Schools are closed, apartments have turned into homeschooling workshops and parents have become assistant teachers, of sorts, with varying levels of motivation and patience. It seems as if the world really is standing on its head in the time of the coronavirus. However, just like Polish teachers, we have not given up. Together with you, we look for other ways of communicating, teaching and supporting our students, and often their parents as well. We publish guides, offer tips on how to work with specific groups of children- the youngest, but also the older ones. We show you how Design Thinking can help better adapt the school’s distance learning model, student lesson projects, to the students’ needs- even with the severe external epidemiological and technological limitations…
It turns out that some of the models of working with students, which we have come up with or promoted in the School with Class 2.0 program (which turns 18 this year) are quite well suited for the current situation. In the next few episodes of our series, we want to take a look back at the most “prophetic” or simply most universal methods.
FLIPPED CLASSROOM (OLE) EDUCATION
One of these methods is the so-called flipped classroom, slightly playfully referred to by us using the Polish acronym OLE (Odwrócona Lekcja), which is absolutely ideal for distance learning. In the most basic sense, it involves students, before the lesson, getting to know the material selected by the teacher – a text, film, recording- (e.g. about batteries or bacteria) and, during the lesson, clarifying their understanding (where does the electric charge between the anode and cathode come from or what is the difference between bacteria and a virus), practicing specific skills (e.g. checking the capacity of a battery or identifying bacteria organelles), formulating their own research questions and hypotheses, conducting experiments, discussing and using the information they gained to describe reality or solve interesting problems (why do electronics use lithium-ion batteries rather than alkaline ones or how to make antibacterial fluid on your own and whether it also works on viruses).
Observing what is going on in education today, you could say that most teachers use this method: they assign reading or viewing and then try to encourage students to use it by, for instance, giving them work to do on their own. Unfortunately, the „read it and then do the work” model is more like a caricature of the flipped classroom method. It does not take advantage of the teacher’s potential, the students’ curiosity or even the educational value of the texts and films we assign.
DO IT CONSCIOUSLY
We would suggest that instead of using only some elements of the Flipped Classroom and doing it unconsciously (assigning content and tasks for students to do on their own) we can try to supplement what we are already doing with a few rules and methods of work, which will allow us and our students to at least partially take advantage of the benefits of this method. Naturally, not everything can be done when each child sits alone at home rather than in a classroom- you cannot conduct an experiment in the chemistry lab or even have a normal group discussion on, for instance, the various forms of parasitic relationships in nature. Nevertheless, the model: we learn the information before the lesson (or at the same time, at the start of the lesson) and then clarify and deepen our understanding in class and use it to solve problems, can still work. In its basic form, this means that the lesson is more than just familiarizing oneself with the text and doing problem sets, but that the key Flipped Classroom stage of shared class/ group work on the discussed topic is necessary.
Tasks can be individual– e.g. finding unknown words in the text or filling out a Google Form with questions. However, simple activities in pairs, or even short group activities are also possible- most schools’ educational platforms allow for grouping students into teams, as do most online education tools (such as Zoom). Messenger and WhatsApp can also be used.
Should the teacher, for some reason, not want to divide students into pairs or teams during the lesson itself, they can encourage students to work on a team task during the next week or a longer period of time. Shared tasks done after class have additional benefits- students have the chance to think them through more carefully, communicate with each other and work on something or solve a mathematical or research problem in a more “relaxed” manner.
WHAT CAN BE DONE REMOTELY IN A FLIPPED CLASSROOM LESSON?
- researching a problem together- like online desk-research deeper into a topic (e.g. the newest types of batteries or our microbiota)
- analyzing data collected online or in real life (symbols which can be found on batteries or information on the ingredients of so-called probiotics)
- interpreting additional reading like literary or popular science texts (e.g. concerning solar batteries and perovskites whose uses in photovoltaics were discovered by young Polish scientist Olga Malinkiewicz or packaging made from bacteria and fungi)
- creating a timeline (batteries: Galvani, Volta- what was next, bacteria: from Janssen, Hook, Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur and Koch to the discoveries of the 21st century)
- creating an infographic (how does it work?)
- creating a multimedia presentation
- recording short videos (each student individually, then a combined video)
- planning an experiment or exhibit- on paper (e.g. Galvani’s frog) or in reality- hooking batteries up in a chain, constructing a flashlight, or when it comes to bacteria- experiments with milk (which jar will it go sour in faster- a sterile one or a dirty one?)
DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR ONLINE TIME WITH THE CLASS
So, what should we do in this time together, which is so crucial to the Flipped Classroom method, when the students have already read the text or watched the movie, but have not yet began working on the tasks? Any interactive form of work can serve here- starting with Kahoot and ending with a regular conversation or vote on the chat. Regardless of what the teacher decides, there is one rule- do not forgo the “live” meeting during which all students are online with us and we can, at least, start an educational dialogue with them. Individual conversations or consultations after class are also important, but they cannot replace the time together with the class or group. We will upload a more detailed description of this method to our library of useful materials soon.
And one more incentive for those who are not yet convinced- even Librus recommends this approach to their users and describes, in short, how to use it.
Below you can find some links to materials about the Flipped Classroom from places other than the School with Class Foundation Library 🙂
- A wonderful video about the Flipped Classroom method, which can be shown to your students (with subtitles in many languages)
- A recording of the Program the Future webinar with Marta Florkiewicz-Borkowska
- Video from the Enter Lesson program
- Basic information about the method from the Librus website
- Katalyst Foundation Pi-station video about the Flipped Classroom
- prof. Stanisław Dylak’s monograph about the advanced learning strategy
- Katie Gimbar on the Flipped Classroom method
- Bartłomiej Janicki’s text about a Flipped history lesson
WHAT TO DO IN ORDER TO FLIP YOUR CLASSROOM?
excerpts from „Flipped Classroom or Education Based on Dialogue” by Anna Wójcik-Jachowicz
(before the Flipped lesson- during the previous lesson or remotely): A GOOD START→ referring to prior knowledge, peaking the students’ curiosity, asking a question, reading an interesting excerpt, showing an unusual object which is connected to the topic of the planned lesson- that is, causing the students to be eager to look into the prepared materials, is good practice.
(remotely): MAKE THE MATERIALS AVAILABLE → it is a time for the teacher’s active work on preparing the materials which the students will use. First of all, is important to consider what group of students they are intended for. This will influence the choice of materials, their scope, the number of examples, how they are presented etc. Before they students being working, it is a good idea to explain to them what kinds of materials they will receive and how they should use them (particularly if the materials employ any technology).
(remotely- via mail or verbally): CLARIFY YOUR EXPECTATIONS → it is necessary to present instructions and, which is particularly important, tips. You need to make sure that students have to ability to access the prepared materials (these might include research papers, copied materials in paper form, digital materials- in that case you need to make sure everyone has access to the Internet).
(to be carried out by students, at home, before the Flipped lesson): GIVE TIME→ it is very important to specify the amount of time students have to familiarize themselves with the topic; it might be one deadline, or the work might be divided into stages- depending on the group the lesson is intended for. However, the materials should be handed over to the students in their entirety at one time, because it is not the teacher, but they themselves, who are to decide how they will plan their work over time, how many times they will review the materials etc. Postponing deadlines (usually requested by students) has always been a debatable issue. It is, however, a good idea to stick to the deadlines we agreed upon: this way, we show appreciation to those who completed the task, teach students that planning is important and let them experience that not completing a task can be detrimental.
(during the remote lessons): CREATE SPACE→ the lesson should be organized in a way which allows students to apply what they have learned, use it in practice. It can be a problem set, a handout, creating a mind map together or a debate on a preassigned topic. This step is an important task for the teacher who needs to plan the students’ activities so that they allow for checking what they can do, achieving the predetermined goals and seeing the results of the work. The tasks should be suitable to the abilities of various students; it is best if they are based on cooperation- in pairs or groups. This way, students exchange information, solidify what they know and see how to use it. At this step, the teacher should allow students to work independently- it is their time to test themselves.
The teacher’s activity should be greatest at the stage of gathering materials and preparing tasks. During the lesson, it is good for them to focus on supporting, commenting and giving feedback.
(during the lesson and after, e.g. online): ALLOW THEM TO SEE THE RESULTS → it is crucial to plan time for resenting the evaluation of the work. It can be a short quiz, test, survey, exhibition of the work, reading the created materials- the possibilities are numerous. What matters most is that the summation of the lesson refers to what the goal was. It is also a good idea to analyze the process itself: talk to the students about how they felt about the work, what they consider to be successful, what needs changing, what should be perfected and what should be improved or eliminated. It is a way to improve their ability to critically analyze their own work, which also influences a more responsible attitude towards each subsequent Flipped Classroom lesson.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN DURING THE LESSON?
excerpts from a text by Anna Wójcik-Jachowicz
Activities during the lesson should develop skills such as: analysis, synthesis, defining and redefining, finding differences and commonalities, check the validity/correctness/coherence, finding proof, clarifying/paraphrasing, reviewing, critiquing, commenting, processing, searching, making hypotheses, debating, justifying, planning, roleplaying, simulating, naming a problem etc.
This stage of the Flipped lesson is a space for using tried and tested methods of activating the students and finding new solutions.
- The Large Glasses method → in one version it can be focused on searching for various kinds of information, for instance, only expert opinions, facts, examples, statistical data, witness accounts etc. It can resemble a bit the six hats method or de Bono’s six shoes method- analyzing the texts, material, example from the perspective of a chosen individual: how would a film director, football coach, teacher, prosecutor, marketing specialist etc. look at a given event (or argument).
- RAFT (Role, Audience, Format and Topic) → a strategy of analyzing a text or comparing multiple texts. The task includes defining the role the author/narrator takes, specifying the recipient of the content and taking a look at how the topic is presented, and finally, an attempt to define what the main topic was.
- The Last Word method→ group work in which students select or randomly choose an excerpt from the assigned reading. On the back of the card, they write down their observations, their opinion on the text, and then read the text out loud to the others, hear out others’ opinions on the topic, without giving away their views and only read out their commentary at the very end. It allows them to have the last word in the discussion. It is a method particularly useful for students who rarely speak up, as it encourages them to make the effort.
- Persona → a method involving taking a close look at a person/character/recipient/narrator. a symbolic human is drawn in the center of the page, then around him (e.g. at the level of the respective body parts: head, hands, eyes, heart) write down notes focused on five questions: what do they think, what do they say, what do they do, what do they feel, what do they see? Two additional areas can be included in the notes: what do others think of them, what do others say about them?
- ALPHABET is a creative and opening task → a pair or group of students has the task of collecting words connected to the text/character/problem which start with each letter of the alphabet (they can be written down in a table resembling a calendar). Different words might be chosen, of course- this gives the opportunity to initiate a discussion.
- The Frayer method is an interesting way of taking notes and organizing information → the main topic, placed in the center of the page, is described in four areas: essential characteristics, non-essential characteristics (in common with others), patterns-examples (e.g. examples of typical behaviors/representatives of a species) and finally, non-examples (something/someone who highlights the essential characteristics through contrast).
- A graphical representation of the text can be created using the so-called change frame → a method for developing critical thinking, logical reasoning and searching for solutions. It is a notetaking method which involves looking at facts (for instance, what changes took place in a given period), then the problem this led to, then determining who this problem affected, and finally, what actions were taken. This creates the space to evaluate these actions, analyze which of them were effective and why, and which could be improved. This can be discussed using the PNI technique- positive, negative, interesting idea which requires modification. Every student can have their say and comment on the suggested solutions, considering its positives, negatives and the interesting opportunities it presented. An interesting modification of this technique involves going through all the steps while focusing on the perspectives of different groups the problem affected. It is a good method for discussing opposing concerns, conflicting interests (Native Americans and colonizers, Antigone and Creon);
- You can organize the work on a particular issue using the method of asking questions → the teacher poses a question, or clarifies a question, gives time to prepare an answer (individually/in pairs/groups). Then, the teacher collects the answers, without confirming whether they are correct, asks clarifying questions, expresses doubts, accepts any potential changes or other suggestions and only at the end gives the correct answer. The next step involves analyzing how the students who gave the correct answer had reached it, but also the thought process of those who were incorrect. Such an analysis allows for effective conclusion drawing.
- Next, we have the method which encourages looking at the matter from different perspectives → groups look at the given issue from completely different points of view. The topic is written down in the center of the page, then surrounded by information in five areas (e.g. answers to five different questions). There is a set time for analyzing each area, the first question is written on the board or given verbally, the students fill out the first area of their notes (based on their own knowledge and the materials provided by the teacher), after a few minutes the next question is given and the process repeats. The questions should, of course, be adapted to the topic we are discussing:
- What is it? How does it work?
- What are the motivations/reasons for this behavior or phenomenon?
- What might be worrying/dangerous/negative?
- What are the positive/good/valuable aspects?
- What actions/solutions/next steps might be proposed?
- Anchoring thoughts → working in pairs or groups, with a stopwatch. Students review excerpts from the text and tell their partner about them for a specific amount of time e.g. exactly one minute. You can ask the students to tell/write each other about what caught their attention in the materials, what they learned during the work they did before the lesson.
This stage of the Flipped Classroom is very often connected with using games in education. You can offer students the chance to participate in a game (game-based learning) during one specific lesson or gamify a lesson or series of lessons.
Written by Alicja Pacewicz, based on her own experiences and texts by Anna Wójcik-Jachowicz.