Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gauging 20 Time's Effectiveness

After spending a few months researching the emerging "20 Time" (or "Genius Hour") concept, I decided to implement a pilot program during the 4th quarter.   Here is a post that I wrote in April regarding our "Dive Into 20 Time."  In general, I was pleased with how our flipped-mastery units were progressing, but I still felt that the course lacked a few things.  First, I needed to find a way to incorporate inquiry, particularly the open-ended variety that was driven by student interest and motivation.  This is where I felt that merging 20 Time with the flipped-mastery approach could improve the class in profound ways.

Before we began, I was interested in what typically motivated students in school, what degree of autonomy they had, how much time they were allotted to complete projects, and whether they had a sense of purpose in their work (can you detect the influence of Drive here?)    I therefore created a "Pre-Survey" to get a better sense of this before starting the 20 Time projects.  I then gave a similar "Post-Survey" to determine how much 20 Time changed these views, if at all.  

In sum, 20 Time granted students more control over their learning, fostered a deeper understanding of the subject, established a greater sense of purpose, and granted enough time to learn what they deemed important.  

There was also a clear change in what motivated them.   For typical school projects, 39% of students were most motivated by earning rewards while 38% were motivated to avoid punishments. Only 23% were motivated to learn about the topic or skills for the sake of learning.  The post results reveal that 59% of students engaged in the 20 Time project primarily because they were motivated to learn about the topic or skill.  Although it is a very small sample size, the jump from 23% to 59% is rather substantial.  

Is this definitive proof that 20 Time / Genius Hour projects are always successful? Of course not. It is certainly encouraging, however, to see that students were more motivated and engaged in the learning process. As both research and anecdotal classroom experience can attest, increasing students' motivation is not only half the battle, but often the entire one.

The following table summarizes the results in greater detail for those interested.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

#FlipCon13: What It Was Like

The following post was contributed by guest blogger David Fouch (@davidfouch), a social studies teacher in Michigan who has been experimenting with flipped learning for the past two years. 

I am currently sitting in the Minneapolis airport and I am reflecting on my last 3 days at #flipcon13 in Stillwater, MN.    First, I just want to say thank you to the organizers of #flipcon:  @kadaniels, @jonbergmann @chemicalsams, @bennettscience, Kari Arfstrom, and Helene. You guys designed a wonderful program for 3 days.

All I can say is WOW, what a great learning opportunity I had at #flipcon13.  I was able to network, learn, lead, guide, and take in a great educational conference.  My first takeaway was that I was finally able to meet people that I converse with on Twitter.  Cheryl Morris (@guster4lovers), Andrew Thomasson (@thomasson_engl),  Marc Seigel (@DaretoChem) Steve Kelly (@bigxcounty) and Zach Cresswell (@z_cress) are all awesome and talented educators. These people along with many more created a great atmosphere. The group from Allen, Texas adopted me as one of their own. Jackie, Jeremy, Dena, Katie, Chris, and Megan are all awesome people and educators. I would move my family to Allen, Texas in a heart beat to teach with those awesome educators.

This was the best education experience I have had in my teaching career. All education students need to attend this conference. So what made this conference awesome? It was the relationships I was able to build while learning.  People were so willing to share their success and failures of education.  It all started Monday when I was able to sit down and learn the tricks of trade for Camtasia Studio. That is a product from TechSmith that creates screen captures. Also, the people at TechSmith rock, Brian, Dave, Jason, Doug, Wendy, and a host of others love what they do and it shows. Thank you TechSmith.  They showed me some higher end ways to help build videos by using hotspots, quizzes, and just make my videos look smoother.  If you have any questions about that please let me know. 

Tuesday started with a great keynote speech from both Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann.  They spoke about how they started their journey with flipped learning.  There were two things that stuck out to me the most during the keynote; first, you have to be the nut. Meaning, you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a chance.  Some people may only be the only nut in their building but one nut can lead to many more nuts. The second thing that stuck out to me is nothing that I haven’t heard before.  Teaching is all about relationships, teachers and students have to have open and trustworthy relationships.  The  two godfathers, Bergmann and Sams, keynote ended with the 5-5-5-5 idea, what are you going to do in 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months and 5 years. The flipped classroom never stops growing and where are you going to take your classroom next.

That led into a great session by Marc Siegal about Google apps. I can't wait to start playing around with the research tool on Google doc, voice comments will save me mucho time when I grade APUSH essays, and move note. I also decided that I will create the google 20% project for my APUSH students after they take the AP test.  Marc, thank you for an awesome presentation.

In the afternoon I was able sit and listen to Cheryl Morris and Andrew Thomasson discuss collaborative flipping. I was very excited to hear them talk about their process and the story how they got started flipping together.  They are a great team and it shows that you don't need to be in the same school or state to work collaboratively.

Wednesday's keynote by Ramsey Musallam was based on the idea of giving students the tools for success and letting them find the answers through Explore-Flip-Apply philosophy. I truly believe that this is a great style of teaching and organization for your classroom. However, with teaching all AP classes I find it hard, due to time constraints, to apply E-F-A to my AP classes. Overall, it was a great keynote especially when he mentioned the movie "The Karate Kid."

There were a ton of great moments from the week in Minnesota, from the brewery tour, the boat tour, Journey, and a ton of great educational innovation. I am planning for #Flipcon14 at Mars High School outside Pittsburgh, I already looked at hotels in the area.

Look for another guest post by me in a few weeks when I discuss how I am going to make changes to my AP US History class moving forward. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flipped Learning Literature Review & White Paper Released

"Where is the research on flipped learning?"  

This question has come up frequently over the past few years.  Although some educators such as Ramsey Musallam and Jerry Overmyer have conducted inspirational studies on related topics, and Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams released their groundbreaking book,  flipped learning research and evidence has been for the most part anecdotal.

I am glad to see that academic studies and further research on flipped learning is in the works.  One example is the Flipped Learning Network's recent release of the following three documents:

A Review of Flipped Learning

The Executive Summary of the Literature Review

* Source: http://flippedlearning.org/domain/41

These reports were written by Noora Hamdan and Patrick McKnight (Ph.D. George Mason University),  Katherine McKnight (Ph.D. Pearson’s Center for Educator Effectiveness) and Kari M. Arfstrom, (Ph.D. Flipped Learning Network)

I was honored to have been a part of the FLN research committee that provided peer review for these studies.   I am also humbled that findings from the research that I conducted at Columbia University ("Flipped Learning & Democratic Education") were included in the literature review (p. 12 & 13) and white paper (p. 10).

I hope you find these studies useful in your journey to improve student learning!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Must-See at FlipCon13

FlipCon13 is just days away.   Although attending this year's event wasn't in the cards (our final exams @ PHS run until the 21st), I am looking forward to the Virtual Conference starting this Tuesday.  If you have not registered yet, you can still do so on the conference registration page.

Here are a few sessions that I consider "must-see" and will attempt to view live if at all possible.

Tuesday, 6/18

8:45 CT
Jon Bergmann & Aaron Sams - Keynote Address 1

10:45 CT
Marc Seigel - #Flipclass + Google Apps

1:15 CT
Cheryl Morris & Andrew Thomasson - Collaborative Flip

Wednesday, 6/19

8:30 CT
April Gudenrath & Troy Cochrum - Flipped Writing Instruction

9:45 CT
Brian Bennett - Redesigning Schools

9:45 CT
Cory Peppler & Jason Bretzman - Using This Flipping Technology

11:00 CT
Ramsay Musallam - Keynote 2: Explore / Flip / Apply

1:15 CT
Kristin Daniels -  Flipped Professional Development

2:30 CT
Brett Clark - No Flipping Homework

I'm sure the other sessions will be great as well and I will surely view them in the archives over the summer.

Good luck to all of those presenting and attending FlipCon13, it should be an incredible event!  I look forward to engaging with many of you online over the next week.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Engagement Through Games & Simulations

A Common Question...

If you have been flipping your class for a while, you have probably been asked a question that goes something like this:  "If you flip all or most of your direct instruction, then what do you actually do with students in class?"

I have been asked this on numerous occasions, mostly from fellow history teachers.  One of the reasons for this is that many social studies teachers (myself from the past included) place tremendous value upon direct instruction via lecture.  Maybe it is because that is how we were taught history ourselves.  Maybe many of us history geeks truly loved that college seminar on "European Perceptions of Islam Through the Ages."  Maybe it is just the nature of our subject.

My typical response to this question is, "everything that you have always wanted your students to do, but did not have time to following your lectures."  I'll admit, that probably is not the response they wanted to hear.  I am therefore modifying it to something like this:

"Use this time to experiment with pedagogical approaches and techniques that rely less on direct instruction, and more on student-driven inquiry and engagement."

Again, not very specific, but that is the point.  Social studies teachers should view flipped learning as an opportunity to go in a new direction.   For example, you may move towards mastery learning, or instead towards PBL and other constructivist approaches.  Or both, why not?  This new direction may be different for everyone.  My main is advice is to make sure that you take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Although I have gravitated primarily towards flipped-mastery, I have tried to incorporate more games and simulations into the curriculum as well.  These experiences are not only more engaging for students, but also enhance learning by placing them in situations that required meaningful collaboration and high-order thinking.  Here are two examples from this past year.

APEH Madness

This game is modeled after the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament (my bias as a former college player and high school coach are shining through here...).  In sum, the class worked together to narrow down the top 64 most influential figures/groups in modern European History.  They then ranked them from 1-16 based upon four different historical eras.  Students then collaboratively created a 70 slide Google Presentation and presented to the class.  After this, they all filled out brackets to determine who they thought was the most influential.  Next, we had a game-by-game class vote to determine the "class bracket."  The student whose bracket was the closest match to the "class bracket" was the ultimate winner.  Here are the instructions that I provided the students for this assignment.  I also recorded each step of the process and created the following video depicting the game.

Enlightenment Simulation

The next example is a typical role-playing simulation during which each student assumed the role of an Enlightenment philosophe.  Here is a link to the student directions for this assignment.  I was able to record and produce a video for this simulation as well.  Many students actually helped by recording "first person" accounts with their phones while engaging in the simulation.

Share What You Do

I as well as the readers of this blog are always looking for new and innovate practices.  Therefore, if you have any games or simulations that you find engaging and effective, please share in the comments below!