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Archive for the ‘flipped instruction’ Category

TED talks! No, not the movie about the talking bear…

When I first heard about TED talks, all I could think of was the ads for the movie about the talking teddy bear.  Although I never even saw the movie, this is the only image I can conjure…


So if it is not this talking teddy bear, what the heck is a TED talk?  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and it started as a conference to get professionals in these areas together.  TED talks are a way to share what happens at TED conferences with the world under the phrase “ideas worth spreading”.

I had watched TED talks before, but didn’t even realize that is what they were (see July 16th post with Chris Lehmann video about education being broken).  Realizing to greatness of TED talks I explored and watched two more.  I found them both inspiring and thought provoking, but most interestingly possibly conflicting.

I am a math nerd.  I know, I accept that is not a typical response to math, but I actually like it, and given the choice I’d love to teach math all day!  So, I was drawn to a TED talk by Dan Meyer titled Math Needs a Makeover.

He made some fantastic points about how we teach math, and how the system we currently use doesn’t apply to life.  I immediately thought of this cartoon:

cantelopes If what they are learning isn’t relevant to their lives, student interest and motivation plummet, and our students grow to hate math.    Dan tells us to take the conditions out of what we give the students, and make the problems as short as possible.  At first this sounded crazy to me, but then I had an ah-ha moment.  When you do this, then you can teach with a conversation and not a lecture.  You won’t GIVE your students information, but rather LEAD them to discover it themselves.

I am new at this teaching thing, but one of the best learning experiences for me so far occurred when I was learning from Michele Bowman as a student teacher in her 5th grade AAP class.  She is gifted in inquisitive teaching, and I worked hard to learn from her guidance. I found when I used questions I could teach the class so much more than I ever would have prepared in a pre-packaged lecture.  They learned the essential knowledge plus more and I didn’t have to TELL it to them!  There was NO lecture, but just discussion.

This talk connected with me, opened my eyes and inspired me, so I went back for more.

Still following the math idea, I found a talk by Salman Khan titled Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education.  I knew the Khan academy originated as an online site with videos that helped math instruction, so I was interested in what he had to say.

He spoke with great passion and showed marvelous results.  In many ways I heard from him what all the supporters of flipped classroom state about getting more class time to work with the students and not giving a generic lecture.  The great way this system of video instruction allows differentiation for the students to be able to pace the lecture themselves.

Then I had another ah-ha moment that unfortunately brought me more confusion than clarity.  The videos allow students to play and repeat at their own pace, but it is still a LECTURE.  It is still sage-on-the-stage instruction where the person who created the video is GIVING the information to the viewer.  This caused me to think more critically.  If I tell the students the info in a video, then I loose the ability to lead them to develop their own knowledge.  I take away that ability to question their thoughts and let them figure out the concept themselves.  Does this “new” system using videos lead to the same pitfalls that include lack of relevance and motivation as the broken system we are using now?

I believe there must be a way to fuse the two systems together, but I am going to have to take some time to work out how.  Maybe I need to listen to my teddy bear some more…



Stuck Sideways…

The movement of flipped classroom is one that is gaining momentum.  I shared in a previous post the blog I found written by Jon Bergmann called Flipped Learning: Turning Learning on Its Head!   To try to get more perspective on the topic I began exploring a few other blogs to understand all points of view.

I first found To Flip or Not to Flip? By Jeff Dunn.  This blog totes the greatness that is flipped instruction.  He goes on to share that since using this model his students have gotten their voice back in the classroom, gotten more individual attention from teachers during class time, taken ownership for their learning and increased their AP test scores.  After reading this blog I was just sure that this was a great new thing, and that I was going to figure out how to do it with my second graders.

With all this excitement built up, I kept looking at other blogs.  Since I was trying to get a more clear picture of the movement I was drawn to the blog Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con by Mary Beth Hertz.  This post does a great job of breaking down what flipped classroom is, what it isn’t, the benefits and concerns about the model.  It shares clearly that the flipped classroom is not just about videos, but the interactions that occur in the class after watching the videos that are the most important.  She goes onto say it is NOT stock videos created by some company or a way for those companies to make money, but must have a direct link to the curriculum, standards and activities they do the next day in class.  So far, I’m still in 🙂

Then she moves onto why it does and doesn’t work.  The reasons it works are clear in both the first and second blogs I read, but Mary Beth focused on the way it individualizes instruction allowing students to move at their own pace, repeat instruction if they desire and free up the teachers time in class to work closer with students on what they need to.  This is followed by the biggest question by most educators: what to do about students that don’t have at home access? Then, more importantly, that not everyone learns best through a screen.  I work in a fairly well off suburban school, so I am not as concerned about access for my students. What to do about the kids that don’t learn well with a screen??  The first troublesome question for me.  Hmmm.

Then I find the most thought provoking section: “Why It’s Nothing New”.  Nothing new?  This is the buzz topic, the newest way of teaching out there right? Mary Beth goes onto say that the premise of flipped classroom isn’t so different than what John Dewey proposed at the turn of the 20th century: “learning is centered on the student, not the teacher.”  So maybe this concept isn’t new?  The question she poses is: “Are we doing things differently, or just doing different things?”  Hmmm again.  This one really does make me think.  Is giving instruction in this way really doing something differently, or is it just a different thing that gives us more time in the classroom.

This led me to thinking about the role of the teacher again.  The traditional model of the teacher being the “sage-on-the-stage” and lecturing is being challenged by the model of the teacher being the “guide-on-the-side”. As I have mentioned in previous postings, I tend to lean towards being a guide, but are we really getting to do that with a flipped classroom.  By providing a “lecture” on video, are we not still being the sage-on-the-stage and imparting our wisdom?  Yes, there may be more time in class to work with students, which is great, but is this really something different or just different things?

I need to learn more…I am very much inspired by the positive results this model is having, but I am thoughtful and want to know more about some of the concerns.  Although I am still optimistic and on my way to flipping upside down, I am still figuring it out.  For now I am not yet upside down, but maybe stuck sideways.


Beginning my journey in flipped instruction

In today’s world, no matter your field of work, one of the frequent interview questions is: “How comfortable are you with technology.”  I have always felt that I am very comfortable with technology.  I am on a computer all the time, but I am coming to realize, what I feel is “comfortable with technology” just scratches the surface…

While student teaching this spring in a 5th grade advanced academics classroom that was participating in a one-to-one computer initiative I had to opportunity to attend a professional development seminar.  Unsure which session would be the most helpful, I followed the lead of my cooperating teacher.  She had a college that had recently experimented with some flipped lessons, so she selected a session on flipped instruction.  Attending this session opened my eyes to a new way of teaching and a world of technology that I haven’t begun to use before.   This experience intrigued me so much that it led me to explore the blog Flipped Learning | Turning Learning on Its Head!

Written by Jon Bergmann, one of the pioneers of the flipped classroom movement, this blog provides testimonials, guidance and resources to teachers considering the use of flipped instruction.  I found this blog not only inspirational, but very informative.  Jon provides links to the researching showing the effectiveness of this new teaching style, links to other teaching blogs written by teachers currently flipping their lessons, and links to tutorials that can help guide you to create your lesson videos.

Although I am still quite daunted by the details of creating digital lessons of my own, I do believe this is the movement of education and something I need to learn more about and begin using.  I now know where to go to get the information I need.

Stay tuned – maybe I’ll post my first flipped lesson when I figure out how to make it all work.  Hopefully I won’t end up flip turned upside down!!! ahhhh!

Wish me luck…I’m gonna need it…


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