students. First and foremost, students got the help they needed when they needed and before they became frustrated or learned material incorrectly. Class became time to do physics instead of listen to physics. We were able to complete labs, including a post lab discussion. We often had time to collect data twice, an important part of science that is often omitted due to time constraints in the classroom. Tough problems that were sent home, where there was often little assistance, were worked on collaboratively in class with assistance. Watching videos and taking notes became physics homework parents could help with. (Some learned along with their kids and emailed questions the next day.) Overall, students were less frustrated and more successful. At the end of the year, students reported that they actually enjoyed physics even though they thought they would hate it.

Flipping the classroom improved the class culture. We came to class to work everyday. Students, eventually, took responsibility for their learning. They learned to ask meaningful questions. They were also happy and active during class. There were some who fought the change, but most embraced the opportunity and took advantage of the benefits. Grades improved, attitudes improved, and class was fun for me and the students. Not quite a silver bullet, but a big jump in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's A New Year - Here Come More Flipping Change #flipblogs

Students arrive on Monday, but for the second year, I will not have a classroom. Last year I was an instructional coach. My goal as an instructional coach was to offer more flipped professional development sessions and struggle with the adult learner version of the question ‘what will I do if they don’t watch the video?’ This year my role will be different again. I will be involved less in the curriculum and instruction side of education, but I still see a role for the things I have learned from flipping my classroom. In fact, I think the pillars of flipped learning still apply.

F – Flexible Environment

Flexible Environment in my new role will be less about the actual room and more about preparation and follow through. My success will hinge on the ability to provide different modes for communicating information as needed. It will also require monitoring and adjusting. Instead of students it will be processes and results that will be monitored.

L – Learning Culture

I imagine that with communication being key and providing information and ensuring understanding a must for success the importance of Learning Culture could be similar to a classroom that is using an in-class flip that is just-in-time teaching. Providing information that is meaningful and does not depend my actual presence to access the information should prove helpful.

I – Intentional Content

Efficiency is a must and, like a classroom, there is not time for busy work. I am certain the people I am working with would agree that Intentional Content is necessary to keep those involved in the process informed and engaged. Any information I provide or processes I use must be relevant and accessible to all levels of understanding and ability.

P – Professional Educator

This one is a bit of a stretch since I am not working with students any longer and except for some professional development, I do not know how much real teaching I will do. Some would question if the Professional Educator is part of my new role. But, I will be educating people as we work through processes. There will also be data to evaluate and refection to be done.

So, no more students, no more classroom, but those things that make a flipped teacher an excellent teacher will still apply in a different setting with some tweaks. I’ll have to start down this new road and see what really works.