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Day 16: Bill Tereposky, Teacher (Seaquam Secondary School)

September 26, 2012

After a two-year exodus from the classroom as our school’s Teacher-Librarian this year I was given the opportunity to “get back in the game” as an IB History teacher was needed for the 2014 cohort.

As much as I enjoy creating and developing research methodology at Seaquam I did miss the environment of the classroom and developing a love of history in my students. So with the break I had a chance to reinvent myself as a professional and try something different.

I had read many articles of a 21st century learning approach called the flipped classroom and I decided this was the time to try it. In addition, I wanted to go as paperless as possible choosing to use Google Drive for collaboration and social media like Twitter and Google+ to keep students informed.

As with all change, there are growing pains. I had to get past the fact I would be more connected to students than a class website or blog and find ways to set parameters. In reality posting things on the Internet leaves you open to public scrutiny so it really was not much of a leap.

Rather than have kids follow me I had them save a search for #sqibhist so they could only see what I had posted for class. I assumed my tweets on the latest educational technology initiative or my feelings on sports would not interest them. ☺

Now to the flipped classroom.

This is the concept that traditional homework happens in the classroom and the traditional lecture happens at home. The idea is based on the belief that the passive part of learning (sitting and listening to a teacher talk) can happen anywhere but the active part of learning is best served when someone (peers or teacher) is there to facilitate and answer questions.

The first thing I needed was a way to record and publish the videos. Publishing was easy. Being a Google convert I had a YouTube account already, which is very easy to use. The challenge was finding a way to record the lecture. My laptop has a web cam but the thought of them looking at me while I talk did not sound engaging for them and kind of creepy to me. I wanted to have them hear me, but see what I was talking about as if I was giving a PowerPoint presentation.

My first thought was a document camera we purchased for our school and a screen capture on my Mac. This way I could show a map or cartoon and speak to it while drawing on it or writing on it. This was effective but had limitations as my hand would get in the way and erasing what I was talking about was problematic. It just seemed last century, not 21st century. Then I found my current answer.

Along with being Google crazy (as in I push it on everyone I can) I am also an educational iPad enthusiast. I found an app call “Explain Everything” that did exactly what my previous method did but only showed what I was writing without my hand in the way. It also allowed me to change pen colours, type fonts, reduce and enlarge pictures. So it has become my answer. I have recorded and published 2 lectures thus to set the stage for two inquiry based lessons on WWI. The feedback from students has been very positive. They say “It is easier to pay attention” (I took this as less boring than a traditional lecture) and they can rewind parts they want to watch again or pause me to take down a note if needed.

One struggle has been the time factor it takes to create the lectures or videos for students to watch. (Teacher-Librarians will indeed sympathize!) So, like my students, the lectures happen at home. I do some prep to make sure my slides are in order but I don’t worry about small mistakes as this would take me hours to record and in reality I am just talking to them like I would in class.

All in all, my flipped classroom has been a positive experience for me and for my students thus far. Sustaining this style is going to be the challenge as it takes times and it is a rebuilding of the wheel.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2012 5:18 am

    Thanks Bill for giving a concrete example of how flipping a classroom might work. In our work on Inquiry Based Learning at my school this year, we may need use this as a way to free up some time in class to engage in activities on big concepts. You have an IB class which is different from the average class full of students at different ability levels. I’m wondering how I might make this work for an “average” class? Or maybe it is easier to differentiate learning by having an archive of explanations online?

    • Bill permalink
      October 3, 2012 4:29 am

      I think this works anywhere. “Good” kids are often the hardest to engage but also find comfort with the teacher centered learning approach. They have had success at it after all so they can be the hardest to convince of change. Try not giving them grades , and get ready for revolution!!!! Still fight that battle. Not all watched at first, nothing is automatic but with some initial interventions it became an excepted expectation. Struggling learners would really benefit from this as the traditional approach is not working for them so they would be more welcoming of the change. Good like Jonathan. Let me know if you need anything on this.

  2. Trish Duggan permalink
    October 4, 2012 10:27 pm

    I introduced the idea of a Flipped Classroom in my Senior Alternate Program at SDSS last year. Students have the opportunity to take math courses online through Delta Access and complete the curriculum in the alternate classroom. The Flipped Classroom lessons are available on You Tube via Kelowna teacher Mr.Johnson. This facilitated the combining of self paced online learning with a flipped classroom. Through the use of iPads in the classroom, each student has the opportunity to take advantage of the wide variety of lessons currently available. I have even more students this year who have decided to take their Math 11 course using this method. I am incorporating technology into the alternate program through iPad’s and the above app “Explain Everything” looks like a great tool to check out.

  3. Lisa Leblanc permalink
    October 7, 2012 2:50 pm

    I’m very interested in learning more, and seeing more of this in practice. I can’t help but think it’s a great strategy, especially for more introverted students. How wonderful for a student who needs calm, quiet time to read, absorb and reflect, to be invited to do so. And to then be rewarded with the teacher’s time and attention to help work through questions. As a parent, who’s not a teacher, I know this works for me. I’m confident I can motivate my children to read and explore, but much less confident in my ability to answer the questions that prevent them from achieving deeper learning.

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