Flipping the classroom throws up so many questions about the role of teachers in this information heavy world. It is clear that things will have to change radically and this perhaps is simply a stepping stone to the changing face of education.
In many ways english teachers have been struggling with the content issues for years – it is no surprise that we keep teaching of Mice and Men instead of Grapes of Wrath, due to the number of pages not superiority of the text. But has not simply been good enough to say read a chapter at home and come back for discussion, in fact building a reading culture in school is important and demoting it to a job best done at home, whilst pragmatic, may not help. This concept really interests me so this might well turn into my final project.
I am in the throws of GCSE preparation with my year 11 students and often it is content driven, ensuring we have studied all the poems, whilst missing the skills based work on writing analytically and constructing arguments. So my plan is to produce a series of poetry lectures on you tube (and maybe later extract analysis from of Mice and Men) in order to support study and revision for the exams.
Traditionally we would teach poems in class, and expect students to write responses at home. The problems with this include students not spending quality time on assessments, exam timings are not adhered to, thus very short or unreasonably long essays that are unhelpful as guidance for real situations. In this way we would discuss, plan and write responses in the lesson enabling supported and structured writing; as homework a teacher can only advise on complete essay, thus students may have ‘wasted’ time getting it wrong.
Other benefits might include students who miss classes, work at a slower or faster pace or need to hear things again to comprehend. In my current cohort I see particular advantage for a school refuser who can at least watch flipped lectures then can attempt the work that is sent home, an ADHD student whose concentration often wanders, she can now flip back and forwards in the video, also the accompanying visuals should help her, finally a disaffected student who is techy may be more motivated to listen in this form. I uploaded my first to Youtube then immediately got a message from a parent whose son had had an operation and needed work at home. I gave him the link and Bob’s y’uncle!
I asked the students which kind of homework they would prefer and they seemed taken by the idea that the videos would be 15-20 minutes long thus putting a definite time on their focus (although, I hope that some will watch it more than once or at least pause and play). Many applauded my attempts at being techy and others were impressed that I even knew how to upload to youtube (I must admit it was my first). I am not sure I have all on board and I think a culture shift needs to happen to make this work, particularly with students who often don’t do homework consistently. But i will get back to you on the success come Friday!
To begin, I started to look if any flipped work had been done on this poetry and found one teacher who had obviously worked his way through the anthology. His notes are good, but I am not sure if the students watching would be clear about what they need to do:
I thought also I would aim to vary the construction of the lectures to keep it a bit fresh. Some might be Petcha Kutcha style, some Zen and some RSA drawing style. My first attempt is a bit scratchy but I had to get started somewhere. Next time I will record at a desk not lying on the sofa! Initial student feedback has been: your voice is so calm/sleepy/boring, why don’t you talk like you do in class that is more exciting? – message recieved, watch out for number 2!!