Saturday, September 8, 2012

Drive-Thru Window Education

I cannot believe that we are already three weeks into the grading period!!  Things started a little rough but that is to be expected.  Students had to not only figure out a different way of doing school, but also grasp the idea that there were two files on the website they needed.  Yes a practice sheet is different than a notes sheet.  Any way, our school is switching LMS' and I am using the new one, so there is that as well.  On top of that I am using Moodle for testing because I have a large set of questions there that I cannot export.  So to say the least things were bumpy

At Open House I received a lift.  All parents that had talked with their student about class felt like the method had merit.  Others that had not heard about the new system had similar feeling after I explained what was happening and my reasoning behind the change.  I had nearly forty parents stop by that night and a large percentage were from chemistry.  Very nice.

Lately however, things have slowed somewhat.  I have already hit the motivational wall with some students.  I guess for some anything that makes them put forth some effort causes them to shut down.  I have no proof, but I believe that many classes and maybe even many years of education have not pushed many students to think creatively or taught them how to tackle difficult situations.  I find students want class to be like a drive thru window.  They walk in the door, you hand them the assignment, they sit a do it for fifteen minutes and then socialize the rest of the time before walking out the door never to think about the topic again.  

The flipped classroom puts more responsibility back on the student.  Yes the teacher is still ultimately responsible for the end result, but students have become too dependent on the teacher.  We have controlled them and tested them to death.  They need some freedom to explore and to find their stengths and weaknesses.  The flipped classroom stimulates the need to be organized and self motivated.

There it is.  The M word.  The threat of poor grades no longer drives students to achieve.  Many do not care any more, even in the middle third of spectrum.  So the question is how do we structure a class that causes students want to learn.  I guess another part of the issue is one size does not fit all.  But that is a whole other ball of wax.

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