Doing the Flip, or Reversing the Classroom

I wrote a rather long (13 pages) memo to the Admin Team after attending the NAIS Annual conference in February.  The main focus was on the talk given by Salman Khan of Khan Academy.  For those of you who weren’t there, this TED talk video is a good approximate of his NAIS talk:

I’m quite interested in the idea of flipping or reversing the classroom, in that lectures or content delivery is done at home via the Internet, and classroom time is maximized to enhance person-to-person communication and collaboration.  I think this could be a win-win situation, with both the content delivery being improved, and the classroom experience becoming more authentic.

However, I don’t think this will happen all by itself.  I’m almost jealous of the East Coast schools that tried flipping this winter simply because they had so many snow days.  It was a great reason to try, and it appears that some of the “emergency measures” have led to changes long after the school days ended.

To enable teachers to become content creators and publishers (on their own, from home if need be), the tools are going to change.  I rather like Haiku as a possible tool for this, and we’re also thinking about replacing our close to end-of-life Avervision Visualizers with Mimio document cameras, in part because they run all images through the teachers laptop, making it that much easier to capture images and materials to be put online.  This could make flipping easier.

Spring break has begun, and the wife and kids just took off for Heathrow.  I have three days at school next week, and then I’m off to visit Oregon as well.

School Auctions, and Kids on Bikes

Just completed another school auction last night.  It’s always fun to bicycle home at 2 a.m. in London.  The gates into Regents Park, where we live, were locked, but I’m able to take the sidewalk around them to get to the Inner Circle.

The auction went really smoothly last night.  The organization was done really well.  Two years ago we researched auction software packages, and there were one or more good options, but neither could support UK currency and other things unique to our location (such as very complicated tax receipts).  Thus, our custom FileMaker database for auctions (and our in-house developer) swung into to action once again and did well.

Another tech step forward was a much broader use of hand held wireless technology for bidding.  In the last auction, the super silent part was done via ID cards inserted into basic hand-helds that allowed everyone to enter a lot number and bid, with the lots appearing on screens with the increasing bids being shown.  Last night it was taken to the next step, with ALL lots (on tables, on silent, on super silent, and for a end-of-evening pledge) being done via the wireless hand-helds, and it worked well.  We had a slight data alignment glitch at the very end of the evening on some of the super silent items, but the team hired in with the hand held helped us resolve it in about 15 minutes.

The last item pledge worked particularly well, because contributors names (but not amounts) rolled up all the screens as the final “group participation” pledge took place.  Nicely done.

Tired this morning, but very happy to see both of our kids go out cycling on their own on the Inner Circle in Regents Park.  We are in this VERY WEIRD time as our kids are becoming more independent in their weekends, doing things on their own and with friends.  This true “growing up” phase could be the strangest thing we’ve experienced so far as parents, but I was really proud how my daughter learned how to use Presta valves and pumped up her own tires this morning, thank you very much.

If I can have a son and a daughter who are confident with doing schoolwork and mechanical things with their hands, I will be a happy guy.

Eve's Specialized Dolce 24

Design Thinking

I had two good meetings today with faculty members “leading the way” in Design Thinking.

In one case, we have a 2D Laser cutter being used to bring MS Science students’ designs to life (boxes, tea lights, three dimensional folded objects).  Our next move is to improve their software (to Autocad, and perhaps Autocad Inventor) and to think about 3D printers.

In the next case, we have students doing architecture work, doing drawings and drafting by hand, using Sketch-Up, building models and designs.  In this class, for next year, the plan is to increase the hand drawings and possibly decrease the Sketch-Up, because the imagination of the students is beyond the limits of the software– and having as few of limits as possible is the goal.

In another case, we have digital electronics, with both real and digital electronics work taking place.  This is in addition to a First Robotics program (robot recently shipped off) and a First Lego League that went to Nationals this year.

The development of our 1200 sq. foot Design Center has played a role in each of these, and it’s a heavily scheduled space this year.  It’s also the home of the HS yearbook, so there’s always a lot going on there.  The crank-up multiple height tables (for both seated and standing work) are working out well, as are the 18 24 inch iMacs around the periphery of the room.  We just ordered an HP A3 color copier, scanner and printer for the Design Center.

Design thinking– moving forward.

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