I have been working with a project-based learning school for the last year. I have learned so much from the teachers, administration, and students. They consistently challenge me to reconsider my assumptions and reorient myself in the learning process. They have flipped their classrooms into spaces in which students are mentored through the learning process and encouraged to develop content knowledge in an interdisciplinary setting within a project. However, much of what I see is focused on science, math, and construction. I have a hard time locating and actively position my literary focuses within the student’s authentic development of products. I recently found a great blog on how one English teacher flipped his classroom to create space for authenticity and engagement.
Brian Sztabnik noticed the project-based learning approach gaining speed and support in other content fields. He wondered, as have I many times, how to take those same concepts and work them into the English language arts classroom. This flipping of the classroom, in which student use class time to engage in active projects and use the teacher as a resource, seemed to offer great possibilities.
He writes, “But what does flipping look like in an English or reading classroom? This question troubled me because so much had been written about its use in math and science but so little attention was paid to the language arts. In many English and reading classes, students focus on one common text (like a novel) and take notes, complete worksheets, or do group work. The reading occurs at home, far away from the assistance of a teacher. The trouble is, there is no way to know for sure whether students are actually reading, let alone enjoying the experience, nor any chance to help them when they struggle.”
Brian goes on to explain that he wanted to support the students in engaging the novels in an authentic ways that engaged them in the process of enjoying reading.
Brian writes, “My flip, which I first explored two years ago, did all of these things, and created a contagious atmosphere of passionate readers. Its two cornerstones are choice and blogs. This approach has completely changed the way I teach reading, with my students repeatedly saying that it was the best and most important unit of the year.”
As I read the blogs of others who are exploring reading and writing supports for students, so much of the support is based on the teacher and student relationship. Many strategies are best worked through in a one-on-one setting with the teacher and student engaging in vulnerable and yet purposeful ways. I have been thinking about how our classrooms are allowing us or hindering us from supporting students in developing as independent and confident readers and writers.
Part of supporting our students in reading and writing is developing our own type of the flipped classroom. An environment that allows time for teachers and students to develop rich relationships focused on students achieving necessary academic goals.
To learn more about Brian’s flipped classroom check out his article on Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flip-ela-class-with-blogs-brian-sztabnik
How can you flip or have you already flipped your classroom?