Teaching is a crazy business. It's pace is frenetic, and the bar is set high. We, as teachers, have many stakeholders to satisfy - obviously the most important are the students.
So, to hold on to every student and not let one slip through the cracks, I attempted a new strategy. I flipped my classroom. My intentions were to provide quality instruction at home as a vodcast, and then to navigate through my classroom searching for any misconceptions in learning while students worked through well planned activities.
My experiment lasted three weeks.
I asked the students to watch the vodcasts in advance and then in class we would start with a discussion around the vodcast and the students would break into groups to work on the assigned activity.
The frenetic pace doubled. Maybe tripled. I was happily involved with student conversation about learning instead of taking the class to deliver instruction.
Students who watched the vodcasts were successful in completing the activity and demonstrating what they knew to me. It was interesting to listen to their discussion. This was evidence to me that this strategy was working for them.
Students who didn't watch the vodcast were slowed down considerably. I had some chromebooks available for students, and they attempted to watch the vodcasts during class time. But, unfortunately, they began to fall through the cracks as they didn't have sufficient time to engage in the meaningful discussion. Sigh.
The great idea of flipping requires students to have easy access to computers and free time to watch them before coming to class. The motivated students will watch and continue to excel but the students who lack motivation will experience the same results as before.
So I reverted to the classical method of instruction where I knew all students would receive the information first, and then I assign activities to reinforce learning. This method limits the richness and quality that I imagined the flip classroom may provide. Sigh.
As of September of 2014, the Alberta Government has relaxed the number of minutes of instruction that each credit demands. So our school is experimenting with a 30 minute tutorial time in the morning where students can access help for whatever they need.
I may think of trying the flip again. Students can use the tutorial time to access the vodcasts if they didn't have access or time to view it. If I can level the technological playing field for all students then I can work hard to co-construct learning through meaningful activities.
Here we go again.