Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trialling the Flipped Classroom

As we begin the new 2013 classes, I am going to be trying out some flipped classroom techniques with the new Year 12 Methods class.

For homework, they will be expected to watch a video explaining a concept (in the first case, the chain rule), get some basic skill practice, and then have some larger questions which they will be expected to discuss in class.

It is important that the students have procedural fluency in the chain rule. But I am starting the video by hopefully creating some need as to why it is important, and finishing with some challenging questions which should get them to think a bit, and create confidence in their own abilities if they are successful (e.g. by differentiating sin(2x) having never even seen differentiation of trig functions before). This is following advice from Dan Meyer's blog, and hopefully will address criticisms of the Khan Academy.*

This relates to my last post about how we perhaps don't foster enough independence in our students. I want them to feel responsible for going away and watching the video as many times as they need to in order to understand, with the expectation that they don't need the teacher holding their hands at every stage.

In doing this I do want to be realistic about the workload it might create. It would be unrealistic of me to spend hours and hours on top of my normal planning time. Which is why my screencast is done in one take, and can be expected to contain the odd mistake and the odd word fumble (though I think I have corrected myself).

The course will appear here. Comments/feedback welcome and appreciated.

* Reading tweets and blogs, there is a fair bit of criticism of TKA. Whilst such criticisms are often valid, they're not damning, and it's important to give credit for the mission statement of providing a free quality education for all.

So, I watched TKA's video on the chain rule, after I made my video, to see how they compared. In order to create a sense of challenge in students, both videos begin with "Nobody wants to expand (2x-5)7 if they can avoid it."

After that, we diverged. TKA taught by examples, using the procedure "differentiate outside the function, then inside, then multiply the two answers." (my paraphrasing.) I started from a more 'first principles' approach, using more formal notation. My feeling is that the latter is better for accuracy, particularly when you get e.g. chain rule within a chain rule, maybe within a product rule.

Watching TKA also made me quite conscious of the language used. "I will show you some examples before I tell you the rule" (from TKA) is quite teacher centred, and doesn't create in students the expectation that they can figure a lot of this out for themselves. But then, TKA videos are not designed specifically to be followed up by a teacher. Not to mention the fact that so far I have only watched the one video.

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