Well, I finally did it! I flipped two classes. I’ve been contemplating this for a looooong time and finally put it all together. Well, maybe I didn’t put it ALL together, but I flipped my Pre-DP Chemistry class for a unit on stoichiometry and my Year 1 DP Chemistry class for a unit on equilibrium. So now I’d like to offer some random thoughts on what I did, how I did it and how I think it worked, along with some feedback about what I think I should have done better.
I’m not convinced that my ‘method’ of flipping will be for everybody. But if you’re exploring the option of flipping your class, I hope my thoughts provoke some reflection on your part about how to do things better in your own class. And I welcome comments, questions and suggestions. I am, by no means, highly accomplished at this.
- For better or worse, I’m still sort of an ‘old-school’ teacher. For a subject like chemistry, while teaching to the IB syllabus, I tend to rely (maybe too much?) on lecture as a means of delivering content. I don’t intend for this to be a debate/discussion about that. I’m more interested in the flipped class model and how it can work for my style of teaching. And I think it might lead me to more creative ways to get the students to learn/practice AFTER the lectures. That’s my hope. But more on that later.
- I am creating videos using BB Flashback Express 2 Recorder (Found here.) My school pushes Jing, but I found BB Flashback Express Recorder better, as it allows for longer recorder. (I actually used BB Flashback Express Recorder previously when I created videos for my IB Chemistry Higher Level students to give them some AHL content that I didn’t have time to deliver in class.) I am using the freeware version, so I can only save the videos as Flash videos. I have found this to work, as students can watch them on my Moodle page. (Maybe a bit more on Moodle later.) I’ve thought about upgrading to the paid version so I can save the files as .avi. That would allow my students to watch them on other devices. Not sure…but if the students push me in this direction, I’ll probably move that way.
- I find it takes about half the time (or even less!) to record a video as it does to give the same lecture. (This isn’t about preparation time…but actual delivery time.) My lecture style is very interactive. I don’t just monotone the content. I get students answering questions along the way. I pause for them to take notes. With the video, I ‘interact’ by asking them to pause the movie and work ahead of me, then check their answers. This doesn’t take any time. And I don’t have the conversation with my class that I normally do during a lecture. But I still talk in my style, crack my corny jokes and try to get students to think while they are listening.
- I find the preparation time for each lecture is a bit longer than for a standard lecture. If I make a mistake in a lecture, I can pause the PowerPoint and fix the mistake. I can’t do that in a video. I also tend to put a bit more thought into sequencing my delivery in such a way as to provoke thinking. In a classroom setting, I tend to be more spontaneous based on the discussion. So I tend to plan my delivery which takes more time.
- Initial student feedback from my Pre-DP class was positive. Students feel they benefit from being able to pause the video and catch up, or rewind to hear it again. I ended up having them watch the videos in class last week, as I was gone the first day I flipped the class. About half my class was gone also, so today I had them all watch the videos they needed. (Either the first one if they were gone, or the second one if they were here last week.) My expectation is that all of the students will catch up on both videos before I see them next Monday. (Due to a scheduling conflict with an awards assembly, I won’t be seeing the students again until Monday.) I found this model to be perfect for this scenario of students and teacher absences. All of the students were productive and engaged in learning. Wow.
- Initial student feedback from my DP Chemistry class is mixed at this point. Due to my absence last week, I’ve been a bit out of touch with this class. Today they’re doing a lab and the Higher Level students have a video to watch on a topic. Hypothetically, they should have already watched the first HL video. It’s a small class and I haven’t gotten a feel for their opinions yet.
- For the worksheets in my Pre-DP class, I actually posted answers. Not worked solutions, but just mathematical answers. So when students completed their questions, they could check their work. This is something new for me, but I think I like it. Students can get instant feedback on their work. (A note about grading in my classes. We use an ‘IB Diploma Program’ of grading. This means students are graded on exams and labs. Only. So I don’t grade them on effort in class and homework. So giving them answers to check their work makes sense within this model. And so far, I haven’t found students to just cruise by writing down the answers. They know they need to actually do the work, rather than just writing down the answers.)
- I do not think I will use the ‘mastery’ model that others are using. (See Brian Bennett for an example of the mastery model used with a flipped class.) I intend (at this point) to keep the students on a pretty set pace. I will have them complete labs at the same time and work towards a unit test for each topic. I will likely re-visit this idea next year.
- I found the Vodcasting Ning to be a very helpful resource.
- As for improvements, one thing I really need to improve is the sequencing of the unit. I am not very good at long range planning. So I think it will be really important for me to plan the entire unit next year when I flip the whole class. This includes having every video already recorded, along with the in-class work.
- As part of the improvement mentioned above, I think I need to give the students some sort of tracking sheet to organize their progress through the videos and the work. Some people use Google Forms for this. Others create handouts. I haven’t decided how to do this yet. One thought is to use Moodle somehow.
For some closing thoughts, I’m really pleased with the flipped class so far. I don’t have any data to support the notion that student learning will improve. That will come later, and it won’t be done in a very scientific manner. And I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts. As they arrive, I’ll add more to the blog and/or the comments below.
And as I said, I’d love for feedback/comments/suggestions.
Until next time.