The Flipped Classroom Hits Russia

The Kremlin

I just returned from a three-day trip to Russia. That’s right. Three days. I was asked to go and share the ideas behind the flipped classroom at a culture and book fair hosted by Strelka University in downtown Moscow. I did not have a very clear picture of who my audience would entail, but it turned out to be one of the best flipped classroom discussions I have ever led.

My audience was a mix of students, teachers, university professors, journalists, and just interested and curious people from the community.

Instead of talking about the technology behind flipping like I usually do, I got to talk more philosophy and rationale behind flipped classrooms. We discussed what happens in class and how my classes have evolved into flexible learning spaces and how student-driven learning is king. We talked about students working collaboratively and peer-teaching one another through tough concepts. We also talked about what implications this can have in adult learning, regardless of your line of work. It was by far the most organic discussion I’ve ever had on the flipped classroom and I got some great feedback from the people in the room.

Whenever I visit new cultures, I realize how education can be a common discussion point. We all recognize the need to change schools in a positive way and the flipped classroom seems to make sense, no matter where we are. I think this is because the flipped classroom is not a methodology…it is an ideology that removes the teacher from the front of the room and puts the students back in the middle. We are working to re-humanize the class and push discussion, trial and error, and collaborative learning, rather than the old top-down instructional model that has been used for 100 years. The flipped classroom is built on relationships and cooperation and that is why it is so successful…students and teachers working together to learn together.

Here is an album of photos I was able to take during my visit. Moscow is a beautiful city and if you ever get a chance to visit, make it happen.

Venus: The Aftermath

I promised people that I would post pictures and/or a video on how I watched the Venus transit last night. Well, they’re ready to share.

It was great to be able to watch this in real time. I was worried earlier in the afternoon because the cloud cover really picked up, but it cleared out right at six o’clock, just before the transit began at 6:09 PM.

If you didn’t see it, NASA put a great video out from the Solar Dynamics Observatory showing the transit in multiple wavelengths. I favorited it because it is something I can show my students over the next 105 years until they get to see the next transit for themselves.

Venus Flyby

Flickr CC, howzey

Tuesday, June 5th and Wednesday, June 6th, we have a great opportunity to see the planet Venus travel across the face of the sun. This event is called a

transit and it is significant because of the timeframe between each event. It is over 100 years between each transit, but they come in pairs eight years apart. The most recent transit occurred in 2004, so tomorrow’s event is the second of the pair. If you miss it this time around, unfortunately, you won’t be able to see it happen again until December 2117.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this in the news, but if you are interested in watching it for yourself, here are some resources to help you plan.

1) When is the best time to view the transit? – This depends on your geographical location. Luckily, the majority of the continental United States will be able to see a portion of the transit at sunset on June 5th. Because this is so rare, there are parties and events popping up all over the country where you can watch the transit with others in your area.

2) How can I watch the transit? – Never, never, never look directly at the sun. Ever. Unless, of course, you want permanent damage to your retina to occur. So, to safely view the transit, you’ll need to do some basic DIY using household materials. A great website, Transit of Venus has a list of six ways to see the transit safely.

Personally, I will be using a pair of binoculars mounted on a tripod projecting on a white space. Here’s a great video on how to set up your binoculars if you want to do the same.

3) What causes the transit? – It’s always good to learn something, so this website does a great job of explaining what causes the Earth and Venus to line up every 120 years or so.