I “flipped” this assignment on myself and in doing so played three roles: an online teacher , a student teacher frustrated by standardization and a lack of innovation using technology (see GoAnimate in Prezi), and the student teacher’s students who had to master content about the human nervous system and present what they learned using the media of their choice (see Kaylee, Zack, and Shy Kid’s blog). I learned an enormous amount by walking in each set of shoes.
The formative assessments, a summative assessment, and a rubric were not difficult to create because I was in my comfort zone; I have been doing that for over 25 years. Likewise, using tech for the assessments was not challenging because I have been doing that for 15 years.
What made this assignment challenging was stepping out of the teacher role and into the student role. As the frustrated student teacher, I had to figure out how to flip the classroom so that is was learner-centered, but still focused on content standards.
The student teacher was driven by her passion to develop a plan that would inspire her students, so that task was again not too difficult although I had to really think about how to do it and it took a full day of work developing the plan and project, nonetheless, I was still in my teacher comfort zone.
Once I was in the student role, I flailed about the World Wide Web without any guidance trying to develop an understanding of how our brains work. It was “flipping” hard. Once I finally actually did the formative assessments in the student teacher’s plan (the ones I came up with), I stopped flailing.
One of the most important things I learned during this activity is that I needed many more formative assessment opportunities along the way, and I really needed feedback.
In addition to guidance, I needed someone to talk to. The World Wide Web is a lonely place for a kid trying to teach herself about the brain.
Completing the student summative assessment (the blog, Prezi, and Animoto) was also enlightening. At one point after hours and hours and hours of figuring out how neurons and neurotransmitters and the various parts of our brain function, it came time to put everything I had learned into the blog, Prezi, and Animoto. It was very challenging and very time consuming, I considered giving up and writing “Under Construction.” Not because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing, but because I needed a cheerleader and encouragement; I needed another formative assessment.
I walked away from it for a day (thank goodness the due date was extended). When I tackled it the next day and completed the Animoto, something awesome and amazing happened; I completely understood how our human nervous system functions. More importantly I realized I had a lot more questions about our brains and that I needed a teacher, an expert, to help me answer those questions.
Completing the project was key to learning the content, but the process of getting to the end was the most meaningful learning experience for me as a teacher and a learner.