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By guest columnist Leanne Hudleston
When my principal approached me and asked if I’d ever heard of “flipping my classroom,” my initial chuckle was soon replaced with confusion because I wasn’t familiar with the term. Walking around in a fog had been the norm since my school system had decided that fifth grade would pilot letting every child have their very own Netbook. This was the first I’d ever heard of a school system doing this, but I was extremely honored to be able to give it a try. I have always been a huge advocate for technology in the classroom so this was my opportunity to try all of the great ideas I’d always read about.
The idea behind flipping your classroom isn’t literally teaching from the back corner as I had originally thought. It’s more about “flipping” the role of the teacher from presenter to facilitator. This is basically how it works – a video from a video website such as YouTube or a presentation such as Slideshare.net is assigned for homework which contains new material. The student is able to revisit the material as many times as they’d like. They can even watch with a parent if they need further clarification. Once the student returns to school, the foundation for the new concept has been laid leaving time for the teacher to answer questions, ask higher order thinking questions or give real-world examples.
Now I knew what it was, but how do I do it? I quickly learned about a phenomenal site called Edmodo.com. It’s a free social learning platform for teachers, students and parents. It’s sometimes called the “Facebook of schools” but it is completely private. You can do everything from posting assignments, creating polls for student responses, embedding video clips, create learning groups, post a quiz for students to take, and create a calendar of events or assignments and due dates. Students can turn in assignments or upload assignments for their teachers to view and grade. Teachers can annotate the assignments directly in Edmodo to provide instant feedback. Parents can view it too so they can see their assignments and grades. Teachers can communicate with parents thru Edmodo as well.
So let’s put these great ideas into a real classroom scenario. First, I set up a free account with Edmodo.com. At first, I was nervous so I watched the demo video to see exactly what I was getting into. Signing up was simple and there was a lot of help. I created a username and password and I was ready to get started entering my classroom names. Once all of the logistics were done, I was ready to create my first assignment. One of the many uses I had for flipping my classroom was when I introduced a new concept in math. 5th graders struggle with finding the Greatest Common Factor (GCF). The concept is vague and application is confusing for 10 -11 year olds. I researched the web for instructional videos on GCF and found an excellent version that was appropriate for 5th grade on Khanacademy.org. By clicking the “assignment” button in Edmodo, I can attach the video, enter in my instructions and the task is complete. Khanacademy.org is a library of over 4,200 videos on everything from math to history. Students watch the video for homework making necessary notes and questions for the next class. If further clarification is needed, they can watch the video again and again and solicit the help of family or tutors if needed.
The next school day would normally have been 60 minutes of introduction of a new concept and basic questions for understanding. Instead, the hour was filled with higher order thinking questions, real world scenarios which includes complex word problems to deepen understanding. If a student is absent from the instruction, he has the freedom to log into Edmodo from any computer and he catches up in minutes. Edmodo is beneficial for many other aspects in my classroom as well.
The benefits of flipping your classroom are many. It saves time and that is something we all could use more of. Your students will be motivated, engaged and excited about learning. Lastly, you are tagged as being the coolest teacher in the building since you use technology.