Following some advice from a super social studies teacher, Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher) and created a menu for my students to complete instead of giving them a test. The menu is set up by Appertizer, Main Course, and Dessert. Each column deals with an issue that is being faced in Africa. The higher the price, the harder the project. I have one project in each column that asks to students to write, use technology, and create some kind of poster. I tried to give the students as much choice as I could while still covering the objectives. That is why they are free to choose what countries they cover.
My friend Moss Pike (@mosspike) and I co-moderated an #isedchat about the Charateristics of Successful Advisory Program. If you are around on Thursdays at 9 PM EST you should stop by. Here is the Storify.
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and schools push a system of education where the student is supposed to absorb through a teaching method that is outdated (the lecture).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.
Our March question was: How do you asses historical thinking. I know it is the middle of April already, but I finally finished with a blog post for our history group. Here it is.
Why didn't you teach me to think historically old social studies teacher?
Dear Social Teachers of my Past,
I know teachers usually teach in the they they were taught. Heck, most new parents use the parenting skills of their parents. But does that make this correct? Yes and No. While I am sure you are taking the best skills of the teachers of your past, don’t get sucked into the their worst traits. This means, don’t lecture any more! Well at least not all the time. You need to teach me to think, and history teachers, you needed me to think like a historian!
Throughout school, you always had us write essays, take tests, do projects, etc, etc, etc. While in school I thought you were trying to give us busy work, in reality you were trying to teach us to think historically, I think. You believed that if students could memorize facts and repeat information, then they must be able to think like a historian. Well, not so fast my old teachers!
Today old teachers, I think it is more important to teach your students how to think historically. This reason maybe why history repeats itself! Most people have forgotten the facts they were made to memorize for the test! Here is how.
First, engage me in great questions. Yes you heard me, ask great questions. Not one of those Lower Blooms questions that I can simply Google or what you call a test that has multiple choice and fill in the blank questions, but give me something that will actually make me think. While I may not like it this moment, I will thank you later (which I have for the harder work you made me do!). Secondly, teach me to think historically. What does this mean? Well, teach me to look at viewpoints objectively, teach me to weigh and analyze conflicting evidence. Teach me to think for myself and be a great citizen. This is the tricky part, how do you do this?
First you need to teach me to ask questions. I need to be able to collect information from texts, images, videos, or any other type of Primary/Secondary source. Secondly, I need to be able to contextualize the information. What does that mean? Well it means I am able to put events in place and time. If I am reading a document from the 1800s, I can visualize time and place. Thirdly, I need to be able to carefully consider what the source is saying. I need to be able to understand the language they are using. Fourthly, I need to be able determine points of agreement and disagreement. I need to be able to compare and contrast these sources. Finally, I am able to make judgements about what is really being said.
As to not be to objective, make a rubric that has what you are expecting me to know based on the criteria above. Remember, I am a sponge and I want to learn. Teach me to ask questions, I will always use this skill.
Some of this information is based on the data I learned from http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/
Today I had the honor to be interviewed by Andy Barnett, an Education student at IU Bloomington. We talked why I flipped, (although I don't really consider my self a flipped teacher), different styles of flipping, and advise for those looking at flipping. Here is our recorded talk.
While on Spring Break, I have been listening to a lot of Podcasts. Specifically, the Podcast called EduAllStars. You can find them at www.eduallstars.com and on Twitter at @EduAllStarsHQ. They are run by a friend, Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd), Chris Kesler (@iamkesler), and Stacey Huffine (@techninjastacey. There guest in their earliest Podcasts was Dave Burgess (@burgessdave). He is known for his book, Teach Like a Pirate. During his interview Dave made a comment that stuck with me. Paraphrasing Dave, he said, "don't let a specific style of teaching determine who you are as a teacher. Be who you want to be as a teacher." If you have seen my presentations or chatted with me in other forums, you know how passionate I am about using Ramsey Musallam's (@ramusallam) Explore, Flip, Apply, which is a way to "Flip" your classroom. However, the term "Flipped Teacher" or "Flipped Learning" really bugs me. I feel that you should not pigeon hole an educator by the type of teaching style they use. Great educators use many different styles to engage students. So to say I am a "Flipped Teacher" is wrong. I am an educator and a learner and I use what ever method is necessary to first engage my students through inquiry, help guide them if they struggle, and allow students to be the authors of their own work.
This post was from my contribution to the Peer Instruction blog run by the Mazur Group out of Harvard.
How did I come about teaching using Peer Instruction?
Many of us have seen this scenario: students dazed, staring off into space, and sleeping at their desks. It is a recognizable scene, with a teacher standing at the front delivering a great lesson. The teacher asks questions along the way, but the students aren’t answering. They are disengaged. If you’re like me, you’re imagining the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ben Stein is lecturing about economic policies. If not, you can see this scene in almost any school across the country. This old style of teaching is an epidemic that continues to lurk in our school systems. Why? Many schools and teachers are evaluated by the standardized tests their students take. Teachers are required to teach a certain amount of curriculum before the standardized test. The classrooms where this cycle occurs tend to be very teacher-centric and student learning is stifled.
Looking for something different for my students
I have been teaching middle school social studies for six years. When I was in college, I knew I did not want to be the kind of teacher depicted above. In my first few years of teaching, I tried to limit my role in the classroom. I did not want to be Ben Stein’s character. I wanted to observe more student-centered learning. At least that was my intent. When I first began teaching, a typical class would look something like this: during the first 15 minutes, I answered questions posed by students, go over homework, and give instructions. Then, I allowed my students to work in groups on various worksheets or notes. In the last 10 – 15 minutes of class we would go over any unanswered questions. To keep the students on their toes, I would throw in movie clips, primary sources, audio clips, and projects. I noticed that when the students were working together, they were more engaged. So I kept going with this teaching style because I thought it worked with my students. However, my students were not as fully engaged as they needed to be. I was looking for something more dynamic. I would find it in the movement called Flipped Teaching.
Flipping Flipped Teaching
The basic process of Flipped Teaching has been around for some time; other monikers include inverted instruction, inverted learning and reversing instruction. In Flipped Teaching, each instructor pushes what would normally be done in class through direct instruction out of the classroom and into the individual learner’s space. Students can digest instructional content at their own pace. In the community space (class), students spend more time applying what they have learned outside of class in meaningful ways. As I developed my own Flipped Classroom, I also found Ramsey Musallam’s process, called Explore, Flip, Apply.
Explore, Flip, Apply
While exploring new teaching pedagogies, Ramsey found that using an “inverted classroom” (Lage, Platt, & Teglia, 2000) was not satisfying the needs of his students and his inner scientist wanted a way to have inquiry drive the learning. Thus, Ramsey developed Explore-Flip-Applybased on the work of Robert Karplus’s Explore-Explain-Apply. In the Explore-Flip-Apply model, teachers use inquiry to elicit curiosity in students, to engage them in a way that will motivate them for future learning. Students spend time exploring concepts and applying knowledge together in class. That night, Ramsey creates a short video over the misconceptions the students encountered during class time. Students continue working on application in class the following day, with a quiz at the end of the cycle. To read more about Explore-Flip-Apply seewww.cyclesoflearning.com.
Ramsey’s method hooked my attention right away. Using maps, images, video clips, audio clips, and primary/secondary sources, I also try to create an environment of curiosity by withholding information from my students. My first unit of study in fifth grade social studies is the Five Themes of Geography. To begin, I show the students a video of a family who owns and operates a large commercial farm. The video shows the students all five themes without labeling them. After the video, I ask the students to work in groups to come up with the five themes. Usually my students get two or three without having done prior study. Their homework then is to watch a video I create explaining the phases they missed. The the real magic in my classroom happens. During the Apply phase, I use Peer Instruction.
Peer Instruction with a few Twists
I use Peer Instruction in my 5th and 6th Grade social studies class in a number of ways. Here are five examples.
Traditional Peer Instruction
The first way I use Peer Instruction in my classes is through questioning. I display a question using a slide, have students answer that question individually using their hands, or occasionally software on the school’s iPads, and then I review the results. If too few students answer the question correctly, I cue them to find someone who has a different answer and try to convince them that their answer is correct. I notice that during their discussions their learning is deep, rich, and dynamic.
Teacher for a Day
Since social studies does not apply itself to equations, formulas, and theorems, I also have my students answer many different question types, including open-ended/”what if” questions about the events or topics we are studying. My goal is to create an environment where students practice thinking more like someone from the time period we are working on, or a historian. For example, one of our units covers ancient Chinese history. I break the unit down into smaller topics including geography, philosophy, empires, and the impact of the Silk Road. Through vegetation, climate, and population density maps, we explore why the earliest people settled where they did.
Revisiting the Five Themes of Geography, after my class has studied the themes, they have an opportunity to be a teacher for a day. I have them build a lesson to teach one of the Five Themes to the second grade class. To help their second grade peers, my fifth graders have created matching games, board games, puzzles, and even a scavenger hunt to help teach the themes.
One of my favorite learning activities where I put a twist on the traditional implementation of Peer Instruction is the Walking Gallery. Instead of posing a question on a slide, collecting student responses, and cueing students to turn to their neighbor and discuss, I ask students to draw pictures of a particular concept, topic, or idea. We then hold a Walking Gallery with the purpose of having students learn from each other’s drawings. I cue students to find someone who drew their picture differently from their own and instruct them to try to explain why their drawing was correct. As we move through the gallery, if I overhear a misunderstanding, I give a quick mini-lecture (no more than two or three minutes) to provide resolution.
Philosopher for a Day
During our philosophy section in 6th grade, we examine the works of Confucius, Daoism, and Legalism. After providing students with the necessary background material, I ask them to choose a philosophy that best suits their own understanding. I then cue them to find another student to pair with. I use clock partners with students to help with pairing so they do not always work with the same person. In their pairs, students answer a few questions based on key ideas in Chinese history. I rotate through the room and listen. If there are any misconceptions in class, I give a quick lecture to help move them toward my learning goals.
Emperor for a Day
When 6th grade students study about the emperors, Shi Huangdi, Liu Bang, and Wudi, we start by researching documents, listening to readings, and study artwork from the emperor’s time period. While these emperors never faced each other, they are linked as pioneers in China’s history. After analyzing the information on philosophies and the emperors’ themselves, students put their conceptual understandings of the emperors to work. Again, I pair students and ask them to take on the persona of one of the emperors and cue them to discuss topics such as education, war, expansion, and the Great Wall of China. Students learn a great deal through their conversations with one another – indeed they are teaching each other! I see this as the critical element in Peer Instruction: students learning from students instead of me. As a teacher, I have noticed that while I may teach a concept using the same words as one of my 5th or 6th graders, oftentimes they can explain it and use examples in a way that is more understandable.
By putting my own twists on Peer Instruction and mixing it with an inquiry-based approach, I have been able to challenge my students more. The most exciting thing is to see that when I use these methods, my students’ passion for Social Studies explodes.
A little while ago I was contacted by a friend on Twitter about joining this great project. Every month we are given a topic to write a blog post about dealing with aspects in history classes. The prompt for this month was Teaching students a list of facts about the past vs. teaching them to think historically. Here is my contribution to the blog:
Growing up, history was important to my family. My grandpa in particular would always tell great stories about his time in Vietnam or living in Alaska, Arizona, or Hawaii while in the armed forces. We also talked about the Civil War or listened to Civil War books on our trips to Florida for Spring Break. My grandparents also took me to Pow-Wows and other historically important places near where they lived in Pittsburgh. I can remember walking through graveyards to find gravestones of past relatives among the many other adventures we would have. History was a part of our life as a family. It just wasn’t facts strung together to make sense of an event or time period, it was more, much more.
In school I was lucky enough to have some great history teachers and some really bad ones! They would still lecture to a class and we had to take notes, but many of my history teachers brought it to life. It wasn't just about reading out of a textbook and answering some questions at home. Then in class discussing the answers to the homework and repeating like a bad Boy Band song on the radio, they could make you feel like you were there. Yes, we would do the occasional project, but it was more used to break up the doldrums of the textbook. It was about bringing history to life. I remember one of high school world history teachers well. When we would cover a new era in history we had “visitors” come in to our class. He of course dressed the part and acted the part. It made it more real, and weird, but you could see how understanding was vital to the experience of history.
In college I had both types of professors. The ones who were really passionate, taught with a tenacity you would have thought you just ran a marathon after class. In fact, one of my college professors was so passionate about his big ideas, he actually created a new form of history called the Big History Project. (You should look up Craig Benjamin from Grand Valley State University and the Big History Project). Anyways, I digress. And I had those professors who would lecture strait out of the textbook or books we had to read for class. BORING!
The most valuable lessons I took from my teachers and professors was this, that no matter what form of history you teach, it is important your students have an understanding, no a grasp of conceptional understanding of what happened. This does not mean teaching a list of facts, that may or may not connect to an event, have a quiz or test, then repeat. Information like this that lives in Bloom’s Taxonomy Lower Levels does not need to be taught. Yes, some students are going to memorize facts and tell you what happened on that date, etc. But does that mean they really know and understand what happened?
We need to get away from a form of teaching where students will only study and dump that information. It’s more important for us as history teachers to give our students experiences that will last with them forever. Give them the primary and secondary sources to intense and stimulate their brain instead of memorizing facts and regurgitating them for a score. We need to use more inquiry to attract our students to our subject.
Here is how I do it. I always start a lesson with an image, map, a piece primary source, a movie clip, etc. to get the students hooked on what we will be covering. This usually revolves around a central question Google cannot answer easily. Then I have the students discuss in small groups or as a large group what this has to do. I am activating their prior knowledge to make sense of what we are learning. From here, students then either watch a video or read the lesson in the textbook or read more primary sources, or find information online to help them further their understanding of the topic. From here, students then need to apply their information they have gained in a way that demonstrates understanding. This could be a Socrative Seminar, a Fish Bowl, a PowerPoint (done with pictures and no words), iMovies, a mock trial, a business plan for a new company, a regular old test, etc. The sky is the limit. All along this way, I can see if my students are actually comprehending the information and by applying it to new situations, if they have a firm grasp of the ideas. If they had to learn a list of facts and pass a test, I can see what they knew for that test.
It is time we move our programs to the current century and teach our students the necessary skills they will need to survive outside of school.
Let me know what your thoughts are. I would be happy to discuss them.
Back in December I was able to hang out with Kaelyn Bullock, David Fouch, Tom Driscoll, Jason Bretzmann, Karl LS, and Kenny Bosch to talk all things Flipped History. We discussed what we were trying new in our classes, new technologies, and upcoming conferences. Below you will find the video.
I know this is nothing new, but as for teacher whose students leave notes at home, this can be really handy. A little while back, Google allowed you to insert a video into Google form. At the time I thought nothing of it, but while designing an activity for a lesson, I thought to myself, this would be a great way to combine two exercises. When students watch the videos for me, they have to interact with the video. What that usually means is that they take notes on the video and then bring them to class so that they have some concrete evidence of they watched the video. Every now and then I would have them fill out a Google Form with questions based on the video to demonstrate understanding. We would use these for a different activity, but thats not the point. Here is what the video embedded in the form looks like:
We will see how this works out. It may take my students some time to get used to!
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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