Monday, 2 February 2015

Four ways to make your flipclass awesome

Six months ago I made a goal to flip my Math 10 class.  I had never taught Math 10 nor any other high school academic course, nor had I flipped a class before so once again, my reach exceeded my grasp.  I learned a ton this first go-round.  I guess the title on this post could be "Don't do what I did and your flipclass will be awesome" but as always, and like all of us, I am on a journey.  Here are some of my ideas at this point on how to make your flipclass awesome.

1) Make concise engaging videos

My first videos were well set up for students who had carved out an hour or two of their time, sat down with a coffee (hot chocolate okay) and their workbook in hand, and poured through my super long drawn out videos finding all the nuggets contained within.  Here is one of the first videos I made:

In the previous video, the teaching doesn't happen until 1:30 seconds.  And its not really teaching, it's more like a glorified answer key.  What is the learning intention?! Not totally sure.  And apart from a slightly goofballish intro, the engagement factor is sitting at impotent proportions.  Here is one of my latest videos.

Improvements made:
- The learning intention is front and centre: finding the greatest common factor and lowest common multiple
- Terms are defined and so is the concept
- The lesson is quickly taught and emphasizes ease and simplicity

Share your videos with other teachers and get feedback.  Ask your students what they like about them and what you could be doing better.  Your video skill will improve over time so don't hesitate to redo videos.  Always keep this question in mind: would I sit through this?

2) Start the year with the students creating the videos

This semester I made all the videos: 46 in all.  I would say that that took between 100 and 200 hours in all to record and edit them.  That's a lot of work.  It's not like I have a lot of time on my hands.  And I am sure some of them needed to be bumped up in volume as they were made at 4:30am with an almost whisper so I didn't wake up anyone else in the house.  It doesn't have to be that way.  This semester will be different.  I've already created a criteria sheet for our Teaching Video Project.  Right at the start students are going to be making their own teaching videos and sharing them with each other.  My hope for this is greater engagement, more interest in my videos, and more interaction around the videos.

3) Create an online culture of questions and learning

The flipclass is not just about the videos.  It is about improving the learning outside school walls.  That can take some time.  If teachers feel that they are the sage on the stage and the keeper of all knowledge then they have got a whole lot of work ahead of them.  But a community freed up and encouraged to become questioners and answerers (with the teacher keeping the discussion moving forward) can bring out the collaboration of the students.  That's why I like Edmodo--a social learning management system.  It promotes Facebook-like posts and responses.  My plan is to ask more questions on our forum to engage the students more around the videos or simply around the learning.  Here is an area in which I hope to report back on how it went.

4) Make a flipped class parent video

Not everyone quickly embraces the flipped classroom.  Halfway through my course I thought I might be in danger of some kind of lynching.  There was misinformation: I had parents hear that we spent all our class time watching videos.  There was misunderstanding: many parents had no idea why I would give their children videos to watch for homework. And there was missed opportunities: how great it would have been to have the parents working alongside their children with the Math teaching videos as a priority.

This term I hope to have a parent video sharing that:

I flipped the class to spend less class time up front explaining and more time one on one with their children

I flipped the class because I was tired of students getting home and copying another's homework or the answers from the back of the book because they didn't understand what to do and the homework was too hard.

I flipped the class to allow students to watch, pause, rewind, fast forward, and watch again some of these difficult Math concepts. . .at their own pace.

And I flipped the class so that students that were sick, at sports games and competitions, and mid-school vacations could have access to all the explanations they would need to learn the material.

Basically, I would love the parents of my students to know that my flipping wasn't flippant.  That there was thought, care, and carefulness that went into this.  A parent video on the flipped class could help.

All of the above are things that I had wish I had done last term.  But I'm not going to be hard on myself for not doing them.  And neither should you.  As @mwren13 reminded me just the other day: we all have trouble with "implementation of all of the great ideas".  It doesn't mean we should stop trying.