Sunday, February 12, 2012

What would YOU say? (part 1) - MY ANSWERS

Last week, I posted my first "What would YOU say" blog post with questions, concerns, and comments, I have received about the flipped classroom.  I received a few responses in the comments, on Edmodo, and on Twitter... but now it's time for what I would say, or what I think I would say :)

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE (How would you respond to these complaints?):

1. "I want to go back to a traditional classroom!  I used to be able to do all my homework for math in my other classes during the day and I wouldn't have any when I got home, but now I actually have to watch a video at home and I can't just be done during school." 

With the flipped classroom, now students are able to completely go at their own pace and work ahead to whatever suits their fancy and level of understanding.  If they would like to dedicate one night a week to watching all the videos and the rest of the week to doing the practice problems, that is fine. That is obviously not ideal, as I find great value in the daily discussions that are held in my classroom that serve as building blocks to each lesson.  However,  my ultimate goal is that they learn, and getting the lessons via video should not be a stumbling block.  The only thing that I require of them is that they stay on pace or ahead of pace with the expectations of the class.

2. "I would rather have you teaching in front of me, live.  I pay attention more when you are in front of me than when I watch/listen to you on video."

Students will always have different preferences.  This is one thing that I have had to learn in the last few months since incorporating this major change.  I feel like a Flipped Classroom enables me to teach to a larger variety of learning styles than a Traditional Classroom.  While the video does lend itself to audio and visual learners, the time it frees up in class to do activities or just to work one-on-one with the students is so huge that it is worth it.  

Teenagers in general tend to have a hard time staying focused on any one task for an extended period of time.  There are just way too many distractions.  I feel like it is a skill that can be developed and improved upon if a student really wants to.  I would much rather give my students lectures via video where they can pause, rewind, and re-watch me if they didn't hear or get something then in class when I know they will space out and miss out on something - and they won't be able to hear it again.

3.  "It takes too much time to watch a video and write my summary, and coming up with a question is really hard to do.  Why do we have to do that?  Why can't we just come to class with the video watched and that's it?" [refer to My Favorite WSQ for what I have my students do nightly] 

Student complaints.  Take them with a grain of salt.  Especially when they are complaining about something that you actually really value them doing - Thinking, Writing, Reading, (and in class, Speaking and Listening) I find it funny when they try to prove a point to me about something but only further confirm the value of what I am having them do.  Usually when a student says "this is too hard", it is because we are actually making them work.  Yes, there are times when we need to re-evaluate assignments and consider modifications, but a lot of times student complaints like this are just that - complaints.  Move on :)

4. "I'm used to traditional teaching. That's how it's always been.  That's how I want it to be."

Change is not easy in any area of life or in any time of life.  We all like to just go with the flow and keep it the same.  It's much easier that way.  However, we can never know if there is something else better or more beneficial out there if we are never open to change.  The doors that a Flipped Classroom opens to deeper learning are so amazingly huge.  Students must be guided and reminded daily that any change must be approached with a positive attitude before they make any judgments.

5. "It's really hard for me to put into words how to do the math problem.  I'm able to do it on my own - why do I need to be able to explain it?" 

Because when you can explain it to someone else in words, that shows that you truly understand it.  That is what I value.  Simple enough :)

TEACHER'S PERSPECTIVE (How would you answer these questions?):

1.  "If I can't get my students to do regular homework, how am I going to get them to watch a video for homework?"

You can't guarantee anything.  The students who never did traditional homework still rarely do the video homework, although there is some improvement.  It is almost a little more motivating - "Hey, look, you don't have to do problems on your own, you just have to pay attention, take notes, and try to make sense of the material on video.  Then you get to come to class and get help!".  The low motivated students who don't want to do anything regardless of how easy it is will still struggle, but the students who generally didn't do homework because they thought it was too hard or struggled through it will see the benefit.

2.  "How do you teach students to be responsible for their own learning and actually watch the video and not just 'watch' the video every night?  How do you hold them accountable?"

It's a process.  It is easier to train the older, honors-level kids, in my opinion.  However, my CP Algebra 1 freshman and sophomores are coming along.  It is a daily process and they must be constantly reminded of what the expectations are and the benefits of taking responsibility for their learning.  It is a concept not many of them are used to - "You mean I can't just sit here and absorb information and then go home and forget about it?"  I feel like my WSQ process helps hold them accountable, and I have even started to look into a more immediate form of accountability such as embedding a Google Form after the video and utilizing the capabilities of Moodle Quizzes (if you are familiar with any of those, a how-to guide would be greatly appreciated...I'm sure playing around with it I can figure it out, but if you know about them, please let me know!) 

3.  "How do you make sure that students don't just copy the notes from a classmate, just like they would copy homework?"

Students probably do this, but I hope they learn that they are only hurting themselves.  If this happens, it will be very evident to me in class.  For one, they won't have a good summary or question, and when they try to discuss the concept in their groups they will not be able to participate.  Just like copying homework is a way to "screw themselves", copying notes from the video does the same thing.  I think it's just easier to "catch" when they copy the notes than copying homework because they actually have to come with new information and knowledge from the videos to participate in class.

4.  "How do you actually make this happen time-wise the first year you are doing it?  How do you make it do-able AND successful?" 

Don't flip two classes like I am :).  I admit, I am crazy to try this.  However, once I saw how much I loved it in my Math Analysis classes and was struggling with my Algebra 1 classes, I had to try something new, so I jumped right in.

I set aside one night a week to be my "late night" at work (stay until about 7pm).  I finish school, go exercise with my teacher friends for an hour to get a break, and then come back for 2-3 hours and record as many lessons as I can.  Since I am flipping two full classes and have no current videos, it does take a lot of time.  However, next year I will already have the basics in place and will only need to re-shoot a few concepts or add in some new ones from things my students need more support on or that I decide to add in for next year.

Also, the fact that I have to do ZERO editing of my movies helps with time.  I use my AverVision 300AF+ document camera.  It saves to my Macbook as a .mov file, and I can upload it directly to YouTube and SchoolTube from there.  If I want to spend time editing it on either iMovie or with the YouTube editor, I can (I've had to do this for a few where I made a mistake in the video and didn't want to reshoot the whole thing).  However, I don't HAVE to edit anything and that helps a lot.  

My videos can be found at, sorted into Playlists by unit.

5.  "If I don't want to fully flip, but want to try it, how do I pick the lessons that I want to 'flip' and how does it work with consistency in completion, expectations (in and out of class) when students aren't doing this nightly?"

As far as picking the lessons to flip, think about the lessons in which you would be up front delivering content for at least 10-15 minutes of class.  That content can be delivered via video and you can use that class time for something else more beneficial and engaging.  

When I first started "playing around" with flipping, I had a "flipped classroom" 2-4 days a week.  It was hard for me and the students to find consistency in that.   It always ended up that some nights they would need to have both Traditional HW to follow up from the lesson in class and Flipped HW to prepare for the next class day.  Whether you have students watch a video every night for homework (which I do, except on nights before tests), a few times a unit, or once a unit, there needs to be consistency and a pattern so students (and you!) can catch on to what is going on.  Otherwise, it just gets too confusing.

So, those are my answers and opinions (at least as of right now).  If you have any other comments or anything to add, please feel free to comment!


  1. I love the Q and A! Your statement about students complaining about work being "too hard" because we are actually making them work/think is so true. It seems that many students are used to going through the school day without challenges. They're fine with worksheets where all they have to do is find the answer or look up the word, but how does this method help them understand the material we are teaching? The flipped classroom would allow for more project based learning time if the students would just buy in. Keep up the good work!

  2. Great article. re: item 2 under teacher perspective - if you're using Edmodo with your students to help manage / organize your class,think about using the assignment or quiz feature with students to assess understanding and get formative data.

    1. Great idea - I haven't played around with Edmodo's quizzes too much, but it would be nice to not have to start a new interface/log in for the kids. I will have to look into that.

      I like that the Google form is embedded right under the video so the kids don't have to click another link (I can just hear the "I forgots" starting right now...), but the formative quizzing could definitely happen on edmodo.


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