AEA K-12 Online interviewed Carroll High School Physical Science teacher, Angie Emerick, to find out how she blends her classroom instruction.
Angie, What courses or content are you blending?
I am blending/flipping my Physical Science classes. Physical science is a required course for all freshmen.
What are some considerations you use to determine if the instruction should be face-to-face or online?
I try to keep face-to-face lecture instruction to a minimum. In fact, this year I’m hoping to do more flipped learning by recording my direct instruction and then providing the students with the video. In the videos, I give explanations and information that the students will need for their work in class and test over it. So far, I have used a combination of adding audio to SlideRocket slideshows of me giving explanations and example problems being worked out on my Smartboard. I try to keep the videos less than 15 minutes. Students watch the videos at home. To make them more accountable for watching the video, they need to either take notes or be prepared for an activity or quiz the next day. I am hoping this allows me more time to work with students as they complete physical science labs or solve problems. In my classroom, I have students work in small groups while I rotate from group to group to work with them.
View one of Angie’s videos.
What do students’ experience in the face-to-face portion of your instruction? What do students’ experience in the online portion of your instruction?
When my students are online, they are building background information, by watching my videos or reading through the online curriculum from AEA K-12 Online (formerly Resource Iowa). They also complete simulations online. Some of my favorite simulations are from pHet (phet.colorado.edu). These simulations are great because they allow students to work with something they possibly wouldn’t be able to do in class. One of their favorites is the SkatePark Ramp simulation. In this simulation, they can decide the shape of the ramp, the amount of friction, the size/mass of the object on the skateboard, and gravity by placing their ramp on Earth, Jupiter, or the moon.
When my students are with me face-to-face we spend most of our time working on labs, activities, having discussions, and solving problems.
What tools do you use for the online portion of your blended instruction?
I wouldn’t be able to function in my blended/flipped environments without Schoology, ITSI, and moodle.k12.ia.us.
I use Schoology to assign materials to students, provide links to online resources, and test online. Schoology helps me keep my classes organized and manageable.
I also use Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry (ITSI). (ITSI) is a great resource that anyone can use. It is a free portal-based source for activities using models and probes for all grades 3-12. ITSI includes customizable activities in the areas of engineering, life science, earth & space science, biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Before finding this resource, using probeware (ex. motion sensors, digital thermometers, force sensors) intimidated me. Using these activities makes it so easy to do. The customization feature is also nice because I can make the activities fit my students and classroom easily. More information is available at concord.org/itsi or if you are ready to get started itsi.portal.concord.org to sign up.
AEA K-12 Online’s Moodle hosting services (formerly known as Resource Iowa) is a resource that is available to everyone through AEA K-12 Online. It is a learning management system where I can access the curriculum that I have developed and house my courses for students to use.
How has blending your instruction benefited your students?
I’ve seen move interaction and engagement in my students since changing to the blended instruction. Kids are all about computers and technology now. This puts the class in a format they are familiar and comfortable with. I have also seen an increase in student achievement. I rarely have a student fail my class. I do my best to create an environment in which students aren’t afraid to try and are willing to make a mistake in front of me and their classmates. I want them to learn to work together, make mistakes together, learn from those mistakes, and become better for experiencing them. Furthermore, in Carroll, we give Iowa Assessments. These standardized test scores are continuing to improve each year.
Any additional information you would like to share.
Both blending and flipping are a lot of work. They also take most teachers out of their comfort zone. I was one who liked to do the same thing all the time every year. I liked the control and organization of it. I have to say it was a big step to let go of that, but it was really worth it. I would never go back to “traditional teaching”. I love being a part of my students’ learning and learning right along with them. The relationships you get the opportunity to build when you get out of the front of the classroom are amazing. If you are thinking about changing what you are doing, it is OK to be scared. It is important to have the support of your administration and educate parents from the beginning. I could not have done this without the support of my administration. They allow me to speak to parents at freshman orientation at the beginning of every school year. This along with a letter home helps make parents aware of how different my class will be from day one.