I adopted the use of the SOPHIA learning platform in my Honors Chemistry course in February, 2014. It is a work in progress and both my students and I are learning the benefits and the nuances of this SOPHIA portal as a system for sharing knowledge.
I first must preface this with the fact, that my Honors Chemistry class is a fantastic group of students and they have fully bought in to the concepts of learning that are the cornerstones of my classroom:
1. Our learning environment is predicated on the concept of the
6 C's: Think Critically, Communicate Clearly, Work Collaboratively, Develop Creativity, Embrace Culture and Utilize Connectivity
2. I teach learning on a path called chemistry. If you learn how to learn the content will take care of itself.
3. We will remember 92% of what we teach someone else, 30 days afterward. We teach to learn.
4. Success is measured by the definition of success according to John Wooden, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”
I use SOPHIA to create tutorials using my own videos and other online resources and gather them into playlists of the content aspects I want students to learn. These SOPHIA playlists are posted on Monday and they are due on Sunday by 11:00 pm. The material is always presented online the week before we will be working on it in class.
This model has allowed me to get students more involved in their own learning, conduct more lab work and develop more real life assignments, activities and discussions in class. We work in a block schedule with 95 minute classes and I see this class every other day.
On the Monday morning, I check the SOPHIA portal for the class content page to see who has completed the playlist and who may have struggled based upon the number of questions necessary to complete the three questions to move on in the playlist. After four playlists I am experiencing a 96% completion rate for my students.
One of the formative assessment practices I use in for a class activity to check for student understanding is to have students solve PODs in partners on the Monday or Tuesday following the due date. I have six octagonal lab tables in my lab and put two questions, one on each side of the table for students to complete. Students work together through the problem solving. They are given 2to 2 and half minutes to complete the question before rotating. This process has afforded me and my students tremendous insight into their understanding:
1. I can listen to student discussions of the problem solving process.
2. Students can ask me questions throughout the process for clarification.
3. Students who have not completed the playlist are brought up to speed by their peers.
4. Students solidify their own understanding by sharing with a partner.
This process allows me to take on the role of "guide on the side" rather than "sage on the stage", making students responsible for their learning and allowing them to take ownership of their knowledge.
While, this is an a Honors Chem class and these students do tend to be more motivated, the effectiveness of using platforms like SOPHIA or incorporating the FLIPPED model is entirely dependent upon the environment of learning that becomes the culture of the classroom.
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