Thursday, January 26, 2012

About the videos (and why they are a good idea even outside of flip)

First off, I just want to get out there that the videos are not the most important part of the flip model.  They are pretty common, but not the heart of it.  I've heard it explained and have myself explained it to people that it is much like an English teacher having students read through parts of the book or play at home so that they could discuss it in class instead of reading through it as a group.

The videos work much the same way for me in my chemistry class.  Instead of me giving notes or having them read the book in class, or whatever method is typically used to just get the terms, main concepts and how to work the problems to the kids I do videos.  The idea is that they watch those at home (or more often at school), then when they come to class, I do a short review/answering question section, then we hop into whatever other things are going on that day.  Typically this involves activities and some part of the class doing what for me a year or two ago would have been homework, like practicing problems.

That isn't the only way you can do the flip, but is I think one of the common models.  But let me tell you why even non flipping (heh) teachers should make some videos, at least in a setting like mine.

As I mentioned in my first post, I teach in what most would term an inner city high school.  My students are often out of school, for a variety of reasons, some beyond their control and some not.  Almost 3 weeks into my new classes this term and I already have a few students close to double digit absences.  I've had a couple suspended for nearly a week at a clip, or students in ISS for dress code or other stuff.

You can see where this is going.  When a student comes to me and asks what did they miss, or to give them a quick rundown (of something that took a week to cover in class!), I direct them first to the videos.  Please note that I said first.... I am never, NEVER, unwilling to help out a student individually.  But what it does do is give them a place to get the baseline knowledge so that when I help, it is with how things actually work, not with defining things.

And for review, they are also a lifesaver.  I had a student at the end of the term last year that checked out a DVD of every single section to review for the final.  I don't know how much they watched, but I know that even if I reviewed a full two weeks before the exam (I wish!), there is no way I could tailor it to that student's individual needs.  They, on the other hand, could concentrate on where they knew they were weak, and skip stuff they had down pat.

Oh...and another big deal that I should have mentioned at the beginning.  The videos are under the control of the students.  They can pause, stop, rewind, etc as much as they need their own pace.  I may talk fast in a video, as I often do in lectures.  But unlike in a traditional lecture, they can pause, rewind, and hear exactly what they missed in that last problem.  Let me quote a few examples from the feedback on the very first video we did (collected in google forms...Mr. Schwen, you are amazing!):

It is a lot different, but i really enjoyed it, because i can go on my own pace and not be rushed. It is awesome, I'm glad you came up with this idea, because i can watch this video at home or something, and have more time to do other homework, because your would already be done. And I'm a very visual learner, so this is new and exciting! Thanks for putting the time in to create this videos!!

i think it will be hard to keep up with them. but it is a great idea for a class like chemistry for the reason that it gives me the freedom to go back and look at some of the ideas i may have missed.

I think this is good idea because anytime I forget what the teacher said I just got to watch the video again because I can't tell teacher to repeat what he or she said at all time

I'm not cherry-picking those quotes either, I made the students all comment on the very first video they watched, on the first night of the new term. Almost everyone of them said something similar, that it would take some getting used to, but they liked the idea.

Student control of their learning...that will be a recurring theme...we'll come back to that, and to part two of the video stuff tomorrow!

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