In Andrew Miller’s post on http://www.edutopia.org/, entitled Five Best Practices for Flipped Classroom, he discusses “Need to Know”, “Engaging Models”, “Technology”, “Reflection”, and “Time and Place”. Miller also is very clear that flipped classroom does not fix weak teaching skills.
My intent is not to say that the flipped classroom is bad. Rather, it is only a start. The focus should be on teacher practice, then tools and structures. The flipped classroom is one way to help move teachers toward better teaching but does not ensure it.
I also liked how he was certain to push for teacher to not start at flipped classroom and then develop their plans. It is a tool to utilize while implementing your learning plan. I think so often technology is used for the sake of using technology or used without thinking through how it fits into the bigger picture.
Miller does hit on the what I see as the biggest strength of the flipped classroom, which is the teacher spending more face time assisting their students than talking at them. This, in my opinion, is where the successful results found from flipping the classroom stems from.
It fosters the “guide on the side” mentality and role, rather than that of the “sage of the stage.”
Another benefit, I have not seen discussed anywhere is that this setting should cultivate a better relationship between the student and teacher. This would lead to a strengthen willingness to ask questions in the classroom. Its hard to be against something that provides a side effect like that.
The blog referenced in this post, which is worth reading, can be found here: http://plpnetwork.com/2011/03/22/the-nuts-bolts-of-21st-century-teaching/
The nuts and bolts of 21st century teaching can probably still need a wrench. In other words, someone to make everything turn and tighten. This is the teacher. This independent style of learning for his students is a great idea. A simple flaw is seen here though:
“Then we got stuck. Researching was the easy part, knowing what to do with it is much more difficult. The goal of week three is to construct a mock-up of their exhibit. My students struggled immensely with how to take their research and create an exhibit. What information do they use? What do they want to be their focal point? What story do they want to tell?
It’s not that they don’t have good ideas. They have some great ones. As I walked around, I heard some incredible proposals, such as designing the concentration camp exhibit around the concept that many prisoners consumed only 300 calories a day. What does 300 calories a day look like? Yet even with great ideas on the table, they seemed reticent to move forward.”
I doubt if they were asked to present their findings in power point format they would run into such mental roadblocks. The technology of information presenting is wonderful, but concrete representation should still be creative and encouraged. This teacher was definitely doing this, but were all their previous teachers? Is that why this exhibit is so tough to figure out?
“Once they found a number of resources, I introduced them to Google Docs. It never fails that my students are completely amazed by this web tool. Often there are audible gasps.”
I laughed at this portion because it described my reaction the first time a college project partner explained google docs to me.
I think this was a great project idea. I was drawn on the choice of topic. As educators, should we be teaching the Holocaust directly? As this way we maybe be better able to help our students who are emotionally effected by the material. Perhaps, it is better that students are allowed to research such a topic on their own and at their own pace. In high school, my class had a field trip to the Holocaust museum, in Washington, D.C., but we were tasked with going ourselves. So we could go in groups or by ourselves, if we felt that was the best way for us to take in the information there. I have always thought that was a great way of going about this tough subject matter.
I applaud this teachers innovative manner, but hope this is not how he teaches a majority of his lessons.