Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Flipped Classroom comes to North Reading

One of the buzzwords that we often hear in educational circles is the concept of the “flipped classroom.”  What exactly does this mean, and how can this impact education in North Reading?

In the age of the internet content is readily available at the fingertips of our students.  In the old paradigm the teacher is at the front of the room as the master of the content.  In this scenario the student sits and takes notes, often individually, participates in some group activities, and is challenged to present what she has learned periodically through quizzes, tests, papers, labs, and other assessments.  Homework often consists of assignments that revisit the concepts from that day’s lesson and are, for the most part, completed individually. This is the old paradigm.

It’s important to note that this is NOT how most of our classrooms in North Reading operate today! 

However, there is always room for improvement!  In the flipped model, the student is in control of accessing the content.  Very often this is delivered not only through a close reading of complex texts but also through pre-recorded lectures that can be accessed from anywhere.  These videos could include content from textbook publishers, selected content videos (“I have a Dream” speech), uploads from teachers around the world (Kahn Academy, TED talks, MIT) or even very personal lessons recorded by the North Reading teacher.

This flipped model allows for the teacher to maximize classroom time for the students to collaborate, think critically and creatively, and to communicate with each other during the time they are all together in class. It also allows for the content to be delivered in a way that allows all students to access at their own pace.  Now, in class or for homework, you can pause, rewind, re-watch, ask questions, and bring those ideas with you to class the next day!

A deep exploration of these instructional concepts is really the first step towards creating a culture where students use iPads, mobile devices, and possibly their own devices (BYOD) in the classroom. 

This year several North Reading educators will be embarking in an exploration of this topic through a blended learning course I will be offering along with others who are a part of the technology team.  Together we will be reading Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  I had the pleasure meeting Aaron Sams this summer at the Building Learning Communities Conference (BLC12) and the energy and passion that this Colorado science teacher brought to the discussion inspired me to create this course for our North Reading educators throughout this year.

The outcomes of this course will be shared widely with the North Reading Public Schools community so please watch for us on Twitter at #flipnrps as well as on our district academic services blog http://nrps-academicservices.blogspot.com!

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