Steps for Planning my Flipped Lessons

--Originally published at flipping – Martha Ramirez

In this blog post, I would like to share a video I made with the steps I take when planning a flipped lesson.


Here is the script (with some corrections, of course)

I want to share with you the steps that I used to flip my classes.The first thing that I do is that I choose a planning resource and in my particular case I love to use notebooks and I love to write what I’m doing by hand. I have also done digital planning and, of course, I have a couple of formats that I use when they are needed, but, in general, I just take a notebook (one notebook per course) and I write all the steps of my planning there.

The second step is choosing a lesson to flip. In this process it’s important to ask yourself what are the lesson objectives of that specific topic that you want to cover and how complex the topic is. The complexity will have a direct impact on the type of flip you do, which is the third step.

The third step is Deciding how you want to flip, which could be done outside or inside of a classroom. You can flip or you can in-class flip, and the complexity, for example, could be a good reason to in-class flip instead of sending the flip content home. Here’s an example of what an in-class flip would look like if you’re using stations. Of course, you can also in-class flip without stations. So, in this example, I have decided to focus on speaking and pronunciation and the use of present perfect. Therefore, in my planning I need to be sure about what the topic is and what the objectives are. If I want them to have a communicative outcome, then that has to be clear at the moment of deciding what it is that I’m going to flip.

When I do an in-class flip, I love to sketch it out. I think that visualizing the stations is important, especially because of all the logistics that go behind an in-class flip. Here’s an example of what I do by hand when I’m doing that planning process.

Something very important to keep in mind is the context and resources you have. There are some contexts where there is absolutely no technology and you can go no-tech; with a little bit of technology you can have a low-tech lesson plan or with a lot of technology you can go high-tech. Nevertheless, regardless of the type of resources that you have, you can always go no-tech even if you have all this technology, which is something that I like to do.

Here’s an example of a classroom where I have to teach. As you can see, there are computers and there are fixed tables. So flexibility is not as easy as one would want. Here I am planning an in-class flip with absolutely no technology. Here my students are reading the content through posters and doing a lot of hands-on with material. You can see my students working in the different stations and moving around through this fixed-tables classroom. They are the ones that are being flexible in that learning.

After you have decided on what you’re going to flip, how you’re going to flip it, and you’re clear on the context, it’s important to decide what material you want to flip. There’s a misbelief that flipping is all about the video. In reality, video is an option. In my particular case, I have created my own videos, but, mostly, I use curated material. When time is not enough, you can always find wonderful resources from experts around the world who have already given the explanations that you’re looking for. For example, I have used mini posters. I print explanations and paste them on the walls for students to see. I have also use readings through digital resources such as Actively Learn, but you can also use flash cards or  digital cards (among other resources). It doesn’t necessarily have to be a video.

The next step after you’ve chosen what you’re going to use to flip is making your students responsible for their learning. It’s choosing additional resources for accountability to take place. A good question that you can ask yourself is how will you verify that the content was revised and learned? If you just assigned flipped content, how will you know that students actually did the work? There’s a number of resources that you can use whether they are digital or not. Here are some examples of the resources that I like to use in my classes.

A very big concern that teachers have and that I’ve had myself is what happens if students don’t do the work that I assign them to do? Here my tip is… don’t explain the content you have flipped. Consistency is very important. If you have decided to flip any type of content only to explain it the next day when students go to class, then, what’s the point?

When we talk about the actual practice activities or the tasks you’re going to assign, for me it’s very important to plan these tasks using Bloom’s taxonomy. If you’re doing any type of exercises in class where students are focusing only on remembering and understanding, well, that’s what you should be flipping. We want to focus on application, analysis, evaluation and creation. Of course, scaffolding this process is crucial. So, don’t forget that when we’re using Bloom’s taxonomy, the group space should be engaging students in the content. We want as much analysis, evaluation and creation as possible. When we talk about application, that is usually shared between the group space and the individual space when we’re flipping.

It’s always a good idea to provide a model of how you want students to access this flipped content because many times we assume that students know what to do, that they know how to take notes and that they know how to use graphic organizers or that they know how to answer the questions. It’s always great to help them and support them in this process. Modeling how you want them to do it is important. You can do it in class with them or you can even flip. You can even make you own tutorial and send it for them to look at how it is that you want them to do the work. They always need to know what we expect them to do with the content. Telling them, many times, is not enough. I’ve been greatly surprised by what my students have done when I give them a model. Here’s an example of a sketchnote one of my students made about cognitive strategies.

Also, don’t forget to plan a warm-up and wrap up. In my experience, those are the parts of the lessons that tend to be forgotten. Sometimes we forget to do a warm-up and we forget to do the wrap up. I’m still working on that process of always including these two aspects of the lesson in my own planning.

Another step that should never be forgotten is how I will assess the different activities in the lesson. I always keep in mind what will go after this activity.  Will I check out loud or ask students to compare their answers? Will I give them an answer key? Will I pick up the task? This is always important to keep in mind as well as making decisions on what will be graded and what won’t. It’s also important to never disregard the process, which is what we want to focus on.

Something that resonated with me a lot when I read George Couros’s book, The innovator’s mindset, was a question that he posed. The question was… would you like to be a student in your own classroom?  So when I finish my planning, I ask myself this. Sometimes my answer is “yeah, okay” or “almost always” or “in this lesson yes”. Whatever the answer is, we always have to keep working and that’s my belief. Our classes are not perfect, and our groups and our contexts are very different. If the answer is almost always, okay, good!  Keep doing what you’re doing! If the answer is frequently, then ask yourself what is that little thing that you’re missing for you to be happy with your own class in your own teaching. If the answer is sometimes instead, then, of course, there are things that should be improved. If the answer was not so much, then probably the whole focus of the class needs refocusing.

Another important step in the planning process is what happens when you’ve actually already applied that lesson. What is your role as a teacher in that class? Monitoring the process is crucial. When you flip and you see students working on their own and doing great things, sitting down is not an option. It is forbidden. The class should not be a moment for us to be able to catch up on other things. The role as a teacher is to monitor the process.This is something that I always keep in mind. I hardly ever sit down because I’m always walking around and helping and supporting my students.

It’s also very important to observe and take notes when you’re applying that lesson. What is the point of taking all that time to plan a meaningful lesson if you’re not going to observe what’s going on with your students and you’re not going to take notes to make improvements? So here are some questions that you can ask yourself in that process and take notes to continue improving.

Something that I have been working on a lot in the past years is to ask for feedback. I ask feedback from my students and from my colleagues. In reality, the best way to know how to improve a lesson Is asking students themselves. They’ll be very honest, and they’ll tell you “ this was cool” and “this was not”, “ teacher, maybe you want to do this.” Sometimes they come up with wonderful ideas that I want to apply in my classes. Here’s an example of one of the resources that I use to ask for feedback. It’s padlet. So I give very specific criteria and I make it anonymous so that students are honest, and I ask students to give me feedback. Then, based on this feedback ( I usually do midterm and final feedback), I make adjustments to my course.

An example of how I make the adjustments is that I use a notebook.What I do with my notebook is that I plan every bimestre and then I make changes. So I go back, using the same notebook, and I’ll make adjustments. I’ll take notes, I’ll mark with an X if something didn’t work, I’ll cross it out. I’ll keep making these adjustments if I’m teaching the same class. It’s never actually the same class. So I teach the same content in different ways depending on the feedback.

Finally, something that I always keep in mind is sharing what I do. I think sharing is important. I think that’s what makes us professional educators. Helping each other, collaborating, and sharing ideas is important in improving our own practice and other educators’ practice. I have a blog where I post ideas that worked very well or even ideas that didn’t work very well with my reflections. I also tweet a lot. I like to tweet a picture of something I did or an idea that worked well. That gets the conversation going for other educators to ask “Hey, what is it that you’re doing?”, so that we could continue sharing these ideas. That makes the whole process of planning fruitful when, in the end, you decide to share what you’re doing.


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