Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Thoughts on Flipped Teaching

A couple months ago I attended a workshop at our ISD on flipped teaching and I wrote a post about it and featured some relevant iPad apps.  This past week I attended the second half of the training.  I am also working closely with two high school math teachers from our district that plan to flip a couple classes next year, so it has consumed a lot of my attention.

After spending all these hours exploring the topic, I don’t have much more to add than what I said before.  It has been very effective because it transforms the role of the teacher in the best ways.  All the time spent on a subject, whether at home or at school, is used more efficiently and the goal of learning takes center stage.

We know that time spent on traditional homework is often not used efficiently.  As so many frustrated parents and students have discovered, there are countless ways to complete assignments without actually learning the important concepts.  There are also a lot of ways to get stuck and not know how to properly finish an assignment.  But by having students watch videos and participate in online discussion the teacher can better guide the use of time even though he or she is not physically there in the room with the student.  In short, work at home becomes effective, so students and parents see the value.

Some teachers are quick to point out reasons that flipped teaching won’t work, but there are some simple facts that we hear repeatedly for those who try it:

  • Students like it.  
  • Teachers like it.  
  • Grades are improving.  

When I look over the trends that have come and gone in the past 18 years of my career, I can’t think of any others that get such high marks in those three areas.

The only downside I see is that getting started is a huge job.  Teachers essentially have to guide the learning in class at school and at home.  The good news is the time making videos or compiling existing ones is an investment and many teachers are choosing to make it.

Here are some resources I have come across in the past few months since my initial post.  I recommend them to anyone considering making the investment of time over the summer:

First, here are two articles from Alan November's work:

Here's an active Facebook group for teaching in a flipped classroom.

And to wrap up, I liked what Sal Khan had to say about flipped teaching in a segment on 60 Minutes.  Let's not think it's about watching videos at home.  It's really about making learning fit the learner.

“I kind of view that as a step in the direction. The ideal direction is using something like Khan Academy for every student to work at their own pace, to master concepts before moving on, and then the teacher using Khan Academy as a tool so that you can have a room of 20 or 30 kids all working on different things, but you can still kind of administrate that chaos.” (Taken from the transcript.)

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