Monday, April 30, 2012

Steps for a successful flipped class

With the influx of new tools and press for the flipped classroom, there is so much information both good and bad about the flipped classroom. I find myself comparing all of the criticism of the flipped classroom to the Harry Potter books when they came out. So many people and various groups complained about the books, but were basing their opinions on what they had heard about ...they had never actually read the book. It is impossible to judge the flipped classroom by reading an article or a few blog posts. In my opinion, these are the steps a teacher does when flipping a class, in order of importance!
  1. Research - Do all you can to find out about flipped classrooms. Think outside the box. Don't just rely on looking in your content area. You never know where you are going to find good ideas.
  2. Train - Go to the Flipped Class Conference, find webinars, find someone flipping in your area.
  3. Plan - Plan how you want students to complete assigned work. Decide if you are looking at a basic flipped structure, or if you are going to go for a mastery system.
  4. Create Objectives - Create objectives for every unit of study, making sure they meet the standards. Make sure that they are measurable and achieve the overall goal of your class. Constantly ask yourself, "What do they need to know at the end of the unit, semester, class."
  5. Evaluate your assignments -  Make sure that every assignment you give is meaningful, thought-provoking, and on target with your objectives. Make sure assignments have a tie-in to the bigger picture and there are higher level thinking questions. Expect kids to make connections. 
  6. Evaluate your assessments - Create good assessments with a variety of types of assessing. Use written, spoken and presentational assessments. The best advice for an assessment? Make sure your students can't put your question in a search engine and immediately get the right answer.
  7. Plan - With every unit, plan a combination of activities that will reach a variety of learning styles. Have a combination of group and solo work. Every unit should give students a chance to
  8. Videos - Create videos of your lectures that are meaningful and SHORT. Remember that students on average will take 3-4 times as long to watch the video as it is long. Students will check out if the video is too long, just like they check out in class. apply what they have learned in a "real" situation.
  9. Technology - Use technology, but make use it appropriately for your class. There are many great tools out there, but not all of them are effective classroom tools. Find 2 or 3 you like and stick with them.Allow students to use technology in class. Determine "acceptable use" practices and consequences in advance. Have a back-up plan for technology problems.
  10. Set class policies - Decide if students must watch videos outside of class and how you will check to ensure that they do. Set collaboration parameters. (i.e. - how big of a group can work together). Determine where groups can work. (Can students only be in the classroom, can they work in the hall?)
I wish I could say I did all of these before I started, but I did do most of them. Notice that making videos is far down the list, and planning and evaluating are on the list twice. If these steps (even most of them) are done by the teacher, the results are amazing. Students are more engaged, take more responsibility for their learning, and (on the whole) have a better grasp of the information presented. I want to meet the educator that can argue with that!