Monthly Archives: August 2011

Initial reflections on my move to the flipped IB Chemistry class

It’s now August 27th, and I’m sitting here reflecting on my first week attempting to flip my chemistry classes. I had a lot of plans for summer work that didn’t get done. (Sinus surgery, travel, excuses, new work responsibilities to prepare for, etc.) The reality is that I felt a little behind the proverbial 8-ball as the year started. And that feeling hasn’t necessarily changed. But I’ve moved forward with the flipped model in two of my four classes, and plan to use the flipped model in a third class at times. My senior IB Chemistry class chose to stick with the model I used last year (mostly lecture-based), but my two junior IB Chemistry classes seem to be excited about the flip. I’ve already started producing videos on atomic structure and using classtime for discussions, etc.

The first benefit I see so far is that students like being able to pause and rewind my videos. The first drawback I can see is that mistakes I make while recording a video are ‘permanent’ and not as easily fixable. When lecturing in front of a class, if I mistakenly tell my students that chlorine is element number 35, inevitably somebody will look at a periodic table, raise her/his hand and say, “Mr. Thomsin, isn’t bromine element number 35?” After slapping my forhead and saying, “Doh!” I can of course correct my error and make sure everybody got that. Then I can give another example just to make sure. But in my video, if I accidently say that chlorine is element 35 (not sure why I thought that…but I wasn’t smart enough to have a periodic table in front of me) I can’t fix it. So I now will record a new version of that video to avoid the mistake. And I’m sure I’ll make other mistakes as well.  Upon reflecting about this here, I wonder if a bit more ‘rehearsal’ would be called for before I record the video. When I give a lecture, I know that I can correct any problems I have on the spot and be OK with it, but with the video there is no second chance.

For my two IB Chemistry classes, I have made the distinct goal of not just changing my lecture-drill model to video-drill. I need to adapt my teaching to challenge my students to understand concepts better and not just be good at following problem-solving algorithms. So to that end, I’m working on more demonstrations that can start class discussions to follow-up on topics from the videos. And I’m interested in having the students complete more frequent mini-labs that don’t need to be assessed for the IB program but can help solidify concepts, or even allow students to identify patterns. For electron configuration, I’m planning on asking the students to recognize patters on ionization energies to see if they can develop a model for electron shells. Then I’ll follow that with the typical electron configuration lecture. I’ll try to blog about how that goes, as that’s more than just using video for lecture, but actually trying to change the way I teach. (What I’m saying here is that if the only thing I did was lecture on video instead of in front of the class, that’s not a significant change to my teaching. I want the flipped class to be more than that.)

So the process continues for me this weekend as I prepare a few more videos. I’m not as far ahead as I wanted to be, but I’ll work at it until I’m comfortable with the results.

Until next time.
Lowell

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