Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flipped Classroom: Before Making Videos

Some little helpers help a traditional teacher flip her classroom.
Are you ready to flip your class?
It can be intimidating to flip a classroom, especially for professors!  Most often, flipping a classroom is associated with creating videos or finding technology the students use at home so that class time can be used for workshop or group work instead of for lecture.

However, flipping a classroom doesn't have to be a long leap with a short USB cord.  The process can be initiated in small steps.

 This approach, instead of focusing on creating or finding videos, focuses on what happens in the classroom.

Short Reading Quizzes

Course textbooks are carefully reviewed and chosen by faculty for the value they add to a specific course's content.  However, sometimes students are overwhelmed by their college textbooks, and they are unaccustomed to reading entire chapters in one sitting.  Furthermore, some students have never been taught how to take notes or pick main points or arguments from textbooks or supplemental reading.

Using the flipped classroom approach, we can help students make sense of their assigned reading, teach them how to take note of important information, and give them an opportunity to validate their own understanding.  How do we do that?  Using quizzes we create online!  The key is to set up the quiz so that the students can get their scores immediately and can take the quiz multiple times.  Being able to take the quiz multiple times (perhaps with the promise that the highest grade will count) encourages the students to go back to the reading and re-evaluate the content in order to correct their responses.  Although the creation of the quizzes takes time on the front end, helping the students reach a high competency in learning objectives is worth it!

Research Projects and Presentations

Another way to flip a classroom is to ask students to prepare their own lecture content to share with others during class time.  Not only should the students use their textbooks as a resource, they should use original examples and source content from reputable authors and publishers to create lively, engaging presentations.

When students complete research and gather materials as homework, class time can be devoted to helping students work on their presentations, either in groups or by themselves.  Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to help the students develop ethos and other presentation skills, but to experiment with finding and evaluating evidence about the class's specific discipline area.  Additionally, it allows a professor to assess students' understanding of course content in real time, as projects or presentations take shape in front of that professor's eyes.

Self Assessment Narratives

In addition to, or in lieu of quizzing students about assigned reading, a professor can assign narrative essays in which students assess their own understanding of course content.  Assessment, normally a task that takes place in a professor's office after students spend class time creating assessment documents (quizzes, exams, essays), becomes a homework assignment.  Students must look back at the content, and the understanding of that content, in order to complete the essay.  The students must review their notes, look back through any assigned reading, and figure out what they do and do not know about a given topic.

When students self assess, they come back to the class with a greater understanding of not only the content of the course, but of their own strengths and weaknesses, which leads to more in depth class discussions and more poignant questions.

In summary, a flipped classroom does not require a professor to create or find videos in order to flip the classroom.  The "flip" is between lecture and activity.  When students are reading, writing, or reviewing content outside of the classroom, more active learning activity can take place within the classroom.

Want to read more about pedagogy and learning?  Try
The Benefit of "Play" in the Composition Classroom
Motivate the WIIFM Student with a Learning Audit Assignment
Stages in the Development of Critical Thinking

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

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