Flipped Classroom

After reading the National Media Consortium’s 2015 K-12 edition of the NMC Horizon Report, I was excited to learn that many of the top tech trends to watch were trends that I am already interested in implementing  in my computer lab and at my elementary school.  It was hard to narrow down which trend to focus my studies on because there is so much potential for innovation that could be carried out at my school.  In the end, I decided to focus on the Flipped Classroom model and how I could best use this trend with my students in the computer lab.  

My students only come to class in the computer lab once a week for 40-50 minutes.  In order to maximize this time, a flipped classroom concept would be a great model to follow.  Currently, my class time is broken up into typing practice, a lesson, and then a project that carries out that lesson. If the students could preview my lesson before coming into the computer lab, the actual time spent on the lesson could focus on questions the students have and review of what they previewed. This would allow more time for me to work with my students on creating and reflecting on the projects they need to accomplish.

My eighth grade students are about to begin a unit on spreadsheets. The objectives for the first lesson are for the students to be able to format a spreadsheet including: Using center and merge, changing the page layout, changing the font, centering information in a column, using bold and underline, and adding a header.  The students will also need to input the correct formula to provide the sum and a percentage.  Here is my lesson plan and rubrics and the instructions that the students will download when they come into class to complete the project.     

As part of the flipped classroom, I created two short screencasts on how to carry out the tasks necessary to meet my lesson objectives.  You can view the screencasts here:

At first, I was only going to create a screencast for Microsoft Excel, but as I thought about it more, I decided to include one using Google Docs.  Primarily we use Excel at school, but as I thought about it, the students are using Google Docs more and more and they may not have access to Excel on their computer at home.  The essential skills are basically the same, but the process varies a little depending on which program the student uses.  I decided that I would allow them to decide which program they would like to use as they create their project in the lab. Subsequent lessons in this unit will cover: Continuing to format a spreadsheet and using various formulas, creating pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs, and creating a table of information and using the data sort function.

The use of the screencasts in the flipped classroom would fall under the Augmentation level of the SAMR model.  The screencasts act as a substitute for lesson presentation in the classroom, but it would improve instruction because it would allow for more differentiation.  While watching the screencasts, students who need more help or review would be able to stop and re-play the portions that they needed. Likewise, students who have an understanding of the assignment would not have to sit and listen to a lecture on information that they already know.   

Following viewing the screencasts for this lesson, the students will be instructed to provide a reflection.  This reflection should discuss what they learned, what they found to be challenging, how it will help them, and how this knowledge is relevant or will be relevant in their daily life.  Providing this information would fall under the SAMR level of Modification because the students are reflecting on their learning.  I’d like to say that they would be sharing this information in a Blog, but at this time I do not have a classroom Blog set up.  Instead the students will email me their reflection and we will discuss them as a class during the question and answer part of class before the students begin their project. I think this is important especially with a flipped classroom concept.  The students need to take the time to process what they have learned especially since I won’t be there initially to discuss this information as they watch the videos.  The reflection will provide a springboard for discussion in the classroom.

It is my ultimate goal to reach the Redefinition stage of SAMR with this unit. At the end of the unit, I would like my students to create and upload their own screencast on creating and formatting a spreadsheet.  Initially I wanted them to do this on their iPads since all the students have been provided one from the school.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find an app that would work well for this.  I took a look at three apps: Educreations, ShowMe, and Nearpod.  They did not seem to work feasibly with this type of project, but I am keeping them in mind for future units and to share with our core content area teachers who might be able to integrate the use of these apps in their classroom.  Since I found Screencast-o-matic easy to use, I will have the students use it to create their presentation.