This year I decided to experiment with my classroom a little bit. I don’t like to lecture. I find it boring and can see when the students just tune out. So this year I decided I am going to flip my classroom. So far so good.
So what does a flipped classroom look like. Instead of students being bored to tears with a lecture every day in class and then going home and struggling with homework, we do the opposite. I let them be bored at home and watch videos or read notes and we do the homework part in class where they can get more help. This approach allows students to take their time with their notes, go back and re-read/watch the parts that were confusing, and jot down things that they need help with while at home. Then they come to school and do the practice, lab, or activity in class to get a deeper understanding of the materials.
There are pros and cons to flipping the classroom. The biggest con is the fact that some students will not actually watch the videos or read the lessons. So far, I have found that a small number of students fall into this category. I tie their lecture notes to a small participation grade which helps motivate students into doing their part. I also make sure that what they are learning at home directly ties into what we are doing in the class the next day. So far, students seem to understand the need to come prepared to class. The other major con is the actual learning outcomes. Much of the research about flipped classrooms is behind paywalls, which means I can’t access it as a teacher (which is its own problem in education and other fields). The articles I do have access to touch on this problem but do not explore it directly, so I’m not sure if flipping the classroom is actually an effective way to reach students. Alls I can do is look at how it affects my students and see if I want to continue next semester.
The pros are pretty great though. I have time in class to help students when they are stuck on problems. I have time to do more labs and hands-on science with students. I have my students up and doing things or working together or actually doing chemistry in the classroom. Those are all things that have been shown in multiple studies and reviews to help students (Carini, Kuh, & Klein, 2006; Chen et al, 2014; Lazonder & Ehrenhard, 2014; Jong, Linn, & Zacharia, 2013). The more assistance and feedback students receive from their teachers, the better they do. And if having them work more in class means I can give them better feedback, than I will continue to flip my classroom.
Flipping the classroom is definitely a difficult thing to do. It requires lots of work on my end to create short videos for my students. But it’s something I am going to continue doing for this semester. I can look at test data and student data to see if this method works for my population of students. Because in the end, it’s all about doing what is right for students.