Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My THREE biggest concerns about fully flipping...

We are just finishing up finals week for the first semester, and even though I've been "doing" a flipped classroom for most of the year, next week launches my true "vision" that I've been blogging about in full force. I am really excited but there are also a few areas I'm nervous about.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and ideas in relation to these questions. Please comment with your thoughts!

1. Really, what do we do when the kids don't watch the videos?

I have three computers right now in class so students can catch up then, but that just ruins the whole point of the flipped classroom when they don't come prepared. I want to make a big deal about the fact that the students MUST have the video watched before class because there is before school, our homeroom period, and lunch where they can watch it if something happened last night. But still, I know there will be kids who show up not prepared.

At our school, we have a school-wide progressive discipline policy where students will receive increasing "punishments" for each homework assignment they miss throughout the semester, eventually culminating in meetings with the principals, SST's, etc. I don't want the avoidance of punishment to be the reason my students do their homework. I want them to feel like it is beneficial to their learning, like it is "do-able" (unlike some regular math homework where they go home and can't remember anything), and like it is worth the time they are spending watching and re-watching explanations and examples. If students don't buy in to those three things, I don't know how to make sure they show up every day prepared.

2. How do we teach our students to be aware of their own learning, knowing when they need to pause, rewind, and re-watch videos...and being committed enough to their learning that they will do it?

My worries do not lie so much in them not realizing what they need to do, but just in doing it! I talk with students every day who will talk the talk and tell me exactly what they know they need to do but will go home and do none of it.

I already see struggles with some of my top students who think they are "too smart" to watch the videos, and their most recent test score from the unit from the two weeks between winter break and finals definitely showed it. They didn't fail, but they got B's and C's when they normally get A's. They think they can figure it out on their own and don't want to commit the time it takes to learn it.

I feel like one of my strengths as a teacher is getting students to realize that hard work and dedication pays off. I have a really great track record with reaching those kids and continuing to push them when other people would just give up on them. I guess I am just concerned if some of my students don't come around then they are really not even receiving any math instruction. What I mean is that when I teach in class and they are "present", they at least absorb some of the information. When they are required to receive that information on their own time and don't do it, they may "participate" in class but they are missing the crucial information and background knowledge needed to make the content accessible and to be successful.

3. Besides my observational data, how do I know my students are succeeding at higher levels with the video pre-instruction and WSQ model in class than without?

I received my Master's Degree in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) in May of 2010. I conducted an Action Research study on Daily Assessment and did a semester's worth of data collection, followed by a detailed analysis. I like the numbers that prove a point. I won't have that this semester and I feel like that would give me more confidence that this is the way to go.

What do you do to "collect data" on how the Flipped Classroom is working in your classroom?

So, my questions for all of you are:

1. Do you have similar concerns? If so, what are you thoughts?

2. What are YOU most concerned about with your Flipped Classroom?


  1. Hi Crystal, Happy to stumble across your blog, really liked your last post on WSQ, I hope to try it out as our new semester begins next week. I too, am mulling over my vision Flipped Class and trying to clarify exactly what I want it to become.
    In answer to your questions:
    1. I am less concerned about holding them accountable for watching the videos, as in trying to make them aware that they will miss out on something fun or active, if they come to class unprepared. If they show up unprepared, the student does not take part in the group activity. If it is a lab, students will usually hustle to get caught up (they'll watch it at break) and don't do it again. Or if interactive questioning takes place in class, the student again is left out. Finally with the really stubborn students, the not watching the videos just naturally catches up to them, and they seem to self fix. I much prefer this approach. It seems like the natural consequence rather than the punitive one.
    2. My most re-occurring and predominant concern comes when students express a sense of disappointment in that " I don't teach them anymore". Some students have older siblings and come to Bio 12 class, wanting to hear certain stories. I am trying to balance still being a story teller sometimes, but not taking over the class. I find that challenging on a daily basis.
    Happy Flipping!

    1. I agree with your thoughts in #1. I want to avoid the "negative" as much as possible and really try to see that intrinsic motivation come out. I guess we will just have to be patient with some students who may take longer to figure out that it is all for their own good. That also presents us with the challenge of making a flipped class as interactive and engaging as possible that our students truly want to be there and participate every day.

      2. I have that same concern. I love the live interaction with students. However, I am trying to remind myself that I can still have that interaction, but now it is in smaller groups. And, if I feel the need, I can still do some whole class instruction, guidance, and review like I have in the past. I still try to present some of my stories and examples in the videos for the students, but there is definitely a difference when you are telling a story to a camera vs. telling it to a class.

      On a positive note, the fact that I haven't felt rushed to get through content since I started flipping says something good about it... I feel like I can present all of the important information AND give time for students to process it in this model :)

      I'll be keeping up with your blog this year as well - looking forward to seeing how it all goes!

    2. I think that most teachers who are good lecturers are worried about flipping but I have found that kids can enjoy your lectures on video just as easily (and now their parents can too :) I feel like I know my students sooooo much better because I spend 30 more minutes every hour working directly with them answering questions and giving them time to WRITE their thoughts. Kids won't write at home but they will at school (go figure). Our data from first semester 2010 and 2011 (after flip) shows no measurable difference in what they learned (by exam scores) but I feel like they have learned deeper. (if that makes any sense.) I also know more about them as stated above.
      Teachers are so used to being the sage on the stage that we make all kinds of excuses in our head why we should keep doing it. We also hate giving up control of learning to the student. Flipping puts control directly on them. If they dont watch the videos, they will fall behind. Before this, they would not do the homework and get a zero but they could still work in class and get by. Now, they are actually MORE responsible to work outside of class time which I really appreciate.

      This is long but on a final note, my son is a 10th grader and when I told him what I was doing his quote was "I would hate to be in your room". When I asked why, he said "because now I have to do more to learn."
      I just smiled and said "now you know why I am doing it"

    3. I am so with you on the "learning deeper". I feel like the questions my students are asking and how they are able to have discussions about the math are showing that it's making a difference.

      I also agree with you that we as teachers struggle with giving the students more responsibility, but that is exactly what they need. I think as time goes on, not only will I learn how "ok" it is to let the students take that control, but I think the students will learn from it and appreciate it. One of my goals at the beginning of this year came from the quote/book "Never work harder than your students". We need to work hard, yes, but the students need to take a major part in their education as well, which doesn't happen when we handhold them all the time.

      I am VERY excited to see how this journey progresses and see where we are in the conversation come June!

      Love your son's quote, by the way. I may use it in my sharing about flipped classroom because my students have expressed the same. :)

  2. Hi Crystal,

    Here is my take on your questions.

    I had students who didn’t watch the videos as well. Quite quickly students fell behind or became lost in the course. This was different than normal when students struggle or fall behind in a lectured based class because this time they knew they were t fault. It was tough to do but I let these students fall behind and learn some tough lessons. After a while they were all watching the videos. Students did not like the idea that they were to blame and that their colleagues were well ahead.

    This was definitely a problem I had. I also had a number of students who didn’t think they needed to watch the videos. From day one I told the students that I don’t care how they learn, I just care that they learn. I gave them the opportunity to explore their own learning styles. A couple tried just reading through the book, watching other online videos, and some did nothing at all. I was surprised how quickly their grades usually suffered and they came back to my ‘program’. I told them that the ‘program’ I have put forward, with labs, journals, etc. is in place to help them learn, by year end I think the majority agreed it did help them learn. This was one of my favourite experiences of the FC. Students were learning how to learn which is arguable more important than any curriculum I could ever cover with them.
    I also had to speak to the students about half way through the course about watching video actively. The timetable at my school forces us to have the students watch a video at home and then also watch one at school (for instance we have class for 2:45 at once). I could see students were not engaged in the videos at all, slouching in their chairs and mindlessly copying down my fill in the blank notes. We had a conversation about this and I am not sure if we came up with an answer. This was also part of them learning how to learn…..or not to learn…

    This is a tough one. My grades went up a bit, it kept me and the students happy. At times they took a dive…What gave me piece of mind to keep rolling was the fact that students were now collaborating in class, they were completing journals, they were asking more questions, and they were learning how to learn. How could this be worse than sitting in their seats listening to me yack?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! How long have you been flipping? Did you start at the beginning or the middle of the year?

      I think some of my concerns are because I started flipping about 5 or 6 weeks into the school year for my Math Analysis class, and I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing when I started it. Teacher confusion = student confusion. Now that I feel like I have an idea of what I want my flipped class to look like, I think it may take students a little bit to get fully on board. Like you said, hopefully most of them will "get with the program" and realize that their greatest success will most likely be found by following the structure we have set up for them. I am excited to see what the students say at the END of the year once they have gotten past the initial shock, changes, and complaints that come along with being a teenager.

      Watching actively is a great key phrase I may start using with my students. They may say "I watched it" (and took notes), but were they watching it ACTIVELY? I like it...

      For #3, I agree. I hated the days when I felt like all I did was "yak", even if my lesson was well taught. What you described is the "data" I have as well, and isn't that exactly what we are looking for? We want students doing the learning and the talking and being more active. So, if that is what we see, it may not always be in the "numbers", but I think it is good enough.

      Looking forward to this semester... :)

    2. I just started Flipping in September at the beginning of the school yea. i applaud you for taking a risk and doing it after you already started. I definitely had some hiccups but was able to weather the storm party because I had excellent support. My Principal has been amazing and I have the greatest teaching partner (flipperteach, she posted above) you could ask for.

      I have struggled with getting student to ACTIVELY watch a video. My next semester starts Monday and we are going to spend more time up front going over best practices of watching videos. I think it is an ongoing conversation that we just need to remind out students about.

      Excellent posts, all the best!


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