Flipping the Stage 6 Biology Classroom

Throughout 2015, it was my focus to begin ‘flipping’ my Stage 6 Biology classroom in order to be able to introduce more differentiated activities to the classroom and move away from spending time in class simply writing notes or lecturing to the students. After flipping my class for a term, it was decided that we would attempt to flip the three Year 12/HSC Biology classes for their first unit of the HSC course.

The flipped classroom provides a pathway for teachers to move toward powerful learning and teaching strategies by leveraging the technology that is emerging. Flipped learning allows teachers to provide their students with the following:

  • Flexible learning environments: where they are able to implement a variety of learning models, physically rearrange the learning space (as well as the digital learning space) and provide students with a choice of when and where they want to access the information needed.

  • Learning culture shift: the culture in the classroom changes from a teacher-centred to a student-centred approach where the teacher goes from the ‘sage on the stage’ to the ‘guide on the side’

  • Intentional content: the flipped classroom needs a teacher who is able to evaluate what content needs to be taught directly vs the content that can be explored outside the classroom. This will maximise classroom time to allow students to explore other learning strategies such as PBL and peer-instruction

  • Professional educators: teachers need to be reflective and collaborative when implementing the flipped classroom model. The role of the teacher shifts from one of content delivery to one where they mentor the students

(Hamdan, McKnight, McKnight & Arfstrom, 2013)

Each lesson (or couple of lessons) the students have had a video to watch that is based around the syllabus outcomes for that particular lesson. The students were to watch the videos before arriving to class to give them some background information on the concepts that are going to be covered. This allowed the students to interact with the information before arriving, allowing them to devise questions about the content and spend time in class with the teacher to consolidate the information.

The videos were created using a pre-created Google Slides presentation and Screencastify to create lecture like videos that showed the students the syllabus outcome first along with theoretical information alongside lots of visuals, as well as some other video content.

The videos were uploaded to YouTube for the students to access at any time, anywhere they were able to. The longest video in the series went for 19 minutes, in the hopes that they were long enough to provide solid information, but also short enough to maintain interest and to not ‘eat into’ the students time too much (not that they were given much other homework during the time – which is the basic idea behind flipping the classroom!).

Since introducing the flipped classroom model, class time now involves more problem solving, creation, investigation – whether it be in practical work or research activities, the students working with the teacher as a mentor rather than provider, collaboration and group work and the whole class working together towards the common goal of improving the outcomes of all students in the class.

Students have provided extremely positive feedback on the use of the flipped videos across the three Biology classes. 100% of the students who completed the survey stated that they have enjoyed using the videos in their study of Biology. As well as this, the following has been found from the students who conducted the survey.

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The results from this survey show an overwhelmingly positive response to the use of the flipped classroom model with these students. As the year progresses, it is hoped that this positivity continues within the students and it is reflected in their improved outcomes.

 

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