Tag Archives: geography

Flipped Learning for the first time

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For the last few years, I’ve seen LOTS about flipped learning in the classroom. I didn’t get it and thought it was way too much effort, for not a whole lot of visible result.
I tried it today. For the following reasons:

  • My Year 1 students are researching different countries from a list that we devised. I wanted them to be collecting information, but they cannot read well enough to sift through kid-friendly geography websites, or books from the library.
  • There are 6 different countries being covered by the class. How do I have 1:1 time with each group of kids, whilst keeping the others engaged, without using meaningless time-filler activities?
  • We have 1:1 iPads, so students have access to video content.
  • The students are researching the these 6 specific questions:
    • What is the name of the country? 
    • What language is spoken in this country?
    • Which other places is this country close to?
    • What is the weather like in this country?
    • What do people in this country eat?
    • What is one interesting fact about this country?

Here’s how I implemented flipped learning:

  • I wrote a short blurb about each country, covering the content needed to answer the questions, plus a few interesting facts including capital cities and sports.
  • I whipped my phone out and recorded myself using Apple Clips, with captions appearing as I spoke. Each video was no longer than 50 seconds. I added filters, to be fancy and disguise the lack of makeup I was wearing in some of them. Ha.
  • I saved them straight to my Google Drive.
  • In Google Classroom (which we use regularly) I created announcements for each group of students researching each country.
    Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 8.41.29 pm
  • Students were given their paper proforma, with 6 boxes to write in. They sat next to their other group members, even though they each had their own iPad and headphones to listen and write independently.
  • Students watched the video once right through. As they finished, I asked them to use their pencils and start to write down some of the answers in the boxes. I showed them how to pause the video to give them time to write, which was helpful as they could copy the spelling from the captions if they needed!

What did I notice?

  • Students were helping each other. They were sharing their answers and thoughts, teaching each other how to rewind and pause and showing their group members which box to write their information in.
  • Every single student was engaged – the only conversation happening was about the videos, or their countries!
  • Every single student filled in every single one of their boxes. Sure, I assisted each of them in various different ways, but even the boy who struggles the most to stay focused and get anything on paper managed this task.
  • They were so excited to share their new information!

Will I use flipped learning again? Absolutely. Yes, it took me probably 30 minutes to make the videos, upload and assign to Google Classroom, plus about 20 to type all my country information up. 50 minutes in total, the same time as my actual lesson. But if I hadn’t done it this way, I would probably have spent at least 3 lessons reading information to them, repeating it 6 times, helping them spell it and driving myself crazy!

Flipped learning for the win!

The curriculum isn’t crowded…it’s brimming with opportunity!

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I’ve been concerned with the number of educators who are constantly reminding others of how ‘crowded’ the curriculum is. Many of them are voicing their concerns a little louder now that the National Curriculum has begun to be implemented, while others are relating it to the fact that there are only a certain number of hours in a school day.
 
It frustrates me to hear that many staff believe that the curriculum is “too full”. Rather than looking at the curriculum as “too full”, why are we not looking at it as “brimming with opportunities and variety”? We know that students all have different learning styles and interests. It would be narrow-minded of educators to believe that every single aspect of the curriculum is applicable and important for every single student.
 
My Year 4 History curriculum tells me that I should be covering world explorers such as Magellan, Columbus and Cook. Science tells me that I need to be teaching the life cycles of plants and animals. The new Geography syllabus instructs me to teach biomes of Africa and South America and the sustainability aspects of these. 
 
I didn’t freak out when I saw the requirements. I used my time wisely. I created a series of learning opportunities to try and cover all of the material in the most sensible manner, using a range of subject areas. Students worked in pairs to research (literacy & ICT focus) an African or South American country, including their biomes (geography) and the plants (science) that live in them. This led into life cycles and descriptions and information reports (literacy) on an African animal of their choice. They summarised information (literacy) about plant life cycles and presented their information as a slideshow (ICT). Students proved that there was more than one explorer in the world, which led to discussions on Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, Vikings, Matthew Flinders and Captain Cook. Some students focused on the vikings, others were interested in finding out who discovered their country of origin. We used these explorers to develop a timeline (maths) of important dates of world discovery. By communicating with our visual arts teacher, the Year 4’s created South American “God’s eye” art and African masks.
 
Many educators refer to these types of lessons as “Integrated Studies”. That’s fine, as long as it is not a scheduled timeslot to “do” Integrated Studies. If it’s truly integrated, it will be seeping through most of your lessons and immersing students in valuable learning opportunities. It’s not about choosing the most important aspects of the curriculum. It’s about providing students with the opportunity to learn about things that interest them, yet are important to understand.