A Flipped Classroom Journey

A lot is changing in education – there are radical ideas (abolishing homework) through to the more subtle (replacing chairs with bouncy balls). So why pay attention to the “flipped classroom” movement? The idea of a “flipped classroom” might sound foreign and even a little silly, but as you delve into the paradigm you will find, just as I did, that it has the most drastic effect on learning.

The idea is simple – set the learning work for homework and the traditional homework as classwork. The first reaction you will think of (and get from your students) is: They call it homework for a reason, Sir!” But the reality of it is that the traditional homework, where students reinforce their learning and most of the times complete higher order thinking activities is being done at home, without teacher help or supervision. A flipped classroom seeks to fix this. Rather than spending your time in class on lower order thinking skills (remembering, understanding, etc) and teaching content or concepts, asks your students to read an article or watch a video. Arm them with the knowledge so that when they get to class, you can get to what matters – the activities that target the higher order thinking skills. So how does this theory apply in the real life classroom?

I implemented this over a six month trial in a Year 9 Mathematics class. These kids had, for the most part, given up on learning maths. Marks were on the low and unhelpful behaviour was on the rise… Here was a typical lesson:

typical-classroom-time-spent.png

When I analysed the activities that my class consisted of, I found that I spent most of my class time on teaching a concept, for example how to find the missing sides of a compound shape. This was a low order skill when classifying it according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. The higher order skills (applying, creating) were set for homework (which was either not complete or copied from the answers).

blooms-taxonomy-in-class.png

So I decided to make the change – from the first day of Term 3, I told students what the plan was: their homework was to watch a video before each lesson. The students were confused and even a little fearful, but the effects were immediate. I was not spending any class time on low order skills – the students were instructed to sit down and start the activity on the board (or the worksheet handed out). There was a few flow on effects from this style of teaching:

  1. The “lessons” were differentiated by default – students could take their own time to watch the video and learn the concept. They could stop, start and replay it at will, and if it took them an extra 20 minutes to do it they weren’t slowing anyone else down!
  2. Behaviour issues were down – students didn’t get upset, embarrassed or confused because they understood the content before the class started and their friends were all at the same starting point walking into the room (regardless of how many times they watched the video!)
  3. Students could revise the lessons before exams (or when they felt like they had to revisit an earlier concept)

In my flipped classroom, this is what my lessons looked like now:

flipped-classroom-time-spent.png

And this was the new way that Bloom’s Taxonomy was being prioritised:

flipped-classroom-blooms-taxonomy.png

It wasn’t all rosy, though:

  • I custom made the videos, which took about 1 hour per lesson – I could use them next year, but the initial investment was high. Had I known about Skwirk at the time I could have used their content instead!
  • Some students still came to class without preparation – once students realised that they weren’t ready for class and the others were contributing freely, the students picked up the slack and watched the videos they missed.

In all, the flipped classroom was a success. I unfortunately was taken off the class at the end of the year, but students actually begged me to make more videos for them!

I highly enjoyed my flipped classroom experience and I hope that you decide to take the leap.

If you would like to know more about my journey or how you can flip your classroom, feel free to contact us to get an online presentation.

Skwirk provides over 18,000 resources that can form the basis of an engaging and meaningful flipped classroom lesson. Take a trial here and see how Skwirk can help your classroom. Keep in touch – we’d love to hear your experiences with flipped lessons!

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