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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Flipping is about Personalization

I think of flipped classrooms as a portal through time and space from group-paced instruction to personalized learning.  MOOCs are a logical  extension to the group-based model.  Kahn Academy is an example of individualized learning through learning not bound by individual courses.




From: somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com [mailto:somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Adam Sweeting
Sent: Wednesday, November 06, 2013 4:42 PM
To: William Macfarlane; Michael Chiu
Cc: Joe Beckmann; <somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Re: [somerville-4-schools] &quot;Flipped schools&quot; on On Point



Flipped classrooms are all the rage with university administrators right now, and I confess that I'm dubious about the rhetoric used to champion them.  I teach in a humanities department, where faculty members have used "flipped" classrooms for decades. Students read challenging books at home and then come to class in discuss them in small sections. It's a method that encourages collaboration AND silence, two things all students need. My colleagues in the sciences have had somewhat better luck getting on the flipped classroom bandwagon, but here again the over-excited rhetoric about this technique seems a bit much at times. 


Although humanities professors can be a bit stodgy, I'm not some dinosaur opposed to changing the educational set-up — far from it. But like others who have posted on this subject, I'm not convinced there's anything particularly revolutionary going on with the flipped classroom. A good teacher knows how to balance projects, lectures, and discussions. Sometimes more of one approach goes on at one point than another,  but the notion of completely reversing a classroom dynamic that was never as stilted as the "flipped classroom" enthusiasts say it is seems like a stretch to me. 




Adam Sweeting — School Committee, Ward 3



From: William Macfarlane <wmacfarl@gmail.com>
Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:14 PM
To: Michael Chiu <
Cc: Joe Beckmann <
joe.beckmann@gmail.com>, "<somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com>" <somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Re: [somerville-4-schools] &quot;Flipped schools&quot; on On Point
Resent-From: Adam Sweeting <



For my part, I would say that most of my middle-and-high school experience was, in some ways a "flipped-classroom."  There wasn't anything particularly non-traditional about my schooling, but certainly many of my homework assignments in math class after 7th grade took the form of "read this chapter, do these problems." 


We also, of course, had a teacher teach stuff during the classroom, sometimes at the board, and sometimes in conversation while we worked on problem sets.  


My point is that, in my experience, there wasn't actually a "homework problems" vs "lecture in class" structure to flip.  Homework and classwork were both a mixture of instruction and problems.  Flipping the ratios would have changed something, but wouldn't actually have been that big of a change.



On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 2:42 PM, Michael Chiu <michael.a.chiu@gmail.com> wrote:



You say that flipped classes are ‘old hat’, does this mean that this is common practice, or just that someone wrote a paper on a few instances from the past.  How common are they in the US?  Worldwide?    Is there data showing that this is being adopted broadly and/or that it results in positive outcomes?







From: somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com [mailto:somerville-4-schools@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Joe Beckmann
Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 2:31 PM
To: Paula Woolley
Subject: Re: [somerville-4-schools] &quot;Flipped schools&quot; on On Point



Flipping classrooms is already old hat, and, frankly, just an echo of the days when the "technology" was a book - in some classes they read aloud; in others they do homework. The Khan Academy was premised on a very practical idea that an absent uncle (Sal Khan, who started making demonstrations in math when he was abroad for his brothers' kids in the US) could help with homework. That was - in these tech times - quite a while ago, and when Gates made it make money, it merely capitalized a scheme many others have done before and after.

It's not - as the NPR program implies - all a matter of "lectures," but, rather, a wealth of lecture, video, print, and other material scattered well beyond the confines of the Khan site.

The "scheme" of "doing classwork at home and homework in class" is even older. It got corrupted when teachers (and bureaucrats) decided to test that homework in class and delegate the kind of investigation and curiosity to others. The wisest thing about flipped classes is that they realize that classes are actually laboratories - they way they were for Montessori or Dewey - rather than testing centers to regurgitate data all much easier to come by in an age of google. When those laboratories can rely on outside investigations (like the Khan lessons or any of millions of others now available online) to stimulate in-class discussion, analysis, review and assessment, we've created pretty much the same setting Horace Mann, Dewey and Montessori imagined when they invented schools 100 to 160 years ago.


On Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 9:22 AM, <pwoolley117@gmail.com> wrote:


Yesterday, WBUR's On Point had a show about "flipped schools" (kids listen to lectures online at home, do homework in school):


I had found the idea interesting before, but after listening to the first half of the show, I felt it has serious flaws, in that all students would need to be provided with some type of device to access the lectures (though many seemed so static, they could be presented via CD); students would need several hours at home to listen to the lectures, and I wonder how many actually listen closely enough to them; and finally, learning is more than being lectured to... not only does great teaching often involve the student in more active ways (small groups, debates, role playing, etc.), but  the interactions in the classroom, and the possibility that any student could at any time ask a question or make an observation is much more interactive than the passive listening to a lecture at home.

(Perhaps these interactive ways of learning can take place in the classroom in place of "doing homework," and maybe the students don't have to listen to a lecture from all 5 of their subjects every night -- I don't know, as I didn't hear the whole show.)

Anyway, thought I'd share ... I'd love to see less homework done at home, and that was my starting point in feeling open to this idea.


Joe Beckmann
22 Stone Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143




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