The flipped classroom: using hackpad for non-contact, high-input tuition


There has been a lot written recently about the concept of the flipped classroom. It makes good sense, now that it's so easy and thetechnologyso ubiquitous, to get pupils to do more of the spadework at home whilst taught lessons are given over to refinements. Long periods of time given over to watching audio-visual resources in class, or to carrying out other time-consuming tasks with limited opportunity for teacher input need no longer occur (I've always raised an eyebrow, anyway, at teachers who devote large amounts of lesson time to silent reading - what a waste of their expertise...!)

But there is another potentially powerful aspect to the concept of the flipped classroom, one which I don't think yet has been given enough attention by educators. Not only can pupils better perform low-teacher-input tasks at home, but there is also the potential for them to better perform high-teacher-input tasks. Applications like Hackpad, RealtimeBoard and GoogleDocs allow formeaningfuland very productive one-on-one help to be given to pupils when they are away from the classroom.

My little bunch of U6th geographers need this kind of high-input, one-on-one help. This year's examinations require them to write essays, though they all find this very difficult. Really they need me standing over them, feeding them ideas, advising them on planning and helping them marshal their thoughts on paper. But I amconsciousthat by setting them too many in-class essays I would eating into valuable teaching time and endangering my ability to get through the syllabus content. In addition, one-to-one tuition in the traditional classroom setting is difficult to achieve (the normal model is that pupils in a class are asked to workquietlyon something and then called out one at a time to the teacher's desk for their allocated dose of personal attention). This is never entirely satisfactory, not least because conversations had with pupils in this way are in no way private and because there is usually some disruption to the flow of teaching to allow such meetings to take place.

But by making use of real-time online collaboration applications these problems are removed. I opted to try using Hackpad to help my U6th geographers better compose their essays. Taking a leaf out of @dajbelshaw's 'Silent Writing Collective'I agreed with my set that we'd meet online at 8pm on Sunday night for an essay writing session. It worked a treat:
  • they all turned up - the commitment of meeting online, provided the added level of commitment some of the more recalcitrant needed to get on with the job
  • we planned the essay together online and I was able to involve them all in coming up with ideas for paragraphs
  • they set off writing and as they did so I was able to interject and get them to look back at sentences orparagraphI thought they could improve
  • I could see when someone was stuck and chivvy them along by using the usual tools from the arsenal of teacher questioning techniques (there is a message utility in Hackpad)
The advantages were significant - and I was able to give a lot more direct feedbackfocusedon individuals than I would have ever been able to by using the old method of peering over their shoulders in the classroom.

We'll be online again at the same time next Sunday evening...



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