I was discussing the other night that it seems odd the term ‘flipped classroom’ is dated to me! Having run some type of flipped classroom for the past 6 years, it has become a perfectly normal part of my daily routine as a math teacher. Like any ‘edutrend’, innovative classroom practices that promise solutions to our educational woes spike peoples interest and then tend to fade away. Consider the cooperative engagement blitz of the 90’s and 00’s that pushed fresh ways to unstagnate math classrooms into the mainstream. These activities disrupted the old “rows” paradigm and started the new “pods” culture. The 4-person ability-tracked pods are an excellent way to keep students on task and constantly focused on the teacher. They are also, unfortunately, a perfect setting to ingrain “habitual mathematics” in students that does little to foster their creativity. Pod members typically contribute key steps along the way throughout problems which means many students really only demonstrate the mastery in a ‘part’ or none of the problem. Claims of constant student engagement in these settings are true, although it is engagement in the group, not the problem at hand. A teacher without technology cannot monitor every pod and the contributions of each student accurately.
As we look forward, it seems clear that 1:1 classrooms will be the norm soon. Briefly, 1:1 classrooms are designed around the fact that every student has a computer device which allows the teacher to be “1:1” in contact or constantly measuring that student’s progress. It is tough to argue that will not be the case in every classroom in the very near future and many districts have already begun the process of planning the transition.
If we all agree that 1:1 will be the norm, then what will a NEW classroom look like?
What will it feel like? I can tell you for the next 10 years its not going to look any different. Some of the teachers will run with new and exciting ways of incorporating the districts new toys(hopefully with top notch PD offered by their employer!), some of the teachers will scan their worksheets into .pdfs and hand them out to their students “digitally” and then some will begin to realize that the old classroom and its walls and its desks and its pods and its SMART boards and its mobiles and its famous quotes no longer meets the needs of student learning. By the time this last(and smallest) group of teachers is understood and eventually modeled, it will be 10 years and you will see changes in the modern high school classroom!
Anyone who is looking to see what a 1:1 environment can look like TODAY, find someone running a Flipped Mastery classroom.
There are thousands now checking in at www.flippedlearning.org where you can see exactly what teachers are doing. Coming up on February 5th, 2014 is another “Flipped Classroom” open house where educators around the world will offer other teachers a chance to stop in and see what is going on. Check out the site above for more details to sign up. My classroom will be open! In June, the annual FlipCon conference in Pittsburgh this year will attract many teachers looking to flaunt their flipped classrooms and share the successes and failures along the way. My hint: look for the ones that have begun tackling Flipped Mastery classrooms. That is where all the real magic is happening.
(NOTE: This author runs TWO different environments for two different classes. Flipped mastery (1:1) in my regular level class and a traditional flipped classroom in my AP class!)
The traditional flipped classroom, students watching videos or content at home and doing student centered work in class, is a good start but only an adaptation of the current classroom environment. Teachers who move to the traditional flipped classroom report the obvious problem of students not watching the videos (imagine that, they don’t do homework!). That right there tends to kill the concept for some. For me, it was a push towards the flipped mastery classroom(particularly in my lower level math class). This requires a 1:1 environment to function, but really begins to open up the type of flexibility needed for teachers to work with targeted students and their learning. Students are set free to work at their own pace, with their own practice levels, and with constant on demand help. I call it an Asynchronous, Real-Time Help classroom. Although it bears the name flipped classroom, the NEW mastery classroom IS a 1:1 classroom.
More important, it is a glimpse of the near future of the modern American classroom. Like it or not…