Monday, October 29, 2012

Flip the ordinary!

One of the big trends in education is the idea of the flipped classroom. This concept switches the prescribed times when students work and when students "receive" information. Someone who is running with this is Brian Bennett ( or @bennetscience on Twitter) This is a fascinating concept that seems to be a natural progression from the school of analog thought that teachers would have students leave their textbooks at home because that is where the teacher is not, thus allowing students access to an educated resource away from school.

As we try to not only engage students in meaningful educational activities, teachers needs to be engaged in the discovery process and to change their methods of instruction. As you have probably personally experience, change is never easy and there is a process that people must go through to bring the changed state into their everyday existence. There are multiple examples of this process:
As teachers attempt to make changes in their instructional methods, some people will jump right into the pool of change, while others will only dip their big toe in. It is important to only give people a push when they are ready for it (OK, maybe sometimes we can push a little earlier if they have good support surrounding them). It is this that I want to explore. Instead of jumping right into flipping a class, why not try a few activities. It can be as simple as taking Prensky's idea of doing something old in a new way.

Case in point: there are many digital representations of the periodic table of elements. One that caught my eye is this one. It is not the colors that caught my eye, but the fact that the 2nd sheet of the Excel file contains ALL of the data (and more) that is in the periodic table. If we utilize this periodic table in class, we can not only have students develop a better understanding of chemistry, but of 21st century skills and skills that can even (*GASP*) help them on standardized test, by having students manipulate the data to have Excel create the graphs.

Another example that got me thinking is an open source game from MIT called "A Slower Speed of Light" which helps put relativistic principles in a format that might be easier to understand.

For those who have been reading (and I thank you for doing so), look at an activity that you have done for the past 3 can you flip it to make it something new and engaging? Leave a comment or mention it to me on Twitter (@misterabrams). Once you have flipped a few activities, it may not seem so scary to go waist deep into the change pool. :)

Happy flipping!

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