Why Flip Out?

Flip your class today!

Simple. Evolution. A flipped classroom is simply a class where students receive the instruction at home, and practice in the classroom. If that seems a bit too complicated to understand, then let me tell you a story…

My Grandpa was a teacher. He was more than that: he was a god. His students saw him as  an agglomeration of knowledge. A sage. Knower of all things. From him, knowledge poured forth, and if you were lucky, he would impart his wisdom to you. His job was to share with his students his wealth of information.

Me? I’m a teacher, but my students do not revere me the way they did Grandpa. I do not disseminate my knowledge to an eager crowd the way he did. It is no longer my job to impart knowledge to students starved to learn new things. As brilliant as I may be, they do not regard me as a sage.

What changed? Me? The students? We are quick to say, “children these days just don’t want to learn.” Au contraire I say! I have read my Grandpa’s diary (his version of a blog), and he complained of the same things I have. They won’t sit still. I tell them the information and the just won’t STUDY. And it goes on and on. Students didn’t want to learn then any more than they do now. The students are the same.

Technology changed. My job is not to give information. If it were, then teachers are obsolete. Google can give my students information quicker and more efficiently than I can even form a question to type into that iconic little box. I am NOT obsolete. My job has simply evolved. No longer the most efficient source of quality and reliable information, I am tasked with helping my students learn and use that information they are able to instantly access. So why do we waste so much classroom time giving students information that is so readily at their fingertips? We have made ourselves obsolete by refusing to evolve with the times before us.

The solution? FLIP IT! Flip out!!! Guide students through quality instruction during the time that they generally waste… Homework time. Why do I call that wasted time? Simple, no instant feedback. “Hey mom, can you check my macroeconomics worksheet and see if cost-benfit analysis of the Federal Reserve Board’s use of Monetary policy in the last financial quarter was effective from a practical standpoint” said NO high school student EVER. No offense to the moms out there who remember their macroeconomics, but I could not help my 16 year old niece with calculus anymore than most moms could help her highschooler with the above worksheet. And why did the high school student feel it necessary to ask mom about this worksheet? Because the teacher was too busy trying to give notes on monetary policy and squeeze in a useful debate to satisfy the Bloom’s Taxonomy to help the students answer the question. The teacher’s valuable instruction time wasted. The student’s excellent question unanswered.

Flip the class. Video tape the lecture. Expect students to take notes at home. Spend time in the classroom doing what the evolved teacher does…. extending and stretching the content. All of those things that seemed impossible because the standards require you to “spray and pray”, all now seem quite possible.

OH NO! this won’t work. my students won’t do it. They won’t watch the video and they will be lost. Guess what? Those are the ones who aren’t paying attention and not doing their homework anyway. GET CREATIVE! My first idea is to allow my students to watch videos they missed in class. Wait…. Whaaaat? Let them watch the videos in class? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Yes, and they will figure that out pretty quickly. While these 15 kids are able to work on their projects and practice work with instant teacher feedback and supervision, these 5 have to go back and watch the video because they are behind. That may mean that they have to take it *gasp* home! So while the first 15 kids are done and have turned in their work, the last 5 have to do it for traditional homework. Most, not all, because high school kids are stubborn, will change their ways and watch the video on the bus, or at lunch, or during class break. They’re doing their homework in these places now! What about that kid who is able to watch the video in class and still finish his work? HELLO?! What about that is that BAD? More power to her!

So! Here I shall chronicle my challenges in flipping out! Wish me luck and should you accidentally happen upon this post, PLEASE feel free to post suggestions and comments.

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Here We GO…..!!!

The end of boring lectures!

Middle of the summer and I’m already thinking about the new school year. I’m a little afraid that I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I’m committed now (or maybe I should be committed). So! My goals for the year:

  1. Flip My Classroom
  2. Go Paperless (actually, I am going “paper optional”. There is a minor, but important difference)
  3. Teach Civics (a new prep for me).

The easiest will be #3. I think most Social Studies Teachers must be a bit ADD, since we are often expected a minimal notice to switch classes and teach something totally different.

First step that I can see to “Flipping Out” is to decide on a format. What do I want my videos to look like? Should I use all of my own videos (I am a control freak) or see what is already out there? Should i use simple video in front of my SMART board, or use some type of imbedded video into a virtual whiteboard of some sort? What kind of tools are available for free, and what am I willing to pay for? When I have researched my options and I’m ready to decide, I will post again.

Paperless- The phone company does it. My bank does it. Why not my classroom? Let’s go paperless. Or at least, paper “optional”. My school system has decided on My Big Campus as our digital portal to communicate with students. This should simplify my paperless process, but I still see some pitfalls. The biggest being that I, the ultimate procrastinator, will have to stay on top of my assignments. But really, can it be harder than running to the copy machine to get the handouts for that day? I think not. I also have turnitin.com to lend a hand in grading. Other major pitfall is the inevitable eye strain! Some kids want/need a hard copy to hold and understand. It’s all good. For them, I plan to have a few copies available.

By the next post, I hope I have decided on a format, and even played around with the video.

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