Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flipping the Science Classroom - My Goal for 2015-2016

I have played with flipping my classroom for a while.  I create screencasts of lessons, and occasionally assign those as "homework," but I have not done the research to really flip the class.

One main reason I have not fully jumped into flipping my classroom is the students who don't have internet access at home.  We still have many students who do not have internet access.  The schools in our district also do not allow the WiFi access to work outside the buildings.  I would like to see that changed so students can go to whichever school is closest at night and sit outside to get internet access to do homework if they do not have internet access at home.  

I try to always make myself available before and after school, but that doesn't always work for some families.  Many students have something going on after school every night of the week.  Sports, dance, drama, music, etc.  Because of this, many students have to be picked up right after school.

I am going to work with my administrators to try and make a part of the cafeteria designated to those who need to watch a video or use an online simulation for class during breakfast and lunch.  Our students are not allowed to have their computers on the lunch tables right now because they don't want things getting spilled on them.  However, students who earn a reward time do get to eat lunch in the office and play games on the computers.  I'm hoping that having a designated area with less students than the normal lunch table will be a viable option.
I just finished reading, "Flipped Learning for Science Instruction" by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  It was a great book, easy read (took about 2 hours), and was full of useful information.  There were many "duh, why did I not think of that moments."  They give great examples of how to flip the lessons.  It doesn't have to be a video every night!  They also do a great job of showing ways science teachers can utilize the "reinvented" class time. 

When you have students watch the video or use the online simulation, the direct instruction that you would normally do in class is done.  This leaves the class time open for other things.  This "reinvented" class time can be used for small groups of students who did not fully understand the lesson, labs, experiments, project based learning, and many other ways to get your students thinking and understanding on higher levels.  The "reinvented" class time is not just for doing worksheets.  That can be part of it on some days, but finding ways for students to interact with the material and really understand it are more powerful.  If you just switch the direct instruction and the homework time, you did not really flip your class.  You just adjusted the times of activities. 

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
  • "In a flipped classroom, the teacher is actually more necessary, more needed, and more integral to the learning experience of all students."
  • "The tyranny of curriculum and the comfort of our old ways often keep us in a rut."
  • "Instead of spraying the entire class with content, the teacher directs the students who have reached poor conclusions or are developing misconceptions to appropriate content."
  • "Developing a library of videos and getting quality activities in class will need to be the first priority."
  • "We need to move away from being disseminators of content and instead become facilitators of learning."
My goal for this year is to create a library of video lessons.  I would like to use EduCanon to create interactive videos.  This website allows you to add questions in the YouTube video.  This will help ensure that students are watching the videos and understanding the content.

I also want to have more hands-on activities and labs to do in class.  With a flipped class, I will be able to have more labs, but also longer labs.  I will have the time to do multi-day labs where I wouldn't have been able to do that in the past.  Utilizing the at home direct instruction will free up more time for in-class exploration. 

Bergmann and Sams mentioned that collaboration is key if you have someone teaching similar content and you work well with.  I am lucky enough to have a great teaching partner.  I know that if we work together, Kyle Nabity and I will be able to make a great interactive video library and come up with stellar labs and experiments to allow the students to go higher in their learning. 

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