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With flipped learning, how to make sure students are doing the work


Stacey Roshan has found that flipping her math class leads to more powerful classroom interactions.

In the three years that my advanced math classes have been flipped, I have been able to get to know my students, as individuals, better than I have ever been able to before. My goal is always to make the classroom feel a little more like play, while still maintaining rigor. I have found that inverting the traditional classroom dynamic has lowered anxiety levels while increasing student performance. The same is proving true for other teachers around the world.

So, why isn’t everyone flipping? Simply put, the flipped classroom challenges the dominant format of our education system—lecture delivery—which remains prevalent in the U.S.

Flipped class methods differ, so let me define mine: In my classes, most students watch videos on their laptops (and some on an iPad), at home. When students come to class, we tackle their needs for the day. Often, this means delving deeper into the topic introduced in the video on the board, together. So instead of a one-way lecture, we start with an interactive discussion. From there, students break into groups to work on problems or get their individual needs met. These problems are what they typically would have been left to figure out at home, without any support

But it’s not simply: lecture at home on video and homework in class. The most important element, for me, is that the content delivery (a very one-way activity) is sent home to free up classroom time for interactive discussion and problem solving. The most important part of the learning process is what happens in the classroom. And the flipped class allows me to make this a reality. Ultimately, students are more engaged with me and their peers—and knowledge is being transferred among all of us. I’m learning from them as well, often through dialog—how they process information, comprehension, and what they need from me to progress.

(Next page: How in-video quizzes can help)

If you’re concerned that students won’t really view video material before class, you can quiz them while they’re watching and have the results automatically scored and sent to you in a tidy spreadsheet. Some popular tools, like TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, make it easy to embed quizzes in lesson videos.

An example of an in-video quiz to check for comprehension.

When you set up in-video quizzing, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer questions are available. The benefit of the first two options is that it’s an automated, instant measurement. The advantage of the short answer option is the ability to assess beyond initial completion and understanding, and also to ask more inquiry-based questions (which can provide a nice segue into class discussion the following day).

In addition to letting students learn at their own pace, in-video quizzing provides a quick snapshot of areas that need more attention across the entire class. With the results from each quiz, you can adjust lesson plans and classroom discussion, group students based on need, and identify necessary one-on-one work with students. This information also can be relayed to parents to share specifics about what a student is struggling to process and their homework habits.

While in-video quizzing is one of the most recent and fun things I’ve discovered lately, it is by no means the only element of flipped classrooms that offers advantages. If you would like to find more ideas for turning your classes into a flipped model, I’ve found The Flipped Learning Network to be a great source for resources and events, and Edudemic highlights their 10 recommended tools for flipped classrooms.

Stacey Roshan is a math teacher at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. At the 2013 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference, hosted by November Learning in Boston, Mass., July 21-26, she will present two sessions on flipped learning: “Making Video Instruction a Less Passive Experience” and “Learning Should Feel Like Play: Reducing Student Anxiety Levels Through the Flipped Model.” For more information about the conference and to register, go to http://novemberlearning.com/blc.

For more BLC ’13 news, see:

Oral history project blends technology, tradition

Creating an app programming class for high schoolers

Don’t plan for technology; plan for learning

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