In June, when we received the go-ahead to offered eCampusLive Biology, I wondered how my views on assessment would evolve. Would paper & pencil assessments still be the hallmark of success or were other means waiting for their "day to shine?" It turns out change was waiting for its inevitable introduction.
I'd volunteered as part of a strategy group at my school to with Tom Schimmer to integrate formative assessment. I was immediately taken with many ideas, after just a few sessions. Like food for thought, assessment changes segued naturally with the ongoing experimentation in my flipped classroom. The flipped format provided the time needed to consider formatively assess strategies to apply and review afterward. A bit like playing with dominos, a change to one area inevitably led to a change in another.
First, we began working with Google Forms. The entire class had fun with formative group quizzes and analyzing the results. Using anonymous formative assessment turned out to be so useful, we used it to obtain feedback from the class on how to improve the program. Amazingly, one small change - using Google Forms, led to much greater ones. The benefits have been tremendous.
Second, it was time to attempt different assessments strategies. We decided to forgo a traditional paper assessment for Phylum Echinodermata. This time, students researched echinoderms, then completed a starfish dissection presentation. The criteria were similar to many projects that came before: survey and explain external & internal structures, describe how the major body systems are accounted for with the organs present (or absent), and lastly, provide a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" factoid. While we didn't have time to film the entire interview for each team, we do have some short clips of a few interviews to share. One thing about Biology -- students love to roll up their sleeves, snap on their gloves, and dive into a dissection =:}
Dissection 1 - A Tour with Team Ninja hey - they chose the name ;)
Dissection 2 - "Diving in" with Team Second Row
After surveying my class, I learned they love creating models and using them as a basis for creative projects. In the last week, I've received models constructed from play dough, plasticine, paper, and cake. The care, thought, and attention students place into creating their renditions is amazing. With each model, students submitted reports typed on paper, via Google Docs, on video, and even by podcast. As we complete our fourth month, their work continues to amaze. Project-based learning is a tremendous medium for learning, and I'm very encouraged by the positive feedback received. eCampusLive-Biology 12 is next on the docket.
As the course moved on, I noticed one of my students responded very well to learning during our labs dissections. It was readily apparent he enjoyed hands-on work, having a definite kinaesthetic learning style. Addressing student learning style and choice is an area I wanted to investigate and study. An opportunity to provide individualized learning arose, so I jumped at the opportunity. My student was more than willing to have a dissection chat and discuss the annelid body systems and their importance. It was a great experience. I'll be doing much more of this in the future, not only with students, but senior students buddying up with junior students as well. Below is the YouTube video of our chat together = }
Having fun with Biology 12 Students
When I'm not teaching Biology 11, evolution and surveying all life on Earth, I get a chance to practice a bit of Pre-Med and study biochemistry, cells, and best of all, the human body systems. What is the best way to learn? Well, sometimes, it's best to sit back and enjoy student suggestions, like this video pick of the day on YouTube
"What does the Spleen Do?"
On days like this, I love my job =}
How do students create their own notes in a digital classroom? It's an interesting question. Throughout the course, students have created digital notes, some have completed slideshow notes, while others prefer not to take notes at all, instead watching course videos as needs be.
It is difficult to say which note-taking style has been most effective. However, one set of notes stands out. By watching the course videos, one student created the magnificent notes shown below.
Looking to the future, will students use a stylus and create notes by hand digitally? I wonder. It's something that can be completed now with tablets. Colour notes for every student? Sounds like a plan with extra benefits.
Four months into our flipped class, I thought it was time to formalize things a bit and get some detailed student feedback. I used Google Forms to create an anonymous survey, and shared a shortened web-link with them. Students took the survey on iPhones, iPads, laptops, iPod Touches, Android phones, Android tablets, and more. Then, I discussed the results with the class. Students were quite interested and on board with the entire experience. It was a tremendous experience that I would recommend to any instructor looking to reflect on and improve their practice.
Results of the Google Forms Survey
In eCampusLive Part 3, I reflect on successes, challenges, and my wish-list in teaching a flipped classroom within a "bring your own device or technology" approach. In addition to discussing available technology and possible ways to bridge the "digital divide," I also discuss bandwidth and its vital importance in providing access in the course. eCampusLive uses a Moodle environment as a gateway to all of our resources - web, video, animations, documents, project rubrics, Google calendar and more.
Video - eCampusLive Part 3
Flipped classroom teaching in a project-based learning context is truly amazing, and I'm glad to share my insights and perhaps help mentor teachers as they consider 21st century teaching and learning methods.
As ever, I welcome your comments & feedback.
In part two of reflections about eCampusLive, my goal is to analyze how a love of technology and its application in a flipped biology 11 classroom have come to fruition, the challenges we've experienced, and the inevitable mis-steps. I focus on how student projects, attitudes, and my own teaching have evolved and how expression has flowered in a variety of formats and situations. Critically, I discuss motivation, students and my own, four months into a new course format. And finally, an examination on measuring student achievement with rubrics and anecdotes rounds out my post.
Video link to Reflections Part 2 - Where are We Now
As ever, I welcome your comments.
Welcome to the eCampusLive blog. I'm Jerry Bleecker. I teach Biology, Science, Information Technology, Computer Arts, and more. It's an exciting year to share our experiences with our flipped classroom endeavour.