The Flipped Classroom and Challenge Based Learning (CBL)

With 30% of high school kids dropping out of high school, drastic changes do need to be made in education in order to engage all learners and keep kids in school. The main cause for dropping out, lack of relevance, seems like an easy fix! Make things relevant!  Challenge Based Learning and flipped teaching are current methods that schools are using to meet the needs of all students as well as deeply engage students in learning and in the community.

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) seems a lot like Project Based Learning (PBL) with a personal community tie.  Students in CBL are doing the same sorts of things that students involved in PBL, except there is always a personal connection with the community at large and students are a bit more self directed in coming up with their own essential questions and project direction.  Students are working toward solving an issue and taking action towards having a positive impact.  I see a lot of this work already in the International Baccalaureate programs we have in Napa.  Students are making a difference in their communities by solving an issue they are passionate about.  I think it would be very easy to move some of our current PBL units toward  more CBL units with very little effort.

 I think that EVERY student in Napa (and everywhere else) should have this experience each year.  Even in the early grades, teachers could guide the challenge. Students as young as kindergarten could be having these types of experiences where they know that their efforts make a difference in the community.  If we start as early as kindergarten, CBL could become a natural way of learning for students.  They might grow up knowing how important their efforts are and that they have the power to make change happen and impact others in a positive ways.  I see teacher guided challenges in the early grades, and students choosing their own challenges as early as third grade, where they are dictating the course of learning.  It is exciting to think what could happen if we were to adopt this type of learning throughout the district!

The Apple study showed that both students and teachers reported high levels of satisfaction with the CBL process.  Student engagement, mastery of content and the building of 21st century skills were all increased.  The Resilience video showcased students working on a relevant challenge with real purpose.  Each group was able to connect with their passion to truly make a difference in helping a community recover after a disaster.  You could see that the students and the teachers felt a deep sense of satisfaction and pride in the work that they were doing. 

I can see the power of this type of learning.  If I go back into the classroom, I will definitely use CBL.  In addition, I will encourage the teachers at my school to try out one CBL unit in the next school year, either collectively or individually.  I think they will be surprised at the level of engagement it will bring!

Flipped classrooms or flipped teaching is another wonderful shift to make learning more relevant and personalized.  I prefer Ramsey’s term, flipped teaching, because it really puts the change in teaching at the forefront.  We are currently holding our class in a flipped teaching manner where we are synthesizing and analyzing the information and content of our classes before meeting online.  If we were to have the classes first and the content after, I don’t think our conversations would be as valuable.  It is great to have all of the background information and then be able to share our interpretations, personal experiences and ask questions. 

The idea of assigning podcasts to students for homework, where they can play and replay it as many times as they need, and then come to class to further explore questions or struggles makes perfect sense.  Teachers are better able to support students who still have questions and need additional help either from the teacher or their peers.  The teacher has more time to assess each student’s understanding and then plan for next steps.  I know that I appreciate having background on the topics that we are discussing.  The conversations are much richer and we learn so much form each other!

The only problem that I see with flipped teaching is that it really does require technology access.  I know that most students do have phones and computers, but we must make sure that we provide access to all students in order for EVERYONE to be successful.  Additionally, I see this as a middle and high school experience.  At the elementary level, it might be more difficult to pull off.  Upper elementary students might be able to handle it, but I don’t see early elementary students using this model.  I would love to find out if anyone is doing this at the elementary school level.

5/5/2013 05:02:09 pm

Relevancy is what our students need today. Both of these concepts see to it that content will be engaging for the students because it makes the curriculum much more personalized. I also feel that if students can work at their own pace when viewing podcasts or videos, students won't give up on themselves so easily to make them watch to drop out because they aren't mastering the curriculum in while being lectured to.


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