Friday, July 20, 2012

The Bridge

So it was probably around this time last summer that I decided I was going to flip my class for last school year. To any prospective flippers that read this, it wasn't easy, partially due to my own quirks.

When I decided to follow the Sams/Bergmann model of flip and prerecord my lectures (the pre-vodcasting model) I spent two-3 days researching the proper program to record with, eventually landing on Camtasia. I bought a flip cam and lots of stuff specifically for the videos.  I spent probably 200 hours or so making videos last fall, all for my Chem I classes. To be honest, they aren't very great videos, though I think they helped a lot of kids, especially as I was at a school with some attendance issues last year.

Still, my jumping into the flipped classroom and the movement has been probably the most beneficial thing I've done in my career as an educator, far more so than any class I took, any PD I've ever been to, or any meeting I've endured.

I was listening to the podcasts for the Flipped Learning Network last week and heard Aaron Sams very accurately depict just why that is.  He described the flipped classroom as a bridge between standard teacher centered models of the classroom and the student centered model.  That might seem like a bad thing for the "movement" that one of the progenitors of the idea says that it is not really the end goal.  But it was such a revelation for me, really hit me.

A couple of years ago at my old school we implemented a program where every single teacher in the school had to do a PBL project, preferably a week or more in length.  There was panic, frustration and I can pretty safely say as one of the people who checked up on them, that the projects and the idea didn't work as well as it could have.  Wasn't really the administration's fault, we had several days of PD on it, so it wasn't like they just threw it at us and said do it.

Here's the thing though, PBL is a very student centered model (or can be) and it is a giant leap for teachers to go from teacher centered to student centered.  I'm getting pretty interested in the modeling movement for teaching science, but it is a big leap too, as were my ill fated attempts at inquiry stuff in the past few years.

This then is what flipclass has done for me, it has allowed me to try out something that was at once radical and very different, but at the same time still had enough of the old elements to keep me comfortable while I make the transition to a student centered classroom.  I felt like I still had "covered" all of the material while having much more time to do a lot more things in class, to sit down with students and help them through everything, to experiment with standards based grading and google forms submission of work, things that I probably wouldn't have tried without flipclass.

I'm not done with flipclass by any means, I'm pretty sure it will be the main paradigm of my class for a long time.  But that is because it is the foundation for so many other things that are about the kids, about finding ways to help them learn, not just record, to prepare them, not for a test, but to be thinkers and doers.  Ultimately that is the point, not to have videos or do homework in class or whatever the critics think flip is about, but it is about getting to the point where I can spend time with every kid every day, where I can make sure they are truly learning, not through some stock assessment or some fist to five 2 second thing, but through conversing and relationships.

Happy to be on the bridge!

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