I have been privileged to share about the Flipped Classroom all over the world. I had the chance to meet Stefan van der Weide while Aaron Sams and I did some workshops in the Netherlands. Enjoy his story.
My name is Stefan van der Weide and I’m a teacher in social studies at Stad & Esch. The school is situated in Meppel, the Netherlands. I mainly teach to kids in the age of 14 to 16 years old. Every kid has his/hers own MacBook. And this is my story about the flipped classroom.
Reason to flip
In 2008 my school decided the wanted to start with a laptop for every student. This already implied a major change. In the Netherlands there is a strong position for publishers of educational books. In Dutch most teachers refer to them as ‘method’, because the book will deliver a full program for an entire school year. My schools concept: ditch the books and go digital. Every teacher was given a MacBook and we started introducing the MacBooks in the first year of our school (kids age ±12 years old). In first we used a combination of computer and books. You can’t expect teachers to replace everything in a couple of months, so time for the transition was given. A jump forward to 2010. Students complained about teachers not using there Macs enough. So I thought: ‘At least I’ll give them the opportunity to view the presentations again’. I used our digital school environment (Teletop, comparable to, for example, Blackboard) to give students access to the presentation. First as pdf-s but my students made a good point: ‘I can’t remember what your explanation was when I am viewing the presentation’. Well, what can you do? You want the best for your students, so I started recording my presentations. The first one was absolutely horrible as I struggled with the text and the syncing of sound and image. So what do you do when you are confronted with a problem these days? You turn to Google. I quickly figured out the technical side of it. But I also found something else: a way of teaching called ‘the flipped classroom’. Put it in my ‘read later list’. I kept recording my presentations and quickly had a huge database of videos on YouTube. Problems during lessons hinted me that I had to change something. Students didn’t pay any attention when I was explaining material to them. Instead of getting angry, I asked them why they didn’t pay attention and started talking to classmates. Answer: why should I listen if I can watch the explanation anytime I want? They were 100% right. But since it was already the end of the school year I didn’t change it for the last couple of weeks.
Flipping my class
During the summer holiday I finally reopened my ‘read later list’. I started reading the website and searched more about it on Google: the flipped classroom. It was ‘love at first sight’. Organizing the flip took a lot of holidaytime but I couldn’t resist. Introducing the flipped class to my students was easy. They picked up the concept with amazing ease. I had made an educated guess on the number of different levels I would encounter in my lessons. Three levels would cover it, I thought. And it looked that way for about a month. But the pace and the level of understanding became more diverse every lesson. In fact every student has his of hers own pace and level of comprehension. Not to mention all the different styles in which students learn. I had to do something and turned to Twitter for help. Other Dutch flippers pointed me towards the flipped mastery system. It seemed to make a lot of sense. So approached it the same way I approached making the videos: just do it. Students had a lot of questions when I introduced all sorts of assessments and even protested when I gave them more (and more difficult) assignments at different levels. Like children do, they quickly adapted and mastered the mastery system. It also came with some added bonuses: higher motivation, using their creativity more and seeing a lot of kids being passionate about the way they learned. Believe, things go wrong all the time and there’s still lots of things that need improvement, but we (no more ‘I’) will solve them when we encounter them. And how about your grades? Well, the are up by an average of 10%. Motivation even more than that. I encourage my students frequently to give their opinion about the classes, assignments and assessments.
If there’s any advise to be given it’s this:
- Just do it, if you don’t start you’ll be stuck forever
- Get your kids involved, use their technological knowhow
- Get colleagues involved.
And enjoy teaching, because your students will need you more than ever.