Guest Post: Where I Am to Where I’m Going

Where I am to Where I’m Going

By the time you read this post, I will have already began my school year, crossing my fingers, and praying that what I put into motion will pay off in dividends down the road. This year is a lot of firsts for me. This year I will be pressing play on class, 6th Grade Science Applications, 1st year for 1:1 MacBooks, and I am dipping my toes into the flipped model. I caught the bug in a training on Macs when conversing with the trainer we had from Colorado (Aaron Sams’ and Bergmann’s home state). He teaches physics through this model using 1:1 iPads and I was intrigued by his enthusiasm, the tech applications, and by my own skepticism. I read further and went all in on the flipped method.

Moving from Smath

I worked in a co-taught science and math integrated class (6th grade SMATH). Most of class students would work in center rotations with a 20 minute small group lesson within each class period. One teacher would facilitate while the other would teach small groups for the day. It was a great constructivist model where students were lead through inquiry-based activities to construct their own understandings. There were some holes, however. Since these were going in a rotation basis, the direct instruction would be disjointed from the centers from which they experimented and worked with the content. They may have hit a center on density on day 2 of the rotation, but not receive direct instruction from the teacher on the content until day 10. Second was that students were assessed through observation or quizzes at the end of the unit. Students would receive small checks in the lessons, but students were not as accountable in center work. These led to some content missing its full potential and left students that weren’t able to transfer learning to practice in a bind. With now only myself at the helm, I wanted to keep what was good, but eliminate these known gaps in the model.

Flipping to Meet Knowledge and Application

What I have learned in my many nights of researching the model through blogs, PLN’s Twitter feeds, and other PD outlets this summer is that flipped model teaching is as diverse as it is direct. Though in its simplicity flipping claims to “implement instruction in class and practice at school,“ how many ways do teachers deliver content at school? There’s the acronyms of PBL, IBL, the 5 E’s, LFS strategies, as well the myriad of other philosophies that we use to impact our student. This leads me to believe that even though the majority of flipped learning PD is on how to screencast, this does not have to be the case. It is in this that I have implemented my pedagogy on the model. Here are some thoughts on how I plan to implement the flipped learning model (not mastery yet…) in the classroom.

  1. Align Content, Pedagogy, and Technology – Do not be a slave to the video, because its not about the video. In fact, your instruction doesn’t even need to be as a video. Make the content the driver of what tool to use. You may just need the students to research a concept, or follow a powerpoint, or read two conflicting viewpoints to contrast. I plan to use videos where prudent, and where it suits the content best.
  2. Class time for Lab time – Students will gain instruction at home, and use that knowledge to dig deeper into the content at school. I already have several projects and labs in the works for the beginning of the school year.
  3. Symbiotic instruction with meaningful assessment – To close the disjoint of instruction that SMATH presented, I plan to have many small assessments that will guide my instruction. Students will take notes and summarize their learning after the video using google forms and ask questions for the homework. I can use this to clear misconceptions in class, provide clarity if needed, and use the questions to guide further investigation.

I think if I keep these thoughts in the front of my mind while in the thick of things, I can create a flipped classroom that’s me, that’s meaningful, and produces lasting results. Any thoughts, questions, and comments on my plan are greatly appreciated. If you are looking to see my progress in the class, I will be posting updates, thoughts, and other tid-bits often on my blog, What Swords SED.

Mitchell Swords

6th Grade Science

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