By CUE Member and guest blogger Melissa Hero
This Post Will Focus on Flipping the Science Classroom- Post 4 in Our 6-Part Series
My first introduction to flipped teaching was at the East Bay CUE Cool Tools Conference. I attended a workshop led by Ramsey Musallam and learned how his chemistry students “Explore, Flip, and Apply.” I saw how flip class could work with chemistry students and I began to wonder how I could make this work in other sciences such as my biology class. I started to do some Flip Class research.
After researching, I still had questions about how to really make flipped teaching class work for me. What do I do about students who don’t have access to the internet? How can I tell if students are really watching my videos? Where can I put my videos online? How will this change my class? How could I move from traditional teaching to flipped mastery?
To get some of my questions answered I signed up for the CUE Flipped Learning Tour which brought speakers like Crystal Kirch and Jon Bergmann. I also began to participate in the weekly #flipclass twitter chats. After learning from so many amazing teachers, I knew I had to dive right in.
HOW I BEGAN TO USE FLIPPED TEACHING
Last school year, the week before school began, I created flipped teaching videos for all of my first unit’s lectures. I decided to make videos for whole units at a time, so I could put the units and lectures on a flash-drive for students without internet access. In my four biology classes, I only had ten students who didn’t have internet access through either from their computers or smart phones. But all ten of those students did have a computer or gaming device that could play the videos using the flash-drive.
RESTRUCTURING MY LECTURES (CREATING VIDEOS)
- My videos
- PDF’s of a PowerPoint presentation
- A Google Form for students to ask questions which I could use to check their understanding of the lesson.
When creating videos, I aim to have short 5-10 minute videos. Each morning after the videos are due, I read the questions students answered on the Google Form from Sophia and I plan my lessons accordingly. I usually pick the most common questions that students have and then ask the students to form groups in order to discuss and answer the questions using class whiteboards. Getting the students to discuss the questions really allows them to learn the material. I am able to walk around, listen in, and provide direction and mini-lessons if needed. I even have students creating their own screencasts using Explain Everything.
It sounds strange but by taking the lectures out of class, I am now able to really see what students learned. In the past, when lecturing in class, students were never given the opportunity to really discuss and digest the material. The next day, I had to move on to the next activity or lab. Now, after flipping, I am able to give my students the time to process the content in class with me and their peers. And then when we move on to do the labs, the labs now have more meaning.
EVOLUTION OF MY FLIP CLASS: FIRST SEMESTER
After flipping my class for the first semester, I noticed students had more time to collaborate and dive more deeply into the content. I was able to picture how I could change my class to a more self-paced flipped mastery class for the second semester. One of the big things that allowed me to make the switch was a class set of iPads my principal secured for my students to use. (I know, I totally lucked out!)
EVOLUTION OF MY FLIP CLASS: SECOND SEMESTER FLIPPED MASTERY
- First, I went through the biology state standards and broke them down into my unit objectives.
- I then found multiple activities that I could use to teach and assess each of the different objectives. I wanted to really differentiate my curriculum for my diverse students and provide the students a choice in activities to meet their different learning modalities. Schoology allowed my students to access all of the lessons, turn in assignments, and move on to the next step when they were ready.
- I was now available to check in with each student, provide daily feedback, work with small groups, and really guide their learning.
Most students were excited about this new way of learning. When a student completed an activity, he either got full points if they met the objective, or she received feedback and could resubmit the assignment after making corrections. Students quickly learned that they couldn’t get away with just copying down answers, but that they actually had to spend the time and understand the material. Students began to collaborate more with their peers and they started to have meaningful discussions about the content without me having to guide them.
WHAT I KNOW
Flipping my science class has changed the way I teach and the way I think about learning. Students need to have the time to process and discuss the lectures and activities we do. In a standards-based science class, I was constantly running in a race I could never win. After restructuring my class and providing my students with more higher level thinking and collaborative activities, I really believe that they are learning so much more. Flipping has made me a better teacher because I feel I am able to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of all of my students; from Special Ed, English Language Learners, general education, to honors students.
When I made the decision to utilize flipped teaching my science classes, I knew where I wanted to go, but didn’t know how to get there or exactly how to make it work for my classes. So when you are beginning to flip, start slow. Begin by recording some of your lectures. Then when you see the effects of the changes you can make in class with your students, you will start to get lots of ideas of how to move forward. Just take it one day at a time, and don’t give up if you stumble. It will get easier and it is worth it!
Melissa Hero is a high school biology and AVID teacher. She has been teaching since 2000 and has won local awards for her use of technology in her classroom, was a finalist for the California League of High Schools Educator of the Year, Region IV, in 2009, and is a SMART Exemplary Educator. Melissa has been an active participant in the Exploratorium Teacher Institute since 2002 and a mentor in their leadership program. She also is a member of Silicon Valley CUE. Melissa leads professional development in her district and county covering all sorts of topics, including technology, AVID strategies, and literacy. She will be presenting how she uses iMovie trailers with her students at this year’s Fall CUE Conference. Melissa writes for her own blog and you can follow her on Twitter or G+.