I spent last year experimenting with the idea of the flipped classroom. I signed each of my students up for membership on Discovery Education’s website. I then created assignments through which they watched an informative video as homework. This left class time for activities and experiments. It was amazing how much more we accomplished. I also loaded my own video diaries of travels to historic sites onto SchoolTube and linked those videos to the DE assignments. I learned a few things that I will start differently this year:
1. Questions over the video need to be thoughtful, and encompass the whole video. This way the student can watch the entire video and be thinking about their answer. Better to have one question like this than three or four in which they must find a word to fill in a blank. They spent the whole video looking for the right word and missed the point.
2. Assign the video on Thursday, start activities in class on Monday. This gives students weeknights or weekend to watch the video. If they show up and haven’t watched it, I am fortunate enough to have a class set of iPads. They have to watch it before they can join the experiment or activity.
3. If students do not have the Internet at home, require a note from parents, then arrange a time- the same time every week- for them to come in and watch the videos.
With a new school year ready to start, the greatest concern on my agenda is, “What is the best way to use the technology my school has purchased in the last 12 months?” You see, I am that teacher in the building that pilots every piece of new technology to decide if it is reasonable to buy for the rest of the upper elementary, the whole school, or even the whole district. So if there is going to be new technology in my classroom, I want to know the best practices for that technology right away and I want to see if it works with my students.
So, the latest and greatest “toys” that I will have at my disposal this year are AppleTV, a personal iPad, and a class set of iPads. Now I would like to hear it if any of you have exciting success stories or almost/what would you do differently conversations about these particular items. I teach 5th-grade Social Studies and science, but as we all know this would include reading and math skills!
One idea I have to start the conversation is to have the kids use iMovie to create movie trailers of a biographical film. This would include “scenes” that give facts about a historical figure’s life. By making a trailer they have to summarize the most important facts and the the trailer feature on iMovie is a quick way to make an eye-catching, memorable film! What possible road blocks to you see here? What other ideas have you tried or can you come up with?
I will post again soon with a sample trailer attached.
Summer is the time of year that defines you as a teacher. It is that time that you have to spend becoming more effective, “resetting” your state of mind for the next year, or forgetting completely about the classroom and re-using last year’s planbook when you return. I think it takes a balance. I spend a little time each morning surfing DEN or other resource sites, creating lessons, etc. while my kids are still asleep, then kick back and enjoy my family the rest of the day. I can’t wait to see what Discovery has for me to discover this summer! What do you have planned for your summer? If you are a history teacher, start by checking out www.historyanimated.com for the best illustrations you’ll ever find about America’s major wars!