Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IB Bio HL ... flipping the class

One of the presentations for the K-12 Online Conference was based on Amaral's flipped classroom experience in the IB Bio HL class. The presentation can be watched here (20 minutes video): Technology as an Ally in the IB Science Class.  In this presentation, Amaral talks about the use of a Google Doc to prompt student learning prior to the formal introduction of a new Unit in class. Then we can see snippets of class dynamics after the use of this Google Doc and the feedback from three students on how this approach affected their learning.

Sample pages from a Google Doc used for this purpose are shown on this page. You can see that each student picked a different color to respond to the questions given by the teacher. So each student had to answer at least one question by doing independent research. In this way, students arrived in class with some knowledge of the new topic and questions about it. This was the flipped class approach prior to class that provided students with instruction. 

The class dynamics therefore had to change, as it was not based on direct instruction or lecture. In class, students were engaged in discussions related to the concepts in the Google Doc, as the teacher prompted the class with questions. A later development  involved the use of Poll Everywhere to prompt the class for learning needs through questioning, in this way allowing the teacher to direct new questions, explanations and discussion towards the needs identified during the pre-assessment with this digital tool.

Students had interesting opinions about the flipped class strategy. One was in favor, acknowledging that there was more time in class to go deeper into the topic as basic knowledge was dealt with before class on the Google Doc. Another student also liked the approach but felt that more responsibility was put into her shoulder as she had to keep up with the subject  through the Google Doc and other off class discussions. The third students felt more difficulty with the approach as he wanted to go back to traditional lectures covering the entire unit. 

So we can see that there will be different reactions to the flipped class and it is interesting to notice some resistance to taking more responsibility for the learning and also resistance to let go of the teacher being the provider of information. For me this seems like a great way to engage students more and more on the habit of being life long learners and develop deeper thinking skills.

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