Saturday, February 10, 2018

Flipped Learning leads to more opportunities and student success

      I hate giving notes in class.  I've never like it.  It seemed that some students went really fast and then waited around or started distracting others around them because they were board.  Other students took forever to write the notes because they either had a learning disability, they were a language learner, or they liked everything to be perfect and so they kept erasing and writing over again.  It just didn't seem like an efficient way to get the information to my students.  By the time the notes were done we had little time to practice the information and had to finish for homework.  This resulted in some of the students practicing it wrong or not doing it because they were still confused.   I struggled to find time to get beyond the basics and into the higher level of thinking within our pacing guides.  There had to be a better way.  

      This is where the flipped classroom model comes in.  I 
discovered this model a few years back.  It was exactly what I was looking for.  Students could watch a video on the topic at home and take notes at their own pace.  Then we could discuss what they learned in class the next day and practice the information with the help and guidance of me, the teacher, and their peers.  Using this model I was able to cover the basics faster and spend more time having my students engaged in higher level thinking about the topic.     It took only a few lesson using this new model with my students for them to get used to it and they ended up preferring it over the traditional model in class.   Here are some of their comments about the flipped lessons they left for me when I gave them an end of the year survey.

 - G. Martinez writes: I enjoyed how you introduced us to flipped lessons, because this allowed us as students to learn at our own speeds and review the material if we needed it.

- N. Andrade writes: I enjoyed the flipped lessons because they helped me understand the topic due to the questions asked and notes.

- V. Reyna writes: I really like how the videos explain everything thoroughly and we get to answer questions throughout to see if we understand. Additionally, i can take my time.

- S. Camacho writes: I like flipped lessons because they can be done online, practically anywhere.

So what is flipped learning?

The flipped learning model rearranges where students take notes and practice their information. In a traditional classroom the notes are given by the teacher in class. The students then practice a couple of problems before doing most of the practicing at home on their own. The flipped classroom changes things. The students take notes at home and then spend in time in class practicing the information with the teacher. Reversing the location of these two decreases the level of frustration and misunderstanding in students. It also allows you to make corrections at the first sign of confusion before bad habits are made.

Why is flipped learning becoming more popular?

In the last few years we are seeing an increase of technology in the classroom and and increase in access to technology at home. With this access to technology teachers are looking for new ways to use it in their class. Teachers are finding many benefits of using the flipped model not only for their students but for them as well.

Benefits for students:
- Students are able to practice the information in class and get the help they need when they are stuck or loss from the teacher or other students.
- Students become less frustrated when they learn new material and they have less of a chance of practicing the information incorrectly.
- Students learn the skill of note taking and improve their ability to take notes on their own.
- When students are absent they can quickly get caught up.
- Students can watch the videos over and over again.

Benefits for teachers:
- Once the video is created it is there to use year after year.
- When students are going to be gone the teacher can just assign the video for them so that they don't get too far behind.
- Teachers can choose how long they need to focus on each student and can better meet the needs of each one.
- It helps students understand the information quicker leaving more time for higher level projects and activities.
- If a teacher is going to be absent they can assign the video to be done in class with the substitute making sure that the lesson is taught the way they want it to be taught.
- Parents can watch the videos along with their students which helps them become more involved with their students learning.

In 2014, the Flipped Learning Network and conducted a study about the flipped classroom, surveying over 2,300 flipped educators about their experience. The following infographic shows what they discovered.

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Are you ready to Learn the basic steps for flipping your class?

A flipped class has four main parts to it. I created the acronym FIRE to help explain these four parts. F: Format, I: Interact, R: Review, E: Expand.

The format identifies how you are going to give the information to your students.

Interact is about what students are going to do with the information.

Review goes over how the students will reflect on their understanding of the topic before coming into class.

Expand is what I feel is the most important part. Its about what the students will do in class the next day.

For more detailed information on how to do each part, check out my blog post about flipping your class in four easy steps by clicking HERE.

Get started with this FREE guide to flipped learning

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Blended Learning in the Science Classroom using the stations model

How to set up your science stations?

Some teachers design each station so that they only take 10-15 minutes to complete and the students then rotate through all three stations in one day.   

I have found that my middle school students do better with stations that take 30 minutes to complete and focus on one station per day.  

Most of my students have English as their second language so I also discovered that they do better when they work in groups of 2-4.  This way they always have someone to discuss the information and problem solve with.  

I feel the main point of the blended learning is for students to take charge of their learning and letting them collaborate with other students during each investigation helps them achieve that goal.

Online Station

At this station students will learn about the topic using technology.  I like to have them do an investigation during this station.  

There are great websites that offer free online labs that I create simple guided instructions for my students to follow and complete the lab.

I have also created pictures with hyperlinks that direct them to websites or videos for them to learn about.  And I have created digital notebooks that help them investigate the information. 

Group Collaboration Station

At this station students work together in groups to complete a task.  This is where I like to incorporate hands-on investigation activities.  

It is also a great station to have them do jigsaw readings and then create a group poster on the information.  You want it to be a station where they need to work together to complete it.  

Teacher-Led Station

This is your opportunity to focus your instruction on a small group.  It is so much easier to meet the needs of your students when they are in groups of 12 than when you have a class of 36.  

This is when direct instruction can occur.  You could use the same lesson for each group or differentiate the lesson slightly depending on which group you have.   

I like to use this time to challenge my advanced learners and do extra practice for my struggling learners.

How to set up your Groups?

I like to use different methods for setting up my groups.  The method I choose depends on the purpose of the unit, the background knowledge my students have of the topic, and what my teacher-led station will be.   

For example, I might just put them in groups based on their last names if I feel that they all have them same general background of the topic.  

If the topic is more math based however, I would place them in groups based on their math ability so that I can challenge some groups and help with the basics with other groups during the teacher-led station

Grading the Science Stations

For me personally I do not put an academic grade on the science stations.  I want my students to feel free to investigate this new topic and make mistakes without the fear of it hurting their grade.  Instead I give them a work habits grade based on their effort and a citizenship grade based on how well they work with others and followed the class expectations.

My students put all their information for their stations into their notebooks.  I can quickly look through their notes to see if they were on task and if they got the basic ideas.

To make it easier on myself, while they are doing their daily warm ups I have them open their notebooks to the station they were working on the day before.  Within a few minutes I have written a rubric score at the top of their page and I also have a general idea about what I need to cover in class once the science stations are complete.

This also shows the students that they are being held accountable each day during the activities.  

Creating blended learning science stations is something you could do by yourself.  However, if you want to save yourself some time I have done all the work for you.   

I have created many science stations designed to cover common science topics in middle school science.  You can buy them individually or save money and buy the bundle.

For more information on Why you should do blended learning in your science classroom and what blended learning is check out this blog post: Blended Learning in the Science Classroom

Blended Learning in the Science Classroom

Why do Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is a great way to incorporate different modes of learning so that you can reach more students and help them understand in the method that works best for them.  

It helps students learn about the topic through guided inquiry, group collaboration, and allows them to become responsible for their learning.  

It also allows the teacher to focus on a smaller group of students so that you can better meet their needs.  

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning can take on many models but all of them involve integrating technology into the classroom.  The three most common models in schools are stations, flipped learning, and lab rotations.  

Stations involve three areas set up in one classroom.  One area is for online instruction, another area is for group collaboration, and the third area is for teacher-led instruction.  

Flipped learning is where the students learn the basic information outside of class, usually by watching a video and taking notes.  They then use class time for practice and projects.  

Lab rotation is similar to stations however the online learning occurs outside of class in a computer lab.  The students learn the information and do some practice on the computer which tracks their progress.  They then meet with a teacher that will do some direct instruction based on how they did on the computer.  

How to do Blended Learning in the Science Classroom using stations?

For how to do blended learning in the science classroom follow the link that you are most interested in.

- Science Stations

- Flipped Learning