The Must-Have Tools in My Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom

The Must-Have Tools in My Flipped Classroom

By Stacey Roshan     Oct 5, 2017

The Must-Have Tools in My Flipped Classroom

When I first began flipping my math class in 2010, the ability to screencast, upload video to the web and have students watch lectures at their own pace was exciting and innovative. Though it was a step in the right direction toward a more personalized and student-centered classroom, a couple of tech tools that have emerged during the past few years have truly changed my thinking about what is possible for the flipped classroom.

Before I proceed: a quick note. This article isn’t about the screencasting tools I use and how I am able to ink (a.k.a, annotate) on my screen using a Mac. (Although I talk all about the software and hardware I use in this blog post). When I started my flipped classroom journey, my focus was on making the videos and figuring out what types of assignments I was going to do in the classroom. But my teaching evolved to a whole new level when I discovered ways to add monitoring capabilities and interactive elements into videos—and found the technology I needed to help me differentiate and target individual student needs in the classroom.

While the tools themselves did not change my classroom, the potential to get such detailed information on how students process material and the immediacy of feedback has transformed how I teach.

Over the years, I have grown to rely on both interactivity and monitoring in the videos I assign for homework. Empowered with this information, I can customize and personalize the learning experience for each student in the classroom. My favorite tool for this is EDpuzzle, which includes analytics features that alert me to individual student needs.

Among other things, this data enables me to design learning tasks customized to the needs of the class, which helps me create the most effective student-assignment pairings, as well as to identify student-leaders to facilitate peer-to-peer learning. Being able to gather a sense of student understanding before they even step into the classroom has been transformational. The reason I initially chose to flip my class was to make the time and space for discussion and collaborative problem solving in the classroom. Using EDpuzzle allows me to take my goals a step further—to provide a new level of personalization and the ability to target individual needs immediately.

Monitoring and automated grading features are not only useful for the teacher; real-time feedback is just as important for students. The embedded multiple choice quizzes give my students the opportunity to check their own understanding of the material being presented in the videos.

Short-answer questions can be used to guide the students toward making big-picture connections, summarizing concepts or simply for a reflective pause. Not only does interactivity embedded into the video, such as short-answer questions, keep students engaged, it forces them to think critically and helps them understand which areas require more focus. In this way, students can feel empowered to drive their own personalized learning experience. To me, that’s meaningful.

Students Set the Pace

Another essential is giving all students a voice in the classroom. This means active engagement by all, and opportunities for introverts and extroverts, vocal and nonvocal students to contribute in a style that suits them best.

For this, I use Pear Deck, a formative assessment tool that allows me to ask questions within a presentation and display class responses on the board, anonymously. With Pear Deck, I can gauge the tone of the classroom, see where students are making connections and immediately identify—via the teacher dashboard—which students needs what supports that day.

The way traditional classroom discussion runs, we often pressure students into quickly responding—or we can be fast to assume that a student who is responding slowly does not know the information as well as a peer who immediately raises their hand. I use Pear Deck’s student-paced mode to let them questions and do activities at their own speed—not mine.

After each student has responded to a question on their own device, I can project responses on the board so that we can engage in an oral discussion. This dialogue is an important part of my class, but using tools such as Pear Deck allow me to ask the question differently and to get a far better sense of individual needs than I ever could before. And again, I can engage all my students by giving them time to process and write their answer before we bring the discussion to a whole-class setting where the more vocal students will thrive.

My flipped classroom has evolved and continues to transform as tech tools provide new and exciting ways to get insight into students’ needs. These tools allow me to provide a level of personalization and customization that simply was not possible less than five years ago. But it's not so much about the tools as it is about the why. Technology has allowed me to get to know my students as individuals, deepen the relationships I can build, hear from each and every student in my classroom and to be the most efficient teacher I can be. That to me is what the flipped classroom is really all about.

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