This post originally appeared on Edutopia, a site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by using digital media to document, disseminate, and advocate for innovative, replicable strategies that prepare students. View Original >
Ok, I’ll be honest. I get very nervous when I hear education reformists and politicians tout how “incredible” the flipped classroom model, or how it will “solve” many of the problems of education. It doesn’t solve anything. It is a great first step in reframing the role of the teacher in the classroom. It fosters the “guide on the side” mentality and role, rather than that of the “sage of the stage.” It helps move a classroom culture towards student construction of knowledge rather than the teacher having to tell the knowledge to students. Even Salman Khan says that the teacher is now “liberated to communicate with [their students].”
It also creates the opportunity for differentiated roles to meet the needs of students through a variety of instructional activities. But again, just because I “free” someone, doesn’t mean that he/she will know what to do next, nor how to do it effectively. This is where the work must occur as the conversation of the flipped classroom moves forward and becomes more mainstream in public and private education. We must first focus on creating the engagement and then look at structures, like the flipped classroom, that can support. So educators, here are some things to think about and consider if you are thinking about or already using the flipped classroom model.
1) Need to Know
How are you creating a need to know the content that is recorded? Just because I record something, or use a recorded material, does not mean that my students will want to watch, nor see the relevance in watching it. I mean, it is still a lecture. Also, this “need to know” is not “because it is on the test,” or “because it will help you when you graduate.” While that may be a reality, these reasons do not engage the students who are already struggling to find meaning and relevance in school. If the flipped classroom is truly to become innovative, then it must be paired with transparent and/or embedded reason to know the content.
2) Engaging Models
One of the best way to create the “need to know” is to use a pedagogical model that demands this. Whether project-based learning (PBL), game-based learning (GBL), Understanding by Design (UbD), or authentic literacy, find an effective model to institute in your classroom. Become a master of those models first, and then use the flipped classroom to support the learning. Example: Master design, assessment, and management of PBL; and then look at how you can use the flipped classroom to support the process. Perhaps it is a great way to differentiate instruction, or support students who need another lesson in a different mode. Perhaps students present you with a “need to know,” and you answer with a recorded piece to support them. This will help you master your role as “guide on the side.”
What technology do you have to support the flipped classroom? What technology gaps exist that might hinder it? Since the flipped classroom is about recorded video, then obviously students would need the technology to do this. There are many things to consider here. Will you demand that all students watch the video, or is it a way to differentiate and allow choice? Will you allow or rely on mobile learning for students to watch it? Again, these are just some of the questions to consider in terms of technology. Lack of technology doesn’t necessarily close the door to the flipped classroom model, but it might require some intentional planning and differentiation.
Every time you have students watch a video, just like you would with any instructional activity, you must build in reflective activities to have students think about what they learned, how it will help them, its relevance, and more. If reflection is not a regular part of your classroom culture, then implementing the flipped classroom will not be as effective. Students need metacognition to connect content to objectives, whether that is progress in a GBL unit, or work towards an authentic product in at PBL project.
5) Time and Place
Do you have structures to support this? When and where will the learning occur? I believe it unfair to demand that students watch the video outside of the class time for various reasons. If you have a blended learning environment, that of course provides a natural time and place to watch the videos, but it will be difficult to ensure all students watch a video as homework. In addition, do not make epic videos that last hours. Keep the learning within the videos manageable for students. This will help you formatively assess to ensure learning, and it will feel doable to students.
I know I may have “upset the apple cart” for those who love the flipped classroom. 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. Like the ideas above, focus on ways to improve your instruction before choosing to use the “flipped classroom.”
This post originally appeared on The Whole Child blog, an ASCD initiative to call on educators, policymakers, business leaders, families, and community members to work together on a whole child approach to education. View Original >
PBL can create engaging learning for all students, but that depth of learning requires careful, specific design. Part of this engagement is the element of critical thinking. Complex problem solving and higher-order thinking skills, coupled with other elements such as authenticity, voice, and choice, create an engaging context for learning.
One of the essential elements of a PBL project is the teaching and assessing of 21st century skills, including collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. The key takeaway here is teaching AND assessing. You cannot assess something you do not teach. How do we teach critical thinking? Through intentional instruction and intentional experiences. Therefore we need to make sure that the overall PBL journey is one that has both. Here are some elements of a PBL project that you can double- and triple-check to make sure your students are critically thinking
Driving Question: Through repeated practice, you can create a rigorous driving question that is open-ended, complex, and at the same time kid-friendly. A driving question is not “Google-able” but may contain many “on-the-surface” questions. By creating a driving question that requires higher-order thinking skills, the overall project will be infused with critical thinking, as it is present and used throughout the entire project. If you need help with a driving question, please check out these posts in which I go into more detail.
Audience and Purpose: One of the pitfalls that teachers can run into when designing their projects is picking a mediocre purpose and audience. When that happens, the product often becomes a regurgitation of knowledge. If the audience of the project is just the teacher, then the product may or may not have a rigorous purpose that requires critical thinking. If the project is for an outside audience, the purpose may become more complex, because that audience’s lens and needs are unique and challenging. If you pick an audience outside of the classroom and a purpose that is rigorous and challenging, then the project will require some critical thinking.
In-Depth Inquiry: Inquiry is a process that requires investigation, questioning, interpreting, and creating. This process is repeated over and over, because the inquiry itself cannot be finished in cycle. When creating a project, ask yourself if the project will require repeated cycles through the inquiry process. In-depth inquiry leads to repeated moments of critical thinking
Don’t forget that when you demand critical thinking skills, then you must scaffold these thinking skills with lessons, modeling, etc. If you are demanding that students evaluate, you must teach them how. This ensures success on the project and, more importantly, that students are learning how to critically think. The Buck Institute for Education has a great project design rubric that can help you refine your PBL projects to ensure the highest quality learning environment and includes the elements above. This rubric, coupled with the lens of critical thinking as part of the design, can ensure both engagement and deeper learning.
Posted by Andrew K. Miller on Feb 16, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments
This post originally appeared at Edudemic, a group committed to using social media to change and improve education through a variety of resources and materials. View Original >
Recently, MIT Education Arcade announced commission of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMORPG) that would teach students content aligned to Common Core Math Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, World of Warcraft in the Classroom is a popular curriculum that teachers have used to engage students in learning critical, standards-based content.
There is a trend in education to utilize games for learning, whether pairing a game with classroom instruction or creating a whole new “serious game.” As a regular MMORPG player myself, I have found myself spell-bounded by story lines, incessantly questing to improve my character. In full the spirit of full disclosure, I have a Jedi Shadow currently on Star Wars the Old Republic, but have played numerous MMORPGs in my life as a gamer.
While MMOs are being created to demand learning of content within the game, teachers can still strategize the use of MMOs in pairing with classroom instruction and assessment. Here are some strategies and considerations to consider if you decide to venture into the game-based learning approach.
1) Pair the Game with English/ Language Arts content
In MMOs, students write. Yes, headsets are employed, but often the primary mode of communication within the game is through written conversations in the chat channel. Practice problem solving in game elements with students using expository and persuasive writing. In addition, MMOs have rich story lines. Pair the MMOs avatar/character the student is playing with character in the novel. Focus on story elements and the higher order thinking skill of compare contract. Look at these types of ELA standards and find the right in game fit.
2) Feasible Time and Structures
Let’s face it, you may or may have technology, space or instructional time to devote to this approach, as it demands not only formal instruction, but time in the game to play and experience. However, if you know students are playing in their free time, it is a great opportunity to differentiate instruction to engage your “gamer” kids. In addition, if you have a blended learning model, time becomes less of an obstacle, and the focus is more on competency. If students can find time to play the game and meet the milestones for learning, then it is completely feasible and worthy to use this approach. Perhaps the In Game activities are extra practice or extensions to enrich learning.
3) Meet In the Game Itself
Related to the previous point around time and structure, you can leverage the game itself to meet with students and discuss learnings at actual in-game points, whether that is the local tavern in WOW, or the Cantina in SWTOR. Perhaps you utilize the Literature Circle instructional strategies to build reading skills of the novel, but have the actual Literatures Circles in the game. Or, you hold office hours to help students with their classwork.
4) Teach and Assess Collaboration
21st Century Skills are being leveraged in schools internationally as just as critical to content knowledge. Collaboration is no exception. Perhaps one of the most striking and exciting learnings that occur in MMOs is collaboration. Whether teaming for an instance, fighting a boss, chatting on public channels for help, or utilizing in game crafting, students on constantly collaborating to solve problems. Have students record evidence or reflect on game play to properly assess them in collaboration. Model collaboration in the game using your character. Translate these in-game experiences to the real world through discussion and reflection.
These are just some strategies to use as you consider how you might pair an MMO with classroom learning. Rather than look at the obstacles and barriers, look for the opportunities. Just because we as teachers might not be able to create a full scale classroom implementation doesn’t mean I can’t leverage a MMO to engage a student in meeting learning targets. In addition, as conversations around time, competency and structures for school move forward, some of these walls will become more flexible allowing for further implementation of MMOs in the classroom. You may a “noob” and not get MMOs, but you can learn about them from your students and utilize their resiliencies and knowledge to create a personalized learning environment.