Monday, January 9, 2012

The story of how I flipped...

As stated above I'm a 7th grade history teacher. I teach just north of Boston and have a geeky obsession with technology. I'm always looking for ways to shift my classroom and have it be more student centered. One night I had been toying with how to go "paperless" in the classroom. While I was searching, I kept finding links to blogs on "flipping." Aside from real estate I had never heard the term used before and became curious. This was a Friday night.

Cut to Sunday, and I had poured through every webpage, scholarly article and blog I could find about the subject. I became infatuated, my hunger for a student centered classroom was finally being satiated. Flipping! What is it you ask? Well its simple really (in theory...not sure about practice yet). Flipping involves taking the traditional model of teaching (lecturing to kids and then having them go home to complete an assignment that applies that concept) and reversing it. Students would watch lectures and home, and do the application part in class. Over the next few weeks I gathered every piece of related literature that I could find.

Much of the current research and information on the subject focuses on its use in the maths and sciences...could it work for me in history? Well by Sunday night I was convinced and started the process of flipping my class. No waiting until next year, this was going to happen now.

Of course once I stepped back I realized that it couldn't be such an immediate process and so here I am laying the foundation work. I already have my kids complete their homework online via so I don't think having them listen to lectures is a huge stretch. Some questions that have been running through my head...

1. What kind of software should I use..What will work best for me? Should I video tape myself lecturing, or lecture over my current PowerPoints with only voice? What will convert between my Mac at home and my PC at school? What if I look or sound like a total dork?

2. How will kids react to switching halfway through the year? I'm going to ease them in, one or two lectures this unit before fully flipping the that enough prep?

3. How will parents react? Will they think I'm just being lazy...I'm not! I just want more individualized attention time for your students.

4. How will administration react? I am constantly being told that our principal wants to shift away from lecture based classes...but how will it look when I'm walking around my class instead of standing in front of it? Will it seem like I'm lazy having student driven projects?

5. What if the technology doesn't work? I have found many great websites that simply don't work on our servers...what if this turns out to not work either?

6. Finally my biggest concern...What if the kids don't like it? What if they don't listen to the lectures? What if they lose interest? What if I fail to teach them anything? What will I do with all the class time I have now?

These are big concerns I have that I'm planning to address. As I said I already assign online homework so the issues of computer ownership of students has already been resolved for the most part. I am hoping to gain the administration's support on this as I move forward. Its either going to work or it won't right?

Time will tell....

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