A different kind of ‘flipped’ learning: Students teaching students

In 2009, I was given a MimioTeach Interactive Classroom Solution package of interactive teaching technologies. I have to admit, I had no idea how my classroom (or me, for that matter) would be transformed. Previously, I had four older computer models in the classroom, and I was not very tech savvy. But that was then.

Today, my classroom is a technology port that includes my laptop computer and two MimioTeach bars with MimioStudio classroom software. One bar is installed on a large dry erase board at the front of the classroom, turning it into an interactive whiteboard. The second bar is connected to a whiteboard that rotates on a desktop base situated at the back of the room. I also have the MimioView document camera, MimioPad wireless tablet, MimioVote assessment “clickers,” and MimioCapture ink recorder.

Technology fascinates my students, but I have to make sure that the lessons I create are also genuinely interesting, so they’ll want to become engaged whether I’m teaching language arts, math, or science. Using the interactive whiteboard, for example, forces me to ask myself: What would be the best way to teach this lesson? How can I get the students involved? I’m constantly thinking through these teaching aspects ahead of time.

Between 25 and 30 different students come through my classroom every hour, and getting them involved at the very start of the lesson is vital. So to start, I typically display three questions on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the classroom as the students are walking in and getting settled. I also post their learning targets or questions that will be covered for the day. Both the learning targets and questions get students thinking about what they will learn that day.

During instruction time, my students sit together in groups of six at the whiteboards. Each group also shares a 32-inch computer monitor so they can work more effectively. I use the interactive whiteboard at the front of the class to demonstrate concepts in ways that will show relevance or add visual interest.

For example, when teaching line plotting in math class, I had students come up and create a pictogram using football helmet images from the software’s gallery as the dots. The graphics were far and away more interesting than actual dots on a line, and it made learning math more fun. The interactive whiteboard fits well with this curriculum, and it opens the students’ minds to recognizing different ways to solve the same problems.

I also have found that it’s essential to include as many activities as I can in which the students come up to the board or operate it with the tablet and conduct the lessons themselves. To tell the truth, my students were more than ready for that change; five minutes after I showed them the technology tools for the first time, they grabbed the pad and stylus and were off and running in the role of instructor. “Flipping” the role and the responsibility of learning over to them has proved to be very successful. This is where technology has become an integral part of teaching and learning for all of us.

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