Friday, November 7, 2014

The Sweet Sauce: Reflecting on "Flipped Learning - Gateway to Student Engagement"

I recently finished reading "Flipped Learning - Gateway to Student Engagement." This book chronicled the path several teachers took from Flip Class 101 to Flipped learning. Typically, teachers who go down the flipclass road start by assigning students to watch videos at home and complete traditional homework at school. Their next destination, often called the Second Iteration or flipped learning, can take on many forms, from mastery, to PBL, to UBD, to Explore Flip Apply or even to my model, Mastery Learning Cycles. The difference in these reiterations is the focus is on learning and how best to facilitate it.  

The "final" destination of each teacher varies based on teacher personality and philosophy, strengths and weakness, interests and preferences, as well the culture of the school and support from administration. The most salient conclusion from this book is there really are countless types of the "sweet sauce." To borrow an analogy presented in the last chapter, Prego became successful because, rather than trying to design the ONE spaghetti sauce preferred by most people, they departed from their competitors by creating varieties of sauces which turned out to be the best for a variety of people. Everyone has their own favorite flavor of spaghetti sauce, just as flipped teachers eventually adopt the model that works for them. 

So far, my sweet sauce seems to be a combination of Standards Based Grading and Mastery Learning Cycles. Students are assessed on how well they understand specific objectives and demonstrate important competencies, rather than merely being evaluated through points or averages. Students demonstrate mastery of these competencies by progressing through  modified 5E learning cycles at their own pace. The flipped videos are only used in one particular phase of the learning cycle to supply content knowledge and at other phases just to provide instructions for labs and other important procedures. This iteration will continue to evolve and hopefully closer approach my sweet sauce. 

The other useful application of the Prego analogy relates to student choice. Just as consumers are free to choose the spaghetti sauce they prefer, many of the flipped teachers highlighted in the book eventually provided choices to their students - choice in how they acquire content (My video? Another teacher's video? Textbook? Website? Simulation?) - how they processed or applied content (Lab? Problem set? Game?) - and how they demonstrated learning of the content (Quiz? Project? One on one chat?) 

The potential of flipped learning is indeed a gateway to student engagement.