Thursday, March 8, 2012

Doing the Flip: A Flipped Biology Classroom

The last session I attended on Thursday was one presented by Chris Gales and James Workman from Downers Grove South High School.  They decided to flip their biology classrooms in August for this school year.  They settled on Camtasia to do screencasts for their students which they have them watch 2 or 3 times a week.  They don't have a 1 to 1 program but almost all their students have computer access.  They found that in the first quarter alone that they were able to do 4 more labs that they had always dreamed about doing but never had time for.  They stressed that it takes a lot of time outside of class to make their own screencasts and to rethink what and how they teach topics.  They have a great deal more time in class to work with students individually, conduct short formative assessments based on their screencasts and have learned a lot about technology.  Students can watch a screencast multiple times and take notes at their own pace.  They come to class the next day with questions.  They said that they are able to talk to each student almost every day.
Next year I am hoping to be part of the 1 to 1 program.  I most likely will make some screencasts but also look for things that are already made such as from the Bozeman site and Khan Academy.  They talked about some pitfalls, the time committment, the excitement their students have and they have for the process and how much fun it is to re-invent how they teach.  I am really looking forward to this same opportunity with my AP Biology students next year and having more time in class to implement the inquiry labs that are part of the new AP Biology curriculum.   Lots of great ideas!

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