Deconstructing the process of flipping

Yesterday I kept a running diary about the process I went through in flipping an entire unit (you can read that blog entry here). That process took a couple of hours and I still have another couple of hours of work left to do before putting a bow on that puppy. I then got to thinking, “If I’m new to flipping and I read that post I might be overwhelmed at ALL the work that’s involved, which may discourage me to try to flip.” That’s something I want to avoid. This ties into a Voxer flipped learning group I’m a member of, because someone asked about the process of flipping and how to start. That leads me to this post – the process of flipping one lesson.

The first part of flipping a lesson is to choose a topic where you are willing to give up control over the direct instruction. What is something that you’re OK with allowing your students to learn the information from a source other than you standing in front of the class? That is the lesson you want to flip. For me, my first ever flipped lesson was on editorial cartoons (I teach high school social studies). I didn’t need to be the one that taught my students about the components of editorial cartoons.

Step two is the video. If you’re starting, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to make your own videos. There are many sources with good videos. Sites like YouTube, Kahn Academy, and Ted Talks all have great videos. Find a video that is appropriate in content and length. A good rule of thumb is that the length of the video should not exceed the student’s grade level (ex. 8th grade = max 8:00 video). For my editorial cartoon unit I used a YouTube video.

Once you’ve chosen the video I would suggest coming up with a way to ensure student accountability for watching the video. For my class I enjoy using Ed Puzzle which allows you to embed questions for students to answer directly into any video. However, there’s no need for it to be that fancy. Have a bell-ringer that asks a few questions about the video. Create a brief quiz. Have them write a brief summary to submit the following day. It doesn’t matter how students are held accountable, but some sort of formative assessment drastically increases the viewer rate.

At this point you plan for the class activity. What will your students be doing now that they are not receiving direct instruction? Coming back to my editorial cartoon unit, I had my students look at editorial cartoons and identify how the artist used different techniques to share a message. The class activity is where the in-depth learning occurs. The class activity is where you shine. The class activity is why you wanted to be a teacher. Use that time to be that rockstar in the classroom.

When you’re ready to put it all together, assign the video for Monday’s homework and then Tuesday during class you engage in the awesome activity you planned. I hope this is less overwhelming and makes sense for those that are interested in flipping but are nervous to try. The process of flipping doesn’t have to be complex and it’s certainly worth the time and effort you put into it.

Until next time…



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