Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Classes so good they'll make you flip

     My experience with flipped classrooms is very limited, yet very powerful.  I have been in situations where it has been set up nicely, and I have been in situations where I'm relatively sure that the instructor had no business being involved in the educational process.  This week I am engaging in an activity that allows me to revisit flipped classrooms, though from the outside.  I must give due thanks to the Mrs. Parker Ponders blog for arranging a resource list of very useful blogs, articles, and videos pertaining to the positives and negatives of flipped classrooms.  As a visual learner, I very much enjoyed the infographic on The Flipped Classroom, as it really provided  clear background of the flipped classroom model and introduced the framework in a visually-appealing manner.  I also enjoyed the video: The Flipped Classroom is not..., as it provided graphic explanations of concepts that fit the model and concepts that just do not.
I researched two blog articles in reference to the flipped classroom, specifically:

     I selected the first blog because I was genuinely curious about what would be considered one of the larger obstacles to flipping a classroom.  As it turns out, in a way, the teacher is the biggest obstacle in flipping a classroom.  Teachers, especially experienced ones, have a tendency of relying on lectures and the "sage on the stage" style of instruction when it comes to class time.  This, however, is quite problematic for the flipped classroom because the class time is for activities.  It seems a teacher can easily sabotage an activity by talking too much, and getting in the way of student collaboration and discovery learning.  It can be hard to surrender structure and control in favor of a little disruption.  I also found the idea of alternative assessments to be quite useful.  While an instructor should have a tailored assessment plan prepared for students to use, it is certainly within reason to assume that students may have other means of demonstrating that they are learning.  As a teacher, I should be happy to embrace student-driven assessment data, as it clearly can show evidence of the usage of Higher Order Thinking Skills.

     The second blog piqued my interest because of the association with ISTE.  This blog listed some difficulties and strengths of flipped classrooms.  Flipped classrooms don't look like ordinary classrooms, they have lots of moving parts and inherent challenges.  This means that the process does not always looked as streamlined as a normal lesson plan.  Also, it may take students a lot of time to get used to the model.  I think all of the resources have indicated that it is a time-consuming process for everyone involved; so that must be taken into account as well.  In the end however, all the hard work will pay off, as the facilitator and students all gain new skills.  I think it is important to be able to implement a flipped classroom model because having experience with letting go of power and control and embracing something challenging can make me a better facilitator.  The flipped classroom model is one way that I can address the needs of my diverse learners on both the high and low ends of the spectrum.  As was evident in another blog, it is not "one size fits all" but rather it can be "one size fits one" and I think that can be very powerful.

Ultimately, I believe that I have walked away from this process with some useful tools and ideas for the future.