Using the ‘Flipped Classroom’ to redefine numeracy lessons

[youtube]https://youtu.be/pTBUjRDvweg[/youtube]

For my final project, I wanted an alternative way to teach numeracy topics such as fractions, time and division. I chose to try a variation on the flipped classroom to allow the children to stop the tutorials and replay the bits they found to difficult understand. I was also inspired by a  website called mathtraintv.com.  It is a site full of video tutorials made by kids for kids and I wanted to incorporate that idea into my final project.

Instead of giving the tutorials as homework, I chose to use them within the numeracy lessons in place of my direct teaching. We stared off by using Khan Academy.  These tutorials helped to the children  to get used to the format of watching, then stopping the tutorial to practise what they had just been shown.

At the end of the tutorials, the children were given worksheets to practise what they had been learning. Then they worked in pairs to answer real life problems that focused on the skill they had just learned.

When they had completed a few topics, the children had to make tutorials of their own on each of the topics they had covered. They made their tutorials using the educreations app or the educreations website on their Microsoft Surfaces. They were responsible for choosing the number or word problem they wanted to demonstrate and they could work individually and in pairs. The children were really inspired and were very enthusiastic about making their own tutorials.

When the children had made at least one tutorial each, we published them on their kidblog. I set homework for both year 3 classes to visit the blog and watch all the tutorials and leave a comment.

As the weeks went on,  the children were not always on the same tasks at the same time. Some children worked quickly through the tutorials and  were ready to move onto the next topic; other kids worked at a slower pace, yet were always on task.

I found it useful that all the different levels within the class were being catered for. I could utilise the tutorials to teach one group of children whilst I worked with another group of children on real life word problems and investigations. There was more time to work with the students and when they needed extra support I was able to provide it easily.

I am pleased with how technology has significantly modified how I have been able to teach numeracy. I was able to find lots of really good tutorials on YouTube and over the course of this project, I used a wide variety ranging from Khan Academy to tutorials made by children.

For teaching different methods of calculations, this variation on the flipped classroom has been a useful tool for differentiation, whilst making tutorials, has given the children an authentic way to apply what they have learned.

Making tutorials

The next phase of my project was to have the children make tutorials of their own.

I showed them this tutorial by a nine year old boy on short division…

[youtube]https://youtu.be/TPdbSSRkr2A[/youtube]

His relaxed style really inspired my students and they asked to watch the tutorial again! I showed them some other tutorials on educreations.com and I explained that they would be making their own tutorials to publish on their kidblogs.

They were all really excited to get started. They could work individually and in pairs to make their tutorials and they could choose the number or word problems they wanted to demonstrate.

They set about writing their scripts and practised using educreations.com on their microsoft surfaces.

When the children had made at least one tutorial each, we published them on our class kidblog.  I set homework for both year 3 classes to visit the blog and watch all the tutorials and leave a comment. I emailed the link to their parents and asked them to leave a comment too.

 Click here here,  and here to see some examples of their tutorials.

 

Starting to flip – part 2

We are continuing with our flipped classroom math unit. Last week we focused on division on a number line and bus stop division.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JmgLM9Tkbs&list=PLGLoGzky6DysAUYImoszUOPGKuGuPRHSU&feature=share&index=1[/youtube]

The children are still working at their own pace. Only the children who felt confident with the number-line method moved onto the bus stop method.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/vxPc0c__E70[/youtube]

There are a lot of ready-made tutorials online. So far, it has been easy to find tutorials that are relevant and pitched correctly for my year 3 class. The children are still enjoying the independence of using the flipped classroom model. I’m really encouraged that they are so motivated and I’ve had positive feedback from parents too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting to flip

This week I made a start on my final project for course 5. Over the next 3-4 weeks, I will use the flipped classroom model to teach maths. It will be slightly different from the traditional flipped method as the children will watch the tutorials in class and work through a series of concepts at their own pace.

I wanted to start with ready made tutorials, so I signed myself up with Khan academy and created an online class for my kids. Getting started was pretty straight forward. The children received an email from Khan Academy inviting them to join my class, then they were able to log on through Google so there was no need for us to create a new username and password.

 The math portion of the site is divided into grades from 3 – 12 which you can work through according to your level. There is also a section for called Early Math.

A few kids in my class started on the Early Math section of the site as they need more practice with the basics.  The rest of my class started working on the  Grade 3 section of Khan Academy.

learning column addition
learning column addition

 The children have been working through addition and subtraction of 3-digit numbers and basic multiplication and division. Some kids have picked up the new methods quickly. Others have been working at a slower pace which is great.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/O9zSHs1TWMM[/youtube]

The feedback from the kids has been positive so far. The kids are enjoying having the control to stop the tutorials and review what they have learned with no pressure from me or their peers to try and keep up. Its good to see them so focused and engaged  and I’m there on hand if anyone needs further explanation and support. So far so good.

Flipping my Final Project

 

[youtube]https://youtu.be/_8OAfHg0CP4[/youtube]

I really like the idea of the flipped classroom and kids teaching kids. For my final project, I will try using tutorials from mathtrain.tv, Khan Academy and YouTube to tackle fractions, time and division – all concepts that some children find difficult to grasp.

I am hoping that by using the flipped classroom approach,  the children can learn the concepts and their own pace. The children will have the control to stop the tutorials and rewind, so they should grasp the concepts more easily.  Then we can do more focused work to apply the concepts at school.

 

I will begin by using the tutorials in the classroom so that the kids get used to them. Then I will use the tutorials as homework which I think will be helpful for their parents too.

When the children become more familiar with the concepts, Id like them to try using a screen cast app like Explain Everything to make tutorials of their own.

My concerns for the unit are finding tutorials that are simple enough for kids aged 7-8 years old, and then finding enough ways to engage all the children in class to practise the concepts.

My class uses Microsoft surfaces which are not ideal as there is nowhere for them to plug in headphones.  I will have to use the Computer Suite so that the children can use headphones, but we will be limited to how often we can use the suite which may slow things down.

I really want the children to have a go at making their own tutorials, but they might find it difficult to explain what they have learned. They will have to learn to use the correct vocabulary and be very clear when they are explaining what they have learned. We do not have our own set of iPads so again, that may slow things down.

I don’t think I will have a problem with the children watching the tutorial videos either at school or at home. You just have to mention the word “video” and they are automatically more interested! I will make sure I communicate the flipped classroom idea to their parents.

I’m excited about trying the flipped classroom. I think the children will enjoy this way of learning and I think they will benefit from learning from other children and teachers.

Learning through connections

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mareeam/

Nine years ago I decided to switch career paths and go into teaching. The course I chose was a part-time Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) which was offered through the University of Lancaster. The course was partly face-to-face teaching and partly online, much the same as this current CoETaIL course. The way the course was structured really suited me as I could and continue working.

At the time I found the online aspect of the course very alien. I had only ever studied in the context of school, college and university and I found it difficult to engage with the online materials. I wasn’t used to reading on a screen,  it was very tiring so I preferred to do my reading the old fashioned way, by getting books from the library. These days I am perfectly happy reading for hours on my computer screen, kindle and even my iPhone, but back then I just couldn’t get used to it.

Throughout the course we were given tasks which required us to work collaboratively so we formed small study groups and those groups got together regularly. The sharing of ideas was achieved through our regular meetings and some things were shared through emails.  None of us belonged to a social network and none of us were blogging.  The exchange of ideas was not as free flowing or as instant as it is now. I’m sure that if we were on that course now, we would all be tweeting and blogging regularly.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/

Recently, Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs, have caused quite a stir in higher education. Courses which were previously only accessed by students at top universities are now being offered free online. It was hoped that this format would bring quality education to people in the remotest parts of the world,  but so far MOOCs have yielded very unsatisfactory results with low completion rates. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal,  MOOCs: Inflated Expectations, Early Disappointments, completion rates can be as low as 2% with many participants dropping out after the first few weeks. It seems  to me that the massiveness of these courses does not create a very personal  and engaging learning experience.

In the article: 4 Lessons We Can Learn from the Faliure of MOOCs,  Andrew Miller suggest that in order for MOOCs to be more successful, course leaders must ensure that students have course mentors to provide 24/7 support.  Courses should provide authentic issues and problems to increase student participation and timely feedback must be provided to students. Also a blended learning environment, providing online and  face-to-face learning, could  increase the poor completion rates that MOOCs have seen so far.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/langwitches/

From my own experience of learning online, it has really helped me to make connections with other people on my course. Through this CoETaIL course I have learned a great deal from our course leader – Jeff’, but a significant portion of my learning has come from the connections I have made with my cohort, other CoETaIL bloggers and through Twitter.  I have gained so much from sharing resources and ideas which can be applied immediately to my classroom practice.

I agree that MOOCs and all online learning course should aim to retain the human element in order for students to have a more personal learning experience.  However it is achieved, whether face-to-face or online, forming and maintaining connections are essential for continual learning. Even when this CoETaIL course is over, I am sure that my learning will continue as long as I make the effort to stay connected.

PBL – projects or problems?

Problem-based learning is an inquiry based method of teaching which results in deeper learning and encourages higher order thinking skills. Problem-based learning uses the motivation to solve a problem as the catalyst for learning. The article: The Motivation to learn begins with a problem describes PBL like this:

In a problem-based learning (PBL) model, students engage complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems—the motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J63e_YSntuo[/youtube]

PBL is also used to mean Project-based Learning. The two methods have many similarities but they are not the same thing. This article by Whitney Hoffman makes the distinction that problem-based learning uses an authentic problem, while project-based learning may not result in an authentic task.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/30418561[/vimeo]

It seems to me that both methods are valuable in developing high order thinking skills in students. Both require active engagement, collaboration, communication and cooperation. Both make learning more authentic and motivate the students to dig deeper and take responsibility for their own learning.  However, teachers using PBL need to act as facilitator rather than teacher. They have to manage projects, all the while maintaining student engagement.  The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning highlights some of the challenges for teachers adopting PBL.

Some teachers may not have the expertise to coach a project properly, they might not find it easy to think of topic which require trans-disciplinary skills, exploration, investigation, collaboration and cooperation.  Teachers may lack training in how to develop critical thinking skills…then there’s the problem of assessing. Many schools find it difficult to assess students in collaborative projects…all these factors are overwhelming to teachers making implementing such projects off putting.

The idea of projects and problems does seem daunting. However, in his article The Unengageables, Dan Myers suggests some simple ways that we can start to cultivate curiosity in our students:

  • model curiosity

  • ask the question what questions do you have?

  • make estimation part of your daily routine

Here is a  link for project ideas that you could delve into right away.

Flipping Lessons

https://www.flickr.com/photos/proust/

The traditional model of classroom instruction has the teacher at the front of the class with the students passively receiving instruction. The students then go home and complete homework based on the teaching they have received in school.

The flipped classroom model, reverses the traditional model of teaching so that the direct teaching is received at home via a video online, then the homework is done at school. The benefits of this is that the teacher is better able to differentiate activities in class and can offer more support to students during class time.  This model allows for more active learning for the student.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aGuLuipTwg&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/youtube]

At middle school and high school level, this model works really well as it is such a shift from the traditional model. The traditional model of students passively receiving instruction is not the case in the elementary classroom. Most classrooms that I have seen, employ a range of teaching methods to engage their students during the the direct teaching stage.

In his blog, Jon Bergmann offers some good advice for teachers who would like to try this model in the elementary classroom. He suggests starting with something that the children find difficult to grasp. Once that is identified, you could try flipping a lesson instead of a whole unit and have the children access the video during class time at the start of the lesson at a learning station. That way the children can go back to the video and you are there to explain anything that they didn’t understand.

I really like the idea of the flipped classroom as it seems to provide good differentiation and more chance to explore concepts. I think this might be especially useful for me when teaching new concepts in maths.  Some teachers in my school are using Khan Academy in this way and I think I’d like to give it a go too.

 

 

Reflecting on Technology in my Classroom

This article by Edutopia Staff, states that there are many reasons to integrate technology into the curriculum.

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Research shows that it deepens and enhances the learning process…makes teaching and learning more meaningful and fun….and provides numerous opportunities for expressing understanding through image sound and text.

Over the past few years I have enjoyed exploring new tools online to enhance our Year 3 curriculum, and I have noticed that my students are more engaged by the tasks that they are set.  We have used Voicethread to present our research about Weather Around the World, Google docs for research and writing tasks; we’ve used Blabberize to present what we learned about the Tudors and we often use Kerpoof  for story writing. Some examples of my students work using these tools can be found here, here and here.

The SAMR model aims to help teachers to integrate technology into the classroom and in turn lead to higher levels of achievement for students. By referring to the SAMR model I can see that in many cases, my use of technology falls somewhere between augmentation and modification as the tools not only enhance the tasks, but allows for peer review and sharing online.

The use of VoiceThread for the unit on Weather Around the World is probably the closest that I have come to redefinition. The children worked in small groups to research weather in different regions around the world. They chose the images they needed for their presentation and with a little guidance from me they wrote the narrative to go with their images. Their presentations were then linked to their Kidblogs where they could comment on each others work and receive feedback from friends and family.

Sadly they did not receive many comments and this is where it falls short of redefinition. I guess I didn’t promote their blogs enough to their parents, so next time, I will aim to reach a much wider audience and encourage more feedback that my students can then reflect upon.

It’s good to have the SAMR model to help me to identify how I am using technology in my classroom. I am happy to see that in many cases, my use of technology is moving towards modification. However I need to aim for more transformation level activities to allow my students more unique and deeper learning experiences.

Our Film Debut

I have been very busy the past few weeks making an iMovie for our class assembly. Our History topic is the Romans and normally the class would have performed a play based on the Roman invasion of Britain. Two of my students were going to be absent on the day of our assembly, so making a movie seemed like the best way to make sure everyone could be involved.

The kids were really excited to be making a movie and so was I.  Making the shields, swords and helmets took ages, but thankfully my Teaching Assistant was there to help the kids make their props. I am very fortunate to work at a school that has a costume department, so I was able to borrow costumes for the Romans and Celts.

Getting the kids ready for scenes took quite a while. We filmed scenes during the lessons that the kids had with me, then they had to be dressed normally again for their specialist lessons with other teachers. Some of the scenes had to be filmed a few times, so the filming took longer than I had anticipated. I can see why directors have to film scenes over and over again. It isn’t easy to get your lines right when you have a camera pointed at you. Most of the time I recorded them while they rehearsed their scenes as they seemed to perform better when they thought it wasn’t for real.

It was a time consuming project but my class and I had a lot of fun making our movie. The kids did a good job of learning their lines and they were quite confident at delivering them. I’m really proud of my students.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plB7U42WJok[/youtube]