In Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk Bring on the Learning Revolution, he speaks of the need for student ENGAGEMENT. Students need to be engaged, they need to be creative, and to feel a connection between what they are learning and the real world.
According to Milton Chen, author of Education Nation, the old traditional model is not working, and America is losing its stronghold in many of the top global fields. Chen asserts that other countries view education as an investment, not as a cost - a view that is echoed by Linda Darling-Hammond in her book The World is Flat.
The call for 21st Century Skills demands 1:1 computer and internet access in schools. In Education Nation, Milton Chen says this requirement is becoming the the new civil right for all students. Technology has changed, and is bringing on a change in the way we teach. In addition, brain research is showing us the difference between active learning vs. passive learning, and demonstrating that active learning has greater positive outcomes.
So how do we move away from the traditional model, where the teacher lectures, and students take notes, memorize and take tests? Data is showing us that this approach is boring and leads to higher dropout rates, and that our children are not learning any skills to compete in the Global Economy.
How do we incorporate 21st century skills and technology, engage students, and allow for creativity, innovation, and real-world connections to their learning, as well as to our subject matter? One idea is by flipping our classrooms. What is a flipped a classroom? In short, the lecture, note-taking, and basics are taught through videos or other media, as well as simple tasks completed for homework. In class, students apply their learning in active learning tasks that are more collaborative and rigorous, with guidance from the teacher.
I first heard of the flipped classroom in October of 2015. At the time I did not know the research that supports this model, but it made sense to me that this would be a great way to use technology. For the past 6 weeks I have been flipping my classroom, and this project is also the topic of my action research paper. I thought the flipped classroom idea was exciting, but I wanted to demonstrate that if it were combined with project-based learning and inquiry based learning, the impact might be even stronger. I am currently still collecting data.
Based on my own experience, I see the positive benefits of the flipped classroom model, and I hope to grow into a leadership role to help other teachers transform their classrooms into dynamic learning environments. Before leaving for winter break 2015, my students completed a chapter on fractions using the flipped model. During class time my students worked on their unit projects.
The project was on Oceanography, a 21st Century career cross-curriculum with science. The unit we completed was on ratios, proportions, and integers. Part 1 was simply discovering what oceanography is: areas of study, salary, and education to become an oceanographer.
In Part 2, each person in the group was assigned a different question. Topics covered included icebergs, underwater volcanos, coral reefs, and whale comparisons. Each student was to answer their question with a limit of 5 slides, presenting the information in any way they chose, and was allowed to share one “cool thing” that they just had to share with us.
In Part 3, students were to find out why the topics are important to us as a people, why we should care, what groups help the environment, and how (which is also how we can get involved). Part 4 was to reflect on how the mathematics that we find in our textbooks had a practical application in this field. Each group was allowed to choose their method of presenting all of the information, and most chose Google Slides.
The author is a proud mother and wife, living in Sonoma, Ca. She has 21 years teaching mathematics. She loves technology and how it enhances student learning, engagement, and achievement.