Item #2 on my Elephant list: Experiment with flipped/inverted classroom.
Just a few months ago, I read about the idea of the inverted or "flipped" classroom for the first time. Since then, I have noticed that a bunch of people in the blogosphere are talking about it. I am completely intrigued by the idea. Instead of giving direct instruction and sending kids home to practice, you assign a video as homework and do the practice in class.
One thing I love about this idea is that it doesn't feel like it would be that big of a stretch for my teaching style. I have been recording videos of lessons for several years now, using an interwrite pad:
This device allows me to record my voice and handwriting as I teach. I can record an explanation live, and make it available to students who were absent. I have also left videos for a substitute when I was gone for the day. Once, when I had a terrible sore throat and could barely talk, I played a pre-recorded video in class to save myself from the talking. The thought never occurred to me to record a lecture and assign it as homework. But why wouldn't that work? I want to try it.
Here are a few of my concerns:
1. I am not sure how to make the videos accessible to all students.
2. I don't know if I have enough time to record a bunch of videos.
3. I don't know how to make videos anymore. I know I said I've been making videos like this for years, but now that we are in a new school I have a completely new set of audio/visual gadgets to figure out. My interwrite pad has been replaced with a smart slate. It is supposed to be the same, but for me it hasn't been as user-friendly.
4. What if a student shows up to class without having completed the homework?
To help process my thoughts, I had a discussion with my current calculus class about the idea. I was just curious what they would think. In general, they weren't thrilled. The main concern they had was that they want to be able to ask questions if they don't understand something in the lecture. They are also worried about accessibility of the videos, as some of them do homework during their break at work, or riding the bus to and from a sports event. I was sort of surprised. I kind of expected them to be more excited about the idea.
One of my students said "What is the point?". He wasn't being rude, he legitimately wondered what was the advantage of flipping. Good question. My answer was that it takes the part of the lesson that students are most likely to need help with, and puts them in the classroom with teacher and peer support while they are doing that.
But now I am starting to question it myself. Why? I don't want to do something just because it is new and interesting and it seems like it would work. Will it truly enhance learning? I think the key is going to be a combination of quality videos AND how I choose to structure the practice time in class. If all I am going to do is say, "Any questions on the video? Okay, here's your practice", then it probably isn't anymore affective than teaching the traditional way.
I still plan on experimenting with the flip in calculus next year. I can see that it might be a harder sell than I originally thought. . .