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Learning Objectives for Flipping the Classroom

Learning objectives are an important part of any lesson, but are twice as important with a flipped lesson. Learning objectives are a guideline for the students and teacher. From a student’s perspective, learning objectives are a guide through the lesson that defines the learning outcomes of the lesson.

From a teacher’s perspective learning objectives are the learning outcomes tied to the lesson. It’s critical that teachers get their ideas on paper in the form of objectives so the students have a precise guideline throughout the lesson. It’s important that the teacher is specific and to the point with their objectives, especially if they are delivering a flipped lesson. If the students are going to be on their own for 50% of the lesson and learning a new topic on their own, they need a well written specific guideline. In my opinion, it’s better to have many granular/specific objectives vs. fewer vague objectives.

Example of a poor vague objective: Know where the femur is and the major landmarks on it.

Better example of the same objective: understand where the femur is located identify the following landmarks: head of the femur, greater & lesser trochanters, linea aspera, medial/later epicondyles, medial/lateral condyles, gluteal tuberosity, proximal vs. distal end, anterior vs. posterior side

As teachers, we want our students to be proficient in their understanding of the material, not just the knowledge. In my mind I here’s how I view knowledge vs. understanding: “knowledge is identifying and recalling different bits of information while understanding is taking different pieces of knowledge and putting them together as coherent, problem solving ideas”.  I believe it’s important for teachers to write the word understanding vs. know into their objectives just to plant the seed of understanding through design. Just seeing that word encourages students to take a deeper look at the material so they can put it to use in applicable situations.

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Flipping the Classroom Part 1

Today’s classroom is changing by the day as technology infuses itself into the classroom and in our lives. Students are more plugged into information today than they ever were through the use of the internet and devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops etc. In my opinion all of this technology is also changing the way kids and people think. People are more apt to go to Google, Bing, and Wikipedia etc. if they need to find a quick answer to a question. The question is, is this good or bad? Is this harming education or helping it? My answer to this is it depends on the quality of the educator. Are you as an educator willing to adapt to the changing tide or will you stay stuck in your old ways and sink, and take your students with? Technology is a mere tool that would be nothing without users to enhance its experience, and it can be a powerful teaching tool if used correctly. Flipping the classroom is one of the ways we can use technology to create a better learning experience, keep our students plugged into information we can trust, with the overall goal of enhancing learning outcomes.

If I were to define flipping the classroom in my own words here’s what I would say: “Flipping the classroom is a form of lesson planning that allows a teacher to turn the classroom into a more active, student centered learning environment that assess student’s application of knowledge vs. just knowledge”.  Flipping the classroom earned its name because of how the lesson is delivered. The student performs the lesson outside of the classroom and the teacher creates some form of assessment based off of the lesson in the next class. The assessment could be a test, group-work, a lab practical etc. The idea here is to make the students take charge and get the lesson done on their own time before the next class. Then the teacher becomes more of a facilitator on the practical side of things vs. just being a giver of knowledge.  One of the most important parts of flipping the classroom is trying to think about how you are going to connect with your students in the lesson through media. We aren’t doing our students any favors if we are just assigning a reading assignment with no guidance. It’s important that educators figure out a way to bring the lecture home to the student through media.

There are various tools available for educators to create media with. The most advanced would be a SMART board with the SMART recorder application and the simplest would be a regular digital voice recorder. Personally, I prefer the SMART board and the recorder application because this allows me to create a more visual lesson for my students. I can put a presentation on the board, plug in a microphone and when I start the recorder everything I say and write is captured live. Once I am finished all of this is saved as a video where students can hear me and see everything that I write, they just can’t see me (which isn’t a bad thing anyway). Then I upload my videos to YouTube, Sophia.org and I’m starting to toy with Vimeo as well. All of these are options for my students to access the lesson based on their personal preference. From my experience students prefer to use Sophia.org the most because I can do more with it; I will elaborate on this in another post. I show my students all of these options, give them their objectives, and let them know when they need to have this done by. Then it’s up to them to go through the video and objectives, and any other activity that I have planned for them by next class.

I know that technology can be a limitation for many educators due to budgetary constraints. If you don’t have a SMART board available then do what you can do get yourself out there with what you have. Other tools to use are: video cameras to record yourself teaching, digital voice recorders and iTunes, Screenr (which is a free online screen-casting service) etc. If you are having a hard time trying to figure out which technologies would work for you talk to other educators, online resources and blogs (http://www.ties.k12.mn.us/) etc. I also created a packet on Sophia.org (http://www.sophia.org/packets/flipping-the-classroom) with a PowerPoint and video of me talking about flipping the classroom and technology. If you can, make sure your lesson is as visual as possible since our primary sense is vision. If you can’t provide a video lecture and are limited to pod casting them make sure you give your students handouts that correlate with your lecture.

Connecting to Students Outside of the Classroom

I’m curious to see how other educators are reaching out to their students outside of the classroom to enhance their learning outcomes. I currently use the Notebook software that comes from SMART. I use it at home and at work with a SMART board (at work, I don’t have a SMART board at home) to create videos as supplement to my lessons and for flipping the classroom. Here is an example of one of them that covers the valves of the heart:

Also, here is an example of a lesson I created on http://www.sophia.org: http://www.sophia.org/packets/blood-plasma

By creating media I can sleep better at night knowing my students are plugged into information that I trust, because I created it. I would rather put int he extra time and have lecture videos available for my students than have them searching through Google, Yahoo, or Bing and hope that they run across the right info to help them. Also, these videos can help me flip lessons onto them and turn my classroom into a more active learning environment, which I would like to discuss in a later posting.

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