–Originally published at FlippingAwesomeTeaching
The past school year was really hard for me, so it took a while for me to recall a specific flipping rewarding experience. The scars are still too raw.
However, I can tell you about Tracey (not her real name of course). I first met Tracey as a 6th grader, when I was substitute-teaching for a colleague. She attended class only about half the time, and during her rare attendance Tracey was usually crafting little mice out of clay. Then she had whispered conversations between the clay mice on her desk. I am not kidding. (Yes, Tracey has an IEP and she is in a special-education program. I’m not sure it was the right one for her, but that’s a separate topic.)
The mice were gone but the struggles clearly remained for Tracey at the start of 8th grade. She was rarely prepared and comfortable enough to be a student, for various neurological and emotional reasons. When she was ready, though, this girl could rock it out! And when she felt ready and stable, at home or during a support class, she could watch one of my videos and absorb the whole thing in one sitting. It’s the best version of cloning myself with videos: I was always there when she needed me.
Tracey usually didn’t take my formative assessments (quick quizzes of understanding from each video lesson), but she did answer my summative assessments, which require higher-order thinking about details from several videos and class activities. That’s where I found proof that Tracey really met proficiency of the major unit standards … in her own way. All students had the option to type or handwrite their responses, and Tracey specifically asked me whether she could use GoogleDocs. I said sure. Then she asked “can I add a GIF?” and of course I agreed, but felt nervous: Was that a good idea? Oh, I forgot to mention that Tracey was obsessed with two things: Pokemon and cats.
Click the screenshot sample below to read Tracey’s entire response (complete with animated GIFs!):
I am absolutely certain that Tracey would never have gained this much information and understanding in a traditional model (class lectures, textbook assignments, etc.) or from another innovative style (PBL, group inquiry, etc.). She produced four similar items, including one that showed some less-than-proficient comprehension about the Tea Party. But we talked about that misconception afterward, and she replaced a couple GIFs and sentences to fix those errors.
Unfortunately, some events in December-January seriously derailed Tracey’s mental health. She was never as academically productive in 2017 as she had been the first months of the school year, and I will worry about this girl for years. They moved out of the district, and I can only wish the best for her in high school and beyond. Still, she helped me learn another powerful dimension of the potential for flipped learning … and animated cat GIFs!