Flipped Flop(?)

I wrote before about using an electronic flipped classroom method for a grade 11/12 split physics class (3U/4C) that I adapted from Heather’s resources. I really loved and believed in the method. It was well thought-out, gave the students learning and assessment options, and utilized the iPads the students had access too.

Other teachers, admin, and a learning coordinator seemed impressed with it, and gave me very positive feedback and encouragement.

But, the students just hated it. I had complaints from students (and parents) about how

  •  I wasn’t teaching
  • it was too hard to learn physics “on their own”
  • they didn’t feel like (or know if) they were learning anything

Their resulting performance on the assessments (mastery checks, labs, projects, quizzes, tests) told me they were doing great. In fact, the average for the class was about an 80%.

Even with this evidence, I decided to back off rather than push forward because of the negative feedback. I first did a hybrid unit: some flipped-style, some lecture-style.  The next unit the 4Cs did self-guided investigations of simple machines, and I did straight-up lectures with the 3Us for advanced kinematics. Once they got a taste of the lecture-style, that’s all they wanted when given the option (even the 4Cs), so I felt I had to continue with that method.

This decision  was disheartening and disappointing for me. I really thought 21st-century high school students would appreciate more innovative teaching methods, but it seems lecture-style is seen as the epitome of what teaching is supposed to look like.

Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t given up on the flipped method so easily or so early. I think many of the students appreciated what I was trying to do, but the negative voices were the loudest, and I let that dictate the direction of the classroom.

I do think I will try this method in the future if I get the chance again. Three things I will improve are:

  1. Sticking with it longer. Two units wasn’t long enough for the students to really get comfortable with it and realize how consistently well they were doing.
  2. The support given needs to be in place longer than I thought. In the first two units, I was doing homework checks, keeping track of when the students handed in their assessments (using a Google spreadsheet they could check), provided check points so they knew they were on track, would allow them to resubmit their work, and gave bonus tickets for completing additional tasks. I then started pulling back on these, giving the students more responsibility, but perhaps I did this to0 quickly.
  3. The lecture choice needs to be there for every lesson, but they should be pre-prepared and shorter (some were turning into full-period lessons). Also, I’d like to ensure other students don’t feel they have to listen to a lecture if it’s going on. One of my colleagues suggested that I allow other students do their readings/watch videos while giving the lecture as long as they’re quietly working.

If I do use this method again, I’ll be sure to write about it!

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One Response to Flipped Flop(?)

  1. Heather T says:

    Hi Alyssa!
    I know *exactly* what you are talking about. I had a rougher-than-usual go with a flipped classroom last year with a group of grade 9s, who I thought would actually be the MOST receptive to a flip, being new to high school. I blogged a bit about my frustration here: https://goo.gl/yU9dSf

    Initially, I had the opposite effect marks-wise than you had, too – I had to contact many parents with a cautionary message at mid-term, saying that science marks were currently lower than might be expected because the students were still adapting to new methods. We were seeing good progress, though, and by the end of the course, everyone was demonstrating their learning at a level that was on par with previous learning experiences, if not better. But it took at least half of the semester to get there.

    Students have learned how to play the school game, and many have gotten good at it. I understand how frustrating it can be to have the “rules changed” mid-way through your education. I’m confident your students are better off because of the flip, even if it is only a realization that they are very good lecture learners, and uncertain independent learners! That can be an important thing for them to realize.

    As for the mini-lectures, they have completely changed how I teach. No more theatrics or stories, but also no more power struggles with students who do NOT learn best by being lectured to. Very tailored and to the point, no bells and whistles. While I totally appreciate a good story-teller (I had some AMAZING profs like that), my notes seemed to function better getting right to the heart of what the student was questioning.

    I can’t wait to hear about the next time you try this!

    Like

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