I would like to start this post by saying I am thankful for the handful of people (4 or 5) reading my blog posts as it adds another level of motivation to reflect and record what I have done with my teaching throughout the year. Essentially my blog is just a reflective tool to record the changes I have made to my teaching so I can continue to improve. It means a lot that a few people are interested in what I am doing.
My last post was a reflection about taking the first few steps when flipping my class and the preparation that was required before taking the new teaching approach into my classroom. I hope my reflections will help others who may choose to flip their class and speed up the learning curve for them.
In this post I will reflect on the last 2 steps of the process I have outlined in my previous post. Steps 3 and 4 refer to the few months after I implemented the flipped teaching model into my class. If you have worked through stages 1 and 2 you would be aware that during the initial stages there is a lot of hard work to make it all happen but there is no real evidence it will all be worth it.
This can be a nervous and worrying time as it was around this time I found myself contemplating that maybe I had wasted a lot of time and if I stopped now no one would know I was making these crazy changes. I also found myself thinking that it would probably be easier to just stop and keep doing what I had always been doing.
From my experience and reading other people’s reflections on flipping their class, these thoughts are normal due to the amount of hard work you put in for so little return but let me assure you, it is during these final two stages that you get all the reward and evidence you need to realise it was all worth it.
During steps 3 and 4 you start to see the change occurring in your class environment and the students you are working with. Seeing the increased engagement of my year 7 students was a highly rewarding and motivating experience.
There were many improvements along the way, but the stand out ones for me were: The increase in the quality of questions asked by my students, the increase in willingness to solve problems, the engagement and completion of their homework and most of all, the number of parents who took the time to talk about the YouTube videos during our Student Parent and Teacher evenings. It is for these I will continue to develop my understanding of the flipped class approach and make the adaptations that suit my needs. So let me unpack my suggestions for stages 3 and 4.
- Use a social media platform to foster collaboration
The 3rd step is to promote collaboration amongst your students. The success of the flipped model relies heavily on student collaboration. There are many approaches that can be used within a class to promote collaboration such as Kagan’s cooperative learning structures, peer tutoring, or even SEPEP. Using these approaches is important, however if we like it or not, social media is how we collaborate in the 21st century, so why not take advantage of its power?
Twitter is one of the most popular tools among 21st Century educators. In my mind the top 3 tools are Google search, YouTube, Twitter then a massive gap. Twitter allows users to create their own network to learn about pretty much anything. Students in flipped classrooms can use Twitter to build their peer network and endeavor to work in a more collaborative fashion. This can be done mostly using hashtag chats about a topic identified by the group.
Throughout the flipped units I have run this year, we have used a twitter hashtag chat for each class providing students with a space to post their observations and reflections as we work through the learning experiences. The use of social media to foster collaboration is an area I have already identified as one that needs development for greater success.
I can see future benefits of using twitter to create a backchannel during class discussions, possibly linking with classes from outside our school (maybe overseas) who are looking at similar topics, having a weekly revision chat open to the whole year group so all classes can work together and share their understandings and learning.
As well as increasing the opportunities for collaboration the use of twitter also provides the second benefit of allowing students to develop their understanding of digital citizenship. As technology becomes a bigger part of the world we live in, it is important we help students learn about being safe online and how to become productive and supportive members of online communities.
Working through the initial few units I quickly set 3 basic rules that I feel have worked well for all involved when using twitter (social media)
- THINK before you post. (The pic below outlines this in greater detail)
- No photos of people.
- Create a school account for educational purposes only, no personal accounts should be used.
Twitter is also a great resource for teachers to find out how other teachers are flipping their class and investigate various pedagogies. It is worth checking out the following twitter hashtags: #vidED #flippedclass #flipchat. A few standout ‘flippers’ I have come across include:
- Allow it to develop.
The fourth step in the flipping process is to allow it all to develop. Let the quality of learning experiences grow, let the fun increase and develop the time you have to spend on engagement. The main focus of the flipped classroom is to increase the time for valid learning experiences to occur while at school. The flipped class model seems to naturally allow increased differentiation of the learning as students take more control of their learning and are able to work their way through the activities making meaning under the guidance of their teacher.
This step is not unique to the flipped class approach but it is essential to effective teaching. This would be my final step of any teaching approach. As you work at developing your understanding of the flipped class you will see things along the way that can be improved and changed, this is why so many different sub-cultures of flipped classrooms are popping up around the world. I have already identified that I need to focus on delivering the content in a more fun and relaxed way to increase engagement.
As a PDHPE teacher I have already started to let my flipped classroom develop. Recently I have been looking at ways I can use the flipped classroom to increase the movement opportunities that happen for my students. There are so many reasons why I feel this is an import direction to head in but I will go through them in a later post.
Let me finish this series of blog posts by providing you with a final 3 take away points for flipping your class.
- Use social media to increase the collaboration of students within your class.
- Take the opportunity to develop students understanding of digital citizenship
- Constantly review and develop your approach for your flipped classroom
I have been happy sharing my experience of flipping my HPE class and I look forward to reflecting on how I have changed my learning and teaching space to provide more movement opportunities for my students. As always, good luck to anyone leading the way with change and have a great week.
Follow me on twitter @weaverteaches