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Thing 13 – Use technology and “flip” the classroom


I just finished watching a K12 Online Conference entitled Technology as an Ally in the IB Science Class. It focused on the experience of a high school teacher, Antonio Amaral Cunha , as he implemented Google Docs and blogs into his class as a way to get students to do some research on the upcoming topic in advance of its introduction. He commented, “Technology is there and there is nothing we can do to stop it”, so why not view it as a tool and not as an enemy. He had some good ideas for its use that I may consider doing with my SL IB Biology students this year. For example, one week or so before he is going to discuss a new topic, he posts the learning objectives into a Google Doc and assigns students the task to answer one of the objectives and also comment or add to a fellow student’s response to another question. He provides feeback at a  certain time and gives students a chance to edit their responses. At the closing date for the document he changes the status of the document so that students can only view and no longer edit. It now becomes a study tool for the class. Time in class is spent answering student questions and applying their knowledge to questions so that they can deepen their understanding. Both the teacher and students commented on how the class dynamic becomes more conversational and time can be spent on application rather than lecturing and note-taking.

Antonio also uses a class blog to post articles and videos of relevance to help students make connections to the real world. Students commented that this is more work for them to keep up with commenting and responded to blog posts or Google Doc assignments but it does bring more meaning to the lesson. I think this is a great way to have students take more responsibility and ownership in their learning. One student did make the point that the teacher may make the assumption that the student learned something from all the pre-work and therefore, the teacher does not really discuss or explain a concept in class. The student may also think he or she understands a concept, but when it comes time for the test, the student realizes that they didn’t know it well enough or accurately to be succesful. Also some students are hesitant to embrace this new style because they are more comfortable with traditional teaching methods and afraid they may miss something if the teacher doesn’t go through a traditional, detailed lecture. I saw this a bit this year when for one of my AP Biology units I assigned students a Kahn Academy video to watch for homework and answer some questions. Then in class I opened discussion to answer student questions and do an activity. Students weren’t sure what questions to ask although they said they didn’t understand it all. They also seemed very uneasy and asked if I would still go over each slide of the PowerPoint. So my plan to save time and use class for other application activities didn’t quite play out the way I had hoped.

I wonder though if students just need time to adjust to a new way of learning. Just like teachers need time to adapt to a new way of presenting material and guiding students through the learning process.

by posted under k12learning2.0 | 1 Comment »    
One Comment to

“Thing 13 – Use technology and “flip” the classroom”

  1. July 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm      Reply mathteacher7 Says:

    Now that “flipping” classrooms is all the rage, it is very helpful to hear some feedback about how it is actually working for real people. The student reactions on the video and your own experiences with using Khan Academy highlight a theme I have been seeing various places around the internet.

    I think this may best be summarized in an Op-Ed piece that appeared in the New York Times last week: This professor argues that learning is an interactive process–you need to be able to see your students and gauge what they are learning as you go so you can modify your instruction on the spot. I notice that the main complaint about flipping is that students don’t really understand the material if they cannot interact with the person giving the instruction.

    On the other hand, I do like the idea of using class time on more hands-on activities by the students, which flipping allows. We just need to be aware that having the students watch a video raises pedagogical issues if they are not able to ask questions and check understanding as they go.

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