Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Week of Flipping

I'm a week into the "Flipped Classroom" experiment.  I love it!  The change is challenging and also very right for my class. 

First Week of Flipping
The basic idea of the flip is to reverse the traditional in-class activities and homework activities.  So the typical in-class learning, such as listening to a lecture and taking class notes, is done at home in an individual learning space.  While the typical homework activities, like homework problems and application-type exercises, are done in class as group learning events.  In science class, the flip concept is very natural because we already do so many group learning activities in the lab.  Instead of assigning work from the book for homework, my students are using homework time to watch instructional videos and take notes.  In class, we are doing group activities, white board practice, and labs to apply the information.  (Okay, it's only been one week, so we didn't do all of that yet, but we'll get there.)

I decided to flip my classroom pretty early in the summer.  I spent some time over the summer reading about what other teachers are doing, researching the impact of the technique on student learning, and having anxiety dreams  about teaching (yes, they started in June this year).  I recommend the book Flip Your Classroom by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams if you're thinking of trying the flip. 

Students working on a group activity
At the heart of the flip classroom is the notion that the teacher is not focal point of class.  Students must engage in active learning to fully learn the concepts.  In order for this to work for me, I had to get myself away from the front of the classroom.  To make this happen, I rearranged my classroom so that the desks weren't facing the front of the room.  I knew that if the students were facing the front, then I would end up there on day one.  What a difference the desk arrangement can make for class dynamics.  This week, I found that I was walking around the room more and that the students were using the whole room, not just the desks in the front.  I have let go of my control freak nature of assigning seats because the kids are switching groups and moving around the room throughout the class.

As for the videos, they're getting better.  I've done five so far.  I'm collaborating with two other teachers on the flip.  We all enjoy making the videos together (thanks for the tip, Jon and Sam) and they are much more interesting to watch when we do them together. 

I'm hooked on the Flip.  There's no looking back for me.  I have opened up my teaching to a whole new set of possibilities.  I'm excited to see where this change will take us!

1 comment:

  1. sounds great. i have done something similar with a first-year grad class in physics. just a partial flip so that one of the two days a week we met is spent doing exercises in small groups at the white boards that surround the classroom. it has worked very well, i think. i had not thought of doing instructional videos though. with that, i might be able to do a full flip!