Keith Heggart is a dedicated teacher from Sydney with a knack for incorporating tech tools like Edutopia and MentorMob University into his classrooms. When we first met Keith via Twitter, we were delighted to speak to an educator with the willingness to try new products as part of his school’s new tech initiative. Keith jumped into the MentorMob community and has been offering feedback on what features have been the most helpful in the classroom ever since.
Some of Keith’s most recent work includes “flipping” his classroom, which he details in his article, “To Flip or Not to Flip,” posted below. Thanks for your hard work, Keith!
I’m relatively new to the whole ‘flipped classroom’ debate. In my little corner of Australia, we’ve really only been hearing about it for a couple of years or so, and certainly, most schools haven’t even attempted to adopt the approach.
At my school, we’ve undertaken, since January, what we might call a ‘limited trial’ of flipped learning – running it in a couple of Business Studies and Ancient History classes.
Before we got started, I read as much as I could find about flipped classrooms – and there’s a lot of stuff out there! What seemed to me to be missing from the debate, however, is any discussion about what kids think about the whole idea – and that’s something that works strongly in favour of flipped learning.
Let me explain: in my opinion, and the opinion of others, like John Hattie, teachers generally spend far too much time talking in the classroom. Whether it be death-by-powerpoint, lecturing or interminable question and answer sessions, the dictates of a content heavy curriculum (at least, that the case in New South Wales) ensure that teachers are forced into delivering content in the most efficient manner possible – and that leads to lectures, rather than lessons. Of course, any teacher will tell you that students need to engage with content to really begin to understand it –but this is something that is often ignored in favour of covering this topic or completing that unit.
But in a flipped classroom, that’s all changed. Content can be delivered before the lesson starts. At my school, we use MentorMob to create playlists made up of articles, videos and documents. These are usually 10 minutes long, and students watch them before every lesson. Students enter the classroom pre-armed with knowledge, and as teachers, we can devise interesting, meaningful and most importantly challenging activities for students. We can throw away the old ‘sit-there-and-listen’ approach, and instead embrace practical activities, or debates, or detailed presentations, or real-world problems. We’ve even taken the opportunity to Skype with business leaders – something that would never have been possible before.
And the most important thing? Students are engaged. Students look forward to the lessons – and they come to the lesson confident, because they already know a little of what we’ll be covering. They watch these playlists on the bus or in the library, on their iPods or smartphones. Talking to them, they say this kind of learning makes sense – they spend a lot of their lives watching clips, so clips for school fits right into their understanding of learning.
When I started flipping my classroom, my biggest concern was that students wouldn’t want to or wouldn’t be able to watch the videos. Now, 4 months later, my biggest concern is creating enough content for my students to watch!
Featured image via eboardsolutions.