Monday, February 17, 2020

Flipped Learning, Why you should do it

     Have you ever done whole class direct instruction with a presentation like Google slides or powerpoint?  Have you noticed that some students finish really fast with writing down the information from the slide while others take a lot longer.  It's hard to wait for every student to finish writing down the information before moving on because the ones that finished early are now trying to entertain themselves.  If you are lucky they are just drawing pictures on their notes.  However, sometimes they decide to see who can make a field goal with paper footballs or throw objects across the room to get the attention of another student.  By the end of the presentation some of the students are missing notes and most can't remember the other stuff you talked about while they were trying to write the information down.

       This was me about 10 years ago and I thought there had to be a better way.  Introducing the flipped classroom.  This is where students use video to learn the information at home and then in class they can focus more on practicing and applying the information.  I started using this teaching strategy six year ago and I haven't looked back.  Below are five reasons why I feel you should try out the flipped classroom method.

Reason #1: Individual Student Pace

        Students get to move at their own pace.   Those who write fast are not waiting and can quickly move through the video.  Those that take longer with processing disabilities or language barriers can move slower through the video and pause the video when needed.  Every student gets all of the information at their own personal speed.

Reason #2: Rewatch

        Unlike lectures that are a one time deal, students can watch the video over and over again as many times as they want.  I often suggest to my students to watch it again the night before the quiz. You could have them watch it a second time a few days later.  We all know the research that shows how many times a student needs to hear and interact with the material before it sticks.  Videos are an excellent way to help with that

Reason #3: Saves Time

        It will save you so much time later on.  Yes, it does take a little bit of time upfront to create or find a video and decide where you want to host it.  However, once that is done and figured out you can use the same video again and again every year.  Think about how much extra time you will have the following year just because you set it up this year and now it's done.

Reason #4: Increased Engagement

       Since the students are watching the videos at home and learning the basic information you now have more time in class to do the practicing.  This is also perfect for differentiating your class.  For me, the day after a flipped lesson I divide my students into two groups. I have them take a short assessment and those that demonstrate they have a basic understanding of the topic get to start applying the information and practice using it by doing an online or group activity.  For the students that demonstrated they need more support I am now able to give them the support they need in a small group where I can reteach or do extra practice.  Both groups are being met at their level of understanding and getting exactly what they need.

Reason #5: Student Strengths

       Students are already using social media to watch videos and learn information.  They use it for learning how to pass levels in their video games, for watching their favorite Youtube artist, for watching how to do a new dance, and many other things.  Why not work with those strengths.  Show the students that videos can also be useful to learn about the information in their classes.

        After every quarter of instruction I have my students fill out a feedback survey to help me improve my teaching and gain knowledge on what is working and what needs to be fixed or tweaked.  When asked which activity they enjoy the most, the flipped lessons rank first most of the time.   Most of my students wish that more of their teachers used this strategy.

For more information: Check out my Youtube video about it below with a special free offer at the end.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

How to guide for introducing cell energy in a flipped classroom

         Using videos as a way to teach instruction is nothing new.  Teachers have been teaching students through videos for a long time.   With new technology and more students having access to technology at home, now is the perfect time to start using videos in a more engaging way and not just a filler for time.  There is a movement that was started around 2011-2012 called flipped learning.  The idea is that students learn the information on their own time and at their own pace through watching a video and class time is spent now on reinforcing and applying the concept.  I jumped on board this movement around 2014 and have found great success with it.   Here's what a lesson on cell energy could look like through the lenses of flipped learning.

Part 1: Assigning the Video and taking notes

        The first part in flipped learning is to have students watch a video and take notes from it.  The video could be something you created or something someone else did that you found online.  If you are creating your own you can use programs like Screencast-o-matic,   Camtasia,   and  Screencastify. If you are using a mac you could record your slideshow or use quicktime.  Once you have your video you will want to host it somewhere so that students can view it.  If you are using Google Classroom you could post the video as an assignment.  You could also host it on the site Edpuzzle which would then allow you to embed questions and comments into your video. (Note: Edpuzzle will integrate with Google classroom and together they make a great team) You could also host your video on your own Youtube channel.   The main idea is that the video is done on the students own time, outside of the classroom usually, and at the students own pace. Below is an example of a video I created using keynote and Screencast-o-matic.

Part 2: Quick assessment

        Using formative assessments to guide your instruction is helpful in making sure students are getting the support they need.  After students watch the video and take notes they should do some sort of assessment to check their understanding of the topic and to give you an idea of which students are ready to start applying the information and which students need some extra support in learning it.  You can do a simple ticket-in-the door if you want them to be able to answer a quick question.   You could have the first 5 minutes in class be designed for them to do a quick quiz.  I like to host my quick assessments online where I am given analytics of the results.  I love using Schoology as my LMS and so I host my quick quizzes there.  You could also use a Google form to get the information and have the form grade it for you.  The website Quizizz is another great tool to use. Just make sure they use their full name when they sign in or push it out through Google classroom.  The idea is that you have a quick way of knowing which students are ready to apply their knowledge of cell energy and which students will need extra support from you to help them understand cell energy.  It also lets the students know where they are at in their journey in understanding the information.

Part 3: Differentiating the class lesson the day after

         This is probably my favorite part of doing the flipped classroom method.  It allows for more engaging activities in the classroom.  For my students that didn't seem to grasp photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and how they are related I would put them in a group together. I would then guide them through a simple one to two page reading. If you have two pages then most of the page should be taken up with a diagram.  The idea is to use simple to understand text since these are usually our struggling students and they will need more visuals and simple wording.  I would then have them discuss the information with the group and take notes.  Finally, they would fill in a worksheet that has them review the basic ideas of the text.  For my students that seem to get the basic ideas of photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and how they are related I would have them work in pairs or in groups on an application activity.  For this particular topic I would have them do an online photosynthesis lab to reinforce the concept of how photosynthesis works.

Setting up a flipped lesson does take some time. However, once you have it you can use it over and over again every year.  If you would like to save yourself time you can find my lesson for teaching cell energy using the flipped lesson model by clicking HERE.   Have a great time flipping your class and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

For more information on how to flip your class check out a previous blog post I did on Flipping your classroom using the acronym FIRE.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Feedback is not just for students

        We all know how important feedback is for our students.  Feedback that describes what a student is doing well and the changes they need to make help them learn and improve.  However, feedback is not just for our students.  Teachers can benefit from it as well.    Usually, the only feedback we receive of our teaching comes from our administrators who drop in for a minutes every once in a while or they might stay to see one lesson that we spent hours crafting to show off our best self.  But this is not real feedback.  They don't see the real us.   If you want honest feedback about how you are truly doing and the impact you are having than the only people that can give you feedback are those that are with you every day, your students.

        Once a quarter I ask my students to anonymously give me feedback on what is working, what is not working, and what I can do to make it better.   The key is to make it anonymous so that students feel free to tell you how they really feel without fear that you will be upset with them.  I ask them many different questions about what I teach and how I teach so that I can modify my lessons and teachings to better suit their needs.   I also have them rate me as a teacher and give me feedback on what I can do to become a better teacher.   

Some of the questions I ask are: 
- Which activity best helped you learn the standards?  (they would then choose from a drop down list)
- Which activity best helped you to review the standards and prepare for the test? (again another drop down list)
- Which activity do you wish we did more of? (drop down list)
- Which activity do you wish we did less of? (drop down list)
- I would have them rate each activity on a scale of 1-5 and explain their rating

        I would then have them rate my ability to teach them the standards and prepare them for the state test with a rating of 1-10. If they didn't give me a 10 they had to tell me what I could do to become a 10. I would also have them rate my ability to teach them skills they would need for life on a scale of 1-10 and again ask them to tell me what I would need to do to make it a 10.  Finally, I would ask them to rate me as a teacher overall and again explain why.

        The feedback I receive is eyeopening and helpful.  For example, my students have said that the online investigations they do are the best for helping them to reinforce the information and that they wish I did more of them.  They wish I did less CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) paragraphs but when rating CER's on a scale of 1-5 for being helpful at reinforcing the material, 90% rated them a 4 or 5.  You will always get those kids that rate you a 1 and say you are boring which is why you need to look for patterns and trends.  One year I actually had a lot of students say I should give more homework to help them practice and so I created short homework assignments that helped them practice using the information at home.

        Asking students for feedback builds a connection with your students that lets them know that you are in this together and that their opinion is important.  It lets them know that they count.  You should give it a try and see what amazing, eye opening things you can learn about yourself and your teaching from the people that really count, your students.  If you want a copy of a Google Form that I use that you can modify for your own use than click the link below.  I would love to hear how it works for you in the comment section below.

Google Form Teacher Feedback Survey: Ready to Personalize

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