School and Community Spring 2015 : Page 11
Using video to flip classrooms makes teachers ‘rewindable’ BY CHARLENE OLDHAM W Image by iStock/TongRoImages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock.com hen Eric Langhorst went to a teachers’ workshop at Mount Vernon, Virginia, in the fall, his substitute and students weren’t stuck watching stale DVDs on the Electoral College or how a bill becomes a law. Instead, they started class by viewing an original video by Langhorst about the unique building materials and techniques used to construct Mount Vernon. Between classes and field trips of his own at the workshop, the eighth-grade American history teacher created a split-screen video of his lecture and photos he took of George Washington’s Virginia home. His substitute was able to show it using YouTube, allowing Langhorst to touch base with students at Discovery Middle School in Liberty 53 and give them a real-time look at what he was learning. “I wanted to create some content for my students back home,” says Langhorst, who also gave students the option to pose a question about George Washington for him to pass on to experts at the historic site. S&C SPRING 2015 | 11
Using video to flip classrooms makes teachers ‘rewindable’
<br /> When Eric Langhorst went to a teachers’ workshop at Mount Vernon, Virginia, in the fall, his substitute and students weren’t stuck watching stale DVDs on the Electoral College or how a bill becomes a law.<br /> <br /> Instead, they started class by viewing an original video by Langhorst about the unique building materials and techniques used to construct Mount Vernon. Between classes and field trips of his own at the workshop, the eighth-grade American history teacher created a splitscreen video of his lecture and photos he took of George Washington’s Virginia home. His substitute was able to show it using YouTube, allowing Langhorst to touch base with students at Discovery Middle School in Liberty 53 and give them a real-time look at what he was learning.<br /> <br /> “I wanted to create some content for my students back home,” says Langhorst, who also gave students the option to pose a question about George Washington for him to pass on to experts at the historic site.<br /> <br /> Using technology to add value to his classes is nothing new for the Google-certified teacher who started creating audio study guides using podcasting software several years ago. He’s since moved on to using more video, which has allowed his students access to learning opportunities like author chats and virtual book clubs. Screencasts he creates himself also let students who are absent or have special needs review difficult content at their own pace and, sometimes, even with the assistance of a special education teacher.<br /> <br /> “It creates an environment where the teacher is now rewindable,” he says. “So, once you make that recording, there are an exponential number of ways it can have benefits.”<br /> <br /> A growing number of teachers are following Langhorst’s lead by “flipping” at least some of their classroom content, replacing whole-group direct instruction with videos, audio and other technologyenhanced material students can access on their own. When implemented effectively, the approach opens more classroom time for students to interact with the teacher and classmates while applying and practicing new skills in creative ways, says Jon Bergmann, educator, author and co-founder of the Flipped Learning Network.<br /> <br /> “The beauty of the flipped classroom is that it gives you more time for kids,” says Bergmann, who adds it also allows students to better master content at their own pace. “They might not get through all the content, but they’ll actually learn all the content they cover.”<br /> <br /> A 2014 survey of 2,358 teachers conducted by the Flipped Learning Network and Sophia, a provider of online college courses, found 88 percent of respondents reported flipped learning strategies increased student engagement and 71 percent reported an improvement in students’ grades. While research on flipped learning is limited, a handful of small studies from individual schools also show positive results.<br /> <br /> Fourth-grade teachers at Clark-Vitt Elementary in Union R-11 are finding that to be the case since they started assigning videos as math homework. The short segments, which teachers take turns creating, include audio that explains a new concept while it’s demonstrated on an interactive whiteboard-type screen. Students then complete a few practice problems and rate their own understanding of the concept on a scale of one to five. Having students view videos outside regular class time opened a 30-minute block for differentiated math instruction in which the students split up into teachers’ rooms based on their self-ratings, performance on practice problems and other indicators. There, some students might rotate through centers focused on enrichment activities or get a small-group lesson on a skill, says teacher Wendii Jobe. The strategy means struggling students are in smaller differentiated instruction groups. The individualized attention seems to be allowing all students to cover and master the material more quickly. And, while the fourth grade is sort of serving as a pilot program for the rest of the school, Jobe expects more teachers to try flipping lessons in the future.<br /> <br /> “I find it much easier than teaching the old-fashioned way,” says Jobe. “I love it and the kids absolutely love it.”<br /> <br /> Adults appreciate the videos and other content for many reasons, says Christopher Wright, a former thirdgrade teacher. Watching a video on lattice multiplication can remove the fear factor for parents who learned twodigit multiplication decades ago and have no idea how to help their child with homework, for example. In his role as an instructional technology specialist for Rolla 31 Public Schools, Wright also creates videos to explain programs and concepts to teachers.<br /> <br /> “So that frees me up to do more one-on-one with the teacher,” he says. “And it’s also kind of nice because if I am going too fast in the video, they can pause it or switch back and forth between the video and what they are doing.”<br /> <br /> After proper training and modeling, it can work the same way even for elementary students says Wright, who had his third-graders use short screencasts in independent stations during math workshops while he was working with a small group. Although the technology didn’t eliminate outside questions and interruptions entirely, “it protected the time I was having with students in my group. Because flipping the classroom is more than just videos, it’s getting time in class to work with students, particularly on a smallgroup basis.”<br /> <br /> Flipped learning tips<br /> Start small: Try flipping a single lesson or unit. Experiment with creating content to teach concepts that have been difficult for students in the past and lend themselves to visual illustrations. For example, a lesson on counting change for third-graders might be a good place to start, says Wright.<br /> <br /> Model in class: Spend some time in class viewing flipped content to teach students how you expect them to use it. “I think we need to take ‘watch’ out of the vocabulary. I don’t want them to watch the video, I want them to interact,” Bergmann says.<br /> <br /> Set expectations: If you want students to view content as homework, don’t save them by covering it in class. “You sabotage the whole program,” says Bergmann. “So the first thing I would say is don’t rescue kids who make bad choices.”<br /> <br /> But give options: Not every school has a one-to-one student to laptop ratio and not every student has Internet access at home. Make content accessible by burning DVDs, opening school computer labs early or asking for discounts from local restaurants with Wi-Fi access to give students a place to get connected. Clark- Vitt offers supervision and opens its lab before school starts to give students a chance to view the math videos, says Jobe. “They have lots of different options in the morning and that’s one of them.”<br /> <br /> Cut your planning and prep: Wright tried to limit videos to five minutes. Langhorst recommends asking students what type of content they will use most to avoid wasting time creating material they won’t watch. Finally, look for other teachers interested in flipping to split the work of making videos and other content.<br /> <br /> Get support: Let your administrators and your students’ parents know what you are doing in class. They may enjoy viewing author chats and math tutorials, too.<br /> <br /> Flipped learning tools<br /> A decent microphone: While access to a webcam is nice, all you need is a microphone to get started. From there, you can use interactive whiteboard material you already have or supplemental material that comes with your textbooks to start creating screencasts with one of the free online platforms available. Wright likes USB microphone headsets because they minimize background noise.<br /> <br /> Screencast-O-Matic.com: One of many online options that allows you to capture what is on your screen and record audio over the screencast, the basic version of this technology tool is free to download.<br /> <br /> Zaption.com: This new tool allows teachers to add images, text, quizzes and discussions to videos in order to make them more interactive. Zaption also makes it easier to monitor whether students are watching assigned content and understand what they’ve seen. The basic version can be downloaded for free.