Flipped learning and another element empowers students at Putnam High School.

GUEST COLUMN | by Tom Driscoll

Five Beaches historyWhen I began my position as a social studies teacher at Putnam High School in Putnam, Conn. in Fall 2011, I realized over the course of the semester that my students were failing to fully comprehend important concepts or develop essential academic skills. Regardless of the new strategies I implemented, most students were not able to make the progress I expected of them. During that time, I discovered the Flipped Learning method, an approach that instantly piqued my interest. I implemented a basic version of Flipped Learning during the Spring, one in which I created instructional videos and uploaded them to my Flipped History Videos YouTube Channel.

Now, I have more opportunities to listen to what the students want and need, and I can provide it for them.

Despite some advantages to this approach, many students continued to fall behind while others were learning the content on a superficial level. Recognizing the need for more than shifting lectures to video, I researched additional teaching methods and implemented Flipped Mastery (Flipped Learning combined with mastery learning), an approach that requires students to move through content at their own pace and demonstrate an understanding of the content or skill before moving on. I provided the materials, tools and support, while the students set goals and managed their own time.

The individualization and ability to work at their own pace gave students responsibility and ownership of their learning, which was not previously afforded in a traditional educational setting. To augment the new learning model, I utilized a learning platform that encouraged collaboration and communication inside and outside of the classroom.

I connected with the team at EDUonGo after reading about their learning platform on the Flipped Learning Ning and was interested in incorporating it in my classroom. The platform offered an intuitive, simple and personalized interface, which delivered the necessary components to allow me to build the precise learning environment I wanted.

The incorporation of interactive videos, apps and embedded Google docs enhanced collaboration and increased students’ ownership of their learning.

I have seen the quality of my students’ work dramatically improve due to Flipped Learning and the interactive learning platform from EDUonGo. Specifically, 83 percent of students reported that their learning was more active and experiential, and 76 percent stated that they had more autonomy in how they demonstrated their learning of key skills and concepts (Click Here for the Complete Study).

At this point, it’s not just about a video at home and homework at school. Incorporating Flipped Learning and EDUonGo enabled me to transition most of the direct instruction online so that I can spend more time with my students and facilitate higher-level thinking and problem solving. Now, I have more opportunities to listen to what the students want and need, and I can provide it for them, resulting in a better teacher-student relationship, and authentic, subject-area mastery.

Tom Driscoll is a technology integration specialist and high school social studies teacher in Connecticut (residing in Coventry, RI). He has implemented Flipped Learning in his courses since 2011 and regularly conducts professional development workshops regarding effective and innovative uses of instructional technology. In 2012, Tom authored a study while completing his MA program at Columbia University called “Flipped Learning and Democratic Education.” He has also authored chapters for three books on instructional technology, including Flipping 2.0 and a contributing chapter to Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams follow-up to Flip Your Classroom (expected Spring 2014). Write to: thdriscoll@gmail.com