Guest post by Jennifer Uhl, Madeline Montgomery, and Ashlie Smith from Cranbrook Schools, MI
Ashlie Smith teaches 8th grade science. She’s just completed her first year flipping this course and shares with us why she feels the flipped classroom model appeals to her students.
Ashlie’s mode of flipping her class includes videos sent as homework. She creates 7-10 minute videos on each lesson and posts them to her classroom YouTube channel. Students then watch the videos at home and come into class ready to ask questions and have concepts reinforced.
Students are able to pause, rewind, and re-watch the videos as many times as they want, a luxury not available in your average lecture-style curriculum.
Level the playing field
“Flipping allows everybody to be on the same playing field,” says Smith. After teaching the same material to 4 different groups of students every day, some information is emphasized differently in each class. By creating video lessons (also known as screencasts), each student has access to the same lesson, which can be edited and perfected beforehand by Smith.
Visual aids can be added into the videos easily as well as animation and text. For example, when learning about a physics concept, videos and images are embedded that relate directly to the student instantly linking the concept to a real-world application. Ashlie adds in small facts to connect the current lesson to past or future lessons, allowing students to create a web of connecting lessons, developing a bigger picture of the curriculum.
Evolve with your students
Ashlie is constantly evolving her lessons with an understanding that the current generation of students have different needs and access to different resources than students a decade ago. She encourages her students to take short videos of themselves involving movement and send them to her. Some of the videos she has received involve her students playing sports and recreating. Some have even thought of her on a spring break Disney world trip on the spinning teacup ride! Smith then used these clips in her physics videos to explain forces and movement, slowing them down, adding vector arrows and voice over to explain how each concept is shown. The students were excited to see their classmates used in lessons and became very engaged in the concepts. They easily made connections between lessons such as Newton’s Laws and the real world.
“They [21st century learners] are into Twitter, they’re on YouTube all the time…you can take something like that and pull it into an educational setting and make it fun, and that is what this does!” Smith exclaims.
Through the videos, difficult or intimidating subject matters can be explained through visual aids and clear narration, leaving more time in the classroom for students to ask specific questions if they are confused. Students can go back and watch the videos as many times as they want. “Normally we would have 3 or 4 class periods to review for a final exam,” says Smith, “now the girls can go back through every single lesson for review.” Students can literally re-live the entire class year in preparation for an exam.
Camtasia for flipping
After attending the MACUL conference and meeting with TechSmith representatives, Smith started using Camtasia 8, making use of the unique features of the newer program.
The biggest improvement of Camtasia 8, in Smith’s opinion, is the quizzing feature. Quiz questions are embedded into the video, which pauses upon reaching each question. Students can rewind the part of the video they have already seen, but cannot continue watching until they have answered the questions. The quizzes are usually two or three multiple-choice, knowledge-check type questions. The program then automatically grades the quizzes and sends an email to Smith telling her which students have taken the quiz and what their scores are.
After all the students have taken the quiz, Smith uploads the video to YouTube so the girls can re-watch it whenever they want without the quiz.
In order to maintain the attention of her students, Smith condenses the information as much as possible without having to skip over information. The shorter the videos can be while still getting all the information across, the better. Videos are usually seven to ten minutes long, go through the most important definitions, and use visual aids to show concepts and laws.
In her second year flipping the classroom, Smith plans on revising her earlier videos to make them more interactive with the things she’s learned since creating her first videos. She wants to make her videos more like a Discovery Channel movie or an episode of Bill Nye, rather than just an online lecture. Students should want to watch the videos, instead of thinking of them as chores. After editing the earlier videos and adding quiz questions, Smith plans on uploading the videos to ScreenCast.com instead since YouTube strips the quizzes from the videos.
See an example of one of Ashlie’s videos on YouTube that includes clips of her students, video clips and other materials that support the lesson’s concept:
Can’t see the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.
And here is another example video from Ashlie that demonstrates how she uses quiz questions in her video. As YouTube does not support the quizzing function, this video is posted on Screencast.com:
Can’t see the embedded video? Watch it on Screencast.com here.
Ashlie Smith, a teacher at Cranbrook Kingswood Girls Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She just completed her first year flipping her 8th grade science classroom. Ashlie is also a SMART Exemplary educator.
Follow Ashlie at: