Flipping your classroom is NOT an easy task. It's great. It causes students to take ownership of their learning, but it is SO HARD!
Last week, I thought I'd try a little flipping of my classroom. I created and uploaded a video for students to watch and then follow along. I was not screen sharing, THEY were to do this without me. The video showed them how to embed their math Number Corner Google Slides onto their website page. Most kids understood. Some still needed hand-holding. But that's okay, there's a learning curve. And the best part, since students were working on that, it freed me up to help those who needed that extra help.
I'm not really sure I could create an entire flipped classroom, as I am a co-teacher 2-3 days a week. But I like the idea of flipped lessons. I like that in a virtual setting, I can still provide 1:1 assistance to those who need it.
The major setback I saw about doing an entire flipped classroom, is that currently, students have "asynchronous learning" outside of our 2.5 hrs of instructional time that they need to do. Most of our students, are not doing it. It is VERY frustrating. So if I can't get them to perform outside of class, how am I expected to get them to work without me? It's going to take some practice, and a lot of planning, but maybe I'll try it after winter break.
Whenever "The Learning Pit" comes up, I can only think about one pit--The Pit. The pit from Parks & Rec., and Andy's music video. It really sums up 2020 better than anything else, really.
To help my students out of the pit, I have been making the workload in my classroom a little more fun. I use digital escape rooms with a math theme that incorporates their current standards being learned. I also use breakout rooms so students can concentrate without feeling "watched". Then I pop in and help 1:1. I find it's more personal this way.
I like to find what students are successful at, and then let them shine! For example, one student was really into acting. I didn't know this, until I organized a talent show. This student shined brighter than I ever saw them shine. And in participating, they made friends with other students who also enjoyed performing arts. It really boosted their confidence. Now, when I call on them in class, they are not as shy as before. And we have incorporated performing arts into a few of our units!
Technology is important to me. I rely on it to keep me informed about the weather, the news, and to keep in touch with my family. Now that I teach 100% virtually, I rely on it more than ever. My students enjoy creating Flip Grids to show what they know, learning through escape rooms, and even creating art through Jamboard.
Here is a montage of things I've created in my first semester at Touro that showcases my technology integrations. It's important to give students voice and choice, and teach them different opportunities to showcase what they know. This helps them out of the pit.
I think that if we were to have a major overhual of our educational system, it needs to start with a strong secretary of education who doesn't believe public schools are the enemy. This person should pair up with the correctional departments to create a lesson design to keep money funneling to K-12 public schools, rather than our penal system. Let's backwards map this B! By doing so, our schools could fast forward into the current century!
We are so far behind other countries. The world is smaller due to the invention of the internet. We can accomplish so much more in a fraction of time. So why are our schools keeping students' cell phones in their backpacks? We need to use the technologies students already have, and teach them to use it responsibly. Teach teachers innovative ways to forward think. Teach students to be advocates for themselves and their communities. And by teachers and students, I mean AAALLLLL teachers and AAAALLLLL students.
Do we long for the days when "times were simpler"? But really, were they? It seems to me like things are quite simple for us in 2020. Well...despite the effects of the pandemic.
Rather than stopping at each state and taking an equal amount of people, this train chooses only "the most qualified" to ride inside. Those not deemed suitable for the ride are left behind at the station. In some states, the car is full, in others, it is empty or nearly empty. The train conductor says that they choose based on ability, when in actuality, their choices are based financially.
In the book, The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future by Linda Darling-Hammond, she claims that performanceo-based testing is more important than multiple choice testing. In states like Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Hew Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming, performance testing was adopted early on. "These assessment evaluate what the student can actually do, not just what they recognize, or guess, out of a list of choices."
Last week, I had the oh-so-enjoyble task of making sure my students took online reading and math tests. One student was done in a manner of two minutes. I was immediately suspicious of this student's scores. When I went into the software to see his results, they were not there. I had him share his screen. I then had to sit and make sure he completed the test. As I watched his cursor float across his screen, I noticed if there were more than two sentences in the question, he did not go back and re-read to find the correct answer. Instead, his cursor floated furiously above the answers and one was selected, seemingly, at random.
When using rigorous, state-adopted curriculum, one would assume that the state testing would reflect this type of thinking in its tests. A multiple choice test does not show what a student is thinking. And it leaves some, behind on the train platform. In school, I have never been good at multiple choice tests. I am a wordsmith. I enjoy writing essays. I will choose essay over multiple choice test any day. Essays allows me to share my thoughts and show my thinking.
But there's a catch.
I went to school in the early 80's through the late 90's. I also attended middle and high schools in one of the wealthiest towns in the state. Nearly every student at the high school had known each other since preschool. I was an outsider who lived in the country 45 minutes away by car (1hr 30min by school bus). I came from an area of "blue collars". No one in my neighborhood was college educated. Some did not make it to or through high school. And many of my friends spoke more than one language at home. We all were bussed to the wealthy town, and were educated there. We would come home exhausted from having lived through a loud, and rowdy, hour and half bus ride through winding roads. We would leave for school at 6:45am and return home at 4:15pm. We were expected to do homework and repeat. Our train barely stopped for us. Our wealthy classmates did not know the advantages they had, just by living within the city's limits. I worked extra hard to keep up with them.
Standardized, multiple choice testing CANNOT be the way we measure success. And our curriculum needs to reflect that as well.
What am I thinking about 21st Century Learning? That feels like a loaded baked potato with no bacon. You know, because it's 2020, and I have "Bacon Ban" on my October 2020 Bingo card.
It's AAAALLLLL about 21st Century Learning! It's a buzz word, a catch phrase, a taboo---one that will send shivers up your spine and down your neck and then through your socks to the tiniest tips of your toes. I can't get away from it. I eat it. I sleep on it. I dream of it. I work with it. I work FOR it. I learn about it. ARGH!
I enjoy teaching students how to be 21st century learners. I enjoy seeing them helping each other as we ALL navigate this technology during the middle of a pandemic, and now fires upon fires, upon FIRES! But we all need a break. My eyes hurt at 3:00 from TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME!
I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like I'm being pulled in a million directions, and everything shocks me, only for a split second. I'm in survival mode. I have family members who lost their home in August; friends who were evacuated this past week; friends who've lost their homes; friends who've lost their business, their livlihoods, and it isn't stopping.
So if we're wanting to enter students into this chaos right now, let's be gentle with them. Give them FUN 21st century learning.
School is cancelled tomorrow. I'm late writing this post. I cannot concentrate.
What does it take to be in the 21st century and have obtained skills ready for it? As a teacher, I'm constantly asking myself that. As a coach, I'm wondering what skills I can share with my colleagues to help them too.
This week, I watched three videos of examples of 21st century skills. One was from six years ago, and although slightly dated (because like technology, teaching practices are always evolving) it is still relevent to today's teaching. In this particular video, kindergarten students demonstrate 21st Century skills for self-direction. Students are able to express their learning goals, make choices about their learning, articulate their plans for learning, and demonstrate the ability to self-direct during independent work time. All these things are neccessary to being a self-driven, responsible student and life-long learner.
The second video I watched was how an elementary school was using videography and voice & choice to teach content curriculum to upper grade students. The students were sharing "Scar Stories" through personal narrative writing strategies. Students created their own videos using a green screen, graphics, and even voiceover work. The teacher guided them through the use of the technology, and then turned them loose to create. The teacher also was there to act as a mentor to answer questions and help push students to write in detail.
The final video was from a high school. In the video, students learned U.S. economics, current events, and math during a "Shark Tank" project. In this project, students design and create a mock business. They create a business plan, track spending and income, and even pitch their company idea to members of the community who pretend to be investors from the show "Shark Tank." The teacher even wears a cute shark hat! This lesson allows the students to take charge of their own learning and relate it to real-world problems. It also introduces students to skills they may need after high school, such as tracking spending and earnings.
Overall, the three videos were fantastic. Knowing that from Kinder through high school, 21st century learning is happening, gives me hope for the future.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.