The Nuts and Bolts of my Flipped Unit on Equilibrium

Since I’ve now ‘dipped my feet into the flipped class‘ I thought I’d share some of the nuts-and-bolts of how I did it, with a little more detail than previously offered.

The class I’ll describe here is year 1 (11th Grade)  IB Chemistry, with both Standard Level and Higher Level students. This unit, on equilibrium, is the last unit of the school year before heading out on summer vacation. It’s also the first unit I’ve truly flipped. I didn’t give a single lecture during class time. These students had seen a handful of videos from me previously in situations where I was absent and wanted to deliver content, but they had never experienced the full flipped model.

First, here is the tracking sheet I created. Unfortunately, I created this a few days into my flipped unit, so it wasn’t as effective as I’d like. In my previous post, I mentioned that a significant improvement would be to create a tracking sheet for the students. So I figured there was no reason to wait until next year to create one.

Next, here is a screenshot of this unit within  my Moodle page. It gives you an idea of how I organize things for my students. The directory that contains the videos worked better than posting the videos individually.

Screen Capture of the Equilibrium Unit of my Moodle Page

The image below is from my calendar. I create a class calendar for each class using Microsoft Word and save it as a webpage. I then post this to the Moodle site and students (and parents!) can access the calendar. I don’t use a typical teacher planning book, so I don’t find this takes any additional time. Yet I see a tremendous benefit to students to follow what’s happening in the class, especially if they are absent. And parents seem to appreciate being able to access the calendar to see what’s going on.

Calendar of the Equilibrium Unit

For this unit, I asked them to watch the first video as homework after we took the test on the previous topic. Then in class, I gave them a simulation activity I developed/modified from others. The students worked in small groups to complete the simulation. Since this was a short class (60 minutes compared to a normal 80-minute block) the students didn’t finish. Friday was our next class together and 80% of my class was absent for sports tournaments, and I was absent for my own tournament. So I gave a reviewsheet on stoichiometry and the mole for the remainder of the students. I asked my Higher Level students to watch the first video for them and take notes. Then on Tuesday when I saw them again, we completed a lab on equilibrium. This is not a lab that I use for internal assessment for IB, so the handout is fairly straightforward for the students.

As I type this, it is Thursday and the students had a work day in class today. I gave the students the tracking sheet today and then simply gave them time to complete everything they need for the unit. I then went around and helped students that needed it. I also have a work day planned on Monday, followed by the unit test on Wednesday. I’ll be very curious about the results…and will put up a post after I finish marking their exams. I’m also going to ask the students to reflect a bit on the format of the flipped class just to get some feedback.

For the homework, I didn’t collect any of it. I simply posted answers on Moodle and expected students to ask me questions if the didn’t understand something from it. I think this is a bit more passive than the typical flipped class. It tends to fit my teaching style a bit better, though, where I expect students to take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves when they need help. That said, I am definitely trying to push myself to be a bit more proactive in helping students. That’s one of my stated goals for using the flipped model. I wasn’t perfect for this class, though.

I definitely feel that the flipped class model is helpful for this mixed class, as the Higher Level students have more work to finish. They obviously have more homework as well, but they can work at a pace that suits them. And Diploma students often have a lot of deadlines between all of their classes. I think this model gives students some flexibility. If they are being hit with a paper for Economics and an exam in math, they can go a bit lighter on their chemistry homework for a day or two to compensate. Then they could compensate by putting in a bit of extra work in chemistry to prepare for the exams. I like that this model gives students some choices. One student chose to use some of my class time today to study for an economics exam. The student had the courtesy to ask if he could work on something else. I said yes, as I like students making decisions for themselves. I’m sure there are teachers that would not appreciate students working on another class during their time. And I respect that. It just fits my style better to give students as much flexibility as possible. If I were using a lecture model, the student wouldn’t have had that choice, as most of my class period would likely have been spent on delivering a PowerPoint.

This particular class has had some difficulty being focused and productive in the past when I’ve given them work time. In my opinion, giving them the tracking sheet helped keep them focused. They could check off work they completed and see that they still had work left to accomplish.

Things I’d still like to do better next year:

  • More demonstrations to start classes. I think this would be a good way to give the students more background.
  • I need to plan out the entire unit a bit better. This includes having the tracking sheet from the beginning.
  • Be more clear with my students about due dates. I have a relatively small class, so I often become overly flexible on due dates. I think it would benefit this group to be more clear with due dates. This unit was a bit weird, though, given there was one day in the middle of it when almost all of us were gone. And based on giving students more flexibility, one thing I’m thinking about is simply having the students turn in all of their work at the end of the unit.
  • I still think I can be more proactive in going around and helping students. I have a small class, and I think I can do better at visiting each student and checking on their work, making sure they are getting the help they need. And even in a larger class this model creates more time to visit with students. I need to take advantage of this.
  • I think, for my DP classes, that I’ll include a list of relevant syllabus statements on the tracking sheets next year. I don’t want the tracking sheets to just be ‘work to be completed’ but also ‘concepts to be learned.’

I’m excited about the possibilities of this model, now that I’ve experienced it first-hand. I can see the benefit in putting in the planning time before the unit. So this summer I hope to put together the entire first unit for the classes I’m going to flip next year. Then my job will be to stay one unit ahead the entire year. I have most of my PowerPoints ready to go (although I tend to modify them every year in an effort to improve them), but I’ll need to create the videos and tracking sheets and make sure the workflow is logical.

Cheers.
Lowell

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Nuts and Bolts of my Flipped Unit on Equilibrium

  1. Karen B

    Thanks for the great post….I am getting inspired to try this myself! I agree that it sounds like the front loading of teacher planning time will be the key to success.

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