Sunday, 24 June 2012

This entry is off the topic of flipping, but something I want to sort out for myself by writing. It's about Fractions.

I plan to teach an intro to grade 7 course for kids entering high school, and they come in with minimal to no skills in working with fractions. My goal is to come up with activities/examples/applications to make 'em accept that fractions MUST be included and understood in grade 7 math.

Starting with something they understand or should understand... Test results. Given a quiz: 11/20, test: 33/42 or homework: 8/10, how do we compare the results? Well you don't need fractions, you just have to change to percentage... WHICH IS SILL A FRACTION, JUST THAT IT's out of 100. Lots of fraction work there, and estimation skills. But what if you wanted to do it without fractions?

That's a stat... Then maybe a couple of historical questions, and tools for matching things up for comparing skills. Addition and Subtraction would fall out of there, but maybe I should do multiplication first. What fraction of the day is left for Mr. Powell to sleep if he burns the candles at both ends?

And then again, this may be perfect for a flipped lesson.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Today's students are not special

I think every teacher needs to see this and smile knowingly, parents need to see it and agree begrudgingly (while they worry about their kids taking care of them in their old age), and students need to see this and realize the rut they've been set in.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Setting the Flipping stage - comment I made at ChemicalSams

In my investigations, students needed guidance by teachers to break education (math in my case) into palatable morsels, with A logical sequence. The idea of factory-line learning is outdated, but the model of groups learning from an expert is going to be hard to break.

The evolution of the revolution will take a while, and ITM has been doing a great job of showing glimpses of where or how it can lead - but doesn't have to lead.

We don't need to go back to apprenticeships for learning, but anything that can nurture a student's passion for something and the learning that follows... the role of the educator is to guide the learner to and through the information required.

But what about the learner who has no passion? I like the sports/fitness/health analogy. Not every kid has a sport that he/she is passionate about, and even exercise may be low in importance. But if the person doesn't have the basic muscles, coordination, balance and stamina, those passions may never have the opportunity to develop.

Throwing this back into education, we see the need for addressing different levels of interest and student goals. While flipping offers chances for all students to build the necessary skills, the more important thing about flipping/inversion/perversion is offering the motivated student the chance to pursue his/her interests under teacher guidance, and yet allowing the unmotivated student the opportunity to follow a manageable pace that can build the foundation for when such interests may come along. And as the "shift happens" video describes, those passions may not even exist yet.

No, flipping is not the final solution, but it sure does allow the opportunity for some change to occur in this outdated education model. And unless some huge problems rear their ugly heads revealing that "flipping is detrimental to learning", we've got to Enjoy the opportunity now and see where it takes us.

Oh yeah, and along the way, let's count the number of problems with "assembly line education" that we don't have to worry about so much anymore.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Looking ahead to next year? Already?

I wanted to remember a few things for planning my flipped classes next year, and I automatically opened up Word to type it out (I guess that's better than scratching it out on a napkin), but then I realized that this blog is probably a better place for it. So here goes.

  • Put secret questions in the videos
  • Remind the viewer to press pause and attempt the example
  • Vary the videos - how about adding movie clips or cut-away photos? Speech bubbles?
  • Check very VERY carefully at the beginning of the year that students are taking notes on the videos
  • Change the whole paradigm of what goes on in the classroom. Hearing students call it a Math "lab" takes a bit of getting used to, but it's probably more accurate. Activities in class as opposed to homework is also kind of neat
  • Come up with ways to vary classroom (I mean Math Lab) activities. Cater to all the levels of learning (think "Bloom") and students' different skill levels and learning abilities
  • Rethink how evaluations can be done. How do you "flip" a test. Do you have to have tests? But they will still have exams, so how to best prepare them for that as you teach them the material. I'm already bothered by ideas on this one, because I know that we're still stuck in "cookie cutter" curricula and evaluation, but students are anything but cookie cutter kids.
  • Step away from the front of the class. There's an English teacher who arranges the room with this desk at the back... and when I saw Crystal Kirch's class video panning the room, it was student's working on the blackboard or whiteboard, and most of them didn't even seem to notice that she was filming (what an out-dated word that is, isn't it?)
  • Situational Problems: in Quebec where I teach we have to evaluate kids' abilities to take one big monster application that requires three or four different topics in its open-ended solution. I need to stop hating that and use that kind of idea as a teaching tool.
Okay, this is starting to turn way too idealistic - explains why I'm a teacher. Let's see how I feel about this next week when I'm poring over piles of exam marking.