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Teachers: Involve parents in the flipped classroom, too

At the beginning of each semester I spend time speaking to my students about what the flipped classroom is: a significant change over the way students have previously been taught. As a result, I explain what the benefits of the flipped classroom are, what an average day will look like, and how students will be assessed, among many other things.

I work hard to paint a positive picture to get students on my side. And change can be scary! I explain that students will have less homework than they have ever had in a math class, how they will not be forced to listen to their teacher lecture for the majority of class, and how classroom time will be spent working with others and being active in their learning. I give the flipped class a hard sell – I want students to be excited about doing things they have never done before in a math classroom. And there are always a few things that shock them:

“We get to use our cell phones?”

Absolutely!

For more news about flipped learning, see:

New developments enhance school video use

How TED-Ed is helping to amplify instruction

The truth about flipped learning

How to make videos your students will love

“We move at our own pace in class?”

That’s right!

“We’re encouraged to talk in class?”

You bet!

This year marks my second year as a flipped classroom teacher. Now that my lesson videos are already created, I’m excited to focus on the finer points in my classroom. I spent significant effort explaining the flipped classroom to my students last year, so I decided that this year, I would educate their parents as well.

I’ve done the typical newsletters and mass eMails to parents in the past, but decided that since I’m using video to teach students, I might as well do the same thing for their parents. So that’s exactly what I did, but with a little twist. I created a video that held parents’ attention and gave them the information they wanted. With the help of TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, I embedded buttons (known as hotlinks) in my videos to give the viewer complete control and navigate to the topics that they wanted to see first. The feedback from parents was extremely positive; not only were they happy to be informed of what was occurring in class, they were also impressed with the way technology was being used to support their child’s learning.

Today more than ever, teachers need parents on their side. Teachers of all ages, all subjects, all grades, flipped or not, are doing amazing work. We are constantly reinventing our practice, incorporating technology, and spending our own time looking for ways to improve. Why not let parents know about this? In my video I provided parents with a link to my blog and Twitter feed. I want parents to see that this is more than just a job to me–it has become a passion.

Over the past 200 years, the teaching model hasn’t really changed. Since the first schools were created, teachers have stood at the front of the classroom and lectured. Today we’re in the beginning of a fundamental shift in education that will greatly benefit students by using the latest and greatest technology that’s available in our classrooms. Not only does this shift show parents that we’re putting in the effort needed to educate their children, it also creates an environment where students can be relaxed, learn at their own pace, and receive more individual attention than ever before.

Graham Johnson is a math teacher at Okanagan Mission Secondary in Kelowna, British Columbia. You can learn more about his flipped classroom at www.mathjohnson.com.

For more news about flipped learning, see:

New developments enhance school video use

How TED-Ed is helping to amplify instruction

The truth about flipped learning

How to make videos your students will love

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