Reflections and Contemplations on Education and such...

Education as I see it at Waukesha West and the world...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My first could have been better!

Well I produced my first screen cast had a little to be desired, but it taught me a few lessons that will make my screen casts awesome when they count (second semester).

1.  I don't need to be dull just because I am on camera.  I need to speak with the same veracity as I do in the classroom.  I don't want to bore them to death within or outside the classroom. 

2.  I really need a usb touch pad with a pen to write.  It is really hard to write on my Macbooks track pad.  I have to get that piece of hardware soon.

3.  Camtasia is a really easy piece of software to use.  I hope I am able to continue to use it as my production software. 

I did show my students the highlights in class.  I think they are inrigued and interested...lets hope they can get as excited as I am...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is a flipped classroom???

Well, I got some things off my chest in my first post but after rereading a thousand times I discovered that I forgot to do something pretty important...explain what in the world I was going to do that was so different...

Traditionally in my AP US History classroom much of the time is me throwing up content all over my students.  Now...I am witty, funny, and engaging, but for the last year or so it has become increasingly difficult to keep students attention.  Along came the idea of the flipped classroom.

Students will still get my glowing lectures, but they will be able to watch them at their computers.  I will vodcast...screencast...whatever you want to call it my PowerPoint notes/lectures.  It will include my face, the notes, and all the content my students have historically received in class (maybe more).  

What if they don't watch it???  Do all kids listen in class???

What will you do in class??  Basically all the stuff I want to do but never do because of time and pressure of the CB test.  Discussions, debates, documents, group work, research...I never do these things that way I want because I always felt compelled to the content and the time it took to digest that content.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time For a Change...

I have been struggling with my role in the classroom for a couple of years.  I believe that I am successful at teaching AP US scores are good, my enrollment is good, but my satisfaction with the lecture centered AP classroom has been making my professional experience less than what I want for myself.

AP presents a whole set of challenges that may or may not be seen in a non-AP classroom...but the biggest issues for me is content coverage.  I was starting to lose my mind...did I cover this, should I cover that, and as a consequence of that struggle I was lecturing more...and more...and more.

Now... lecturing can be a great way to teach content.  In fact, I think that I am pretty darn good at lecturing.  But the time has come to transform my teaching.  I want to prove that even in an AP environment that the focus can be on learning and not teaching.

Then, I heard about the Kahn Academy.  So I did a little research about Kahn and his philosophy.  I found something very intriguing...the flipped classroom.  Then I started researching...reading...and I found myself wondering why I would ever lecture in a face to face capacity again!!!

The powerful combination of a screen-cast of my lecture notes and the ability of my students to see it, download it, and ask questions about my lectures via Blackboard is an amazing tool for my students.  This will allow me more time in class to do what I want to with students and apply the knowledge they have gained.

Luckily I have the support of my district and principal and I am able to take a chance...a leap...and do something that I think will benefit my students in astronomical ways.  This blog will be part of my journey as I reflect on the successes and pitfalls of a transition to a flipped APUSH classroom.

Watch the Kahn talk at TED...great stuff.