Sunday, April 29, 2012

Flipped Teaching as "Nexting?"

I was recently taken aback by an experience a colleague discussed with me regarding a conversation they had with staffers at the US Department of Education.  While in DC, they mentioned the flipped class model and asked for the Department's viewpoints.  Apparently, staffers responded with skepticism, actually referring to the practice as “nexting.”  What the heck is "nexting?"

 From what I gathered, they believe that flipped classes involve students accessing online modules (I suppose Kahn Academy or other variations), and simply click “next” once completed with the assignment.  This all occurs, according to them, with little to no actual guidance from the teacher.  My colleague could clearly see the disconnect between how I am applying the flipped model versus that described by these staffers.  

There is not enough time or space here to even begin refuting their preposterous characterization of flipped teaching.  Instead, this post is to alert those who are using or considering this model that there is a widespread misconception about flipping, apparently reaching all the way to the top.  I urge all teachers who have adopted the flipped model to do their best to educate others about the learning that is actually going on in their flipped classes.  

Below is a link to an excellent article written last fall attempting to combat these misconceptions.  Please forward it to those who you feel may be misinformed regarding the model.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Students Reflect Upon Flipped-Mastery in World History

We are finishing up the second unit in which we have fully adopted the flipped-mastery model in our World History course.   Students from the three classes were polled following the first two weeks (Google Forms embedded into Edmodo), and this week several conducted “exit interviews.”   These discussions were held with students who have demonstrated mastery in all of the unit’s standards ahead of most classmates (more on this pacing issue in a later post).

Here is some of their feedback from the Google Forms survey and “Exit Interview:”

What do you think are the advantages of the Flipped-Mastery approach?

“I can work at my own pace, even work on this at home if I am sick or on vacation. Less stress.”
“We really like the self-pacing, I can move on instead of waiting for everyone else.”
“I like how you put maps and videos on the screencast with your lecture.”
“I actually get my work done.”
“I like that we get to use technology and laptops more.”
 “With assignments in Edmodo, you can keep working on the unit at home even if you are absent.”
“It was cool because it was something different.”
“I liked being able to choose which assignments to do for each standard.”
 “I like how each topic is condensed into three basic standards.  We have a better idea of what we are doing for the next two weeks.”
 “The video lecture are better because we can rewind.  Also, there are less distractions than a lecture in class.”

How can our class be improved?

“The Edmodo posts were confusing.  Clearly label each assignment and standard.”
“Have more detail into what exactly you are looking for and what the answer should look like. Also, have specific deadlines.”
 “Give us at least one day in class to watch the screencast and do the Edmodo quiz.”
“Not everyone has computers at home. I don’t feel like going to the library to do all this."
“I have computer access issues at home and can’t always get to the library.”
 “The school’s computers do not work right.”
“The screencast lectures go too fast.”
“Offer extra credit if we are done early.”
“If we finish early, we should be able to move on to the next unit instead of extra credit.”
 “We should have time in class to discuss things from the video."

First, the overall “buy-in” from students is excellent.  Almost every student I talked with said that this approach helps them learn much better.  It is still too early to see whether this will significantly improve their summative assessments, but their formative assessments and overall assignment completion rates are way up.  This is very promising!

As for their feedback, I have considered making a few changes.  Here are my ideas for the next unit:

  •  Create “coversheets” for each standard.  This will include a checklist of assignments that they have completed along with the date of completion.  Once they have demonstrated mastery of the standards, they turn in the coversheet along with any hardcopy assignments before moving on.   This will hopefully clarify expectations and help with their organization. 
  • As for the computer issues, I am going to change the homework policy.  Originally, the screencast, video questions, and Edmodo quiz were to be done at home only.  If it was not completed on time, they had to stay after school to complete it.  For the next unit, I will be deducting points if not done on time, but will allow them to make it up in class.     
  • As for pacing, I will start offing extra credit assignment for those who finish the unit early.   I understand that some want to move on to the next unit.  This will be considered in the future, but since I am basically writing the curriculum on the fly (this is my first year in this district and there was no existing curriculum), it is impossible for this to be done at this point. 
  •  I will also incorporate more time for class discussion and debriefing at the end of each unit.  I may also incorporate an online discussion forum that will run for the duration of the unit. 

As for my own reactions, I am “all-in” with this approach.  I have already seen the class atmosphere improve as well as my relationship with the students.  I have had a chance to talk and work 1-in-1 with students more in the past month than in the entire first semester.