2013 February : Justin Womack

This week’s reading was very interesting.  I find myself torn between two feelings.  I am a person who looks for innovative ways to better teach students.  I am not sure though that a flipped class is the way to go about it.  During the readings I felt like I did not like the idea and it was not until I read the article on critics that I decided to keep an open mind.

As a first year teacher I have experienced many situations I did not think I would experience.  As students we go into teaching believing that we are going to make a difference.  We know that we will not be like those terrible teachers we had in school.  Actually experiencing teaching has rocked my mindset and I am in a constant battle to stay committed.  The Education system we have is troubled to say the least.  My initial thought about the flip was that students in this day do not have to responsibility to handle something like this.  After reading Ms. Kirch’s article I realized I was letting the cynical attitudes that many of my colleagues have way on my judgment.  One of the main points Ms. Kirch talks about is most who frown upon flipping a class have not yet tried to do it.  With this thought in mind I decided to open up my mind as I continued to read through this new way of teaching.  In the end I feel that this type of teaching could lend itself well to certain age groups and subjects.  I also believe that there are some obstacles that stand to make this concept difficult for some school districts.

In the article it talks about reasons critics have against flipping a classroom.  The range from creating issues with technology access to only making the teaching about the videos (Kirch, 2012).  I believe this would be a difficult concept for elementary children and some middle school.  I think this idea is better suited for high school where students are more independent and have a wide knowledge of technology.  This is not to say that flipping a third grade class could not work.  I believe one could adapt the flipping to make it simpler for the younger groups.  I just believe it would be more beneficial to those students in high school.  I also think this would be a good thing to do for most core classes.  It gets the boring part out of the way so that the teacher can work hands on with their students on projects.  This also allows for more student collaboration in school where it is ok to make mistakes when they can be corrected.

My concerns for this idea involve all the standardized testing required by most states.  With the thought that students can work at their own pace I do not know how well this would work if they are struggling with a concept, but need to be further ahead covering more advanced concepts.  As things are now I know in my school we are very concerned with our timeline in math and making sure that we cover all the concepts necessary to prepare our students for the SOL.  My other concern is students being engaged enough to complete the lectures at home.  It is hard enough to get my students to do the homework on a regular basis and it’s hard to imagine them listening to lectures when they could be at the mall with friends.  Though they may be more motivated if they know they only have a 5-10 video on a concept to watch rather than 30-60 minutes of homework.  The idea overall seems promising, but I still have find myself concerned over how effective it would be.

 

Kirch, C. (2012, April 5). Critics of the flipped classroom. Retrieved from

http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/2012/04/critics-of-flipped-classroom.html

It is so important to identify why learning is meaningful.  It would be much easier if students paid attention and quietly learned what we teach them, but they do not.  We as teachers have a wide range of classrooms with different personalities, and learners.  Our students want and a lot of times NEED to know why what we are teaching them is relevant or they will not care to learn it and tune out.  I like how Dr. Coffman states that as we breakdown a lesson and identifying the meaningful parts, we as teachers are creating a structured lesson that our students will pay attention to (Coffman p. 52, 2013).  As a first year teacher it is interesting everyday to encounter new aspects of teaching as I am still learning in my masters work.  Our students want to know why they are learning something.  If the lesson is not structured and active for the students to participate, it is going to be a struggle to keep a hold of your classroom.  I agree with Dr. Coffman that it is essential for students to take the lead in their own inquiry based learning (Coffman p. 50, 2013).  It allows them freedom and gives them the opportunity to work problems on their own and with their peers.  Using technology to teach our students through real world experiences is one of the many tools we as teachers need to take advantage of.

I am excited to start creating my music video because it will give me another great incite to a learning tool that I can use in the classroom.  Though I have not started my video as of this blog, looking at the animoto examples I believe this will be a great resource.  Moving forward in my teaching career I think having students create review videos for each unit or couple of units would be a great learning experience and opportunity.  Making the video would give my students a creative and fun way to review their understanding of what we learned.  This activity also allows my students to be get accustomed with technology tools that may be easier for them to operate then just coming up with 10 example test questions.  I also found the Google Reader to be a useful resource.  This would be a great lesson on consolidating students options for researching information.  Students could create blogs and have weekly assignments or postings.  They could have a folder for world news sites and a folder for student blogs.  I could use this as a tool to get discussions going on the happenings of the world and how that effects the class and their future.  Engaging the students in critical thinking and applying those skills to issues that will matter to them as they get older.  Technology changes every day and I believe teaching has to change as fast to keep up the pace.

 

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Again I find myself learning that there is so much more to technology and the internet.  I like to think that I am technology savvy, but working with Scratch to create a program was quite interesting.  I felt like I was back  in middle school struggling to understand a weird math equation.  Building the program also had me thinking about thinking deeper about information.  I thought about the questions Dr. Coffman posed in Chapter 3 about students first exploring a search engine.  The questions she posed are things that I think most teachers do not think about.  What does the ranking mean in a Web search? Why should phrases be used when conducting a search?(Coffman p. 38, 2013)  As teachers I believe we sometimes assume because the students are more immersed in the technology that they understand these things.  We have to make sure that we are not shortchanging ourselves or the students.  Challenging them and guiding them to think with an inquisitive mind is crucial.  In this day and age there are a lot of sources on the internet that are false and our students need the tools to be able to search through the muck in a clear way.

As I attempted the program I felt like it was my first time with technology.  I found myself getting lost in the minute details of adjusting the pace of the drum sounds.  I had to figure out first how to download the program to my computer properly.  I then had to work through exploring just how each part of the program maker worked.  I went at the design with arrogance.  I thought it would be a simple task that would take no time.  I did watch the introductory tutorial, but then I immediately downloaded the program and started working.  I picked Checks and Balances because it seemed simple and I thought I could do something fun with it.  I used the starting out guide to assist with questions that I had as I was piecing everything together, but I did not write anything out before hand.  I definitely would have my students make a plan first and then explore and work with the program.  Because I had no real plan and only an idea I continually got off track and felt overwhelmed with understanding the program and trying to figure out my design.

In viewing the tutorial everything seemed a little elementary and that is why I thought putting things together would be cake.  While the design and animation is not the best making the data work properly is another story.  You cannot approach any tasks involving technology so lightly.  We as teachers have to think creatively and understand how our students will approach these activities.  They will most likely be more skilled, but that does not mean that they know how to think about the project or process the information.  It is our job as teachers to provide our students with that, “information literacy” that allows them to think creatively with a proper understanding.

 

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

3

Feb

by jwomack

Reading through all the information this week was starting to make my head hurt.  There are many rules and ways people can have license over information.  It makes you wonder how anyone could get something from the internet without violating some type of rule.  After thinking on the subject a bit I realized that this would be a great way to help our students learn to think creatively.  Dr. Coffman spoke of challenging our students to “go beyond the obvious” (Coffman p. 19, 2013).  Educating our students on thinking creatively when it comes to searching for usable content on the internet seems like a great way to impart this challenge.  We as teachers need to adhere to copyright laws because we are role models to our students.  Though at times it may not seem like our students care about anything we do, they are always watching.  If they see an example of someone who shows no respect to the laws set forth as it pertains to copyright what kind of example are we setting?  Especially with the crackdown in recent years of those who download music illegally it is important to educate the students on the correct way to go about such things.  Our goal is to create students who are going to think outside the box and be adventurous thinkers (Coffman p. 28, 2013).  This starts with our lessons and how we use technology.  Give the students a scavenger hunt to search for items on the internet that require certain licenses.  Just as we need to be able to creatively find usable videos, pictures, and text, our students will require the same skill as they grow older.  Being able to provide lessons that open up our students to creative thinking while improving their digital sense is a must.

It was interesting searching for the pictures that were posted on our blog.  I first tried using the Google advanced search but I felt as though I was still not finding images that were available for fair use.  I then attempted using Pics4Learning, and was very pleased to find an image quickly that could be used for school.  I was sure that I was finding a usable image because the description of the website speaks about all the images being donated by the photographers for use in education.  The website also does a great job of making citations for all their photos.  In today’s world it seems daunting to try to find information that can be used properly.  This week’s information provided great assets for future use in my classroom.  I look forward to combining technology and creativity to help create students with minds that are always looking to new possibilities.

 

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

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