Monday, March 26, 2012

Initial Impressions (Part 2 of 3)

On Friday, I had the privilege to host three visitors from a neighboring school.  I asked them to give me their initial impressions of the "flipped classroom" after seeing my class in action, as well as to ask what questions they had about implementing the flipped model in their classroom.

Part 1 ...  Part 2 ... Part 3 

Here are the thoughts and questions from Visitor #2, as well as my attempt to answer this teacher's questions to the best of my ability. 

Visitor #2:

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your "flipped" classroom with us on Friday.  I loved how the classroom was a student-centered working environment.  Also, I thought that the students having access to watch the videos in the classroom was essential for classroom management and optimized the learning experience for ALL students.
A couple concerns that I had were when and how students take their quizzes and assessments.  I see this area as one where excessive cheating may occur.  Also, I am not quite sure how I would work this with a block schedule.  Despite the work load that is involved with this amazing idea, I truly do feel that it would be better for all students.
I plan to play with this idea of a flipped classroom for both my Algebra 1and Pre-Calculus Honors classes.  As of right now I do not believe I will go with a complete flip.  Good luck and THANK YOU for all of your hard work and dedication to our youth.  Teachers like you are what inspire the world's greatest ideas :) 
My response: 

Thanks for your feedback.  I agree with you, the initial workload can be overwhelming, but it gets easier with time and as the years pass and you don't have to create as much content from scratch.  You can start small, (like you mentioned not fully flipping) and you can also work with another co-teacher to develop the materials.  Let me know if you have any questions as you start playing around the idea some more; I would love to be able to help you out.

The quizzes have always been a concern of mine as well, but there have been a couple ways I have worked around those concerns.  First, quizzes are only worth 15% of their grade, while tests are worth 75%.  If they choose to cheat on the quizzes, they are basically "screwing themselves" and will feel it on the tests.  Second, quizzes can be retaken as many times as a student needs to pass it, so there is little pressure to try to cheat and pass the first time.

At the beginning of the year, there is a lot more structure and guidance for the quizzes as the students learn my expectations and the fact that the quizzes are there to help guide them and monitor their progress as a learning tool, and not as a "final judge".  As the year goes on, I am able to give them more freedom.  Do students still take advantage of the system and cheat?  I'm sure they do, sadly.  I've realized that a student who wants to cheat will find a way to cheat.  However, it's pretty easy to tell when they pass all of their quizzes and then don't do so well on the test, and I have individual conversations with those students about my concerns.

I do know of several teachers who flip their classes on a block schedule. I'm not sure exactly how they schedule their activities, but from what I know the class is broken up a little so the kids aren't just working on the same task for the whole block period.  If you aren't planning on fully flipping, you could also use your block period to have the first half be working on a "flipped" lesson and the second have be a new, traditionally taught lesson.

Good luck as you continue to explore the wonderful world of flipping :)  It is definitely not a "fix-all" and not a "magic bullet", but I feel it is a great tool to help support our students.

Let me know if you have any more questions in the future.

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