I flipped my classroom using Crio - and my CTE students loved it!

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Flipping a classroom is not a new trend in education, but I am trying a unique implementation. Gone are the days of sit-and-get lectures where students tune out, playing on their phones, doodling, sleeping, or engaging in other unproductive activities. Easy access to technology puts the world at students’ fingertips; my "sage-on-the-stage" routine can’t compete.

This semester I am trying the flipped classroom by using Crio to deliver instruction and help students process content outside of class time. In class, students work on hands-on projects and labs or participate in small group discussions to reinforce their learning. My goal for this new format is that students are not just passive recipients, but they have opportunities to synthesize their learning for better retention and future application.

For example, at the beginning of each agriculture course, we focus on leadership for FFA, identifying exemplary traits and skills. Instead of the usual lecture, I developed an interactive Crio lesson to deliver the concepts and assigned it for completion outside of class time as preparation for an in-class experiment.

Students used this CTE lesson, created using Crio, to prepare for the in-class leadership activity.

When we next convened, we worked through a "leadership lab." Students were placed into groups, and each group received some dry spaghetti and a few mini marshmallows. They were tasked with constructing the tallest free-standing tower possible using only the two building materials provided. Students had three minutes to plan and ten minutes to construct their tower. Once time was called, I measured each tower and declared a winning team.

Then the real work began. I asked students to reflect on their group interactions, identifying the leaders and the positive traits demonstrated during the planning and building phases of the lab. They drew connections between the in-class experience and the Crio lesson completed ahead of time.

I have one particularly challenging class full of high-energy students who need something to do that doesn’t look like work. I honestly feared my lab would turn into a free-for-all with this class, but that’s not what happened. These students enthusiastically took on the lab and worked extremely well in their teams. This class–the one I normally struggle to keep on task--was fully engaged and productive. What a drastic difference!

With their reflections (admittedly, more challenging than the lab itself), I was pleasantly surprised to see them make the connections between the experiment and my Crio leadership lesson. Most students had completed the lesson ahead of time and could apply what they learned, explaining the traits demonstrated by natural group leaders during the lab.

I hope to continue experiential learning like the leadership lab throughout the semester. Students relate to these types of activities; a flipped classroom setting makes them possible. Before Crio, I would take a couple of days to cover the leadership material in a lecture setting. Now, I no longer have to listen to myself talk, frustrated when students tune out. Class time is dedicated to meaningful, collaborative activities putting the content to work. The goal is deeper understanding, synthesis, and application.

Want to learn more about Meredith's adventures implementing Crio in her CTE courses? Read her other blog posts!

And you can learn more about Crio in these blog posts — and check out this video to get started creating interactive content for your students.

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About Author

Meredith Rakowski

Meredith Rakowski is an agriculture instructor at Clayton High School in Johnston County, NC. She holds a BS in Animal Science and an MS in Agricultural and Extension Education, both from North Carolina State University. In addition to teaching, she advises the Clayton High FFA Chapter, training competitive teams in agricultural industries for regional, state and national events. Outside of school, she and her husband David live on and operate a 35-acre farm with horses, goats, dogs, and cats.

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