flipped teaching sharing – recap and thoughts

had the chance to attend a 学思达翻转教学讲座 held at pei chun 培群小学 yesterday. 总算有机会一睹叶丙成老师的个人风采。
as i have heard how impressed some teachers were in the sessions they’ve attended last year, i thought it’ll be good for me to do a recap of what i heard. cos as effective presenter/teacher, we do update/morph our sharing content from time to time.

for a start, the title of the talk may be misleading for audience who has prior knowledge of flipped learning, or flipped classroom. as an audience, the workshop appears to be 学思达教学讲座。the “翻转” part appears to adopt a different set of ideals from this.

as i have not had the chance to step into a taiwan classroom, the beginning part of the talk lent me a quick overview of taiwan’s classrooms. i was quite surprised to hear that an extremely high % of classroom adopts highly teacher-centered approach from a pedagogical perspective. if so, the 学思达 approach would definitely be refreshing from a student’s perspective, as they now had chance to engage in active participation, instead of listening and falling asleep.

two basic arguments for engaging students’ in activities and reducing listening were presented: 1. the Learning Pyramid, 2. speed of reading outstrips speed of narration (thus listening) by a few folds. however, it is interesting to note that the National Training Laboratories, commonly credited as the source, refuted claim that the diagram was from them (ref 1, ref 2). and of course, we could always find arguments against the learning pyramid too.

the underlying philosophy of 学思达 approach remains as the teacher is the expert, the know-all. as a result, lesson preparation for 学思达 approach is highly taxing on the teacher (but not impossible even for a 1-man team as 叶丙成老师 has proven). this may be partly due to the fact that 学思达 approach believes that the teacher has to source as much relevant/useful information for students as possible so that their classroom activities would be meaningful.

学思达 approach engages students’ in active participation through discussions to find answers, and later to engage in competitive presentations. marks, assigned to groups, are used as the primary motivator. #iwonder how would things turn out if marks, as an emphasis due to the competitive element, are later removed. perhaps it could still work cos in 3-6 mths’ time, students should be attracted by the learning from the highly engaging lessons.

there is a brief recap of the history of flipped classrooms, how Khan Academy comes about, and how Taiwan, following Khan’s footsteps, have adopted the ideas 2 years ago. but it is not obvious to me how this part is linked, or relevant to 学思达 approach. for the after-class component in “翻转”, 学思达 does not advocate the use of videos; it probably falls back to the textbooks(?), and the highly detailed and customised 讲义 created by the teacher.

学思达 is good if your classroom/teaching meets the following criteria:
1. you used mainly teacher-centered (i speak, u listen; i ask, u answer; otherwise quiet) pedagogy.
2. your students are mainly motivated by marks (not learning, yet.)
3. you would like to explore more grouping strategies (beyond think-pair-share, convenient grouping)

学思达 probably wont be too attractive to you if:
1. you are comfortable and effective in facilitating group work/cooperative learning/collaborative learning
2. you want to shift away from spoon-feeding your students (not necessarily just in class)
3. you want students to be(come) the creator/curator of knowledge

will need to find time to look at the books, and return to update more ideas later (: