Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Favorite Part of Flipping

I tried flipping my classes this year.  While I didn't do nearly the job I wanted to do with it, overall I'm very pleased.  I plan on tweaking and retrying again next year.  I've been asked to blog about how the flip worked in my classes (specifically in my Calculus classes), and I'll do that, but I wanted to just quickly talk about my absolute favorite part about flipping.

In my efforts to keep my videos to 10-15 minutes, I had to really examine what the "must know" parts of each of my lessons were.  Often times, I found that the "must knows" turned out to be the only things I was really concerned about in the lesson, period.  In the past, I taught what my textbook said needed to be taught for a topic.  I tried to assign as many of the different problem types as showed up in that section of the book.  I realized through my flip that I was creating unnecessary confusion for my students and headaches for myself. When I stripped my lessons down to the essentials, I found that my students were able to grasp concepts much better!  And if I gave them a "challenge" problem (a problem type that I hadn't gone over in class) they were much better equipped to tackle it themselves because they understood the foundation of the concept so much better.  It also helped that by minimizing lecture time and narrowing the focus of my lessons, I was able to provide my students class time to just practice!  We could do fun activities and projects and play games that I'd always wanted to play but never had the time.  And honestly since I wasn't worn out from presenting the same lesson 6 times, I had the energy and excitement to come up with more activities and games!  There have been so many times this year where I wait for my students to struggle with a concept, and the struggle just never appears.

I will say that I did not have students watch videos at home as much as I would have liked.  That's going to be a major focus for improvement for me next year.  I know that I tended to go over what was in the video more than I should have, absolving them of the responsibility for watching the video and the consequences for not watching it.  I'm a pushover and old habits die hard, but it's something I'm going to work on.  If you have suggestions on how to encourage students to watch the videos and what to do when the don't/won't, leave them in the comments.

I highly recommend flipping.  It's not about the videos.  It's about increasing the amount of time your students are actively participating in class, not just passively watching a lecture.  And for me, it has meant a revolution in how I view, present, and assess my curriculum.

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