We’re now almost half way through the semester. This means I am almost halfway through my experiment in using a flipped classroom with my graduate students. In all honesty, so far I’m loving the experience, even though there are things I’d do differently next time and kinks I still have to work out.
Flipped Classroom Love
Students do the reading for the flipped classroom
After a couple of rocky sessions where some of the students came unprepared and unable to complete the tasks, I’m now sure most of them are coming having done the reading (or at least having skimmed it–there’s too much reading. Not sure how to fix that yet). Having to apply the concepts immediately gives the reading a purpose.
One thing I’ve really loved is how engaged students have been. During activities in our flipped classroom they are discussing, planning, reflecting, and asking questions. They’re referring to class texts for reference the way I would want them to while planning in the field. I’ve even started to see debates and discussions about their in class lesson planning assignments.
I did a standard lecture just before Spring Break. It was terrible. Granted, it was on the one course topic I have never lectured on before and I was very nervous. I’ll concede that this might not have been me at my best. At one point during the lecture I looked out to blank stares. It felt awful. The only reason I hadn’t changed it was because it was an extremely busy week and I couldn’t make the time. I knew it would be better and I should have trusted my instincts.
Checking for Understanding
Checking for understanding has become much easier. Because students are getting a video where I model or describe a process and then applying their new learning in a controlled setting (guided practice) in the classroom, I can really monitor what they’re doing and how well they are understanding the course concepts and how well they are able to implement skills. I can also monitor growth. For example, every assignment involves crafting objectives. With each assignment I can see their ability to create these objectives improving, and can then see that improvement transferring to their work in the reading clinic.
Work Now, Reap the Benefits Later
Since this is my first time doing (or trying to do) a fully flipped classroom, there’s a lot of extra work. I need to choose different resources, make videos, create application assignments. All of that takes time. So. Much. Time. That means I don’t always have the time to make the video the level of quality I’d eventually like it to be. Or sometimes I don’t have the time to make a video at all. And the more I do, the better at it I get. However, that means I’m definitely remaking some of my earlier videos as I learn more about how to craft them and about what makes a good video (and even discover some tech tools I didn’t know existed!)
I’ve been teaching this course for what feels like forever. All the other changes I’ve made have been slow. This has been fast and big. It’s been so much work and I feel like I’m barely keeping up. Classes feel better, but I don’t know if I can keep up the pace. There were two weeks where I sort of gave up and did my usual lecture. And I need to learn to be OK with that. I can’t do everything all at once.
I’ve been overly ambitious with my assignments. When I go back and revise them, I need to make sure that I think about how much time I actually have–after making announcements and checking in with students, and before they meet with supervisors. Not how much time is scheduled for the class. I also need to make sure I’m actually making announcements at the beginning of class instead of jumping in to things.
It’s easy to get into a rut
One thing I’ve noticed is that most of my assignments are the same. Instead of making assignments different, I’ve been making them all pretty similar. Probably because of time constraints.
Flipped Classroom: Will I do it again?
Yes. I’ve put in a lot of work, but it’s not just because of that. I’m really seeing the benefit for my students, and I’ll find out once I look at the results the midsemester evaluation form I sent out, if they feel the same way.