Friday, July 4, 2014

Introducing Mastery Learning Cycles to the World: a post FlipCon14 presentation reflection

I had the privilege to present at FlipCon14 about Mastery Learning Cycles (MLC.) I originally discussed MLC in a blog post last year, where I described it as a "mashup" of Mastery learning and Explore-Flip-Apply (EFA) models. In my mind, this hybrid solves the problem of allowing students to learn at their own pace and still promoting thoughtful inquiry through structured learning cycles, rather than a checklist of activities to plow through. The packed classroom and dozens of virtual attendees who watched the live presentation online probably affirm other teachers have interest in mastery and/or EFA (session notes.)

The Flipped Learning Network "flipped" the conference, which meant I had to assign pre-work. Since most veteran flipped teachers are familiar with mastery learning, I assigned a blog post about EFA written by Ramsey Musallam (@ramusallam) and asked teachers to create a learning cycle. The plan was to spend some time during the presentation to front-load this model and the rest of the session having teachers share their cycles. Even though lack of homework completion prevented execution of this plan, I was able to offer a resource for those who wanted to extend their learning after the session. 

The feedback in person and on twitter were positive - perhaps even more so than I expected. I think I did a nice job engaging the audience at the beginning with a karate belt tying activity that demonstrated the power of flipped learning and mastery learning. 
Tweeted by +TheAlgebros 

I also had some opportunities for teachers to talk to each other with discussion prompts. My slides were clear, text-light but image-heavy and did a good job outlining the strengths and limitations of the mastery and EFA models. It may have taken too much time to get through EFA and mastery but the front loading helped outline the strengths of MLC. Perhaps the strongest part of the presentation was sharing my particular learning cycles with student work. I spoke in detail about the simple inheritance MLC by demonstrating how each activity offered a rich learning experience for students. I also talked briefly about the evolution learning cycle just to demonstrate some variation, like labs at the beginning during the Explore phase and differentiation during the Apply phase. 

If I do the presentation again, I'll hope to have some examples of MLC in different disciplines and utilize more opportunities for interaction like polls and more frequent turn & talk prompts. I'll make sure to repeat comments and questions from the live audience for the virtual attendees. I also need to remember to share the link to the feedback form. 

Now that the presentation is over, I have the summer to revise some of my MLCs and look forward to other teachers adopting and sharing their MLCs.