Monday, March 23, 2015

Really "flipping" the classroom.

Technology use in schools has been a buzz word since I became a teacher eight years ago. At that time I wasn't sure why it was such a "new" idea. I mean, I left a career in science that was flooded with technology. It was second nature to use various tech tools on a daily basis. However, most of these tools were presented in such a way where we had to use them to "create" a solution. It seems that technology in schools has become a little stuck.

I recently read a post from Vicki Davis that reminded me that technology is more than a substitute for paper, books, and pencils. I took a moment to reflect on my own teaching to find areas where technology is a substitute and where it is used to create. As I was reflecting, I realized something; there are places where technology is a substitute and it is OK. Like using Google Docs, or Slides, or digital media. But, more importantly I realized that my classroom really is "flipped." Not in the sense that flipped is used in educational technology, but flipped in the Constructivist sense. Somehow I've been able to evolve my classroom into an environment where students are comfortable to direct their own learning and reflect on the process to realize what knowledge they gained from those experiences. As the teacher, I  guide them toward opportunities to engage with the content, but the project based, problem solving that occurs  grasps the idea of using technology to create, as Vicki Davis describes.
borrowed from Pixabay

I am looking forward to school tomorrow for many reasons;

  At the end of one class a  student showed me the amazing website she built for a virtual project tour. I am excited to see the creativity of the rest of the class.

Another student shared a great idea where students will use their understanding of various Earth systems to design a Utopian Solar System to support carbon based life.

Another class has been tinkering with robotics and the use of robots for space exploration. The end of the unit arrived with some audible disappointment. However, a student shared one more idea for  project that will use robotics for another Astronomy concept.

Planning for the next project was completed by my students. The technology that will be used to engage in learning activities was also driven by them. My role is to outline the project to ensure these ideas align with the curriculum by creating appropriate assessments framed by the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards. I also need to provide access to appropriate technology tools.  "Flipping the classroom" is more than giving the students a technology tool to complete classwork at other words; providing a tool to do different kind of homework. It is more of letting go of the "Sage on The Stage" mentality, listening to students, and using their ideas. Students are creative individuals and their creativity should be encouraged to help direct the learning of the entire classroom.

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