Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thoughts on Week 1 of Flipped Mastery

Having finished off the first week of self-paced, mastery-based world history, I think it is useful to get some thoughts out there. These have been percolating all week, as events unfolded in class.

There were actually a lot of positives that came out of this week. A lot of people I really respect, people I interact with on Twitter, people I look to for intellectual inspiration, have had some issues moving their classes into a flipped-mastery model. They have gotten students who have not used classtime well. I was ready for a really bad week this past week. I was excited that that didn’t really happen. Getting to speak to every student every day was a good thing. More importantly, out of these conversations, I was able to really see what my students were thinking throughout last week. Occasionally, a check-in would be brief, as student were on the right track or just needed a brief redirect about what to do next.

Other times, conversations lasted closer to five minutes: what did the student see? What was I looking for? This ability to see what kids really knew - not ‘I swung by your group and your answer looks good’ but more along the lines of ‘I can have an individual conversation with you about what you know’ - was really neat. Another positive was that the vast majority of my students used their classtime well. I had a couple students have bad days come back and recognize their mistake and apologize for wasting time - that hadn’t happened before in my class. More importantly, both students who did this showed up the next day and were productive.

Those students off task also were a negative. Though I was ready in my head for more students being off task and not owning their learning in a productive way, I am hopeful that next week is more productive for all of my students. Also, I need to make a couple changes moving forward. I need to be clearer on an ideal order for task completion, a way through the work of a unit that makes the most sense. That will happen next unit (I’ve already done damage control for this unit). I also need to remind students that screencasts are only one option for getting the content of the course - textbooks work fine too, as do internet sources. This mistake is correctable next week.

The less-than-ideal use of time one? That might be a longer process. I am hopeful that it can be corrected, and I am glad that it is a student or two in each class, not entire classes that have lost their ability to manage their own learning.

Finally, an anecdote: I was sitting out in the hall helping a couple students - my classroom is tiny and students often escape to the hall - when my principal came by. She asked me what my students were working on. It was kind of neat to say, “Well, I’m not really sure. Ask them.” Flipping the responsibility for and ownership of learning over to students - I like it.