I am a tech junkie. Isn't admission the first step to recovery? Well, I'm not looking to recover. Quite the opposite. As a second year teacher, I have has so many wonderful opportunities available to me to integrate technology into my classroom. The arguments as to the place of technology in schools is so repetitive and redundant that I will spare you the recitation. No matter if you have been in the business of Education for 1 year or 30, technology is not a "phase" and it will not "pass". I know this because, well.... I teach. All you have to do is look around you and you will see how immersed the students are in technology. It is not going away. To some, that is an unfortunate downgrade in "quality" education. To others, like me, it is an opportunity to engage students and meet them "where they are at". I'm not into the flashy-dazzly technology. I'm into the full-meal deal technology. I want to take my classroom and completely flip it. Hold on...someone already thought of that. Hence, we come to the Flipped Classroom.
I came upon this idea a few times last year in my first year of teaching. Many of you educators will agree with me when I say I don't remember much of my first year of teacher. It is all a wild blur of rubrics, lesson plans and coffee. Needless to say, I didn't pay much attention to it. Fast forward one year. I was in my nerd glory at the ATLE conference in Edmonton and decided I would now have the time to figure out what all this flipped classroom business was about. The presentation left a lot to be desired, but I saw a diamond in the rough. I could use this! The thick framed, suspender-wearing inner nerd began to happy dance in my brain as I began jotting notes about how I could use this next week in my Social Studies 7 class. I got my hands on the leading educational book on Flipped Classrooms from ISTE and began furiously reading.
I have to say, I do not agree with all things Flipped Classroom. I think many get it confused with the reversal of drill-skill style classroom teaching. Instead of lecture in class and then give a worksheet for homework, you change it up....no. Wrong. Way wrong. It needs to be more than the antiquated reversal. It has to be more. So here is what I did.
Every Thursday evening, my grade 7 students will find an Audioboo podcast posted on the website and on our Edmodo page. They listen to it. There may be a few things they need to do to prepare for class the next day such as brain mapping, comparison charts, interviewing their parents for opinion, finding a newspaper article,etc. On Friday, they arrive to class and begin on the assignment that was explained the night before in the podcast. This usually takes the form of a critical challenge. They need to make a judgement call on whatever topic we are discussing. This has also taken the form a debate for the entire class. They have the opportunity and advantage of knowing about the project ahead of time so they can get right down to the nitty gritty in class.
So far, this has been a terrific project for my social 7 group. They are knowledge-cravers. They love the podcasts and have started requesting more. I feel that this style of flipped classroom does not take more of my time as a new teacher, but makes the time I am spending creating these lessons more valuable to me and to my students. So I don't mind doing it. I would loathe myself for spending 2 hours after school creating worksheets that I would bore my students with and then bore myself with marking on the weekend. My recommendation: Start slow. Find one part of the Flipped Classroom that you can try. Maybe it's a podcast/month. Maybe you do one podcast project a semester. Ensure you are not just flipping the script on an outdated method, but creating a truly meaningful and engaging experience for you students.
Mrs. Katherine (Kate) Weber