Month 02 MLR Entry

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Month 2 – Multiple Learning Theory Applications

After evaluating your professional environment, what area(s) of interest have you focused on for your Action Research Capstone project?

I have decided to focus my Action Research Capstone project on the flipped classroom model. In this paradigm for classroom management, students view lecture content at home (as videos or podcasts, for example) and then complete more demanding work in class. In this way, teachers can answer questions and provide feedback to students in the classroom.

Why have you chosen this direction?

I teach science and math in a private high school where students are routinely overextended. They are involved in sports, extra curricular activities, outside tutoring, jobs, internships and family obligations. Combine this with the rigors of the six other courses in which my students are enrolled. I find that they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that we, their teachers, expect them to complete outside of class. Even my most motivated students occasionally come to class and tell me that they simply did not have time to finish the homework I assigned. This makes me worry about the work that students DO complete. I question whether they take the time necessary to really think through assignments, or if they simply fill in answers mechanically and then rely on my subsequent explanation of the work.

This concern has weighed particularly heavily on me lately, as my school recently switched to a block schedule, ultimately cutting our teaching time by 20 minutes each week. Another consequence is that each class only meets two to three times a week. It has been challenging to rework curriculum to accommodate this schedule—especially in my Advanced Placement Biology class, which must cover a daunting volume of material, and complete a series of lab exercises–any one of which can easily outlast a single class block.

Given these time constraints, I am increasingly aware of the need to make every moment of class time count for my students. If they do not complete and understand the homework that I assign in between class meetings, then class time is ultimately used to correct that. It is my hope that running a classroom based at least loosely on the flipped classroom model will open up class time for my students to spend it productively.

Describe your target audience. How do you anticipate them playing a role in ensuring that your results will make a difference in your environment?

My target audience is my students. The success of my project will depend significantly upon the readiness with which they embrace the flipped classroom. I will rely upon them to complete their homework assignments attentively, and then to make the most of the activities we are able to complete together in class.

You should have started researching the current literature surrounding your topic, please describe any challenges/difficulties you are having with this process and/or any helpful hints/tips that you have discovered to make this process easier.

My biggest concern is the relative scarcity of peer-reviewed literature written about the flipped classroom model. The idea of flipped classrooms is still relatively new, having only been developed by its creators, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, in 2007. Articles are scarce, though there is a growing collection of blogs, podcasts and tweets devoted to the topic. There is also word that Bergmann and Sams plan to publish a book, out this fall.

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