Friday, May 29, 2015

Student Survivor Guide to Flipped Learning

OpenClips // pixabay

This post is dedicated to my former and current students who have helped me tweak my flipped class. This post is in service to future students, containing suggestions from former and current students in order to successfully navigate flip class. 

  1. Focus on work in class. There are plenty of opportunities for collaboration but don't get distracted by your peers or devices. 
  2. Assign yourself homework on a nearly nightly basis. If you miss an evening, increase your future plans accordingly. 
  3. Plan ahead, think about your after school commitments and adjust plans when new ones arise without falling behind. 
  4. Be willing to work with others and change your groups as often as needed in order to work to your best ability. This may mean avoiding working with your best friends. Put pressure on peers to stay focused and be open to pressure from peers to get work done. 
  5. Ask for help but also avoid relying on the teacher. 
  6. Promptly revise and redo work after feedback. 
  7. Stay organized - keep course content in one place. 
  8. Be tech savvy. Know how to use the Learning Management System, do online research, create videos and send and share electronic documents. You should feel comfortable using Google Drive, iMovie, Notability, Apps that can take screen shots and record screen casts, and create presentations. 
  9. Be flexible - adjust to changes in the course. 
  10. Read all instructions.
  11. Actively, not passively, watch videos. Use pause and rewind as often as needed. When the videos ask questions, pause and attempt to answer the questions. 

In general, you should be an active problem solver and take ownership / responsibility of learning  - schedule appointments, follow through on plans, adjust plans. If you follow these guidelines, you should have success in the class. 

Did I miss something? 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Natural Selection Meets Flipped Mastery

The following article was featured in Carolina Tips in the spring of 2015, the online newsletter by Carolina Biological - a vendor that sells lab supplies and equipment to science teachers. 
The benefit of mastery learning has been known since Benjamin Bloom's research1 in the 1980s, as he sought to find a teaching method as effective as individual tutorial in the group setting. At the time, mastery learning was impractical because it entailed students working at their own pace and the teacher administering multiple individualized assessments. With today's technology (online quizzes with randomized questions, free video hosting sites, and learning management systems, to name a few), mastery learning is now possible.

Mastery and flipped learning complementary

The unit on natural selection in my 8th grade Introductory Biology course has been revamped by mastery and flipped learning. Mastery and flipped learning complement each other. Offloading lectures to videos allows students to work at their own pace students because they can watch or re-watch a lecture when they are ready.
The natural selection unit starts with an exploration, the Chips Are Down lab, where students simulate natural selection and are challenged by using this experience to hypothesize how populations evolve. After an initial hypothesis, students take notes from a video outlining Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Using the principles of natural selection learned in the video and experienced in the exploration, students complete a problem set to practice generating hypotheses about different populations’ adaptations.
Students are then assigned differentiated case studies based on level of difficulty. For example, advanced students may have to analyze contradictory and incomplete data to hypothesize why humans evolved different skin colors. Struggling students analyze straightforward data to hypothesize why clovers have stripes and produce cyanide in some environments and not in others. These case studies, and tons of others related to biology, can be found on the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Web site.

Unit assessment

After students apply their understanding of natural selection to different scenarios through the problem set and case studies, they are asked to revise their initial hypothesis from the exploration about how populations, in general, evolve. After a one-on-one or small group discussion with me, students receive permission to sit for the unit assessment. If students are denied permission or under-perform on the unit assessment, they are required to make corrections and complete remediation activities aligned to the deficiencies or misconceptions uncovered during our talk or unit assessment. Students who wish to demonstrate learning or explore the topic at a deeper level can tackle optional projects.

Tailored to students' needs and abilities

Combining both flipped and mastery in the natural selection unit has allowed me to strategically provide targeted intervention and differentiate content and assessments. In the past, advanced and struggling students had to complete the same assignments on the same days. The advanced students, who understood the concepts the first time they heard them from me, had to wait until the course caught up to their pace. Struggling students had to move on to the next lesson, whether they understood it or not. With flipped and mastery learning, students who are struggling, advanced, or in between all experience an education tailored to their needs and abilities.

1Bloom, B. 1984. “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring.” Educational Researcher 13, 6: 4–16.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Art of Teaching Lecture

I had the distinct privilege of being honored along with two other colleagues with the Art of Teaching Award. As part of this wonderful distinction, we presented a summary of the work we do with students at an evening lecture at our school. A summary of the evening can be found on the school website and the slides from my portion of the lecture are below along with pictures. 

During my portion of the lecture, I tried to convey how offloading direct instruction to video has ironically allowed for greater personalization. When I began this journey, I wouldn't have anticipated the opportunity to offer this level of personalization. I have been experimenting with allowing students to work at their own pace and the freedom to make choices about what they learn and how to show they have learned the material. I continue to attempt to maximize the extent at which I can differentiate and plan to offer more choice in content and demonstration of learning.