In a perfect world, I would be teaching a straight grade where all of my students had similar abilities. In the real world, I have a 3/4 split where my students needs range from number recognition to understanding multiplication and fractions. It quickly became apparent to me that focusing on the big ideas and then working with small groups to clarify any misconceptions was not going to work, as I had hoped.
So, how could I reach every student, every day?
I decided to take a good look at the strengths and weaknesses in my students, and the learning environment. Yes, I have some students that struggle with a sense of number and problem solving which is compounded by language disabilities and/or deficits. Yes, some of students have low attention spans and struggle with socially acceptable behaviour. What we also have is an entire group of students that are willing to take risks, that recognize the importance of making mistakes in order to learn and that are becoming comfortable with using technology to access curriculum, demonstrate their understanding of concepts and document their learning.
I have integrated the use of technology into my teaching practice, but I decided to look at other ways of supporting my unique learning community with tech. I decided to give the flipped classroom approach a try. As access to technology and internet is not something that everyone has the luxury of at home, I decided to build it into our classroom routine. I hopped on Touchcast, recorded a math lesson; using the interactive features to ensure that it wasn’t just a lecture, and posted it to Google Classroom.
I love trying new things, and about 50 percent of the time they don’t work. I was curious to see how this approach would pan out. I sent my Grade 3 students off to access their lesson on their individual devices while I sat down to work with my Grade 4 group. I expected some bumps in the road, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it went off without a glitch! Students that required clarification went back and replayed the parts of the video they needed to review, instructions were clearly laid out for the in class task and everyone began working promptly. All of my 3’s were on task, focused and completed their assigned work.
The best part; when I was done with my grade 4 group I was able to actually sit down and support students from both grades that needed assistance! I am looking forward to trying this approach with both grades at the same time, and having even more available time to provide individual and small group support and provide immediate feedback to students.
I had never paid much attention to the “flipped classroom” approach as I thought it was more relevant for older students and that it had to occur outside of the classroom to be effective. I am not sure that I am doing it “right” but I do love that using a free app along with our Google Classroom allows me to give every student what they need! Even the ones that are struggling the most and need a modified lesson. It does require a bit of work upfront and a small investment of time, but there is no other way that I could see providing differentiated lessons to so many students during one class.