How our teachers use live lessons to facilitate deep learning

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Posted on: 25 Jan 2021

Our Valenture journey began a year ago when my (now) 15-year-old son joined the first cohort of Junior High.

Written by Caryn Gootkin, Valenture Parent

Sam, now in Semester 3 of his Valenture Junior High program, which will end in June this year, completed Grade 7 at a traditional school, which my (almost) 12-year-old daughter still attends. During last year, we began hearing the words ‘flipped classroom’ applied to Valenture’s teaching methodology. Intrigued, I set out to understand what this meant beyond the topsy-turvy image I still can’t get out of my mind. Here’s what I discovered…

In a traditional school, be it in a brick and mortar classroom or on an online platform as was the case for many otherwise traditional schools during hard lockdown, the teacher teaches a concept or some content, and the pupils listen, take notes, and then do class- or homework based on what they have been taught. 

To understand what a flipped classroom looks like (and to banish the image of the desks hanging from the ceiling), I visited the website of The Flipped Learning Network. Pioneers of this model of education, define a flipped classroom as a “pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter”.

Put simply, this means that students are exposed to, and engage with, content or concepts before attending a ‘live lesson’ with their teacher, who then acts as a learning guide. In the Valenture modules that the students receive each week, there is always some preparation to do before a live lesson or breakaway session.

Let’s take an example out of Sam’s English classroom this week – Introduction to drama. Module 1.1 consist of interactive notes – ‘Introduction to the drama genre’, which he needed to work through before the live session he attended today, called ‘Discovering drama’. His next live session is ‘The origins of drama’, after which he will watch an interactive video – ‘The origins of drama and the theatre’, before attending live sessions on Elements of theatre later in the week. The module ends with a practice quiz on the work covered in the week.  

The benefits of Valenture’s Flipped classroom methodology are many. They include students working through the material that prepares them for a live lesson at their own pace; teachers using the live lessons to full advantage to facilitate deep learning rather than talking at students; and the use of varied content like notes, web resources, video links, and quizzes.

Oh, and just in case you, like me, thought that the term flipped classroom derives from the idea of taking a traditional classroom and metaphorically flipping it upside down and back to front, FLIP is actually an acronym for: 

Flexible environment

Learning culture

Intentional content

Professional educator. 

Hmm. I preferred the image of desks hanging from the ceiling. 

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