“What does a typical flipped lesson look like?”
This is one of the most common questions I get asked when I talk to educators about the Flipped Classroom. The truth is there isn’t a “typical” lesson in my class. Every class has a general plan, but since each student is working toward an individual goal, each day is different. But, my classes on Monday went really well so I wanted to share what was happening along with some pictures to illustrate.
On Monday, we were finishing the work we were doing on Electron Configurations and starting the unit on Naming and Forming Compounds. I had a DO NOW on the screen asking students to write the electron configurations for Zn, Ba, and Rn. Since the lesson on EC was 4 days prior (one of the negatives of block schedule) most of the class was confused. I asked a student who felt he knew EC’s well to come up to explain it to the class and answer their questions.
Now came the divide. The students who were still struggling and wanted more practice were given a few more elements to complete on the side whiteboards. Those who were ready to move on worked on the “Homework.” Homework is in quotes because I don’t assign outside of class HW other than to find Chemistry in the world around you. All homework is actually classwork, but it is called homework for the traditionally minded. As the students finished the HW, they gave it to me or my co-teacher to grade and provide feedback on the spot. If they did well, they moved onto the assignment posted in Google Classroom; if they didn’t they were given the opportunity to complete another. [Note: we use a modified mastery learning system in which students can complete up to 4 versions of any of our Quizzes, HW, Tests, or Projects. Some students do it just to add extra grades; some do it to offset low grades. No matter what all are more knowledgeable at the end.]
Now, the assignment posted in Google Classroom kicked off the next unit we were studying. There were 2 instructional videos to watch (both less than 5 min), a Self-Check Quiz in a Google Form (which was auto-graded by Flubaroo with the score and answer key emailed in return immediately), and practice problems to complete (yes, you can read that as a worksheet). The practice problems are necessary because we are at a point where drill and kill is a necessary technique to get students to truly understand what is happening.
Now, this is why I can’t give you a traditional lesson. At this point in the block, I have 3 levels of students: those still working on the Electron Configuration HW because they needed that extra practice, those taking notes, and those working on the practice problems. That is 25 students spanning 2 different units. But, if a class didn’t have the faster learners, they might all have stayed together on the same topic for longer. I can’t predict that until we are actually in the middle of the lesson somewhere.
The Flipped Classroom isn’t a magic bullet and I don’t think that I am a good teacher just because I use it. What I do know is my students get a greater level of support from their teachers because of it. My faster learners no longer feel like they are being held back, the students who need more support get more attention from me and get more of their questions answered, and I get to talk to every student every day.
The beauty of the Flipped Classroom is that no 2 classes look exactly the same. My Flipped Classroom will and SHOULD look different from yours. You have different kids, a different school, and you are a different teacher. No matter what you do or how you do it, just remember to make the time that you spend with your students meaningful!
[Author’s Note]: this post was originally written at the beginning of October, but was never posted.