Seminars, workshops and conferences are convening across the country to discuss flipped lessons. Subjected to periodic fads, the educational community is often skeptical of pop methodologies. But this one seems to have staying power—because it works. Even still, so much of the teacher training of flipped lessons focuses on only half of the flip.
As you may be tired of the explanation, I’ll make this brief: A flipped lesson is one that exchanges the homework for direct instruction. Students watch instructional content at home and practice the content in class. The video lecture students might watch at home can be replayed as needed. The application portion, done in class instead of at home, can receive immediate coaching from the teacher. That’s a flipped lesson. If the practice of swapping homework and lectures is done regularly, you can say you have “flipped your class.”
There is a debate among many educators whether or not “flipped lessons” is a temporary addition to our professional lexicon. I’ve seen it work in my classes to tremendous benefit to my students. But if that doesn’t end the debate, a flipped lesson is best supported with the implementation of a 1:1 ratio of students to WiFi-enabled devices like tablets or laptops. Flipping a lesson is one of the best ways schools can put their investment in edtech to practical use. And so the professional development sessions on flipping continue.
I’ve participated in as well as hosted several training programs on flipped lessons. Far too often, the at-home portion of the flip is the star of the show. True enough, Khan Academy and Educreations are fantastic tools that deserve a tremendous amount of applause and attention. So too are venues like Weebly and Google Sites for helping organize the at-home content. Dan Jones’s class is a great example. But what about the other half of the equation? How do we maximize impact of this extra classroom time? This is is the other side to a flipped class.
In the gradual release model, the direct instruction portion of class is about ten minutes. Essentially, that’s all the bonus time you get by flipping your class. And though you may draw clear expectations, plan far in advance, and put strong incentives on doing the homework, students will inevitably show up to a flipped lesson without the requisite knowledge. So the in-class challenge is often a problem of differentiation. To demonstrate mastery of the content by applying a lesson, students will need a wide range of support or scaffolding. You need to rapidly diagnose who needs what help, put them to work with content that will challenge them, perhaps pair them with a logical partner, and put yourself over the shoulder of the student that needs you most. That’s where ExitTicket stands out as the key to executing a flipped lesson.
When I flip my lesson, I start first with a Launch assessment. Students buzz in their answers during their five minute Do Now while I do attendance. As my class leader reads and reviews the learning target for the day, I look at the results of the Launch ticket. The Intervention Hotlist provides me with a list of students that didn’t do or didn’t understand the at-home content. They get pulled into Team 1 to catch up on the content they missed, (and they get an extra assignment to make up for the classwork they’ll be missing).
While I get my remedial group situated, I typically start another, more advanced ticket for the rest of the class. These problems are thoughtful and difficult, full of distracters that may catch students’ misunderstandings. I like to use a Practice ticket which is ungraded. When that’s done, I have a few options and I try to let the data inform my decision.
At a glance of ExitTicket’s Heatmap, I can see if a particular question stumped the class at large. I might get the whole class’s attention and try to draw out the concept from my students. If there was a small group that struggled with a concept, I may break them off and work with them while the rest of the class proceeds with independent work. In the event that the comprehension data is exceptionally positive, I can launch the independent work with an additional twist I keep up my sleeve, (then work alongside any student that may have missed a question or two).
The goal of a flipped lesson is rigor. Keep Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind. We want students to not only master skills but deep thinking as well. A flipped class can give you more time to coach and intervene during class. Use ExitTicket’s data to help maximize your time, measure student comprehension and celebrate growth. The end result, the data in your dashboard and the projects they were able to complete in class, ought to prove the merit of a flipped lesson.
(Featured image courtesy of Pixabay)