Rossland Secondary’s flipped learning explained

Neighbourhood of Learning looks at Rossland Secondary's blended learning approaches.

As RSS moves into its fourth month of implementing blended learning and serving as a leader in implementing B.C.’s New Education Plan, you may be hearing new terms such as personalized learning, flipped learning, inquiry-based learning and project-based learning. Sometimes it’s hard to know precisely what each of these terms means.

One approach to blended learning being implemented at RSS is called the flipped classroom or flipped learning. The notion of the flipped classroom is that students should be using face-to-face class time for valuable interaction with the teacher and other students.

Class time should be the time in which students ask questions, work through problems to clarify their understanding and engage in hands-on learning activities, such as science experiments. This happens best when the teacher has the opportunity to spend the majority of the class time fully engaged with the students in informal discussions rather than delivering course material in a lecture format.

Anyone who has ever tried to work through physics homework problems from musty old textbooks alone at 9 p.m. after listening to an in-class lecture that they only half understood probably can see the benefits of trying to work through those problems in class with access to the teacher.

Flipped learning allows teachers to guide the learning of students individually, organize students who are struggling with similar issues into informal study groups and deliver mini-lectures that come right when the students are working on specific problems and are most receptive to understanding. Students also help each other to learn, and learn by instructing, both of which contribute to the development of a culture of learning.

To facilitate flipped learning, teachers make lecture material available to the students in different formats that they can access on their own time, at home, on the bus on the way to a sporting event, when they are sick, or at school when they are working on something.

This clears important and limited classroom time for direct interactions and addressing challenges in the students’ learning. The format of the lecture has the added benefit of allowing students to work at their own pace. Students who can get through the material quickly can forge ahead, while those who need to go more slowly, stop and think about things and listen to something twice, can do so.

When you hear about flipped learning, the focus is generally on the use of videos for direct instruction. However this is not and should not be considered what flipped learning is about.

The videos are great instructional tools and are an important element of flipped learning, but their main function is to serve as the means of freeing up classroom time for more important discussions and project-based learning, rather than the passive consumption of information that can be done at any time. Moreover, few classrooms are totally flipped. Many teachers that use the flipped classroom model, also offer some seminars to offer students a variety of means of accessing the information.

A key element of flipped learning is that it helps to personalize the learning environment for each learner. Some students learn best by listening to live lectures. Some learn best by watching lectures on-line. Some learn best by working through the material kinesthetically, while others learn best by simply reading. Some students absorb information best first thing in the morning, while others are most receptive to new information in the afternoon or evening.

The key to flipped learning is that if offers more choice during classroom time to meet the needs of each learner and that contributes to better learning.

For a great video on flipped learning click here.

Please note that the date for the NOL Information Session regarding the upcoming school configuration decision-making process has been changed from Dec. 11, to Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at RSS to accommodate the grade 6 and 7 Christmas plays. Please come and learn what you need to know to participate in the process.

 

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