How to conduct the Explore Phase
This is a series of three blog posts where I go through how you can implement the Explore, Flip, Apply in your social studies classroom. While this is social studies specific, I will explain how this could be used in any type of class.
In much of education today, we are taking the student out of it. What does this mean? Look at Drop Out rates in the US. Many educators and schools push a system of education where the student is supposed to absorb through a teaching method that is outdated (the lecture). We then expect students to regurgitate that information on quizzes, tests, exams, and standardized tests. Yes, there are pockets in the country and deeply devoted teachers who are trying to fix the system, but it is broken right now. So many different new teaching pedagogies have been developed recently.
The one that seems to be making the most splash in the news is Flipped Learning. If you don’t know much about Flipped Learning, at its roots, students are normally doing the work of class (listening to a lecture and taking notes) at home, and doing the homework at school. While it is much more than watching a video and doing questions in class, this seems to be the general sentiment of what Flipped Learning is.
I have tried and presented on many different styles of the "Flipped Classroom.” The style I tried first was Flipped 101 (described above), then I went to a Flipped Mastery model (students worked at their own pace to meet deadlines for quizzes, tests, projects, etc.). What I like about the Flipped Mastery model is that students are able to learn at their own pace. But what really bugs me about Flipped 101 and Flipped Mastery is that it is still driven by an outdated method of teaching, the lecture. It also lacks a bit of inquiry. I did both of these methods my first year of Flipped Teaching.
Then I found Ramsey’s website titled Cycles of Learning (which was called FlipTeaching when I first found it.) After investigating what it was a bit more, I really liked what Ramsey was getting at with this new method, let student inquiry drive the learning process. In the Explore phase, the teacher uses a hook (video, document, map, guiding question) to activate the students prior knowledge while withholding information from the students. When you hook students, they will drive their own learning. I will tell you this, after doing this for two years, students know more than we think and they will go deeper into the content if we hook them first.
Here are several examples of how to use hooks:
Science: If you teach Chemistry a great hook would be to show a chemical reaction. You would only let the students know the what chemicals or elements you used to create this reaction. Then the students would have to figure how to recreate the reaction just as you did it.
In Physics, you could show a video clip of an earthquake taking down a skyscraper. Then have the students figure out the force that would be needed to take down that building.
Math: Dan Meyer is probably my most favorite math person in the whole world. I really feel his Three Act Math class is the way all math classes will end up going. In his TED Talk he has a great video clip of a water tank filling up. If you are talking about volume, time, rate of flow, etc, you could show your students this video. Then have them make predictions about time, volume, etc.
English: Lets say your studying poems. Instead of teaching about poems first, then having the students write poems, give your students the most interesting piece of the poem. Have them discuss it in groups to see if they can’t figure out what will happen next.
Social Studies: Say your studying the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement. Start by showing the students MLK Jrs. famous speech. Then have the students discuss what might be going on in history to cause this to happen. Or show JFK being shot (if your students are old enough) and discuss what must be going on in order for someone to take a presidents life?
Maybe your studying World History and are looking studying Rome. Show your students a picture or movie clip of Julius Caesar getting assassinated. Then have your students discuss what must have Rome been like for the Senate to kill him?
One of my favorites is using population maps. At the beginning of a few of my world history courses, whenever we are getting ready to learn about a new civilization, I show them a population map from today. I ask the students, why do you think the area is darker than the rest of the map. So they start discussing and investigating.
So as you can see, instead of starting a new unit of study or new topic with me telling me my students read pages 34-45 and answer the reading check questions, I can get them invested in their learning first by activating prior knowledge and getting them hooked. By allowing the students collaborate (one of those big buzz words in education today... and always!) they are using the information immediately and in a meaningful way.
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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