In those conversations I have learned two things from my students:
1. They do not like being “talked at”
2. They want to “do stuff”
The flipped model of instruction in a science classroom addresses both of those issues nicely.
Then I asked for a report…Ooops
Then they had to analyze the data…
Then they had to explain their observations…
Then I gave them a deadline for their report…
But, but, Mr. Strrriiiicklaaaaand… (whiny voices)
You can probably hear them, right? I reminded the students that they really didn’t want me to “talk at” them - but I had an idea. I told the students that I had an assortment of resources available that would help them make some sense out of what they had been doing. There was a video they could watch, some text information on a website and a short simulation they could look at that might be helpful. I suggested they look through that information and jot down a few notes in their composition books along with a few questions. I said that instead of a lecture I would be happy to answer whatever questions they had the next day in class.
See what I did there? The students went home and studied, then came back with questions. I answered questions and gave a short mini lesson. I then handed out their report outline and rubric, put them in the groups from their lab activities and put them to work. They began to collaborate with each other and I was able to walk around the room offering advice and answering questions when necessary.
I turned the tables on them one more time when I asked them to turn in their report a couple of days later. I had the kids exchange papers and had them evaluate each other’s reports using the rubric I had provided. If you know kids at all, you know they are hard on each other. I gave them the option of taking the grade or re-writing and revising their report for a better grade. Of course most of them took the latter option and re-wrote their reports. It was a good learning experience.
Was this a flipped class? I really don’t know anymore; there are so many definitions. The students were active learners in class. They extended their learning beyond the classroom by learning content knowledge at home. They worked collaboratively to construct knowledge. They “did stuff” and I didn’t “talk at” them. If it wasn’t a flipped class it was certainly better than lecture and notes and lab later.
Whatever you might call this week - flipped, problem based learning, or just decent pedagogy, it was a good week. The kids had a concrete experience they transformed into an abstraction of language and graphs. They analyzed, described, explained, compared, collaborated, and peer tutored. Whatever it was, I’ll keep it.