Today’s Contributor: Brad Angermeier
I teach robotics, makerspace, and video game design at Covington Middle School.
Several years ago many of us had that incurably catchy tune from Frozen constantly stuck in our head. You know which one, “Let it go, let it go!” I found myself at the beginning of this semester repeating that phrase over and over again, however this time I was referring to my old teaching habits.
Prior to this year I spent 13 years teaching social studies, 5 of which in Austin ISD. Throughout that time I perfected my style, often adhering to the whole group, small group, and individual teaching style. Alas, I found myself in need of change, and CTE instruction inspired me. Robotics, video game design, makerspace were all interests in my personal life and now I had the opportunity to share that interest with my students.
Initially I taught my new CTE classes the same way as the social studies classes, however I quickly realized that I needed to change. Students loved the idea of tinkering with robots, planning, designing, and creating their own wood and digital products, and they did not want to be bothered by my old stand and deliver strategy from social studies class. Students viewed CTE technology classes as a reprieve from the core subject, STAAR focused part of their day, and they wanted something different.
Changing to a flipped classroom using Blend as my primary content provider immediately transformed the tone of the class. No longer were students entering class, and waiting while others arrived only to hear me talk to the class for 10 to 15 minutes about what everyone was about to do. Now students entered the classroom and immediately logged on to Blend to read today’s objective. For example, in robotics class students grabbed their robot from the cabinet located next to the door. Students read their objective, opened Mindstorms, and got to work building and coding their creation, often before the tardy bell rang. This new style allowed me to talk individually with students and address specific issues, rather than lecturing the whole group. It was evident from day one that this new flipped classroom would become the norm.
I spent 13 years developing my teaching style, only to find myself in the 14th year throwing it out the window in favor of something new. In the words of Queen Elsa “Let it go, let it go!”