I’ve spent several months reading up about flipped learning (Flipped Learning Network, Flip Your Classroom book, and elsewhere on the web), participated in some #flippedclass chats, and discussed how flipping would work with my inclusion co-teacher and students. At some point I needed to just jump in and try it out.
In-Class Flip: US History
I’m very lucky that my co-teacher and our students are up for trying new things. Even with that being the case, I decided to start out slowly and do an “in-class flip”. Wes (my co-teacher) and I recorded a screencast of a much abbreviated World War II PowerPoint for our US History classes. You can find it here. Please note that we teach an eleventh grade inclusion class and so we focus on the major points that the students need to know for the Regents exam. We used Screencast-o-matic to record our presentation which was just under fifteen minutes long. We also used a $15 microphone I picked up from Amazon. I figured, why spend a lot on something that may or may not work for our classes!
We had the students watch and take notes during class time using laptops from our laptop cart. I’d have to say that was the most frustrating part of the process because some of the laptops worked, some of them worked but were very slow to load, and some of them didn’t work at all. Several students used their personal iPads or phones to listen to the presentation and they were very successful. It was a bit of a weird experience though because some students forgot to bring headphones and had to listen quietly from their computers. Wes and I were both very self-conscious about how we sounded but luckily the kids loved it!
Overall, the experiment went well. We had the students fill out a survey afterwards and had a “debrief” session to get their constructive criticism. Their biggest beef was that they couldn’t see us! Who’d have thought that they would want to see us so badly! They had great suggestions including shorten the length of the videos to ten minutes rather than fifteen and possibly even have students come by and be guests in the videos. What great ideas! They loved that Wes and I were conversational and continued our in class practice of making corny jokes.
In-Class Flip: Psychology
I decided the next week to try the same thing with my Psychology classes. I used the computer lab this time and did not have any technological issues with the video playing. I tried to make the video fit into the ten minute time frame, didn’t (it was over 13 minutes), and ended up rushing. The students’ biggest criticism afterwards reflected that they thought that I went way too fast. For my part, I missed having someone else to record with. It was a bit odd talking to myself and I wasn’t sure that the students would like it at all. They still said that I was funny and that they enjoyed listening to me, so possibly it is my own personal thing to work through. Here is the link to the video.
Flipping: The Real Deal
After the positive feedback from the students, Wes and I decided we were ready to assign videos for homework to our US History students. We recorded three videos that were between nine and eleven minutes in length. The assignment for the students was to watch and take notes. Overall the students reacted positively although there were quite a few students who did not watch the videos by the due date (we gave them almost a week). I should have had them fill out another survey to get more specific feedback---I guess I still can.
On my part, I’m so used to being the stereotypical “sage on the stage” that I had problems relinquishing being in the front of the class. I worried that the students still didn’t “get” the information from the videos and basically reviewed it afterwards. That is something that I need to work on, regardless of my flipping future. My students need more exposure to critical thinking and I need to be willing to provide them that opportunity. Honestly, this is one reason I love teaching because if I don’t get it right the first time, I can always try to be better in the future.
My Flipping Future
As the school year comes to a close, I don’t think that I will have the opportunity to do another flipped lesson for US History. I have already bombarded the students with review assignments and I just don’t want to add any more to that. Wes and I are, however, recording some of our review sessions for students to use outside of class to study from. This is great for our students who don’t always get things the first time around and for the majority of our students who don’t have any clue as to how to study. I’ve already uploaded some of my review of the Constitution onto YouTube and the students were very happy to hear that they will have that as an added resource.
I may have time to flip my Psychology classes a few more times prior to the end of the school year. Electives are such a different beast than Regents courses. I love the freedom from being bound to a test! I always have so much that I want to teach on Abnormal Psych that I never have time for and flipping will be the perfect remedy for that problem.
Speaking of Psychology, I got accepted to ninth annual American Psychological Association (APA)/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers on July 22-24, 2013 at Clark University in Worcester, MA! And I was thinking about not applying!!!! I’m really excited about this opportunity and the positive impact it will have on my Psychology classes in the future!
So, stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated on my flipping process. It’s certainly something that I am still very eager to do and do successfully. That’s why there’s summer, right? Do work on all of the things that there just isn’t time for during the school year!