H.S. Science

I have recently turned my high school physics class on its head.  I have done this by what is known as flipping the class or reverse learning.  This is where I record short vodcasts relating to content from the sylabus which my students watched in advance of a class at a time best suited to them (providing autonomy).  You can enjoy these via my youtube channel – neilcommons1.

This then allowed me to introduce more opportunity for students to utilise this taught knowledge and so consolidate their learning.   This means more opportunity not only for practical science but also the integration of a range of on-line simulations (often from the excellent phet website).  I also promote my students independently achieving mastery.  For this I often use the excellent Mind on Physics website but am also presently leading a team looking at the future use of the Quest system from the University of Texas.

Here is a picture of some of my latest Physics class trying to produce a balloon kebab (Technically not a Physics driven learning activity but it just happened)

I have felt that the introduction of the reverse learning model to my High School Physics classroom has been incredibly beneficial.  It has certainly helped my students identify the purpose of their actions – either an academic requirement and a genuine enjoyment of the subject.  This was a journey of gradual introduction which I have documented on my blog, presented at several conference and have summarised for my final COETAIL presentation in this vodcast –Trials and tribulations of a flipped classroom.

This section really should have been titled titled “High School Physics” as I this is what I teach at the IB diploma level.  However, over the last couple of years I have been helping develop an alternative to the diploma options with an alternative high school equivalence course.  This has allowed me to explore project based learning and look for strategic partnerships that can be developed in the wider community.  The underlying curriculum highlights shared criteria of communication, critical thinking and reflection alongside a subject specific (Math, Science, Humanities or English) criterion, inquiry.  This is a really exciting and rewarding area to work in as it supports those students who maybe just do not fit all the academic requirements of a classical international education.


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