Thursday, 23 May 2013

A "Traditional" Mistake

End of semester, exams and reports have led to me neglecting this blog a little bit lately, however amongst the craziness of all this I thought I'd share a story from a few weeks ago.
My year 9s were coming to the end of their first flipped learning unit on trigonometry. We had one revision class before the test so I thought I'd put together a collection of questions to revise as a class. I had included questions I thought they would have trouble with, including questions with bearnings and applications of trigonometry. I quickly put a (rather boring) power point together and thought I would spend half the lesson going through these as a class and then they would have the last half to revise whatever they wanted to. A return to the traditional classroom. Wow. What a HUGE mistake.
It was basically a car crash of a lesson. Especially compared to the hard work and focus I'd come to expect from this class since introducing flipped learning. Some students knew everything and were bored. Some were completely lost when it came to bearings and got frustrated when I moved too quickly. Some lost focus and started chatting, creating distraction. For some strange reason I felt I had to plough on with what I had planned instead of changing plans mid-lesson. It took me the whole lesson to get through it all and so they had no time to revise on their own. They probably left the lesson feeling more stressed about thier test than they did when the class started. Basically, it was what I'd call an EPIC FAIL.
Near the end of the lesson, completely exasperated I said to them "So, do you see why we've been doing flipped learning?!" We had a bit of a laugh about it as a class, and I apologized to them for my poor planning. They were more forgiving of me than I was of myself - I actually think they are so used to this traditional style of teaching that they didn't think it was all that bad. The good news is it reinforced the need for flipped learning in a class with such diverse learning styles and needs, and the fact that the students much preferred this style of learning.
In order to slighly adapt this lesson next time I think I will create video solutions to the revision questions. This way students can attempt them without help if they want, or view the video if they need help getting started. I can then spend the lesson working with a small group or one-on-one helping with concepts they individually need help with. I suppose a failed lesson isn't all bad as long as you learn something from it!
(Side note: This test results on this unit were 10% higher on average than our last unit test, taught in the traditional method. It's difficult to compare as the topics were completely different, but it certianly gave the students a boost and they have almost totally bought into flipped learning!)

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