Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Flipping and Grouping to a Better Learning Enviornment

Two days ago my county's deputy superintendent spent part of a period with one of my classes.  He was curious how we were doing with our Chromebooks.  One of my students said something like she really liked the class because "We live in an interconnected world and that is how we operate in class from working constantly in groups to having access, using multiple modalities (my word meaning Chromebooks and smartphones), to a world of information." I am not doing her justice, but tomorrow I am teaching social studies chairs how "Flipping and grouping" can change the way they teach.
  • We start class with five questions which are the overarching points for the day.  The kids can use their notes and if they do poorly, they can stay after school to take the quiz again.  After all don't I want them to learn the most important points?
  • Next we go through a "problem set."  To do this we are grouped in mixed ability groups that change from time to time or even can change (such as with a jigsaw) multiple times in a day.  Problem sets grew out of my economics' classes, but now has spread to all of them.
  • As students work, I move around the classroom, listening and helping.  What I have found out is that all students talk with small groups and ask questions and are willing to give feedback to their peers. When a few groups have the same question, I stop everyone and address it with the greater group. Depending on the assignment and the class we also go over it when everyone is done with it. 
  • I get multiple times a day to talk to each student.  Every other day or so I even call up kids who are missing work.  As long as I haven't gotten to the test, I will accept any assignment without a penalty and even let kids redo work to raise their score.   Crazy I know!  But the goal is to as well as possible on the assessments.
  • Also students to not need to be in the same place, but rather can be behind or even ahead depending on their needs.  
  • So formative assessments can be done as many times as a student wants and all of my summative tests allow for second chances - as long as the kids go through and understand their failings on each question.  
Getting rid of my large teacher desk has forced me to move around the room much more than in the past.  Creating pre-made groups fosters better discussion and, in turn, learning.  Simply doing it has made me change how I teach or, in many cases facilitate learning.  In a nutshell this grouping in fours and flipping has changed the way my students learn.  If Facebook's new open campus is a bellwether my kids will be better ready for not only assessments, but also future jobs. 


Emily Jaffe said...


I'm a graduate student in a teaching program and we were asked to read other teacher's blogs within our discipline. At first I wasn't thrilled about the assignment, but I am so excited to have found your blog! Your ideas seem to align and "theories" that we have learned about in the SOE -- and better yet, your ideas are applied in a practical and important way in the classroom everyday. It is reassuring and useful to see how I can use all of these lessons in my future classroom.
For example, I was unsure about the benefits of flipped classrooms. And just your post cleared up many questions I had -- such as how to most productively assess if the students watched and understood the video.
In addition, I really appreciated your discussion about "master learning." I have wanted to implement this in my future classroom, but wasn't sure about the repercussions. It seems like it works really well -- and sends the message that it is important to understand the overall concepts, and not just pointlessly memorize facts, etc.

Anyway, thank you for such a helpful blog! I'm excited to read your future posts.

Ellen Blanchard said...

^^Emily sent me here^^

I, too, am a graduate student in the same teaching program! I've been thinking a lot about room/desk configuration of my future classroom. I am probably most curious to try a U shape and see how that effects classroom management and discussions, and also how it affects technology use because if there is not a clear path around the students' desks you might not be able to monitor what they are watching on their phone or chromebook screen. I would also like to try groups, especially for AP classes, I found that in the AP classes I've observed students are hesitant to answer questions because they are fearful of being wrong in front of their AP classmates. If they were in groups they could build trust and rapport with a small group of peers and answer questions collectively. I know desk configuration seems trivial, but I think it can be a very important part of the classroom atmosphere!

I am also eager to read more of your blog posts!