Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
April 14th, 2012 by Luann

Will I “Flip” my Classroom?

Truth is, I already did. Years ago.

About 2 years into my career, I figured out that if students arrived in class already knowing something about the day’s learning, they took away a deeper, more satisfying, understanding. We were able to use class time differently, in ways that helped us learn more authentically.

I did not need standardized tests, value-added evaluations, or clever new names for the method to figure this out, by the way.

I also noticed that if reading from a textbrick textbook was assigned (suffice it to say that I’ve been teaching a while), students tended to dutifully “read” through the sentences as though they were reading a novel, because that’s how they had been taught to read.  They’d show up in class the next day and say, “I read it but I don’t get it.” And yes, I think that’s the title of some book that I probably should read.

I also began to notice that students needed not just to “read,” but to construct some kind of model representing the knowledge they were constructing. (Wow, what a novel idea…..) So, I structured some methods to help students get the learning they needed from nonfiction text. Disclaimer: I’m not a reading teacher. I know only what helps me learn and what other students tell me has help them learn. It’s mostly the suggestions one hints from other students I pass along. The reading involves either the structured outline I provide, or some kind of model the student begins to construct and modifies as we work through a concept.  We work through the structured outline at least once, together in class, so students have an idea of the kinds of learning they need to be extracting from the text, then they move on to another type of model of their choosing. I’m still learning how to help students read so please share anything I should know.

The students who read using one of the suggested strategies made unsolicited comments about how much this helped them understand whatever we did in class. (At that time, I was still lecturing on a regular basis. As I moved away from lecture, students continued to make the same comments.)

Sometimes, for various reasons, students did not read. Most of the time, a student who didn’t read found classmates to catch him/her up on the reading, so they would come to class with some background preparation. I was OK with that. The reading prep was meant to take no more than 20 minutes, but sometimes, even that was too much. The catch-up-via-friend method served its purpose. Both friends learned from such a sharing experience.

At my current school, there are a number of students who can’t read, or can’t read English. I’m using more and more video options for these students. I also offer the options My district adopted new textbooks this spring, a textbook that includes videos and animations. I’ll use some of them, some of the college-level open courseware for AP Chemistry, and, inspired by this idea from Peter Pappas, will this year ask students to make and share their own videos.

When the new textbricks textbooks arrive, I’ll re-work my reading guides to fit their delivery, and add options for using the online materials as well. And I’ll add an update to this post when that’s done.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my “flipped classroom.”



One Response to “Will I “Flip” my Classroom?”
  1. Your observations and implementations make a lot of sense. I think that good instruction always follows a need. As teachers, we just need to remain observant and modify our methods to best meet the needs of our kids. Thanks for sharing!

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