Our education system has fallen into the rut of throwing mountains of knowledge and information at students in hopes that they will somehow absorb the content like a sponge. Its clear most students do not learn best this way, and doing so has left our nations schools and students floating adrift.
'Flipping' Traditional Instruction
We believe the key to getting schools back on track is to offer differentiated instruction based in blended learning or the Flipped Classroom model. Instead of throwing tons of information at students in a one-sized-fits-all lecture method, Wowzers promotes self-driven, differentiated digital learning as a means of developing basic knowledge.
Once the student has completed the digital learning lesson, the teacher can follow up with class activities geared to foster deeper understanding and higher-level thought.
Blended Learning is Student-Driven...
Think about teaching shape symmetry to third graders. In a traditional educational setting, students may be asked to visualize a folded circle or to look at a shape with a dotted line drawn through the middle. Seeing a line that cuts an object in half and hearing a few words of teacher instruction may teach symmetry in a literal sense, but it is a limited means of instruction. Only a few students will grasp the concept this way, and even less will be able to utilize the concepts to create higher-level thought and analysis.
With Wowzers, the base concepts of symmetry are instead taught via visual, kinesthetic, and audible digital interactions and learning objects designed to reach each type of learner.
Students can digitally select, drag, and cut lines of symmetry through all sorts of shapes. These shapes are then instantly folded in half right on the screen! If the shape is symmetrical, the student can actually see that it fits perfectly when folded. If the shape is asymmetric, the student is shown and verbally told why the folds do not match up.
Blended learning environments allow the students to drive their own concept application and understanding through interaction. Instead of being told how symmetry works, each student simultaneously individualizes and personalizes the information and concepts, creating a stronger knowledge/concept base.
But, a flipped classroom does not just begin and end with self-driven digital learning. Teachers must reinforce and expand on the base concept(s) by varying the learning environment activities geared to strengthen students analytical and evaluative skills.
Lets look back at our symmetry lesson. To really drive home higher-level thought about symmetry, the teacher can use Wowzers Snowflake Symmetry blended learning activity. Breaking away from the digital lesson, this activity requires each student to physically create a paper snowflake using one, two, three or four lines of symmetry. Following completion, students are encouraged to interact with peers to share, compare, and analyze the correlation between lines of symmetry and each snowflakes appearance.
Via blended learning, each student has now individually learned the basic concepts of symmetry, while also conferring with peers and the teacher to gain higher-level understanding of how and why symmetry is important in the natural world.