Over spring break I am taking some time to create some lessons that I will try out in different teacher's classrooms and share with others to try. One that I created is a writing web quest of sorts. As a fourth grade teacher in Texas for 5 years I know all too well that students struggle to explain themselves and what they are talking about. It is like pulling teeth when trying to get students to describe how they feel or what they think about something let alone to write those things down! I used the free website smore to create a flyer that includes a couple of activities to help students practice their writing skills. Part of the lesson is to use the online activity from Scholastic called Story Starters where the students spin a wheel to randomly give them different ideas for a story. The students will use this to give them ideas of things to describe. Then at the end they can choose from 3 prompts to write a full story. Of course it can be adapted for any classroom but the idea would be to have the students type their story into their Google drive so it is automatically saved and can be easily shared with their teacher. This makes it easier for the teacher to keep track of student work and helps students and teachers get use to using technology in their daily class work. Activities like this are simple to make and will help make your lessons more interactive instead of you doing all of the talking all of the time. You can find the lesson on my Web Quest page on this website, or you can go directly to the flyer here.
Everyone is talking about the Flipped Classroom and what it should look like. Every other tweet on my Twitter news feed is something about how to flip a classroom, what is a flipped classroom, issues with the flipped classroom, accountability in the flipped classroom, etc. etc. So, what is the Flipping Problem? The idea behind a flipped classroom is to change the idea of the standard classroom where the teacher goes through a lesson with the students in the classroom and then gives the students homework to go home and do as practice. When flipping your classroom, you provide the students with a video or some sort of lesson for them to watch outside of the classroom and then when they come to class, you will do the 'practice' work and digging deeper into the concept. There are a lot of misconceptions and issues that have come up with this concept, because it is something new to teachers and it will take time to figure out what works.
The first issue is how to actually create the videos that the students will watch as the lesson. A lot of people think that the teacher needs to create every video them self and they need to be all brand new videos. False. Why recreate the wheel? Find videos on YouTube, ted ed, teacher tube, united streaming, or any other source that has videos dealing with your specific concept. Just make sure that the students have access to those videos at home or wherever they will be viewing them. Can a teacher create their own video if they want to? Of course! There are numerous was to create your own video. You could use screencast tools like screencastomatic.com or other tools to create videos of what is on your computer screen. You can use apps such as sockpuppet where you record your voice and use puppets to move around and talk. Or you can just use your iPhone or iPad and record a video of yourself talking and describing the concept. Any of them are great options along with numerous other ideas! Another issue with the lesson outside of the classroom is that you need to condense it down so that the students don't get bored while watching these videos. If you keep your lesson at 45 minutes like your normal class lesson, the students are never going to watch all of it and really understand it. Make sure the videos are only 10-15 minutes and straight to the point. When I teach how to summarize a story, we talk about beginning, middle, end and being precise and concise. That is exactly what you need to do with those videos. Talk about the most important parts and keep it short and to the point! This will keep the students interested and help them to get the most out of the lesson.
Once you have your video that your students will watch, the question is, how can you have accountability with your students actually watching the video. That is where your class rules and procedures come into place. You need to have something in place to check in on the students when they finish the lesson. They could email you a response to the lesson, do a KWL and bring it to class, or respond to you through edmodo or another online collaboration tool. You need to have your expectations set up from the beginning and make sure you are checking to see if students are completing the lesson.
Finally, the work in the classroom to expand on the lesson. A major misinterpretation is that when the students come back to class is you just give them a worksheet to complete dealing with the lesson. Fallacy. This is where you need to have meaningful activities and discussions planned to make the flipped classroom truly work. The teacher needs to be engaged with the students and work closely with them so you can hear their conversations and guide them in their learning. If the teacher is not there when they are digging deeper, the students may be basing their understanding on a false statement of the concept. If the teacher is there, they can guide the students in the right direction without completing the activity for the students or giving them the answer. As the teacher listens to the students conversation, they may gain a better understanding of how the students relate to the topic which will give them other ways to teach the topic in the future. That way the teacher is always changing and improving their lessons to best meet the needs of their students. I don't know if I have ever taught a concept the exact same way from year to year for the sheer fact that each year my class is different and I come up with new ways to teach those topics.
So, to go back to my original question, What is the Flipping Problem? I think it is a misunderstanding of what the concept of a Flipped Classroom truly is, which in turn makes teachers think that it is harder than it has to be. I think that once teachers truly understand what a Flipped Classroom looks like and they can put it into place, they will realize it is a much more efficient way of teaching and learning for everyone!
Jacob has been teaching for 9 years. 5 years as a 4th grade teacher and 4 years as an instructional technology specialist (iTech). He is sharing some of his experiences and technology that could help other teachers in the classroom.