Now that the majority of the content delivery in my flipclass is via my vodcasts, and I am no longer lecturing, the key is making the most out of the time I have with my students. Most of the time is now spent with my students collaborating and working on things such as:
- ‘WSQ Discos” (coined by my Advanced Bio class – the discussions following the WSQ they do as part of watching the vodcast – Thank you very much…again, Crystal Kirch, for sharing such an EduAwesome method!)
- lab and lab analyses
- problems (like figuring out what is needed and what you get in cell respiration or inheritance patterns)
The toughest part has been finding the little things that keep them excited and impassioned about digging in and working through something they don’t already know…
….And then I found (drums, please…):
MARKERS! Not just any marker, neon dry erase markers. These babies were made for lab tables. They are bright and neon and wipe right off, AND MY STUDENTS LOVE THEM! Before my students were pretty good discussing the content or working on whatever we were doing that day, but I wouldn’t say they were truly collaborating.The day I broke out the markers, immediately there was a glimmer, but skepticism, in their eye.
You mean we can write on the tables? For real?
There is something magical about placing a marker in the hands of …. well … anyone. That has to be why they were called magic markers. As the color started flowing, I suddenly felt like curling my bangs and pegging my pants. The ’80s looked like it had exploded in my classroom. But the best outcome (besides reliving my youth) was to see my students finally starting to collaborate – truly work together to solve a problem, because they were creating the diagrams/drawings together to make a whole. As I wandered around the room, I could see/hear them asking each other questions – they weren’t looking for me to tell them the answer. This was something that hadn’t happened in my pre-flip days.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t an overnight switch, but I will say the markers helped speed up the process. They have become an integral part of my students’ learning, and as simple as it seems, have definitely brought my kids to the next level in their critical thinking/problem solving skills. My tables act as their canvas, allowing them to think in color. There is no fear of being wrong when working out thoughts on the tables because they don’t hand them in. That lack of fear has helped them deepen their understanding of concepts and opened up some really awesome discussions. Some students have such a fear of failure that they refuse to even contribute because they don’t want to be perceived as being ‘wrong.’ (In my experience I find it is more often my girls – but that is a topic for another time)
. Bringing my students together at the tables and letting them hash it out for themselves has increased my connection time with them (I can work individually or with the group to strengthen where they are weak), and has fostered a community of learning in my classroom.
So if you would like a really effective – yet, extremely cost efficient – way to engage your students. I totally recommend getting yourself a set. Play with them yourself – you won’t want to put them down!