I’ve been in Chicago for a few days now and sadly have not had a ton of time to write. I came out here to hang out with the Mentormob crew and to learn more about the Flipped Learning movement at the Flipped Class Conference. The conference is at the Flashpoint Academy, which is a sweet space with a ton of outlets in nifty places but very spotty wifi. The only good thing about not writing is that there is more time to think. After absorbing quite a bit over the past few days, I’ll do my best to share some thoughts.
Let’s start with Brian Bennett’s opening keynote, which rocked. I was completely captivated from the start – Jon and Aaron made a great call having him kick off the event. Here are a few of his most quotable moments:
  • “I never want to see a bell curve again – I don’t want to fail kids anymore.”
  • “What we call cheating, I call collaborating.”
  • “Why do we hang onto things that don’t work? (Then he went on to give the example of the Scantron, asking if anyone had ever tried using a #3 Pencil.)
  • “What’s your rubric? When do you want it to be due?” (Some questions he asks students)

What I loved most about Brian is that he sounded like a special education teacher. He really spoke my language. When discussing the concept of Flipped Learning he talked about changes in both physical space and in mindset. He illuminated the fact that all individuals learn differently and make different choices, sharing about how flipping his classroom has allowed him to reach more learners.

At some point during the day I stumbled across this article: Can the Flipped Classroom Benefit Low-Income Students? The title alone caught my attention as this had been one of my pressing and unanswered questions about flipped learning. All day I wondered if someone from the conference would respond to the article and after a long day of thinking and learning, I read this response on none other than Brian Bennett’s blog.

I appreciate his response and agree that the title of the piece is a bit misleading but I definitely hear the concern regarding funding in low income communities. Getting funding is not impossible by any means, but it is a challenge without a doubt. Teachers are often exhausted…anything that is time consuming is often a drag for even the most dedicated teachers. Brian is right when he says “A defeatist attitude will not help anyone move forward,” and in all honesty, I wish all teachers had a little bit more Brian Bennett in them. However, I fear that when faced with choosing between spending their limited free time on applying for grants that may get denied or planning for tomorrow’s lesson, many teachers will choose the latter.

The stronger point that he makes in his post (and in his keynote) is that Flipped Learning is not about watching videos at home. He writes, “If the responsibility is put back on the students, whether its in class or out of class, the class has been effectively flipped.”

In education there is no black or white, only gray. And as with all educational movements, philosophies and products, I’m always looking to take what I can and use it in a balanced way. I am so excited to be amongst the pioneers of Flipped Learning and look forward to learning more tomorrow.

As for B. Bennett, I’m hooked. Definitely check out his website – he is one smart dude.

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