Tag Archives: School

Flipping the teacher

If I’d suggested flipping the teacher while I was still at school, I would have been in serious trouble. Given my reputation though, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary.
I once spread a rumour at primary school that my tyrant of a head teacher had died (wishful thinking), and when he came back from sick leave, I wasn’t the most popular child in the school. Having said that, many of the kids began to believe in the resurrection of the dead.
Once, during a chemistry lesson in secondary school, I was larking around and accidentally burnt a big hole in my teacher’s pretty floral dress with concentrated acid.
He was furious.
I got into a fair few scrapes and a lot of mischief, but suggesting that we ‘flip the teacher’ would have been the last straw.
Today, the idea of flipping the classroom is a familiar one. Flipping teachers may not be so familiar. Don’t panic though – I’m not advocating violence, nor am I suggesting children use obscene gestures. Flipping teachers is about swapping roles. I have already written about this in previous posts. The idea that teachers should become students so that their students can act as teachers may still be contentious and problematic, but I believe that as we see more flipped classroom approaches, the argument for also flipping the role of the teacher will become more compelling, and eventually more acceptable.
A little history: Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann developed the term ‘flipped classroom’ by considering the time spent by teachers with their students in classroom. They wished to maximise this time, and developed a number of strategies that involved instruction taking place outside the walls of the classroom. Inside, with the teacher present, students were able to explore their learning in more depth and detail, capitalising on ‘face time’ with the expert. The work of Harvard University professor Eric Mazur supports this approach, because, as he says – instruction is easier than assimilation, and advocated coaching rather than lecturing as early as the 1990s. This is not new of course. For centuries, innovative teachers have been trying to find other more effective methods of pedagogy that can take the place of lecturing and instruction.
If we are at all serious about promoting student centred learning, then we should at least reconsider the roles teachers traditionally play at the centre of the process, and begin to discover how we can help the student replace them. This does not mean that teachers relinquish their responsibilities or shirk their obligations. What it does mean is that teachers should seriously consider new forms of pedagogy where students are placed at the centre of the learning process, and have to spend some time ‘teaching’. We learn by teaching. If you have to teach or present something for an audience, you will make damn sure you go away and learn it thoroughly so you don’t make an absolute ass of yourself. This is the same principle we see when we flip the teacher.
Here are just five ways you can flip the teacher:

  1. Ask students to peer-teach. This form of paragogy ensures that all students need to know something about the topic before they teach it, and can also learn from each other during the process. Even better, get them to teach you something you don’t already know about.
  2. Give your students a problem to solve. Ask them to come back later to show how they solved the problem, and get them to defend their solution. If they all have different solutions, the fun can start.
  3. Students create a self-directed project that encapsulates the principles or facts of the topic they are learning. It can be in the form of a video, or presentation, or role play, or even a blues song (be creative). Just as long as they ‘perform’ their work in front of an audience.
  4. Act as a student, and ask your students awkward questions about what they have learnt. Challenge them to explain clearly what they know. This approach ensures that they must think more critically and reflectively about what they have learnt, and that they need to justify their decisions.
  5. The age old seminar is a great flipping method. Ensure that each student has time to study a specific aspect of the course, and prepares teaching materials. They then get to present their work in front of you and their peer group, and are also tasked to encourage discussion by preparing some key questions.

I gratefully acknowledge Max Brown for giving me permission to use his most excellent cartoon that depicts flipping the teacher.
Graphic by Max Brown
Creative Commons License
Flipping the teacher by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

iPads help Hong Kong students learn

Pui Ching Middle School
Image: South China Morning Post

It’s morning assembly, and Form One students at Pui Ching Middle School, have their iPads ready. It’s the same story in their English and Chinese classes. As they listen to the news, read poems or watch other media on the screens in front of them, the students are preparing to put forward their thoughts via projector linked to their devices.
They are a pioneering group in a school already at the forefront of e-learning. From this autumn, the use of iPads will be rolled out to Form Two and Form Four classes. The school already has its own online learning system with various teaching materials and activities, and its students chat with one another on Facebook or the online course management system Moodle.
But it could take a while before Hong Kong schools use e-books extensively. That is despite the government initiative launched in November, which encourages 30 publishers to digitise their textbooks. The E-Textbook Market Development Scheme, which involves 88 schools testing the e-books under a Partner Schools Scheme, is spending HK$26 million for publishers to produce about 30 e-textbooks, which are expected to be available for use in the 2014-15 school year.
Read more: Tablets help Hong Kong students learn | South China Morning Post.

Can we make school and smartphones compatible?

* Cell phone

A teacher sent me an interesting note about smartphones in classrooms. It was timely because I had a recent conversation with a friend about her teen’s new smartphone.
I remarked a few months ago that her daughter differed from most teenage girls who always seem to be looking downward — at their phones, their computers or their iPads. Her daughter was always looking outward at the world around her, full of interest and questions.
Her mother lamented a few weeks ago that her daughter now had a smartphone and was spending a lot of time looking down at the screen. (She and her friends had a deep attachment to a funny photo sharing program.) Mother and daughter weren’t talking nearly as much in their car rides since the phone arrived on the scene.
In evaluating the impact of smartphones, proponents talk about what kids get to see and what connections they get to make via mobile devices. But have we considered what they don’t see and what connections they don’t make as a result of their focus on a six-inch screen?
Read more: Is texting in school a right? Can we make school and cell… | Get Schooled | www.ajc.com.

How to make BYOD work for your school

Students with own tablet (i)

“Bring your own device” (BYOD) initiatives are relatively new in education, cropping up in the last few years as schools—under tight budget constraints—seek ways to leverage student-owned devices for learning.
Supporters of the BYOD movement say students are instantly more attentive and better behaved when they are encouraged to use their own mobile devices in the classroom, but educators face a number of challenges in making BYOD work in their schools.
For instance, what if some students don’t bring a smart phone, laptop, or tablet computer of their own? How can educators make sure that students use their mobile devices only for educational purposes, or that these devices won’t compromise the district’s network security? How can school leaders address the concerns of parents?
We’ve talked with ed-tech leaders in a number of districts with BYOD initiatives, and here’s how they’re meeting these challenges in their schools.
Read More: How to make BYOD work for your schools | eSchool News.

School concludes that devices enhanced learning

Gazette.Net: Rockville private school gives the iPad a classroom trial

Before this year, Joie Chen would have never found her son huddled in a corner, reading a book.
Now, it happens all the time. Evan Goldberg, 12, will be so entranced by a story on his iPad, he will bump into the walls of their Bethesda home as he walks and reads, his mother said.
While some parents were concerned when Green Acres School in Rockville gave each of its fifth- and sixth-grade students an iPad this year, most now say that it has excited their children’s interest in school and enhanced their learning.
Full Text: Gazette.Net: Rockville private school gives the iPad a classroom trial.

Should Elementary School Students Be Learning Online?

Elementary Student on Computer
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is a long standing debate about the benefits of a private versus a public versus a home schooled education. There are advocates that will argue for any of those options and pros and cons to each. With the advance of technology you can begin throwing online education into the mix. Most people understand the benefit of being able to attend college online, and it is not difficult to look at online classes as a good option for students who live in rural areas or do not have access to some of the higher-level classes they are interested in. But do the benefits of online education stop when you look at it for elementary school students?

Moving at Your Own Pace

One advantage of many online programs is that they allow students to move at their own pace. This benefits all the students because they can truly master a subject before moving onto the next concept. Most of the online programs allow you to move at your own pace, which is great because your child can make real progress. However, if the program is like a college course with a set number of lectures and assignments each week, then this benefit will not be part of the program.


Many online programs offer more flexibility than a traditional school. This is a good option if your child is ill, and may not be well enough to go to school or needs to complete her classes around naps or doctor visits. It is also flexible in that it allows you to travel without worrying about missing school Your child can complete the classes as you travel the country or on an extended stay with family. This allows you to live life the way you want to as long as you have an Internet connection handy so you can complete assignments.

Long Term Effects of Computers on Developing Brains

There have been concerns about the long-term effects of children spending too much time on the computer or other electronic devices. In an article at BBC News Professor Greenfield from the Royal Institute points out the correlation between the rise in computer use and the rise in prescriptions for ADD. There have not been enough long-term studies to determine if an online education at such a young age will have a negative affect on your child and the way that he processes information as an adult. Brain development may be affected especially if the majority of his learning is done online in early elementary school. However, if you use the online program to supplement activities that you are already doing with your child the effects may not be as bad. Other studies such as The Effective Use of Computers with Young Children by Douglas Clements point out that the quality of the computer program may affect the brain’s development more than just the quantity of time spent online. You should be aware of what your child is doing and make sure that the online time is quality learning time.

Will It Be a Good Fit?

Ultimately you need to decide if sitting down at a computer to complete the majority of the classwork will be a good fit for your child. An active energetic boy might do better with a program that allowed more kinetic learning with movement activities. A spatial learner may also do better with the use of manipulatives in math classes. You may need to adjust the program and supplement the same way you would if your child was attending a public school outside of the home. Many schools are beginning to use educational software for review and to help students catch up on topics they fall behind on. As the education system changes, so do the assessment and teaching tools. Technology will be active part of your children’s lives as they grow older and completing an online learning program may help them become more comfortable with technology.

Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org.  Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology.  Her current focus for the site involves pregnancy tests and fetal development at 15 weeks pregnant.

Effective Mobile Learning: 50+ Tips & Resources (Free eBook)

Galaxy Tab
Free mobile learning guide for schools and educators wishing to implement mobile devices in their classroom.

  • What is Effective Mobile Learning?
  • Which Mobile Learning Device Should I Choose?
  • Get Parents on Board!
  • How Do I Convince My Leadership to Lift the Ban?
  • Lack of Resources? Some Options
  • BYOD/BYOT: The Bring Your Own Devices/Technology Movement
  • Multimedia Resources
  • Geolocation
  • QR Codes
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Apps for Research
  • Apps for Collaboration
  • Further Resources

Effective Mobile Learning: 50+ Tips & Resources Ebook