The author of this article seems pretty enthusiastic about flipped classrooms. But who can blame him? He struggled with the problem that his AP Calculus lectures were always “on speed” for 45 minutes missing the opportunity to engage his students in discussions necessary for “developing” their thinking and logic. He solved this problem through flipping his classroom by “sending the teacher-driven activity home and giving the students a voice in the classroom”. The result of this was the high scores his students received on both in-class assessment and AP exam! And of course a more engaging and happier classroom environment.
Flipped classrooms can bring life to the classroom as students take learning into their own hands and only refer to the teacher, who no longer serves as a “sage on the stage” but more of a facilitator, when they struggle in learning a concept. This in particular is why I’m becoming an advocate of a flipped classroom. Back in the days in middle and high school, I used to rely on my older siblings to explain to me hard concepts that I needed to learn in order to complete my homework. But my siblings had lives; they weren’t always there when I needed them. This made me end up going to school without completing my homework and got in trouble for it. It’s true kids nowadays have access to connect with a much bigger group to refer to when they need help (e.g. using the internet to connect with teachers, friends, experts, etc) But it sure would be more effective to refer to their teacher in the right moment and in the right setting where their questions could lead to other questions that could lead to discussions and so forth, and that’s one of the advantages of a flipped classroom that I’m highly fond of.
This is a great guide in Edudemic for teachers to learn more about flipped classrooms. The guide is easy to read, supported with visuals, and well organized. It helped me learn more about how it works, and why students have better learning outcomes than in a traditional setting. I also found the list of resources and web tools most suitable to use in a flipped classroom extremely helpful.
After I read Shelly Wright’s article, it dawned on me that it’s okay to take risks in the classroom, if not preferable. I think that Shelley Wright is a great inspiration for educators who are afraid to change their ways of instruction, and to add some “spice” in the way they want their students to learn. By implementing project-based learning in her classroom for the first time, I don’t think it mattered to Wright what the museum would look like as much as the amount of information she wants her students to learn through their “inquiry, collaborative, and project-based learning” and she becoming more of a “facilitator” rather than the “all-knowing guru”. And even though it was her first time to implement project-based learning with her students, I think she handled it like a pro. I loved how she respected her students by first explaining what it is and how it works because it was “unfamiliar” to them. Most educators would implement teaching and learning methods that are novel to their students without allowing their students to digest the transition from the old to the new.
The other thing that dawned on me is that taking risks in the classroom WILL bring up challenges, like when her students became stuck at one of the phases of the project, and that’s okay because these challenges are what will perfect the next time teachers use their ideas with their new students. Wright handled that challenge by using her PLN to seek for other professionals’ aid, and it worked! She was presented with a video that she let her students view which stimulated discussion and excitement which allowed the project to resume.
Project-based learning is something that is not only not implemented in classrooms back in my country, but also unfamiliar by both teachers and students; teachers are “the sage on the stage” and students receivers of information. I’ve been an advocate of students taking ownership of their learning ever since I became a student in the US, and determined to let my students do so, and project-based learning is a great strategy to do that. However, I don’t think I will be able to implement it in my classroom for the first time right away, or do what Wright did with her students by explaining what is. I certainly will not and cannot start “cold turkey” for 1- this will overwhelm students, and 2- they lack the resources (technological resources mostly) to do their research and collaboration. I will be determined to shift the control from me to them gradually, provide them with motivation to boost their confidence that they can do it, and provide them with technological resources for researching and collaborating.
If this is not taking risk in the classroom, I don’t know what is.
Poor George Washington, couldn’t eat with those terrible dentures.