More Faith

I did a webinar yesterday afternoon with Marc Siegel, Deb Wolf, and Ramsey Musallam on the various ways Flipped Learning can be incorporated into a science classroom. We spoke about changing mindsets, thinking about mastery learning and standards based grading, and using video tools in class along with other ideas and tips.

Ramsey spoke near the end of the broadcast about using inquiry learning in his Explore-Flip-Apply method. I asked him, “Ramsey, how do you train your kids to work well in an inquiry environment? I’m not sure mine could handle that from day one in the semester, so what do you do?”

Ramsey came back by saying, “Actually, I drop them right in from day one. I don’t really train them in anything at all. Kids have an innate curiosity that we have to tap into in order to fully engage them in the content.” (Or something along those lines.)

Now, let me preface this by saying I’ve heard Ramsey say this over and over as I’ve gotten to know him. But, I never really put any faith in my students.

I decided to take it to heart. Today, I had an entire lab planned out with procedures, data tables, and follow-up questions. I knew what my kids would do, and they would fill in the blanks and then move on. I decided to scrap the entire lab and go with one statement:

Photo is mine.

Photo is mine.

I have a sample. It has water attached to it. I need to know how much water it contains.

The only question I asked them for this lab is: “What percent of my sample is water?”

I didn’t have enough faith in my classes. I didn’t really trust them to do anything like this. I was proven wrong this morning. For you science folks, our average error from the first two classes is two percent. Two. My students have encouraged me, and from what I’ve observed, they’ve felt proud of their work. They were so excited to hear how close they had come. I haven’t seen energy like this in a while.

I’d lost sight of the excitement that should come from science…from discovery. I’d lost sight of the process because I’d focused too much on the end result. I can talk about the process, but I need to have them go through the process.

My students can now explain how to find the mass percentage of part of a compound. They can do it better than if I had stood up or recorded a video and taught them. Tomorrow, we’ll involve mols somehow and see what happens.

Hopefully, my students will begin to feel more trusted and more empowered in the process.

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