Monday, January 27, 2014

Flipping the humanities classroom: a bleg

So my standard take on the whole flipped classroom was that it was old news.  I mean very old.  Like Socratic Method old.  As far as I could tell, flipped classrooms took a humanities seminar model and applied it to a science lecture hall.  Yawn.  Nothing to see here. 

Then Tim Burke drops this.  I've experimented with group notetaking before I've been dissatisfied with the results.  The problem is that high school students, even really good ones, are only developing the habits of reading and notetaking in general.  Often when they collaborate they get a reverse crowdsourcing phenomenon:  collectively they focus on the wrong elements of a document or secondary source rather than the right ones whereas individually, they wouldn't (or at least many of them wouldn't).  I don't know why this happens (although reverse crowdsourcing is a real phenomenon and Forbes questions whether it even exists in the way we conventionally think of it).  But the Forbes article nails the problem for a high school classroom:  there isn't a wide variety of expertise in the room. Therefore, crowdsourcing  reading won't work. 

So, I'm making a bleg.  What's the best shared notetaking tool and how do you use it?  And how can I use it to help my 10th grade honors students navigate "A History of the Modern Middle East" (Cleveland and Bunton).


  1. Have you tried "Subtext?"

  2. Subtext looks neat, and when I move to ipads, I'll look hard at it. But right now, I'm not even thinking in terms of text annotation as much as just key concepts and vocabulary. For example, my students get thrown by the word Tanzimat, which literally means reorganization but refers to a whole time period and set of reforms.