Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why “Flip”?

While participating in the Siemens STEM Institute 2011 fellowship program, I attended Lodge McCammon’s (of the Friday Institute) presentation discussing the “The Flipped Classroom”.  It was an eye-opening experience that immediately made me aware of all the possibilities this tool can provide.

The idea of providing my high school Biology students with prerecorded lectures to listen to, at their own pace, sounded like a great way to differentiate my lecture material.  Students now can pause and rewind the material that was more difficult for them to understand.  This format also makes the curriculum more accessible to my ELL (English Language Learner) and special needs students.  

The greatest benefit of the Flipped Classroom is students can watch these lectures on their own time, as homework.  This translates into less of our class time being spent lecturing and much more time being spent exploring the newly learned concepts with labs, projects or investigations. 
This is where the term “flipped” comes from.  Rather than a teacher lecturing during class and then sending students home to work on projects they may not understand, students are instead assigned lectures to watch as homework and return to class ready to further explore the concepts.  By “flipping” what is assigned as homework, teachers assume the role of personal learning coaches and fellow classmates become tutors, all while being actively engaged in the content.

After much personal research I have decided to give this a try.  My three main concerns going into this are…
1.       How long will it take for my Biology students to assume the responsibility for their own learning and actually watch the videos as home work?
a.      There is VERY LITTLE motivation among several of my students to do homework.
2.      Students without internet access will have to find time in their school day to use a computer and watch the lecture.
a.      This should not be a problem for most students, but I can see it as an easy excuse.
3.      Will I be able to manage the many classroom activities taking place simultaneously in my room?
a.      Group 1:  Students on computers during class time because they didn’t do their “homework”.
b.      Group 2:  Advanced activities for students that have mastered the content.
c.       Group 3:  Mid-level activities for students that are starting their journey of understanding.
d.      Group 4:  A personal review group for students that need more one on one explanation.
Wish me luck!

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