Flipping The Classroom: First Week Complete

Just a few notes about the past week’s flipping the classroom trial:

Homework

After the first night of homework (watch two videos and write a short reflection about each on a Google Doc) I did my first check. After absentees (realised I will have to be much more on top of absentees with this methodology) only 50% had completed their homework. This took a few minutes to check, make a spreadsheet to keep track of homework completion, and obviously time has to be spent on follow up and consequences/rewards. This will be new for me, as often the nature of the work is ‘work on task’ so it is incredibly difficult to check homework. Is it worth it is the question? With consistency and persistence I think it is. Not only for my understanding of their application to work, but their development of their work ethic and consistent application to understanding the set work. After the shock of knowing they’d have to stay in Friday lunch to make up the time they should have spend on work, 95% did their homework the next night. This dropped with the Friday homework session to 68%.

Headphones

During the week the headphones I’d ordered online arrived, and they seem to be working. It is definitely worthwhile having a set on hand if students are expected to watch videos and not disrupt each other.

Quality of Reflections

Students have been expected to watch videos for homework and reflect on what they’ve seen. As we’ve worked through their responses in class, and followed this up with group activities on what constitutes and effective presentation, I’ve seen a sharp increase in the quality of their reflections – moving from summaries of the content of the performances to analyses of their delivery. This means that the substance of what they’re doing for homework has steadily improved with the complementary class activities.

Time With Students

The big question is did I spend more time with students in class than usual, as that is the primary reason I am trialling this. While not a huge difference yet, definitely yes. I spend most of Friday’s double going from group to group helping them improve the quality of their responses to the set group work, explaining to them how they needed to cover less points in more specific depth.

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Flipping The Classroom Begins

My first step in flipping the classroom begins. This blog post is to chronicle what I’ve done differently for my own records, for those interested in trying it out, and to remind me what it was like being a beginner at this (I say optimistically). PS – Is it just me, or does anyone else have an image like below come to mind when they hear the term flipping the classroom? Problem is other terms, backwards teaching, reverse teaching, etc, aren’t much better!

finger

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I’ve chosen one unit for one class (see Snap Judgment Unit for Year 10s here). On the unit page I have spent more time than I normally would structuring the students’ wiki page so that it is easier for them to follow. I also ‘test drove’ it by having a student look at the page and give feedback on the ease of navigation. To make it all more obvious, I put used a colour coding system, and gave this explanation at the top of the page: Links are in blue (followed links in purple). Information is in black. Instructions are in green. Headings and accented information are in brown.

I deliberately chose this unit as there was prepared video material I wanted students to watch (to give them inspirational examples for their performance poetry). This avoided the incredibly time consuming making of videos (and turned out to be great, as I discovered my copy of Camtasia didn’t work with my updated operating system and I’m sorting that out!).

When introducing the unit today, the main thing I did differently was briefly explain was flipping the classroom was and why I was trying it out. It was a fairly minimal explanation as I find students at my school are receptive to new methodologies and aren’t too interested in underlying pedagogical practices. I asked the students to identify a crucial potential problem with the approach, and was impressed when one immediately said, “Students have to do their homework or they’re stuffed.” He was absolutely right, and it has been a key difference in my unit planning and resulted in the following pattern:

  1. Classwork
  2. Homework
  3. Check homework next lesson

1. The classwork now incorporates a lot more one on one time with students because of the flipping methodology. Eg an instruction in one lesson plan reads, ‘ Work on draft. I help student individually with creating their draft.’ 2. I had to completely rethink what I set for homework. It had to be something students could access and easily watch/read/listen to and understand without me there. The goal was to remove passive receiving of information from class and set it for homework. 3. Homework is usually ‘work on assignment’ so I’ve never found it practical to consistently and accurately check it, but now it’s finite tasks and I have to plan ways to check they are done. Eg one lesson starts: Nearpod quiz on Emilie Zoey Baker’s blog post.

Another factor that is not an issue with my cohort, but could potentially be for others, is access to ICT and the internet. For any of my plans to work it has to be an ICT enhanced classroom and students need access to the internet at home. For more on this see Jarrod Johnson’s presentation.