Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Pedagogical Flips

This week I have been reflecting and focusing on how I will be teaching my class in the 2014-2015 year.  I have flipped my classroom, but now want to incorporate personalized learning and project/inquiry based learning.  I truly believe in these three approaches and see the many benefits, but I did not know how or what this would look like in my middle school science classroom.

I was introduced to the flipped classroom in Fall 2012.  This is the practice of taking what is traditionally done in the classroom, like lectures, and flipping it with what is traditionally done at home, like practice problems.  This practice allows for more interaction with the students, collaboration, labs, etc.  I researched and watched many videos, but initially struggled with the idea of letting go of the lecture.  It was all I knew!  Then, one day it clicked in my head.  My students were not learning material from the Cornell Notes that we took in class, they learned when we applied those concepts in labs and activities.  So, my first flip occurred and I flipped my class.

In Summer 2013, I read the Flipped Classroom book and attended a session at ISTE by the authors of the book.  At the end of the summer, I began thinking about the flipped-mastery approach.  This model allows students to move through the curriculum at their own pace and demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways.  I was not sure how to implement this and how it would look in my classroom, so I held off.  At the beginning of the school year, my principal shared that we would be applying for a personalized learning grant and I became part of the team that would plan for our school.  I quickly found that personalized learning was a lot like flipped-mastery and again, I was sold.  I created a personalized learning / flipped-mastery unit for my 8th graders on astronomy and they loved it.  The feedback I received was extremely positive.  They could move through the curriculum at their own pace and do the assignments in whatever order they wanted.  I was able to have actual, meaningful conversations about the content with each and every student.  I had never done this before and in reflecting, I realized I had my second flip.

This summer I read about project-based learning, which introduces a project at the beginning of a unit and the students learn the material as they progress through the project.  Now, my dilemma is how to include all three techniques that I believe in into one classroom.  Tuesday, I received my new book, Flipped Learning from the authors of the Flipped Classroom.  In the book, they transform from the idea of the flipped classroom to flipped learning.  Flipped learning is when direct instruction is delivered individually and the group learning space is used for interactive learning by applying concepts and engaging creatively.  As I was reading I came across a quote that connected it all for me.  "Flipped learning provides a viable method to escape the tyranny of content-driven instruction to the land of projects and inquiry...This type of learning is more organic and values the passions and interests of the students without denying the value of content knowledge."  And it clicked for me again.  Flip number three.

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