Friday, July 29, 2011

Flipping Computer Science

It is mid July, and for me this is when I start reflecting on what I want to try in my classroom next year. Probably a little obsessive - I should be reading trashy mysteries by the pool.

Several things are on the list, first of all, flipping.

This is a new idea to me. I don't personally know anyone doing this...the basic idea is you "flip" when lectures and practice happen. Students watch vidoes of course material for homework, then the practice they would traditioanlly do happens in class. The main advantage seems to be that insted of students practicing at home, where mistakes and bad habits develop, practice happens with the support of the teacher. Misunderstandings can be corrected immediately. You ensure they do the practice.

My main concern is what happens when the kids doesn't watch the video? For my students not everyone has web access at home, or it is so slow as to be meaningless.

Plus, I am not all that excited about being on camera, as it were.

I am also looking at doing a more blended classroom. In the lab everyone has a computer. We use Blackboard for everything, so it is not that much of a stretch to think about creating an online classroom in the lab.

As I have been researching this I found a great video by Deb Wolf called No Moodle No problem: Flipped Class Conference 201

So I think I might try this in my APCS course this year. I don't see going asynchronous - pacing is too important. I am reworking my powerpoints so they can be viewed without my narative. I've checked with my own kids and they seem to like the idea, but that might be them placating me so they can get back to playing Civilization on the iPad. Hard to tell.

My thought is even my students without reliable internet have smart phones. We also have a dedicated 30 minute study hall everyday when they can come in to watch the notes. Also if a student finished the daily practice a bit early they could get a head start then. The best solution might just be to set the expectation and let them figure it out, then see what works.

One idea from the video that I really liked - she has each student post on a discussion board one thing they learned OR one question they have. The rule is they cannot repeat anyone else's post. I have done this before for vocab review, and I think that would work well here.

She also does quizzing for mastery. I am toying with that for both the AP and IB classes. I like the idea that they can retake quizzes until they master the material, but tests are one try. IT seems liek a good middle raod - for many of my students this is the only advanced class they will take and they are just not as good at handling that kind of academic expectation.

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So, what do YOU think?