January 9, 2011

I'm going to flip my classroom

Because of my PLN (Personal Learning Network), or PLC (Personal Learning Community), I come across a literal plethora of new approaches and ideas in teaching.  So far, none have intrigued me as much as the classroom flip.  The best part is that when I say this to teachers, students, friends, they all want to know how I am going to teach with my desks upside down.  However, that is obviously not the case (hopefully).  The reality is something much more exciting.

The basic idea is that you take all of the direct instruction that I normally do in front of my class and you transfer that to VODcasts (Video on Demand Casting).  This means that I will be filming myself in presentations delivering content to my students.  Their work, at home, will be to go online, download them, and then learn the material that is presented.

In class, students will be taking the information and new knowledge they have gained and implementing it into their work and practice.  Therefore, what they do in class is what was previously their homework, and what they do at home was previously their classwork.

If you still are not getting a clear picture, here is a video that gives a really good idea of what it means:
More information can be found on the Teacher Vodcasting Network

Benefits, as he Mr. Sams points out in the video:

1. I do not have to stand in front of the class as a talking head, lecturing all day.
This means that I have time to get around the room to help individual students with their work, as opposed to praying that the whole class is on the same page.

2. Students can learn at their own pace.
Pause, rewind, review.  It's all there at the pace they want it.  If a student needs to study for a final exam, just watch the videos, it's that simple.

My work in getting this completed is going to be quite a journey.  From what I have found, most of the teachers who are doing this type of instruction are delivering it for science or math classrooms.  I teach English Language Arts.  NOT THE SAME.  We all work very hard, but math and science, at the middle and high school levels at least, are concrete.  You teach them the steps it takes to reach the correct answer.

English classes don't always work that way.  Actually, they pretty much never work that way.  Even when you get to grammar, the seemingly most concrete of all of our areas, every rule has an exception.  Therefore, I am going to have to be very creative and very constructive in this endeavor.

These may be huge obstacles, but I am looking forward to the challenge regardless.  I am looking to update my blog with my progress in this work as often as possible.

Current steps being taken:

1. Technology - I actually have most of it.  What I'm trying to get right now is the editing software.  The most effective seems to be Camtasia, which at the educator discount costs $179.00

2. Curriculum - I need to basically figure out my scope and sequence.  This is going to run differently than my typical classes.  If everything goes according to plan I should be able to deliver more content than I have in the past.

3. Scripting/Planning Videos - I'm going to be writing out my presentations.  But, on top of that, I want to make sure that I design them in ways that make them interesting enough for my students to watch.  I am used to playing for an audience, but this will be me playing for a camera.  It's going to be a HUGE paradigm shift.

4. Assessments - One issue that has been brought to my attention is how to be sure my students are watching the videos.  I've been researching approaches to this and some of them seem promising.  One is to require students to ask a unique question to me that is based on the video.  Something that it did not answer that they may want to know.  Another way is performance evaluations.  That would be when students use the skills I have taught them in order to do their projects/classwork.


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