kitchen table math, the sequel: Philip Keller on teachers and interactive lessons

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Philip Keller on teachers and interactive lessons

Eureka, part 2
Eureka, part 3
Eureka, part 4

From Philip Keller (whose The New Math SAT Game Plan: The Strategic Way to Score Higher we used and strongly recommend:
...and regarding MOOCs:

Count me in with the skeptics. Here's why:

Earlier this year, I developed an interactive simulation to use in my classroom. Then, I wrote a guided activity for my students to follow to use the simulation to learn a specific set of physics skills. Then, I played the "guide on the side" (suppress gagging noise) to observe and help as they worked through the activity.

No one complained that it was hard to understand. No one had technical difficulties working with the simulation. But what I saw was that no one drove themselves to engage with any sense of urgency. What I thought of as a finely crafted interactive study guide, they thought of as a "work sheet." Without me steadily circulating to maintain the pressure to keep on task, to actually read the words on the page, to follow the directions and to think about what was happening in front of them and to do the math -- well, it wouldn't have happened. And if I had sent it home as a flipped assignment, I don't think my students would have given the 20 - 30 minutes of relentless concentration required.

I don't want to sound all nuts-and-berries, but I think that teaching and learning requires personal interaction and a sense of accountability to a course and to the teacher. Only a tiny fraction of students will do all of what it takes to learn the material without that personal element.
Here's the pull:
What I thought of as a finely crafted interactive study guide, they thought of as a "work sheet."
Exactly right.

"Flipped" classrooms and MOOCs and interactive lessons students can work through at their own pace sound like a good thing (at least, MOOCs and interactive lessons sound like a good thing) …. but then, when you try them with your child or your students or yourself (at least in my case), nothing happens. Your child doesn't learn his math facts from the fun software program(s) you bought him, your students tune out, and you yourself watch exactly 1 lecture of each Great Courses series you purchase, if that.

I'm going to be sending Philip's account to all of the administrators & board members in my district. Several times.

From a second email:
And I am definitely a believer and practitioner of dorky professor humor.  

News flash: Phil's son just got into Princeton!!!!


Flipping the Classroom: Hot, Hot, Hot
MOOCs grow the gap
The New York Times is surprised
In the world of MOOCs, 2+2 is never 4
World's funniest joke: humor depends on surprise
Dick Van Dyke on comedy
Philip Keller on the flipped classroom
If students could talk
Who wants flipped classrooms? (Salman Khan on liberating teachers)
True story
Are math & science lectures boring in a way humanities & social science lectures are not?


Froggiemama said...

A flipped classroom is really nothing more than having students do work in class. Think of science labs, for example. I have done this for years - on Fridays, we have "lab", and the students work on small projects under my oversight. They take a quiz first, to prod them into doing the reading beforehand. Although this is pretty standard "flipped" setup, this has been popular in my field at least since the mid 90's. Back in my idealistic youth, I did it to promote engagement. Now, I mainly do it as a means of plagiarism control, and it is VERY effective for that.

Your description of the student treating the carefully crafted lab as a worksheet to get through is spot on - but I can tell you that the same student, in a traditional lecture setup, is the one in back goofing on his phone (or doodling if you don't allow phones). If you try to do "engaging" things like calling on this student, he will stare at the floor and mumble "I don't know", or if slightly more together, randomly throw out an answer he hopes will get you off his back. An unengaged student is an unengaged student no matter how you structure the class, and unfortunately there are a lot of them out there.

But, flipped classrooms are GREAT for making sure students do their own work.

Anonymous said...

But in theory, the reason you can afford to spend the class time having them do this work is that you have replaced the time that you would have spent presenting the material with time that they spent at home, watching a video or interacting with a website or whatever...or that's how the theory goes, anyway.

But I agree that if you want to see individual work, you have to spend the class time.