WHY I Flip My Classes, Take Two – What Do I Tell the Students?

--Originally published at Flipping With Joy

In September, many teachers in the flipped learning community participated in a "challenge" put out there by Andrew Swan (@flipping_a_tchr) via Twitter - the "20-over-30 September #flipblogs challenge". There were many great posts made as part of the challenge and as we head into October, we're going to share a few more of them that we didn't get to in September. See Joy's first entry here for some context and a little more information about the challenge.

In my first post toward this challenge, I mentioned three reasons why I think flipping my classes is a great idea...but those aren't the reasons I tell the students.

When I talk to the students about flipping their class, I start by talking about a couple common problems students have:

  • getting stuck on a homework problem at home and finding their parents, their friends, their tutor, and even the Internet unable to help them at all or in a way they understand (or, from my perspective, sometimes they think they've found the right answer through one of those sources, but it turns out to be incorrect or misleading!)
  • finding that the teacher moves too quickly through material -- or, conversely, that she moves through it too slowly for them, since they understood the concept the first time and would rather move on instead of listening to the teacher explain it three more ways to those other students who are still trying to wrap their heads around it. Wouldn’t it be great it you could pause or rewind me over and over, or perhaps listen to the lesson at a faster speed?
I don't tell students outright that I want to flip their class so that I can build better relationships with them (because, uh, creepy!). I tell them that I want to have more time and be more available to help them in class when they have trouble with something. The relationship does build out of that, but the focus is on building their understanding.
I don't tell students outright that I believe active learning can really help reinforce (or introduce!) the ideas they'll learn through the lectures and readings. I do tell science students that it will help give us more time for labs, which they usually like. This will be my first time in a while introducing the flip to math students; I guess I will mention making the math more hands-on and being able to look more closely at how the math we're doing has a role to play in "real life,” though with the current provincial government raising a culture that pooh-poohs  "discovery math" (which I think is more of a thing in our elementary schools rather than high school to begin with) I may not put as much emphasis on the hands-on bit in my intro this time around lest it be misunderstood. (Don't worry, students, I will take you through proper mathematical procedures and such; the format and timing of the delivery may be different, but the content will be there.)
I also mention that as the videos are provided to them, they build up a good library of resources they can use to go over a concept or procedure again before a quiz, a test, or the final exam, though they can certainly still ask me for more explanation if needed.
Of course, flipping the direct instruction also helps those who must miss class due to illness, involvement with sports, field trips, family responsibilities, and so on, since they can still access that direct instruction outside of class time in the same way that their classmates do. The ease or difficulty of catching up on the in-class group space activities does depend on the nature of the activities I selected to support that lesson, though — I can’t completely eliminate the natural consequences that come from missing a class.
I think this time around I will post to our Google Classroom a link to a video in which Jon Bergmann explains to any concerned parents why they should be glad their child is in a flipped class. I’m hoping that bringing in an external voice to validate my approach will help reduce any fear that I’m some lone wolf doing crazy things to the students and putting their education at risk. (Some parents may also hear it better from a male, sigh...)

Video assignments should start this week — wish me luck in getting my recording done and all the technical connections made!


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