June 12, 2017

How I Flipped My Course: What I Loved and What I Would Change

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The idea of “flipping” a class is not a new concept by any means. If you Google or search on Pinterest, “Flipping a Classroom,” you will find hundreds of blog posts, articles, ideas, videos, etc. on how to flip a class. I was a little hesitant about the idea at first but an opportunity presented itself to me that enabled me to see the benefits in “flipping” a class so I decided to give it a shot.


If you are unfamiliar with the idea of “Flipping a Classroom,” I would highly recommend that you check out these awesome videos by one of my absolute FAVORITE YouTube Stars, Keith Hughes a.k.a. Hip Hughes History! If you teach Social Studies, you hopefully already know this guy (if you don’t, you should cause he is AWESOME!!)







MY SITUATION

I have taught Advanced Placement Government since 2006-2007. Up until the 2014-2015 school year, my class was a year-long and I would also teach Economics within it (usually making it about 6-9 weeks of the course).

All of a sudden, I was told this would need to change so my students could take A.P. Microeconomics one semester and my class the other semester. I have to tell you that this thought made me rather sick to my stomach.

After all these years of teaching, I could not even begin to imagine how I could possibly dwindle everything down to a semester and Spring Semester at that. If you know anything about A.P. exams, you know they are given in early May, which meant that I would only have four months to actually prepare my students, which of course would include Spring Break, baseball/softball/basketball season (my school is REALLY good at these sports and usually makes it to the playoffs), prom, etc.

I just couldn’t figure out how I could possibly cover all the material we needed to cover in 4 months. So I started trying to get creative and I considered the idea of “flipping” my course. I had previously done a few years teaching my regular U.S. Government class as a “blended” course but had never done the whole thing online or anything like that.
But I decided after much consideration and research that I would give it a try.


HOW I SET IT UP

  • I divided the days in class up into themes: Mouthy Monday, Toon Tuesday, Writing Wednesday, & Fishbowl Friday.
  • I posted videos and textbook reading assignments online and students were expected to come in each Friday having read and watched the videos for each chapter/unit. We would do a Fishbowl discussion on Friday. If you don’t know what this is, you can check out my Fishbowl Assignment, which explains it or my video.
  • Monday, I would take the Fishbowl questions that either hadn’t been asked or questions that I wanted to make sure students addressed and would have them work in groups discussing these questions and writing down a group response for the question.
  • Tuesday, students were expected to bring in two political cartoons (and an analysis sheet completed for each – find this HERE). One of the cartoons was supposed to be related to the unit/chapter topics. The other cartoon was expected to be about a Current Event happening that week. They would individually present their cartoons to the class explaining their relevance to the topic we were discussing.
  • Wednesday, we focused on Writing. My students had to do 4 Free-Response Questions for the AP Exam so I wanted to give them a lot of practice. I would give students essay prompts on Friday that went along with the content/topic for the week and they would be expected to have written these essays prior to coming into class on Wednesday. Wednesday we would focus on the rubrics and grading, peer editing, etc. of the essays.

THE RESULTS


What I Loved About Flipping My Course…
  • I was able to cover more material because the students came in prepared to discuss and write.
  • I felt like we were able to dig deeper into the material because students came in with more knowledge than they did before.
  • I felt like it was more a student-centered classroom.
  • The students better knew what they DIDN’T understand so they could ask questions about it in class.
  • We had time to actually discuss their writing instead of just doing in-class writing. Don’t get me wrong, I think in-class writing is important but when it comes to cutting on time, I felt it was more important that we discuss the writing than for them to use class time to actually write.
What I Would Change About Flipping My Course…
  • At first, I wasn’t sure how much scaffolding to give them when taking notes on the textbook readings and videos. Remember that these are Advanced Placement seniors so I assumed a little more than I should have. I don’t think I did enough at the beginning to teach them structure on how to effectively take notes from a textbook and videos.
  • Students began to get lazy because I only gave grades for the Fishbowl Questions they wrote so many of them quit reading and watching the videos and only looked for questions to write down. I would come up with a way to either grade their notes or give them a quiz prior to starting discussion so I could try to keep everyone honest.
  • I would change Mouthy Monday to something else. After discussing on Friday at the Fishbowl, I think students would have benefited more if I had used another instructional strategy other than group discussion. I don’t know exactly yet what I would replace it with but I am thinking. I am also open to suggestions!! 🙂

I have taught Advanced Placement Government since 2006-2007. Up until the 2014-2015 school year, my class was a year-long and I would also teach Economics within it (usually making it about 6-9 weeks of the course).
All of a sudden, I was told this would need to change so my students could take A.P. Microeconomics one semester and my class the other semester. I have to tell you that this thought made me rather sick to my stomach.
After all these years of teaching, I could not even begin to imagine how I could possibly dwindle everything down to a semester and Spring Semester at that. If you know anything about A.P. exams, you know they are given in early May, which meant that I would only have four months to actually prepare my students, which of course would include Spring Break, baseball/softball/basketball season (my school is REALLY good at these sports and usually makes it to the playoffs), prom, etc.
I just couldn’t figure out how I could possibly cover all the material we needed to cover in 4 months. So I started trying to get creative and I considered the idea of “flipping” my course. I had previously done a few years teaching my regular U.S. Government class as a “blended” course but had never done the whole thing online or anything like that.
But I decided after much consideration and research that I would give it a try.
At the time, our schedule was atypical with Monday-Wednesday being 7 period days and Thursday/Friday rotating in A/B block format, which meant I only had my A.P. class on Friday for a longer period (approx. 80 minutes).
Overall, I loved the “Flipped Classroom” experience for my AP Government students and continue to use this strategy. However, I have never used it with my regular, inclusion, or ESL classes. I am still hesitant to do this.
Have any of you ever “Flipped” your classroom? I sure would love to hear your experiences! Please comment and let me know what you thought and if you have any suggestions on ways I can improve my instruction.

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