coetail unit 5

What my student think about the flipped classroom

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My class making balloon kebabs

My year 12 IB Physics class is first approaching the completion of a full year of my flipped classroom and I wanted to know what they felt about the experience.  So in an attempt to respect their privacy and empower honesty I created a student questionnaire which they could complete at their own discretion.

From the top it is really rewarding to a 100% emphatic yes to both enjoyment of the flipped classroom method and also that they would like to continue with this method next year.  This obviously makes me very happy but it is the finer details which my students shared which I hope others will consider.

The students felt that the flipped classroom method was less stressful as they could review without feeling like a hindrance and do this in a time suitable to them.  They did however note that getting this right took a little bit of time but now they have a routine and will sometimes do an additional viewing just before the lesson to be better prepared.  That preparation is something that they even admit to transferring to other classes by watching related videos.

At the beginning of the year I was using videos which were available online and felt this was an acceptable starting point before I moved onto producing my own clips.  Now the majority of my class specifically mentioned that content produced by me was much better as they felt it was additional teacher contact time and I used the exact language which they needed to know.  That exact language point is crucial as it highlights my use of specific IB Physics words and symbols which they pick out as being vital for exam success.

I also asked questions about phases of a typical class.  They felt positively about starting activities reviewing required knowledge, the opportunity to question their own misconceptions, time to develop and practice skills.  Within this there was also a clear feeling in the class that they would happily reduce practical lab time.  Now my hands are tied here due to requirements of the IB Physics course but it does make me think that I need to revisit lab work with respect to better integrating a learning aspect.

Another element of my own flipped classroom is the requirement to independently complete related online mastery questions. I use the excellent Minds on Physics tool by allocating specific units and getting the pupils to record their own progress.  The students felt the process reduced stress but not requiring work to be handed into a teacher and also by getting immediate feedback.  It should be noted that the recently increased game aspect of this tool has seemingly gone down very well with my class (I make this statement based on the impassioned wailing I hear in the corridor when they only have a little bit of life left and they come across a difficult question).

So the key points I want to make about the flipped classroom that I have learnt from my wonderful class:

  • Students do learn how to manage themselves to make this method effective
  • Making your own video’s really matters with respect to teacher contact and correct syllabus language/ style
  • The right online question bank is a great tool for student learning (plus reduces stress on all)

And finally …my year 12 IB Physics flipped classroom really works and so could anyone else’s.

Project Based Learning

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Proposal: The integration of project based learning into the curriculum

 

The following proposal incorporates the key points made in the following sessions at ASB Unplugged 2012:

 

  • The “Power of the journey” session based on project based learning presented by Kevin Crouch and Scott Hoffman
  • The institute session on “Constructionism and project based learning” led by Gary Stager
  • Project-Based Learning led by Andrew Churches

 

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?

Edutopia.org states that project learning, also known as project-based learning, is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups.

 

During the power of the journey session PBL was defined, using the review of project based learning by John Thomas as

  • Central, not peripheral to curriculum
  • Focused on questions or problems that drive students to encounter and struggle with central concepts and principles of a discipline.
  • Involve students in constructive investigation
  • Student-influenced
  • Realistic

Why should we use project based learning?

 

Gary Stager identified the 8 big ideas, which are embedded within PBL, as opportunities for:

  1. Learning by doing
  2. Using technology as a building material
  3. Hard fun
  4. Learning to learn
  5. Taking time
  6. Can’t get it right without getting it wrong
  7. Do unto ourselves what we do unto our students
  8. We are engineering a digital world where what we know is as important as reading and writing*

 

*I appreciate the sentiments of this last big idea but feel it should just say information technology is now an invaluable tool in PBL environments.

 

What are the requirements for a successful PBL experience?

Andrew Church makes it clear the planning is the key to the success of a PBL unit and he promotes the use of the 4Ds approach (Define, Design, Do and Debrief).  Due to the freedom of pathways the students have it is vital that clear objectives and a final outcome are in place as clear progression signposts.  Gary Stager stated that “a good prompt is worth a 1000 words” and from his experience it was most important that a successful PBL experience had:

  1. Good prompt
  2. Appropriate materials
  3. Sufficient time
  4. Supportive culture (including expertise)

 

All in all a clear grasping of the objectives and outcomes with sufficient allocated time, materials and effective support are the key to the success of a PBL unit.

 

So why do I want to adopt PBL?

I am excited by PBL as I think that it will provide a different learning experience to what students normally receive.  Such a method explicitly requires students to find their own pathways of discovery.  This freedom also better reflects the results driven real world unlike the carefully structured faux-enquiry based learning path often seen in school classes.  Furthermore the inbuilt collaborative element requires students to develop the skills required to work with others.  The outcomes I am looking for are a deeper understanding of key ideas and the opportunity to develop crucial life skills.

Where do I want in introduce a PBL unit (1)?

The year 11 MYP science unit on energy provides a great opportunity for PBL.  A project requiring the construction of a Rube-Goldberg machine and the measurement of energy transfers throughout provides a context for knowing how to make energy calculations and consider the factors which impact efficiency.  I also feel that such a project would provide an opportunity to evaluate the approaches to learning (ATL) skills developed throughout the MYP programme and produce a vital jolt of something different.

Where do I want in introduce a PBL units (2)?

It has become apparent that some students at my school will struggle with the requirements of IB Diploma Science.  My school is presently introducing year 12/13 non-IB alternative science course which I feel would benefit from a number of PBL units such as:

1)    Growing what is required for an organic salad and using this as a driving force to consider world food requirements and the benefits of both GM and chemical solutions.

2)    Building rockets as a driving force of fuel consumption, aerodynamics and mechanics

3)    Producing ginger beer to consider fermentation process and enzyme use

4)    Camera production to consider optics and photochemical reactions

 

In reality this course will not be trying to develop future scientists but work on enhancing the science literacy of these students so that they can be more informed in the future.  So a parallel science in the news presentation element will also be included requiring students to consider and explain opinions.

How does information technology enhance project based learning?

In both examples information technology tools will provide crucial opportunities to do more than ever before, with greater ease than ever before and share those findings with more people than ever before and so also enhancing their own technological skill set and crucial confidence.

Examples of such opportunities which will support:

  • Making measurements using probes and data loggers
  • Sharing information in a collaborative group using Google docs
  • Journaling the process using blogs
  • Considering various (and sometimes opposing) information sources using the internet
  • Bookmarking relevant information using tools such as Delicious and Diigo
  • Analysing data using spreadsheets
  • Connecting with other experts and interested parties using e-mail and Skype

Neil Commons

New International School of Thailand

Trails and tribulations of the flipped classroom

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The reflection upon where I have got to with my own flipped classroom seems a sensible culmination of my coetail experience.  From my first introducing the idea to my year 12 Physics class the IT integration has developed.  I am now producing more and more considered vodcasts which reflect my own improved understanding of the tools and the student requirements.  Furthermore the increased teaching time has meant the continued integration of further IT tools into the teaching and learning process.  As my students have now got used to the flipped classroom techniques they are in a position to honestly reflect on their experiences to provide a data driven element to the discussion.

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