Recently I went to a one day work shop in Chicago that was being presented by one of my favorite presenters, Jeff Utecht. His session was titled, " Moving students from Consumers to Producers of Information." There was so much great content delivered that over the next few days, I will be sharing some takeaways with you.
One of the biggest takeaways was where does search or searching the internet fall into our curriculum? Now, I have heard Jeff speak about this topic before and recently heard Alan November (@globalearner) give a talk about this same topic at another event. The answer to this question was an easy one for me, I teach it to my students. But who else in my school does? Not many if any. While we live in a day and age of interconnectedness, how is it that we are not focusing more on this topic. How many of our students take the first three or four searches they plug into Google, or Yahoo, or Bing? We have to ask the question (and teach our students to ask the same question) are these reliable sources? How do we determine if these sources are reliable? How do we know if we can even read them? With the help of Google Educators, you have access to those answers. Here is the link to the Educators page (http://www.google.com/edu/teachers/) and Search (http://www.google.com/insidesearch/searcheducation/index.html).
We need to ask ourselves, are our students actually doing research or are the just skimming? Is there supposed to be a devoted class to teach this or can it be integrated into our curriculum? I am a strong believer that it needs to be integrated into everyones curriculum. Every class has a different set challenges and if you are truly a 21st Century teacher, then you are sending your kids to find information on the web. I am not asking that you spend weeks on this with your students, but every now and then. Just to make sure they stay sharp on those skills. After all, how many of you still remember what you got on your history test from fifth or sixth grade? This is a skill that will last a lifetime with our students. So why aren't we spending more time on it?
This is a question that is asked by any teacher who is looking to improve upon their craft. So once I started doing my research on the "Flipped Classroom", I found lots of resources. Most of them pointed me to the work of Aaron Sams and Jonathan Berrgman, the co-creators of the "Flipped Classroom". They started by making screen-captures of their lessons for students who were absent or gone off to sporting events. They called this the Flipping 101, where a teacher makes a screen recording of their lecture and has students watch this at home. In return, the students would come into class and then do what would have normally been homework in class. What is nice a bout this model is that the teacher is able to help students where they need to be helped. The biggest problem I see with this model (and yes, I did this at first too), is that it is still practicing bad pedagogy. The teacher is still lecturing to students. While the student can start and stop you at home, you are still lecturing to them. The students still take tests and quizzes until they reach "mastery" (70%). As with any new methodology, they have changed the class evenmore. If you are interested in finding out what they have done, check out their book Flip Your Classroom, Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day or do what I did, research it online!
I needed something a bit more dynamic though. It just so happened that the day or two before I went to a workshop on Reversing Instruction, I found a great blog run by an AP Chemistry teacher out of the Bay Area in California by the name of Ramsey Musallam (@ramusallam). His blog is located at www.cyclesoflearning.com. He has TONS of useful information on how to make screen-recordings, methodology, quick tips, and pedagogical theory he has dervived through his Doctorite studies. Using information from other educators in the past, Ramsey came up with Explore - Flip - Apply. In essence, Ramsey gives his students a video clip of a movie or a reaction of chemicals, or some other experiment that relates to what his students will be studying. Noticed I said, what they will be studying. He then has the students reconstruct the experiment from what they know. If the students struggle along the way, then Ramsey will create a video for them, explaining what students are struggling with. He does not pre-make videos. Instead they are tools used to help with misunderstandings. If no video is needed, then none are made. The learning continues. This pedagogy is in contrast to Flipped Mastery.
As I said before I also went to a workshop run by a group my school belongs to. There was Jeff Utecht (@jutecht) and his one day workshop was on Reversing Instruction. I really took to what Jeff was teaching us. Students need to become producers of content instead of consumers. Jeff's version of the "Flipped Classroom" does not use videos. Instead, students are given essential questions to a topic they are going to cover in class. One group of students research information to help answer those questions and write blog posts with what they have found. The other group of students are then asked to read the blog posts and come to class ready to discuss the topic, based on what their classmates have provided for them. The class then holds a Fish Bowl. If you are not familiar with what a Fish Bowl is, a group of students are in a circle surrounded by a group on the outside. The group on the inside has a discussion about those esstential questions, while the group on the outside uses a backchannel to ask additional questions and post summerizations of what they heard from the other group. Here is the link to Jeff's blog post: http://www.thethinkingstick.com/flipping-history/.
All in all, you should see, that their is no one way to "Flip" a classroom.
To get to where I am now, was a long journey. But the short and sweet of it was I finally took the plunge and joined Twitter. I had always thought of myself as a good teacher. I mean, hey I work for a school that is well known for academics and the arts. Most of our students become valedictorians at area high schools. This past year, of the four main schools our students goto, we had three valedictorians. So needles to say my students are driven to succeed. When I got to my current job, Here is what a typical classroom would look like. All desks facing the front and the teacher is the center of the classroom, not the student. So when I was hired, I knew I was different than most teachers at my school.
Upon arrival, I knew I had to change my physical setting. I moved my desks into a horse shoe with my projector and document camera in the center of them to get more of a group dynamic feeling in my room. Here is what my room looks today.
So when I got to my school, here is what my typical class would like. First, we would begin with going over the previous nights homework. Usually 3 questions that I thought were important to the lesson. After discussion, a quick warm-up question then off the races! I would then have my students get into groups and work on taking notes in class. Towards the end of class, last 10 min or so, we would go over the notes and move onto the next lesson, if time allowed. Not to shabby considering I only have 42 min four days a week and 35 the other. I would of course throw in the occasional primary source and project to keep class interesting. But the main problem was most of the attention of the class was on me, not the students.
I needed to get my students more involved in their learning. So back to the original question, how do I do this? Like I said earlier, I joined Twitter and was going to different conferences learning about the latest and greatest teaching philosophies, ect. Then I heard about the Flipped Classroom on Twitter. So I started to join in on the conversations they were having and doing my own research and found that this methodology just might be in my wheel house.
George Phillip is a social studies teacher and designer.
Ramsey Musallam - www.cyclesoflearning.com
Karl Lindgren-Streicher -
Josh Stumpenhorst -
Jason Bretzmann -
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