I liked the idea of Flipped Classroom very much. My understanding of this is that it inverts traditional teaching methods when a teacher instructs the class on a subject and sends homework home. In the Flipped Classroom approach, it is in reverse – students learn on their own using all the available resources, mainly online resources, and come to class fully prepared and are ready to complete their ‘homework’. First of all, I see lots of benefits in the fact that students learn on their own – everyone learns at their own pace and sometimes some students need more time than others, in which case students can always spend more time or go over the learning content a few times. It’s not always possible to devote that much time in class and not everyone will want to ask questions. (I remember how shy I used to be in school and I never asked teachers any questions in front of other students. I missed on a lot of learning content because of my shyness and I see how much I would have benefited if I had had access to the learning resources). Watching a video or listing to a podcast still does not make it a real learning until you put it into practice. Coming to class fully prepared makes it possible to put into practice what has been learned at home. Teachers can have an extra session to cover the content again, if needed, or just have another session with some of the students while others work on their content-related projects. There is only one corn here – not everyone may have access to the learning materials but I think this is not going to be a problem soon.
I have never used the flipped classroom approach in my teaching although I used some elements of it within the classroom. A few years ago, when I just started learning to use a smart board, I recorded a few short Maths sessions to explain the content to my year one students. I did it just to explore the smart board resources and capabilities and did not give this approach much thought (well, I did not hear about the flipped classroom approach that time). My students were thrilled and wanted to see it over and over again. I do not know why I stopped doing this – my students really loved this idea. Now, a few years later, I see so much potential in the flipped classroom approach and will definitely use it a lot. I do not teach year one any more – two years ago I started working as an ICT teacher/integrator and since that time my work has been ‘to work myself out of my work’ – to shift my responsibilities to the classroom teachers and implement the ICT integration model in our school, one year level per year, to allow a smooth transition. I am half way through and now I work as an ICT teacher for Year 1-2 and an ICT integrator for Y3-4. Although teachers do a lot of integration I sometimes have sessions with my students on specifics of some software, programming, etc. After reading about the flipped classroom approach, I got an idea of creating software-learning page on our tech blogs so that students can access it and learn the software at their own pace. This would be very helpful, especially for non-English speaking students – we are an international school and have students from all over the world.
Regarding the game-based learning: have you ever noticed the fact that those students (not all of them but most part) who need learning support or who have behaviour issues or attention spans have no problem while working at their computers? Last year I was surprised to find out that one of the students turned out to have major behaviour problems and was falling behind in all areas but was one of the top students in the ICT class. When it came to Minecraft, he excelled at the year level. And this is not the only example. I am sure that game-based learning is not only the present but the future of the learning as well. This is the most driving and motivating force behind the students’ creation.I had experience of having students play with Scratch – their project was to create a game they would like to play and that was the most exciting class I had ever had in my life… until one day when Minecraft came. We are going to use Minecraft this semester and the students are super-excited over this. I am trying my best to learn all the tips and tricks but as far as I can see my students are much better than me. How would I use Minecraft? The great thing about Minecraft is that not only can you create your own worlds but you can also use the worlds created by others. I browsed the worlds today to see what others created and I was totally amazed.
I just tried the Forbidden City of China world and am totally amazed. This would be great for China unit in Y4.
You can also play Minecraft and learn basic Math. Y1-2 students would be delighted.
You can also learn phonics in kindergarten:
Or you can just learn how to write letters and numbers:
There are so many ideas that I do not know where to start. Year 3 students are going to learn about Ancient Egypt so I think it will be a good time to practice our pyramid building skills. Another idea I have in mind is create a map of our school in every detail and have our new Year 1 students go on a virtual tour around the school.
We all learn better if we are interested in it and games can be our best ally in it.