Sunday, 31 January 2016

Flipped Classroom: Four classrooms, four classes. What have I learned?

It seems a very long time ago now since I saw Aaron Sams and John Bergmann speak at Bett 2014 about their pioneering flipped classroom which inspired me to flip my own Year 3 classroom.  I've been to two schools and taught in four classrooms since then - so what have I learned?  What went well and what didn't?  

1. One size fits all.
This couldn't be further from the truth.  The flipped model has needed to be adapted and changed in my classroom - I'd say bent, if I'm being accurate.

Many of the practices outlined in Aaron and John's book talk about the merits of entire terms worth of work being available online for their students.  This works when you have one subject to teach (chemistry, in their case), but when you teach in a primary school, you have many subjects to teach.  In a nut shell, you can't flip everything!

The main subjects that I flip in my classroom are Mathematics, Science and I'm beginning to  use the model with English much more.  Mathematics and Science lends itself to the flipped model as it is heavily 'fact' based, with opportunities to apply knowledge back in the classroom.

2. Get your method of 'sharing content' right first
I can't stress this enough when I meet and talk to colleagues about flipped learning.  You must, above all things, get this part right for your students.

If they are jumping around different websites, following links, logging into email accounts and using several different platforms, they won't complete their pre learning - it's too much effort.  

Find a place that works on multiple devices and is easily accessible.  Edmodo is my favourite and I can't recommend is highly enough - I've blogged previously about its qualities.

Find a place where you can upload, share and discuss learning that suits your children, parents and you! Think about yourself as well, as you will be driving this.  It will become part of your classroom, so make it feel like your classroom.

3. Keep your parents up to date with everything.
Parents want the best for their children and want to help - well, most of them.  Give them the information they need now, not in a report at the end of the year, not at parents' evenings - now!

Show them how you want their children to tackle a certain problem, tell them what you're reading in class, upload the children's homework and encourage them to take part on their children's education.  

Like us, parents are busy too - seems like parents are busier than ever.  So, make the content of their children's learning available 24 hours a day.  I've found that some parents will log in after their children in are in bed to find out what they have or what they will be learning over the next few days.  It keeps parents in the know, and gives them time to digest the information you want them to know. 

There's nothing worse than being bombarded by a teacher, who has five minutes at parents' evening, with information about how to help their child improve. By uploading your classroom, you are allowing parents to see their children's next steps in learning at their pace and on their time.

Some parents do have anxieties around school; usually from their own experiences.  Take this away by allowing them to sit behind a screen and watch content over and over again until they understand it. This has been particularly successful with mathematics in the schools I've taught in.

4. What happens back in the classroom?
The content that has been viewed at home must be available back in the classroom.  I've found that even though some children understand the concept at home, they need the video to help in the classroom.

Basically, they need further help to fully apply the skill. For example, a child watches a video of me modelling written multiplication, they come to school and have some understanding of the skills.  If the video is available in class then they can pick up where they left off at home and perfect the skill without asking for help - great independence. 

Teach children how to create their own videos using Vittle or Explain Everything.  Give them a place to keep their content - Google Drive, DropBox or Edmodo's backpack.  I'll ask some children to create a video before they leave the classroom and send it to me, so I can hear them calculating when I'm marking their work - what an insight into their thought processes this have given me when the child isn't around.

I've blogged about these benefits here - Children creating their own mathematics videos 

Impact. Impact. Impact.

I can't actually remember a time now when I haven't uploaded a video, a picture, or a web link to Edmodo and asked the children to watch it before coming to school.
  • I've found over time that the children who do this, are more ready for learning, less anxious about their work and achieve better in the lesson.  
  • The children who watch the videos are becoming more skilled and move much quicker onto application of skills - then to mastery.
  • Children are more open to helping others online via peer assessment
  • Parents are more informed with what their children are learning and are 'ups killing' themselves with then methods we use in school.
Overall the impact has been vastly positive with children making quicker progress than the children who have not completed their pre learning.  This really isn't rocket science, is it? Children who spend more time practising skills, get better quicker.  All I have done is maximised the children's opportintes for learning by making relevant content available online prior to their next lesson.

Where next for me?
I'll be presenting at the 2016 Footsqueek conference on March 15th alongside Rob Smith (Literacy Shed) and Lee Parkinson (Mr P's ICT Blog)  I will be sharing my journey through implementing flipped learning in a primary classroom.  You can get more information - here

I'm also presenting at FlipConUK this year. This is a huge thing for me as John Bergmann will be presenting alongside Lord Jim Knight and Sir Mark Grundy for the two day event.

You can find our more about the conference - here

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