I have been in school for… forever. At first I was a student, then a teacher, then a teacher of teachers… I cannot even count how many hours I have spent in the classroom as a student listening to a teacher retelling me the information from the textbook, instead of answering our questions or challenging us to think outside of the box. Unfortunately, when I became a teacher and started teaching myself I became guilty of it… However, this vicious circle has to be broken at some point. For me it happened gradually. At first I started using clickers – or personal response systems… Then I realized that my students learned more from the discussion than from me retelling the textbook information (plus today one can find amazing lectures online…). Then I started thinking about what was going to happen if my students were to read the textbook (or watch a video or do some computer simulation at home) and then we will use a class time discussing interesting questions and figuring out where the students have difficulties… I of course was influenced by Khan Academy who uses modern technology to change how students learn… This “flipping” of the spaces where students learn more basic information and where they can apply it to understand more complex things is called… A FLIPPED CLASSROOM. I didn’t invent it, but I do think it is the future. I think a flipped classroom requires teachers to assume different roles – it is more challenging for the teachers (it is easier to retell the things you know instead of thinking how to answer more difficult questions), but it is so much more exciting… I think of Peer Instruction by Eric Mazur as an example of Flipped Classroom – it is often called Just In Time Teaching (JITT). This is the pedagogy of the future. I do think that the old fashioned lectures will soon go away… Unlike 1000 years ago, today the students can get easy access to information and they need a teacher not to lecture them, but to challenge them, to help them learn how to think about ideas, to help them apply the information they learned at home to novel situations… This is going to be a challenge, but it is an exciting challenge to take on ourselves. I hope our database of resources for clickers will help teachers to engage students in exciting mathematics and science learning in the classroom and at home.
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