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Upside Down is Becoming Right Side Up

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I was honored to contribute an article in the new book, Quick Hits for Teaching with Technology: Successful Strategies by Award Winning Teachers. My article is about the inverted hybrid science classroom. I have been working on the ideal inverted hybrid classroom for probably four years now. It started with the simple inverted classroom model of having lecture outside the classroom while the homework and other hands on activities happened in the classroom. I’d like to share with you what I learned in the process some of which would not fit in the article.

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The “Lecture” Concept

Let’s face it, most of us went to college and were lectured to. The only other way to gain information was from the text or a┬átrip to the library. I guess you could get some information from the TV but not like today. We wrote notes as fast as we could and highlighted and wrote in our texts. (although my mother being a librarian kind of turned me off writing in a book.) So that is how we began our teaching careers, with a lecture. My area is physics so I combined my college notes, some of my own new notes and made some master notes that have been my teaching bible for years. After all, introductory physics doesn’t change at a rapid pace. But as more and more media came available, I realized that a video or animation was worth at least 1000 words. I also had the desire to create my own media. And I kept hearing the same old complaint: “I couldn’t do my homework so I gave up, can you go over it in class?” I always found myself behind. Some students said I lectured too fast and some said I went too slow. I had to find a better way…

The New “Lecture”

I searched and researched to find the best software to create my online “lectures”. It had to be something that was fairly easy and quick and would work with slow internet connections. It also had to be ADA compliant and have interactive capabilities. I settled on Articulate Presenter. It really fit the bill. I could start with the PowerPoints that I already had in many cases and add narration. It allowed for animation and adding web content. I could also put some practice quizzes at the end. PERFECT!

The students responded well to them…if they bothered watching them. I discovered there was no real incentive for them to do that. So I added clicker (Turning Technologies student response system) quizzes in class. Clickers allowed for me to see if they watched the lectures and to test them on the major concepts. They were allowed to use any notes they took while watching the presentations. They started taking voluminous notes! It took 5-10 minutes for the quiz to be sure they watched the presentations. I then had instant results that could then inform a short review.

Now class time is devoted to “homework”. That’s right homework. The students are in groups and work together to solve various problems. I am there if a group gets stuck but they work together first. They click in when their group agrees on an answer. This is anonymous so I can see the group’s answer but no one group looks bad. We then discuss the correct way to do the problem and move on. The students are so much more calm about facing the problems and they have immediate help to get over a tough spot rather than getting too frustrated.

The students don’t need me to be there to talk AT them. The students need me to help them learn problem solving skills and apply what is in the book and in my “lectures”. That allows me to really teach and guide them to be the best they can be.