Check out an awesome roller coaster one group made out of pipe insulator, masking tape, and a marble:
During the “Explore” phase, I noticed something interesting and also very encouraging. Because every single outcome (unpacked standard) was essentially “locked” into an inquiry learning cycle this year, unlike at the beginning of the year, my students appeared to be attacking the problem with an incredible sense of confidence and strength. A year of inquiry had, I hope, rubbed off on them, and observing them test and re-test the different metals, monitor their produced voltage, and explore a myriad of other intricacies I had not even hypothesized they would was extremely rewarding. Within a half-an-hour, students had not only figured out the direction of electron flow, respective charge of the anode and cathode, and how to determine cell voltage (at standard conditions), but more importantly, had fully construct the knowledge I had planned on delivering during the “Flip” phase. Instead of holding out, and requiring that they view the instructional screencast, I decided to test their constructed knowledge via a game of “Battery Relay.” I had each lab group report to the chalk board and with a chart of standard reduction potentials in hand, yelled out two different metals, and challenged each group to draw a battery. Randomly I would yell “switch” or “rotate” which would signal another group member to continue from where the other left off in the diagram.
Moral of the story, inquiry pays off, and although I had an elaborate plan of “filling in the gaps” via and instructional video, with a little time, space and guidance, students just might construct that knowledge on their own. Check out a video clip of our relay race below:
Having a large surface on their desk to perform and create problems seemed like a perfect way to check for understanding and empower students to demonstrate critical thinking. Moreover, using their camera phone/video camera, groups could easily “hover” above the desk and record quick tutorials, bypassing the need for screencasting and tablet technology, iPads, etc. Despite the obvious benefits, my administration did not approve the painting of our classroom desk tops.
In search of a cheaper and less-permanent substitute, I stumbled across Self Adhesive Dry Erase Material. It is working like a charm! I purchased a few rolls, and measured out sheets that stick to the top of our classroom desks. The sheets can be removed at the end of the school-year, and for now, appear to work as well, or better than, a traditional whiteboard. See below for a video of a student in my AP Chemistry class working through a problem “on her desk” at the conclusion of a learning cycle on atomic structure:
So why is this post titled “Sub Videos”? When I first began merging tablet and screencasting technologies to create instructional video, one of my favorite applications was for sub assignments. I would simply record myself modeling a few problems for students…have the sub play those videos…have the students solve some related problems…have the sub play solutions to those videos, etc. It worked like a charm (at least I thought…). See example video below:
Despite initial “success”, after presenting at CUE in Palm Springs last month, something struck me. I was in the middle of my standard discussion about Blooms Taxonomy, and how the true “flip” does not involve homework with lecture, but intentionally matches the “community” (classroom) with learning activities appropriate for the community (higher end Blooms). Conversely, matching the “individual” (outside of class time) with learning activities appropriate for that space (lower end Blooms). See image below:
While giving that presentation, I realized that my students were back in San Francisco, with a substitute, watching videos IN THEIR COMMUNITY SPACE (classroom) of me solving problems as I would IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL SPACE! Because my students were all together, I was missing an opportunity to use video as an inquiry tool, and instead, using it as I normally would on the back end of an inquiry cycle, as a tool delivery medium. So, the last few times I have missed class since CUE (happens often given the arrival of my second child!), I have been experimenting with using video in a way that values the community, promotes inquiry, and models how I normally would carry out class if I was there. Rather than solve problems, I have been presenting open ended scenarios for students, and given a set of prompting questions, instructing the sub to have students discuss possible solutions to the scenario. Often, I have coupled the situation with follow up videos that provide further explanation, but NOT UNTIL the initial inquiry scenario is presented. Below are a few examples:
Pre Video Question: Does Bromothymol change color in an acidic or basic environment? Justify by writing a chemical reaction to describe the process.
Pre Video Question: Can you explain this observation using what you know about ideal gas behavior?