– Jon Bergmann –
In this unimaginable school year, we are all going to face big challenges. We may be coming back all remote, some form of hybrid or face-to-face and Elearning, or a full-on start with all of our students. Even those few schools that start with all their students will need to be ready to switch to a different mode overnight if the health situation changes in their locality. How do we prepare for all three? How do we teach in each mode?
Since most of us are going back to either remote learning or a hybrid where we have significantly less face-to-face class time with students, we need to ask one key question: “What is the best use of my face-to-face class time in these unusual scenarios?”
As a Flipped Learning teacher, I answer that question with a simple rubric. Lower levels of Blooms are done when students are working independently (called the Individual space), and higher levels of Bloom’s are done when students are in a synchronous class (called the group space). In other words, easy stuff when students are independent and hard stuff when they are in the presence of their teacher. But since we will all have less face-to-face class time with students, we are going to have to move some of the hard stuff into the individual space. For students to be successful without the teacher present, we will need to provide supports for students in the independent space.
With Flipped Learning in mind, and especially with the Flipped Learning Global Standards as my guide, I have been brainstorming with other educators how to teach in all three modes. Below are my tentative plans as I start out my year.
My school is one of a very select few in the Houston area that will be coming back to some face-to-face time with our students. In order to increase social distancing, our high school will have two cohorts. One group comes on Monday and the other on Tuesday. Wednesday is an e-learning day, and then Thursdays and Fridays are a repeat of Monday and Tuesday. Classes will be around 45 min. But due to COVID and cleaning, etc., realistically, I think I will have two 35 min. instructional blocks with each group of students each week.
The key to making this work is to provide meaningful tasks when students are working in the individual and the group spaces. I will especially have to provide more support for higher cognitive tasks in the individual space. Otherwise, we will not allow for students to learn deeply in our classrooms.
Let’s look at Group A and think through what they should be doing each day. Note that they will only be on campus Monday and Thursday. That means they will have three days of independent work available. So for many lessons and objectives, they will need to work mostly independently. For this to happen, I plan to create help video and/or audio files for students when they get to more difficult problems. These help video/audio files would be the help I would give to students if they were working in my room on the same problem, and I was looking over their shoulder. I will embed these video/audio clips into the assignments.
For the group-space time (Monday and Thursday), I am thinking of reserving Mondays for Labs (I teach science -Chemistry, Physics, and Geology) and Thursdays for help sessions where I help students fill in the gaps in understanding. I’m thinking as a science teacher, there might be two different weekly scenarios illustrated below. I think we need to do one or two key topics in a week. The samples below are for my A-Group (see above).
As a science teacher, you don’t always want students to hear the “answer” before they have experienced a scientific phenomenon. This week above starts with inquiry and then moves to grasp the meaning of what they have seen.
But some topics, even in science, are not best suited for an inquiry approach. Note that the new topic will have been introduced over the weekend. Thus, in a non-inquiry objective week, students start with more of a bookish/work time class and then move to an experiment that cements their knowledge during the second class meeting.
No class time will be used for introducing new content. Students will be expected to do these in the independent space time.
Lukas Reike, a physics teacher at my school, has another rhythm that makes a lot of sense. This would happen after we have been doing one topic per week and teaching students how to learn in this mode. In Lukas’ model, students- over the weekend (Note that would be Friday-Sunday for Group A) – be exposed to two new topics. Then Monday would be used to help students comprehend the material. Tuesday and Wednesday would be a third topic/concept, and then Thursday would be used as a culminating activity that ties the three topics together. Then the weekend would restart the pattern.
Full remote learning
Frankly, I will not change much of what is above if we move to full remote learning. I am sure that we will use some of our time for synchronous zoom sessions, and I will do the same things during those times. The only real modification is that I am looking for take-home labs where students can experience science with the things they have at home. I was pretty successful doing this during the Spring semester and think that I can make this work. One thought on take-home labs is that some science teachers may want to reconfigure their curriculum in a way that those topics that are easier to develop take-home labs would be taught first with the hopes that later in the year you will have students back in your school.
Even if we return to a 5-day a week schedule, things will not be the same. There will be less class time due to cleaning procedures, etc. I still won’t use any class time for information transfer, but use the time for deeper cognitive tasks and relationship building. I will continue to teach via a Flipped-Mastery model, but I will have more face-to-face time to support students with the more difficult cognitive tasks.
Regardless of what mode we end up on, I see the priority of the year is for me to get to know my students. The pandemic has been hard on all of us, and for some students, this has been even harder than we can imagine. So my first few days of class time will all be about getting to know my students, them getting to know me, and also them getting to know each other. I will do this in the context of learning science, but I will intentionally build in times to connect with students via some getting to know each other activities, and daily check-ins.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Twitter @jonbergmann