Monday, February 17, 2014

The "Flipped" Classroom

"Flipped Instruction" is a term I had just recently heard about (thanks to our Geometry class last semester) and something that teachers have started introducing into the classroom in the past five or six years. After reading "The Flipped Classroom" by Bill Tucker in the Education Next online journal, it was clear to me just how new this idea is. It came from two high school Chemistry teachers as they were having trouble reteaching lessons to students who had missed class. They started by posting videos for review of each day's lesson. Soon, they learned that not only were absent students watching the videos, but also many of the students that had sat through the lesson already needed just a second glance for reinforcement and practice on their homework. (By the way, the cost of the very first software program to do such a thing was only $50 for the teachers). This new idea turned into a whole new teaching style for these teachers. Instead of standing in front of the class, lecturing, and then assigning problems for the students to do on their own, they posted the lessons online and worked out the problems in class in a collaborative matter, which allows the teacher to actually work with students individually during the class period.

I also found a blog written by a teacher who is currently practicing "flipped instruction" in his classroom. On misterteacher.com, this blog, "Flipping the Classroom Part Two: The Nuts & Bolts," was written on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 (in case you're like to do some further reading). This teacher said he first started using "flipped instruction" during two lessons that he knew would be easy for the students to understanding- these lessons were over adding and subtracting decimals, and basic fraction skills. He used SMART Record and a microphone to record his 5-8 minute videos and then was able to post them on SchoolTube. In order to allow students who don't have computers at home to get to a computer somewhere, he would tell the students a few days in advance about a specific video he wanted them to watch. After they watched the video, he had the students take an online quiz. The results were sent straight to him and he was able to record any common questions that the students had trouble answering, or if there were certain students that had trouble. This way, he could spend a little more time going over the concept many students got wrong, or he could spend more time working individually with students that had trouble with the quiz.

Personally, I think this is a great idea to implement into the classroom. The teacher I talked about in the second paragraph is doing this practice perfectly. Of course, there needs to be some sort of assessment that students do on their own so a teacher can track their learning, and that is where the online quiz comes in handy. If I were to do such a thing, I probably wouldn't have the quizzes graded- this way students aren't pressured to get the answers all correct which takes away a potential cheating problem. To me, flipping the classroom is how teachers should have been teaching their students for much longer than just six years ago. I remember sitting in class, listening to my math teachers lecture their lesson and thinking that I understood every single word that they said. Then, I'd go home after whatever sports practice and try a hand at the problems, soon to realize that I really did not understand much of the lesson (and this didn't only occur in some math classes). Luckily, I had teachers who got to school early in case their students had questions about the homework so I was able to finish my homework in the morning. However, as I continue to learn about "flipped instruction," I continue to realize what an awesome way for students to fully understand that lesson. Students typically don't have time to ask questions during, or after, the lesson so they go home either not understanding the lesson at all or with misconceptions about the lesson. And still, there are definitely students who go home completely understanding the lesson because they are much more advanced than the rest of the class, making their time in the classroom extremely boring.

The classroom is so diverse in intelligence. As future teachers, it is (going to be) our job to meet the needs of all of our students- individually. If we "flip" the traditional classroom, struggling students will have time to ask their questions, advanced students will be able to challenge themselves, and we teachers will have a much better understanding of our students. We will get to know them better since it is a collaborative setting- we'll get to know their styles of learning and their personalities. Again, it is (going to be) our job to make our students feel competent- intellectually, emotionally, and socially. If our students can openly ask questions without feeling embarrassed and we can answer their questions so that they are confidently do their own work, then we are doing our job as teachers.

It is my hope that, in the future, this new concept of "flipped instruction" will be the norm and the "traditional" way of learning is a thing in the past. In the future, I hope that the "traditional" way of teaching is considered the "flipped" way of teaching. Because, doesn't it seem flipped to you? It sure does to me.