VLOG: The PE Flip
16th Mar 17
by Suzie Tjin, Somerville House
Have you ever sat there and wondered how we got to this point? The point where phones became mobile, the point where selfies became the norm, the point where communication is mostly enacted by our fingers and thumbs?
Today, change is the only constant. The technology revolution is changing the way we live at a rapid rate, and it isn’t going away any time soon. To put things into perspective, worldwide, more than 23 billion text messages are sent each day, the number of active mobile phone subscriptions currently outnumbers our global population and over 2.5 billion people will actively engage with social media this year. What’s more alarming, is that all of this was not even possible for the general population 20 years ago. Consequently, the teenagers of today are more collaborative and tech savvy than ever before. They communicate and learn differently to generations before them, yet, our classrooms are reminiscent of those from previous generations. So what are we doing to bridge the gap?
Now, please don’t get me wrong here; I am NOT saying that our classrooms are broken and that we’re doing it all wrong! There is merit to the traditional teaching methods and classroom set-ups; after all, direct instruction delivers core content in a time efficient manner, and rows of desks encourages compliance. But are we doing our students justice? With class time at a premium, how can we gain back contact time and re-invigorate our learners? Enter: Flipping.
Flipped learning is the new(ish) craze sweeping the field of education. It occurs when a classroom teacher places chunked amounts of core content outside of class time, in an environment where students can learn key concepts at their own pace, without fear of being left behind; pre-lesson homework, if you will. In doing so, students arrive at class ready to apply their newly gained knowledge across different situations, and are afforded the opportunity to perform the more difficult, higher order thinking skills, collaboratively and under teacher guidance. The result? No more confused students completing difficult homework, no more ‘boring’ classroom lessons, no more rushed curriculum. So how does it look?
Flipped learning has many faces. When I flip my classrooms, I use resources such as journal articles, websites, textbooks or videos (this is my go-to method). At the end of the day, as long as the pre-lesson work covers the core content you need it to, and isn’t too time-heavy, then it will work. In order to keep tight control on this, I prefer to create my own videos as this ensures the learning objectives are met, that I’m using a medium that my students can relate to, and that I am building relationships with my students without being there in person. The beauty of this form of flipping is in its directness and flexibility (sounds like a contradiction, right?!). Videos allow me to get my message across in ways that my students can understand and track student learning using interactive programs, all with the safety of a pause and rewind button at their fingertips. Didn’t understand it? Replay it. Missed that key term? Replay it. Want to check for understanding? Replay it.
Flipping not only allows my students to learn at their own pace, but frees up my class time for more engaging, collaborative, student-centred tasks, affording students the opportunity to solve complex problems, create their own resources, design and evaluate games and drills, and interact with technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality and app creation. It allows us time to practice the hard stuff together, and to cater to a variety of learning needs. It enables my students to learn how to learn in a way that makes sense in their world. It means that there are no longer opportunities for students to sit in the back row, ‘listening’ to direct instruction, becoming passively disengaged. I think it’s fair to say that I love the freedom that the flipped classroom affords us, and my students do too!
About the Author
Suzie Tjin is currently Head of HPE at Somerville House in Brisbane, having taught in the GPS system prior to that. Suzie has a Bachelor of Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Exercise Science, and is currently studying her Masters in Educational Leadership. When not in the classroom or tied to her computer, Suzie spends her spare time running after her 2 young kids and helping her husband in their Physio studio.