Flipping my Flipped Classroom

I ran into some problems last week as the marking period was drawing to a close.  Lots of stressed out students who were not good about time management were cramming assignments in at the last second.  One of them even exploded in class almost yelling at me, saying that she used to look forward to my class and now she hates it because of the flipped classroom.  Time to do some serious reflections.

Now, why is it that great ideas seem to come when you don’t have access to pen and paper to jot them down?

Of course I am in the shower when I had an epiphany.  Actually it was a series of ways of how I can change the structure of my class to make this method work better for everyone.

  1. Change the structure of the room–I think part of the problem with allowing the students to structure the room is they work with people that are at their level in the material and so have no one to really turn to when they get stuck except me.  If specific parts of the room are focused toward different types of work, it will create more heterogeneous groups.  Three lab benches will be dedicate to lab work this way I don’t have to worry about constantly setting up and tearing down labs because all of the necessary equipment will already be there.  The place that students typically need help the most is on homework and review sheets so 1-2 benches will be dedicated for this purpose.  If all of the students at the bench are working on homework, they will give them a better chance of getting immediate help.  This will now leave the desks space for general purpose or test taking.
  2. Redesign the videos–The videos mimic my previous lecture style:  a bit of notes followed by examples the illustrate the content.  One student this year is tried to complete the entire marking period without watching the videos and learning everything from the homework problems or other students.  This got me thinking that maybe the examples don’t need to be in the video with the content.  So, the main videos will be strictly content with all examples problems moved to separate videos (think video 1a and 1b to keep them connected).  This will give me more time in the videos to explain content and throw in some animations or other short video clips as illustration.  The videos will also be a lot shorter.
  3. Standard-based assignments–while I started to make this change this past marking period, all it really do is make it clearer what objective the assignments are linked to.  However, I don’t feel I could really say whether a student mastered an objective based on the results of the assignment.  So, homework and test questions will be focused on specific objectives first and then have some integrated problems at the end.  Each assignment will also be broken down into smaller sets with fewer points.  They will add to the same in the end, but this will allow me to evaluate them more frequently and give better, more specific feedback prior to final assessments.  
  4. Tests–The tests will also have a radical change to them.  The fact that tests take an entire period really hurts the flow of the class.  Tests will be broken up into 3 parts of 15 minutes each to allow them to be taken over the course of the entire unit.  What does sitting down for a 45 minute stretch of time at the end of a unit really prove about their ability to take a test?  That they can recall information they learned 3 weeks prior?  Since the questions will be focused on specific groups of objectives, as soon as they feel they have mastered the objectives, they can sit for that portion.  If a student wants to take multiple or all of the parts on the same day, so be it.  I used to think that tests were a great way to prepare students for midterms/finals, but how does a 45 minute test on 1 unit really prepare them for a 2 hour semester examination?  I’ll let the other courses prepare them for that.
  5. Weekly progress indicators–The number one complaint from the student who hated my class is that she couldn’t manage her time properly and needed me to tell her what to do.  Now, I still give the assignment chart which details all of the “due dates,” but she needs more.  So each week the students will receive a grade out of 5 based on their completion of assignments/objectives.  If they are on track, they get a 5; if they are behind they get a 0.  I know this is a little unfair, but carrots can be great motivators, especially little ones like this that will add to be about 2 homework assignments by the end of the MP.  Now, unbeknownst to them, the grade will not be averaged into their MP grade, but will still be visible to them and their parents.  
I don’t know if any of this will work.  But, what I do know, is what I am doing isn’t working for everyone.  Sure most of the class has said how much they enjoy what we are doing, but the ones who don’t really, really hate it.  Changes need to be made for that latter group.
I would love to hear thoughts/comments.  Any help you can give is greatly appreciated.
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6 thoughts on “Flipping my Flipped Classroom

  1. Dan Spencer

    Marc,
    Keep up the great work! Some of my most rewarding moments came by having the time management discussion with my kids. It's a growing process for both you and them. As you continue to tweak your classroom it will make it easier for them to take ownership of their learning.

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  2. Crystal Kirch

    Love some of these thoughts:
    #2 – I have started to split up my videos into parts as well and found it helpful. I still do an example or two in the main video, but have extra examples in a part 2 or 3

    #4 – trying to figure this out myself. I want to redesign my test structure so it is not the “whole period” like it is now. Will you be having every student take the same test every day, or will they take the objectives they are ready for? How will this affect the # of versions you have to make and grading?

    Thanks for sharing – lots to think about 🙂

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  3. MSeigel

    Crystal, I add videos at the end that are just extra examples. I have a student who is refusing to watch the videos and trying to learn everything from the Review Sheets and HW problems. Mostly this is out of principle, but I want to see if this entices him to just take the notes and continue the way he has been. As for the tests, the students take the tests when they are ready so the entire group may not be testing on the same day. I already create multiple versions of the tests because they can be retaken if failed so I will just need 1-2 more.

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  4. SMeech

    1. Are you having students create some of that work / video? 2. The strength in the flip is the ability to differentiate with your students. Are you doing that? 3. How about some serious reflection on why they hated it? Does seat time in your class become less relevant? 4. Are you enriching the learning environment with hands on and meaningful lessons? 5. Have you incorporated other forms of instruction or are you assigning lecture videos and calling it a flipped classroom? If so, that is flipped homework.

    Just some other questions … Thanks for the post and keep sharing your reflections.

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  5. Marc Seigel

    SMeech, I am in a very traditional school so many of the changes you are suggesting are very radical for my students. While much of my instruction does come from recorded videos and animation, some does come from the students. A number of students have become peer tutors for others in class and, this marking period, they will have the opportunity to replace a HW assignment with whatever work they feel demonstrates their understanding of the material. That may be problems they designed, alternative assessments or student made videos. I am also going to open up the opportunity to create their own lab. Some students asked for this earlier in the year and I will give them the chance to bring their own lab to class if I have the materials and it meets the units objectives. Thanks for the comments and keep the great ideas coming!

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  6. Jon Bergmann

    Marc: I love your reflections. You are asking the right questions. Keep up the good work. I would definitely listen to Scott's questions. They will get you even deeper into helping your students learn more deeply and help you become a better facilitator of the learning.

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