I’ve been putting together a resource guide for professors who are interested (or who have even heard of) flipping their classes. I first became interested in video creation and flipped classrooms because I was trying to meet the needs of a segment of my student population who often miss classes – my athletes, and my adult learners. The spring is such a rough time for athletes, because if they end up in playoff games, they may miss two months of the classes! My adult students often have overwhelming job schedules, and children to care for. I certainly understand that, as a single mom myself.
Once I had the idea of flipping my classroom (and possibly my biology lab) in my head, I moved to the great YouTube for more videos. I learned about www.YouTube.com/edu (YouTube’s channel for educational videos – I’m so checking that out) and scanned it for great Biology videos (and geeked out for a while!) I moved on to Keith Hughes, and his video titled “I Flip, You Flip, We All Flip: Setting Up a Flipped Classroom.” He shared some resources like http://www.knowmia.com, which provide instructional video lessons on a multitude of subjects.
Keith hits on something REALLY important in his video – the content has to be engaging. I know I can tell when teachers (or anyone on video) are being disingenuous. When they are trying too hard. Or, when they are phoning it in – just reading off a screen, or reciting vocabulary words. BORING! I think that’s one of the reasons students like me so much – I never come off as “some boring old scientist, who cares more about cells than students.” I actually really like what I teach, and who I teach, so I guess that makes me lucky!
I’ll do another post at some point about all the tech items I use to make my videos. You can check out my “The Professor’s Technology Toolkit” to see exactly what I have tried, and where I use it.
I called a fellow biologist to get some clarification on wording about DNA, so that I could help my TAs teach their students in a way that makes sense. I want my students to be able to visualize the parts, and the functions. I wanted to make sure I was saying the right thing, but not making it too complicated for non-majors.
Finally just ended the conversation, after the fellow biologist couldn’t make it make sense for non-majors. Biology for non majors is NOT “dumbed down biology.” It’s taking something very complicated, and making it simple. It’s not overwhelming students with junk they don’t need to know. I finally realize why many biologists find it so hard to teach non-majors – – it’s because they don’t ever remember what it was like NOT to know biology. They understand DNA in the context of all their biology knowledge. They don’t get it, when it comes to “the regular folks,” who don’t know the bigger picture.
I take the “If I were explaining it to my grandma” approach. If I can’t explain the parts and functions of DNA to my grandma, then I really can’t explain it well, anyways. I am trying to do the “How Stuff Works” of biology, and then make it applicable to real life.
I’ve been blogging since 2005. I’ve talked about that before here, here, here, and here. I’ve always believed in sharing my teaching resources, my stories, and my dreams. I’ve never considered myself to be “just a teacher.” I’ve always wanted to be viewed as a person who made science come alive (and not just in the petri dish). I’ve used Weebly before, for building my websites (and Google Sites, and Blogger, and a handful of others), but I’ve never been as happy as I am with WordPress. Once I converted from a “free site” to a designed site, I’ve never looked back. I never knew a site could have so much functionality, and that I could apply themes and plugins and make it do exactly what I want. I felt like I wasted so much time with “free.” Free is not free, when it comes to a educator’s busy time.
So, what’s the difference between using a free site like Weebly (or any of the new free-ish site-making sites like Wix, Squarespace, Typepad, or even Tumblr) and the free WordPress platform? The free sites are very basic, and allow you only to really share your thoughts. If you are interested in ranting, spilling your beans, or just talking, a free site may be for you. It was what I did at first, as I learned to blog. I even paid the monthly fee for the premium Weebly site, to get analytics and further functions.
I read an article titled, “TIME FOR AN EQUITY REDESIGN.” The main question in the article was “What does equity have to do with accountability?” The author of this article takes completely the opposite stance on equity and education than the one I take. He outlines his challenges (which are almost exact duplicates of the challenges I saw when I taught high school), and then he gives his “demands.” He wants the system to bend to meet his needs, because he feels that accountability is not equitable in low-income or ESL schools.
I never expected the state or federal education system to change for our students. Our school leaders understood that the accountability measures in place were there to stay, and that we’d either meet them, exceed them, or fail our students. We knew the only thing we could change was ourselves. The system wasn’t going to change. So in order to give our kids an “equitable education,” we changed our program to The Professional Teaching Model (PTM).
The message is one we often hear about successful people. They have successful habits. And they don’t just give lip service to them – they actually DO these things. The article describes the habits in more detail. The best scientists, the ones who are the most productive and make the most impact, do all these things. Miss one, and you are out of the “ultra-productive” category.
If I were going to add other key habits of successful people – even ULTRA successful people – it would be that they take risks. They don’t just talk the talk, they also walk the walk. They experiment. They try new, challenging, sometimes scary things. And they communicate about what makes them successful, what didn’t work, and how they are going to build on what they’ve done.
As I am building my business, my brand, and myself, I am also learning that coaching plays an important part. The best athletes have a coach. Lebron has a coach. Kobe has a coach. The best actors are in movies that have a producer. Somebody directs Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock. The best entrepreneurs have coaches, pushing them to be accountable and to take risks. Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins have coaches.
I am currently searching for a coach, because I don’t want to be stagnant. I want to grow, produce more, do more, and help more people. I know I can’t do it all on my own, so investing in myself is key. I can do more with a team on my side, so crafting the right team is crucial. Surrounding myself with people who are lifting me up, instead of holding me back is vital in becoming ultra successful.