Friday, June 15, 2012

The Flipped Classroom Revisited

I posted an article a while back about my thoughts on the flipped classroom: Math Anxiety and the Flipped Classroom.  In this post, I basically expressed my concern that many teachers are using the flipped model to continue the same traditional way of teaching - lecture and homework, and merely switching where these things happened. If this is how the model is being used, especially in math, it is not going to improve student learning because it's the same old thing. My hope was that those embracing this model were truly doing something different - really using the class time to connect with their students, provide collaborative learning experiences, engaging in real-world applications, projects and extending the learning to make connections - not just reviewing homework. In short, teaching DIFFERENT in the classroom - where the classroom becomes a student-centered learning experience, not just a regurgitation of what they saw/learned in the online 'lecture'.

That's my hope.  I am still on the flipped fence. But...since I am inundated with articles about the flipped classroom model, I have actually succumbed to reading them rather than ignoring them, and have been pleasantly surprised more often than expected. There are people out there offering great examples of how this flipped model, if done right, can change the learning experiences for students for the better. I thought I would share a few of those articles below because they have at least given me some hope that not everyone thinks an online lecture is the answer or the way to 'integrate technology' appropriately. They also provide some great ideas and strategies if you are considering this model.

Catlin Tucker wrote a great blog post entitled Flipped Classrooms: Beyond the Videos where she gives three suggestions on how to make this model work.  Her point is that everyone is focusing on the online lectures or videos, when in fact the idea behind this is that you can use so many different avenues to help students learn and you are not confined to lectures or worksheets.  The classroom, flipped or not, can be about using all possible resources to help students understand, be creative, apply what they are learning. It's really more about flipping the students than the classroom - engaging students in learning rather than having them be passive receivers of knowledge.

Brian Bennett, Jason Kern, April Gudenrath and Philip McIntosh wrote a series on the flipped classroom, but their last post in the series, The Flipped Class: What Does a Good One Look Like? outlines what a good flipped classroom should look like. What you will notice when you read the article is that the classroom culture is student-centered, involves active student engagement and collaboration, where students are learning in context using real-world applications of concepts. There's no 'sit and get' the information - it's an active, participatory learning environment.

 An article just posted by Kyle Stokes entitled "Why Good Teachers - Not Good Videos - Are the Key to the Flipped Classroom"` reiterates the point Catlin Tucker made, that it's not the videos but the quality of the teacher.  The video is not the magic of the flipped model, rather it's what happens in the classroom. Brian Bennett in his post entitled Redesigning Learning in a Flipped Classroom talks about how the classroom and the way a teacher thinks and structures that time has to be completely rethought.  The role of the teacher is entirely different because you are learning along with your students in class time rather than doling out the information. A good flipped classroom is NOT easy - it requires thought, planning, engaging activities, real-world activities, questioning, listening, collaboration...

I have hope, or at least more hope than before.  I still worry a great deal about math classrooms, as I think there is more of a tendency to rely on the lectures (i.e. Khan Academy) as the magical fix to improving students math abilities. But - there are at least people talking and sharing ideas on how to use this model effectively. May that trend continue.

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