Last year when I had my first round of parent conferences in October, I found that many parents did not know that I had a functional class website let alone how to operate it. I also needed to walk students through the process in class several times before they completely understood where daily assignments were, how they could submit homework online, and where they should post for their weekly blog posts. This year, I am going to provide students and their parents with a video tutorial that works as a tour of the website. That way whenever they have questions about the site at the beginning of the year they can refer back to the video as a guide.
This will also be a nice way to introduce them to one of the ways I will be flipping the classroom this upcoming year. Although many of my flipped instruction videos will hopefully be interactive, I believe walk through tutorials could work really well for explaining how to navigate new sites, apps, and programs. This video tutorial is a little longer because I want to make sure that they know how to navigate the class webpage completely. I am also introducing myself to parents at the beginning of the tutorial. Usually I would try to keep flipped videos between 2-3 minutes, 5 at the most.
After students watch the website tutorial with their parents, they are asked to complete a Google forms survey. This will help me determine who understands the uses of the website and can be a homework grade. It will also give me parent feedback and allow anyone that has questions or concerns to leave a comment.
I am excited about flipping my classroom because it will allow us to focus on the production of work in class and the questions that accompany that work instead of the instructional process. If students receive the instructions or lecture portion of the lesson in small doses outside of class, then they can return to class with their questions ready and their interest piqued for the assignment/project portion of the unit. How much work could we accomplish if the prep work was done outside of class? What extensions could be added to projects that have previously been done in class with the lecture as part of the class time? The possibilities are fun to anticipate. Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager address this idea and other project based learning in the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering int he Classroom. The book focuses on the Maker Movement, but there are several moments that I thought of during this post and the following is one of them:
“‘I think it’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of truth in saying that when you go to school, the trauma is that you must stop learning and you must now accept being taught’ -Seymour Papert” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 69).
This quote highlights what flipping a classroom represents. It stops students from being taught and instead gives them the opportunity to learn in an organic, individualized fashion. If students are able to focus on creativity and innovative ways to display their knowledge in class, then it is reasonable to say that the end product will be much better than what they would have been able to create if a majority of the class time was spent on instruction.
Flipping the classroom is a valid option because of the technological advances we have made. Students have the ability to learn in new environments and through new experiences because of the technology available. According to Donovan, Bransford, and Pellegrino, “Technology can help to create an active environment in which students not only solve problems, but also find their own problems. This approach to learning is very different from the typical school classrooms, in which students spend most of their time learning facts from a lecture or text and doing the problems at the end of the chapter” (p. 207). It is a challenge to implement a new method of teaching into my classroom after spending a large amount of time creating a curriculum, but I am encouraged to take the leap by imagining the possibilities that a flipped classroom could gives my students.
Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368
Martinez, Sylvia L., & Stager, Gary S. (2013). Invent to learn: making, tinkering, and engineering the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.