Flipped Learning + Tes Teach

I have been dying to implement Peer Instruction in my AP CSA classes, but I haven’t made the switch because there are a few technical frustrations that I need to alleviate. First, I find that video content available on Java is BORING; these YouTube videos are often really long and culturally irrelevant. Second, there is no standardized inventory of programming questions that can be used for in-class polling and discussions; who am I to say that my questioning is right? Finally, how do I curate all of this information so that students can easily participate within a Peer Instruction routine? I often find that too many platforms used at one time is a hot mess, and that it can ultimately harm student productivity.

My First Attempt:

I figured I was never going to actually use Peer Instruction if I didn’t force myself to try and create my first PI lesson; so I attempted to ignore my reservations about Covid-19 and envision what my first week of AP CSA might look like in the perfect world (i.e. the Peer Instruction world). According to the College Board’s course breakdown, my first flipped lesson should jump right in and begin a conversation around primitive types and variables. However, my gut is telling me to experiment with an “Objects First” approach to teaching this fall, so I think I’m going to start with a high-level exposure to the notion of objects. This means that my first learning objective will be rooted less in programming and more in the conceptual. It will probably sound something like this:

I can describe the properties that might exist for a given class.

This objective feels good for my first flipped lesson because it’s small enough to ensure that the supporting readings/videos aren’t too long. It’s also fundamental to success on the exam; starting this conversation early means I can revisit the topic later when we begin to build out our understanding of the code that realizes this concept.

So, I made a learning objective; everything should fall into place, right? Wrong. This is where all of the problems described above resurfaced. Although, I attempted to find solutions by experimenting with a few new technologies, I still feel relatively stuck in the same place. Here’s a bit about what I learned along the way.

Tes Teach

This platform was designed with flipped learning in mind, and features some very cool functionality. One thing that I really enjoyed about this platform was the ease at which I could search for resources and organize them for my students to use. As you can see, the interface is structured to be obvious — work left to right, top to bottom.

Here, I have created an example lesson for the objective mentioned above, where I have added four tiles that my students should complete before the start of class. The first tile is a simple set of instructions, and the second tile is a PDF that represents the “first exposure” component of Peer Instruction. More specifically, its an excerpt from Head First Java, which I created after going through the process of splitting and combining PDFs. I hold students accountable for completing this reading assignment by using Tes Teach’s quiz tool; it’s a simple interface, that only supports multiple choice functionality.  Finally, the third tile is a link to a YouTube video that I found with their in-house search bar; this was a nice and easy process, but the video I found wasn’t quite what I was looking for because it includes information that I don’t want to cover at this point in the year (not to mention it’s not exactly captivating for a young crowd…).

Adobe Animate:

I have long toyed with the idea of creating my own instructional videos, and have begun the journey of creating content through screencasting (see previous reflection). However, the YouTube stats that I have on these videos suggest that students aren’t watching them; I have tried everything I can think of to improve my screencasts, but sadly, the stats never change. Adobe has rebranded and updated their product “Adobe Flash” so it’s easier for anyone to create animated cartoons. And thankfully, OUSD has purchased a license to the Adobe suite for all of its employees and students because otherwise, I would not be using it ($$$). Adobe Animate is a really powerful tool that will allow me to make videos about Java that are more exciting for teens. It will also give me the power to choose what is discussed in each video that I post, which will be useful when trying to stick to my pacing guide. However, with great power comes a steep learning curve, and I’m definitely worried about the time I might spend making content using this platform.

The Larger Schedule:

You may be wondering what this flipped model looks like in schools that have wonky bell schedules. Don’t worry, I am still worried about this as well! My school, for example, has me teaching AP CSA four days a week for 55 minutes a day. Currently, I don’t plan on using Peer Instruction everyday in class because I think that would give my students too much work to complete at home. Instead, I will use PI at the beginning of the week, and follow it with an activity where students can apply their understanding of the term for a day or two (the activity for this particular learning object might look something like this worksheet). Finally, I will finish the week with a vocabulary “flash-slide” so that students can begin to collect the resources they need to study throughout the year. I hope that the schedule doesn’t change, but as most things go in education, I can never be quite sure. Have you implemented Peer Instruction in your own classroom? Let us know how it went by leaving a comment below!




Leave a Reply