Flipped Classroom attempt #2

I changed schools this year so I decided not to flip my honors chemistry class at the beginning of the year.  I learned from my previous school what when you are non-traditional in a very traditional program that has had much success with traditional methods, maybe you need to take it slow.  So, what I did this year was to slowly integrate aspects, philosophies, of the flipped classroom into each unit so that when I did flip, the transition wouldn’t be so dramatic.

To be clear, my supervisor, while open to my crazy ideas, was hesitant to let me have full control so I am only flipping in my Honors Chemistry class.  The class is made of 26 sophomores: 12 boys and 14 girls.  While all of my students have computers at home, the level of technology use is extremely varied to the point where I had to show one student how to find my videos on Youtube.  I have 8 netbook computers in the class only because I stole borrowed 4 from a colleague who never uses them.  Otherwise the only other piece of technology in the room is my personal Tablet PC and the school’s projector.  

Change #1:  Objective based grading
I wanted the grade in the class to be less about the assignment and more about the objective behind the assignment.  I have 3 objectives for my stoichiometry unit:

  1. Determine the number of grams of a compound produced in a reaction given the amount of reactant.
  2. Explain, citing specific sources of error, why the percent yield of a reaction in a lab was not equal to 100%.
  3. Explain why it is necessary to identify the limiting reagent in a reaction and how it can be used to explain the results of a lab.
Each activity whether it be watching the podcasts, completing a HW, or performing a lab, had one of those three objectives with it.  While all of the assignments were always linked to an objective, this time I just made it more obvious which ones.  I also identified some assignments as REQUIRED and others as optional.  This threw the students off because they saw an assignment name and immediately thought they had to do it.  What I explained was this optional assignments were going to be used as a way to better demonstrate their understanding of the material to me.  Everyone has to do certain assignments as basically a benchmark to compare each student, but the others are ways to help them pull up their grade.  Also, every objective has multiple assignments associated so just because you get a perfect score on 1 activity, doesn’t mean you have mastered the objective.  You need to demonstrate it in a variety of ways.

Change #2:  Vary electronic assessment
Even though I use Moodle for my website, not everything runs the way I want it to.  Last year I saved class time by having my quizzes online.  While I initially had that setup, it has failed me so quizzes are going to be done in class as well as the tests.  I had rumors of cheating last year and I want to squash as much of that as possible.  I am trying to integrate more electronic assessment into the class, though.

Change #3:  More problem-based labs
I have always wanted to do this one lab that is adapted from an AP Chem exam question.  The question gives the students a variety of pieces of equipment, a few chemicals and asks them to develop a procedure for producing a specific amount of Barium Sulfate.  It is a great question and the perfect problem-based lab. My labs are typically cookie-cutter labs where as long as they follow the procedure, they are fine.  This will be the first time both my students and I are doing this type of lab and I am excited to see how they handle it.

Change #4:  More examples
One of the most common suggestions I received from my students last year was that they wanted more example problems in the podcasts.  The dilemma I faced was fitting in the information as well as the examples into the 15 minutes (Youtube doesn’t allow videos longer than 15 min).  Such an easy, and obvious fix, is to simply make entire podcasts of example problems.  All of the problems come from the Review Sheet and it is just me going over the work.  Using Camtasia Studio makes it simple because I can switch from a document to the PowerPoint and zoom in on the question we are working on.  I don’t have to create more problems or make ppts just for them.  Has helped a lot of the students and allowed me to ask more in depth questions during our 1:1 time.

We are only 1 week into a 3 week unit so check back after Thanksgiving to see my update.  I will also post the survey results that I am doing on Stixy.


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