Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beginning the flip!

So, with new curriculum outlined and power point videos made (well, at least for the first unit), it was time to implement the flip. But how was I going to explain this to the parents and the students?

First I started with the parents. I decided to take a proactive approach. Since our wonderful grading system could send a letter to all of our parents easily, I set to work writing the letter. I outlined what a flipped classroom would look like, what my expectations for students would be, and what I would be doing during class time. I read it, proofread it, sent it to colleagues to proofread it, then sent it off to the parents about a week before school started. Then I waited.

I was sure that I was going to hear from some parents. I was ready with my explanation of why I was flipping, how I thought this was going to improve student achievement, how I expected things to work in the classroom. And I continued to wait. Amazingly, I didn't hear from one parent before school started, or in the first weeks of school.

So, the next task was getting the students on board with the new system. Even though I am accustomed to being thought of as the "tough" and "mean" teacher, I knew that if I couldn't get the kids to buy into the flip it would be dead in the water. Luckily, we have a crazy schedule for the first day of school, and I see all my classes for 20 minutes....the perfect amount of time to talk to them about the flip.

I was grateful that although the parents did not say anything to me about the flipped classroom, many of them had talked to my students about it. So, many of the kids had a basic idea of what was going to happen. I talked with them about how much time I felt like we have wasted in class - waiting for students to copy notes, having some students drawing pictures in their notebooks while others begged "don't change the slide yet!".  As I talked about this, I watched as my students nodded in agreement, and breathed a sigh of relief.

We talked about how I would make the videos, and how they could watch them on their time, rewinding them, stopping them, and going at the right speed for each of them. I explained how they would never miss a lecture again. I also gave them their first packet - which made them cringe. I will admit, it looked a little intimidating. I explained how the packet contained two weeks worth of work. I went over the assignment sheet with all of the assignments and deadlines outlined. All of the students seemed to like the idea of being able to work on their own and in groups. I was excited that there was no major pushback at the onset.

With the first day done, there was no looking back. We were off and running, and I couldn't wait to see how successful this new format would be!