independent learning

A lot is changing in education – there are radical ideas (abolishing homework) through to the more subtle (replacing chairs with bouncy balls). So why pay attention to the “flipped classroom” movement? The idea of a “flipped classroom” might sound foreign and even a little silly, but as you delve into the paradigm you will find, just as I did, that it has the most drastic effect on learning.

The idea is simple – set the learning work for homework and the traditional homework as classwork. The first reaction you will think of (and get from your students) is: They call it homework for a reason, Sir!” But the reality of it is that the traditional homework, where students reinforce their learning and most of the times complete higher order thinking activities is being done at home, without teacher help or supervision. A flipped classroom seeks to fix this. Rather than spending your time in class on lower order thinking skills (remembering, understanding, etc) and teaching content or concepts, asks your students to read an article or watch a video. Arm them with the knowledge so that when they get to class, you can get to what matters – the activities that target the higher order thinking skills. So how does this theory apply in the real life classroom?

I implemented this over a six month trial in a Year 9 Mathematics class. These kids had, for the most part, given up on learning maths. Marks were on the low and unhelpful behaviour was on the rise… Here was a typical lesson:

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When I analysed the activities that my class consisted of, I found that I spent most of my class time on teaching a concept, for example how to find the missing sides of a compound shape. This was a low order skill when classifying it according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The higher order skills (applying, creating) were set for homework (which was either not complete or copied from the answers).

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So I decided to make the change – from the first day of Term 3, I told students what the plan was: their homework was to watch a video before each lesson. The students were confused and even a little fearful, but the effects were immediate. I was not spending any class time on low order skills – the students were instructed to sit down and start the activity on the board (or the worksheet handed out). There was a few flow on effects from this style of teaching:

  1. The “lessons” were differentiated by default – students could take their own time to watch the video and learn the concept. They could stop, start and replay it at will, and if it took them an extra 20 minutes to do it they weren’t slowing anyone else down!
  2. Behaviour issues were down – students didn’t get upset, embarrassed or confused because they understood the content before the class started and their friends were all at the same starting point walking into the room (regardless of how many times they watched the video!)
  3. Students could revise the lessons before exams (or when they felt like they had to revisit an earlier concept)

In my flipped classroom, this is what my lessons looked like now:

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And this was the new way that Bloom’s Taxonomy was being prioritised:

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It wasn’t all rosy, though:

  • I custom made the videos, which took about 1 hour per lesson – I could use them next year, but the initial investment was high. Had I known about Skwirk at the time I could have used their content instead!
  • Some students still came to class without preparation – once students realised that they weren’t ready for class and the others were contributing freely, the students picked up the slack and watched the videos they missed.

In all, the flipped classroom was a success. I unfortunately was taken off the class at the end of the year, but students actually begged me to make more videos for them!

I highly enjoyed my flipped classroom experience and I hope that you decide to take the leap.

If you would like to know more about my journey or how you can flip your classroom, feel free to contact us to get an online presentation.

Skwirk provides over 18,000 resources that can form the basis of an engaging and meaningful flipped classroom lesson. Take a trial here and see how Skwirk can help your classroom. Keep in touch – we’d love to hear your experiences with flipped lessons!

Studying online can be especially daunting for both students and their parents, especially as every student has their own unique way of learning. That’s why here at Skwirk we try to make online learning as fun and as flexible as possible, so your student has access to every section of each chapter straight away and doesn’t need to unlock particular items to access the content that best helps them learn. And this week, we’ve made it even easier to access every video, game, assessment, animation, quiz and eBook through a brand new layout to suit each and every student’s learning style.

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The Skwirk Student Dashboard View

Every Skwirk chapter is divided up into easy-to-navigate sections for each content type: Read It, Watch It, Play It & Prove It. Do you have a student who is a visual or aural learner? Spending more time in the Watch It section will definitely help here. What about a logical learner or a student who loves learning through games? The Play It section will be where you want to look. By using each of the approaches to learning across all our chapters, your student is more likely to retain the information and have fun doing so.

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1. Read It

Here is where your child or student can access the text content written specifically for their year level by Australian teachers to introduce them to the subject material for that chapter. They will be also able to see pictures along the side which are referenced in the text to visualise the concepts. Have them read this material carefully as it will help form a base to answer questions in the corresponding games and quizzes later in the chapter!

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An example of the Read It section in the new Skwirk (Year 3 Science: Natural Resources)

 2. Watch It

This section is especially helpful for our visual learners – we’ve packed all the images, videos and animations we can find on the topic into one section so you child or student can use more senses in their learning journey. Our animations and videos are especially helpful in providing a quick overview of the chapter and have native Australian speakers and language directed specifically for the year level the content is addressing.

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An example of the new Watch It section (Year 5 English: Language Variation and Change)

3. Play It

Games time! Our games are all designed for children to work through concepts in a fun and engaging way, and in many cases make them forget they are learning at all.

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The new Skwirk Play It section (Year 4 Maths: Times Tables 2-12)

4. Prove It

The Prove It section is where children can directly test their knowledge learnt throughout the other Skwirk sections. It’s also a great tool to affirm what your child has learnt in class earlier that day or as a recap on a particular topic. Here you will find cloze passages, spelling tests, quizzes and assessments. Our Prove It section is designed in a way that students will achieve 100% of their progress points when they get at least 50% of the answers correct, and they can go back and complete the Prove It as many times as they like to improve upon their scores.

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The new Skwirk Prove It section (Year 6 HASS: Global connections)

So, how can your student or child benefit from the new Skwirk?

Apart from being easier to navigate and being able to see their results immediately, the key benefit in using Skwirk is the ability for your child to work through the content in the way that best suits their learning style. Research shows that a child is far more likely to retain information when presented in forms that engage different senses, and so by Reading it, Watching it, Playing it and Proving it you and your child can see exactly what kinds of learning works for them and be able to access this content across the entire Australian curriculum of English, Maths, Science, History and Geography.

Stay tuned for Part 2: What are Skwirk Progress Bars and how do I use them?

You can trial Skwirk for FREE today – click here for a parent trial and here for a teacher trial. Happy Skwirking!