Independent flip

Using GCSEPOD to flip the classroom

When working to develop a new concept school in Bali, Indonesia, maths teacher, Stephen Powell-Peterson wanted to introduce a truly functional flipped classroom. His goal?  To enable students to learn theoretical information independently in class or at home and then apply what they learn during lessons. Now at Lucaya International School in the Bahamas, he reflects on where this idea has taken him.

The need

The constant emphasis of the core subjects, and demands to strive for ever higher standards puts pressure on teachers to deliver an in-depth, structured, and pre-planned learning environment. However, it is interesting to see that within this rigid learning structure, students become less and less responsible for their own learning, losing the opportunity to develop those vital skills that they will need later in life. The school curriculum hasn’t changed by any significant level for many years, just the delivery. But if the world around us changes and we do not, how are our students going to be prepared for the jobs of the future? Too much teacher-centred instruction can not only be boring for students, but it also doesn’t allow them to express themselves, and direct their own learning.

Autonomous learning

When creating the school for Bali, we had a good set of ingredients: face to face teaching, text books, and assessment questions, but the missing piece of the jigsaw was an online resource that enabled independent learning to happen effectively and simply.

The reason I am so passionate about this aspect of students’ lives is because it is based on engaging higher-order cognitive strategies for problem-solving and group work: all skills that today’s industry requires of its employees. It also enables time for individual guidance by the teacher, the humanity needed in every place of education.

By introducing an immediately effective flipped classroom to enhnace learning, I feel teachers are better placed to help their students develop the skills they’ll need in their future careers. This is the sort of content they appreciate, giving them the freedom to autonomously explore, while having confidence in their direction and necessary outcome. After all, students love not being beholden to teachers!

 

Finding the best flip

In search of learning video records that the students could watch and learn from, I was aware of the breadth of content on the internet.  However, it was going to take me a long time to research every video available, for each learning objective, to ensure it was not only factual but that it covered the right aspects of learning required.

I then came across GCSEPod which offers highly engaging three to five-minute video ‘pods’ demonstrating all the learning objectives across all curriculum areas, with related questions. It fitted perfectly with my desire for the last piece of the independent learning jigsaw: a very affordable resource that would be ideal for the flipped classroom model, for school work, homework, and revision.

It directs students along their own learning pathway, providing more learning ‘pods’ if they aren’t answering questions correctly or moving them on to the next level if they are.

Ongoing value

Since that eureka moment of finding a truly practical way to provide this for so many iGCSE subjects, I’ve worked in several schools and fully recommended (almost insisted on) GCSEPod’s use to them all. Taking complex concepts such as molars in chemistry as an example, once the students have watched the videos in or outside the classroom, it’s so much easier for them to grasp the concept on their own rather than just sitting and listening to a teacher or reading from a book.

Sometimes they may have had a lesson on this in class and use the resource to consolidate their learning as homework or watch the video ‘pods’ before a lesson so they can come to class with a level of understanding and in turn, engage more comfortably with the classroom activities.

It’s not all about technology

There is no doubt that they thrive on this independent model of learning, but they want to absorb it how they choose, through a combination of learning tools: technology, text books or hands-on learning experiences. What this way of teaching offers is another dimension of learning  – and until students have it, they don’t realise how good it is!

 

Revision

Whether it is the revision of a particular learning concept as homework or before exams, such online, self-directed learning is ideal. The teacher can easily create learning or revision playlists, providing the students with invaluable, rich independent learning content. But it is when they leave the classroom and manage their own learning that you start to see them devote a lot more time than you could have reasonably asked for.

My legacy for students and teachers in the independent schools I have worked at across the world has been this use of the classroom model working incredibly well. With the growing epidemic of poor and unverified information on the internet, schools require high quality, effective learning content to save teachers’ time, improve student knowledge and provide them with the skills they’ll need for their future careers.

 

Stephen Powell-Peterson

IB/IGCSE Mathematics

Lucaya International School, Bahamas

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