Success and FAILure in Flipped Learning

The other day, I had some struggles with flipped ELA. I realized that I had not given students enough direction in an ELA assignment. They will ultimately have to read excerpts of primary sources of Colonial writings (City on a Hill, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Salem Witch Trials transcript, Anne Hutchinson transcript) and read one in its entirety. I wanted them to be able to access background information, but they were overwhelmed and wanted to plow through the work and get it all done. I readjusted and yesterday, I had groups create curated google doc notes of areas (Great Migration, Great Awakening, Salem Witch Trials, etc.) that the class will be able to access for background knowledge. Although I had to work with them on getting their documents up and running, they ran with it and were totally engaged. They created excellent google docs, and they will be able to access them as resources for the upcoming primary source readings.

History class was not quite as successful. I put a series of videos and websites up with the standard and told students that the time is theirs to master the content. It seemed good, but I think some of them are a little lost without the teacher direction. Today, I will do a whole-class activity on the basketball court to demonstrate the high-stakes gambling mentality of the colonists at Roanoke and Jamestown. (Students will shoot three-pointers to try and get a big prize, just like the colonists were willing to forgo farming in order to strike it rich. Eventually, they will miss a three-pointer, which means that the game is over, just like the colonists at Roanoke did not strike it rich and all perished.) I will also break down the standard into smaller, more manageable learning objectives, and students will read the textbook and create collaborative notes (I will allow them the choice to divide the reading into chunks). I will make the point, however, that the goal is not to get the notes DONE, but to use it as an avenue to mastering the standard.

After just a week of flipped learning, I have learned that one of its great strengths is that I can easily change course. I feel that traditional teaching is like teaching on train tracks. If there is a collision coming, it is very hard to adjust. With flipped learning (and with the ease of formative assessment through Google Forms and Socrative), I can easily adjust course to avoid approaching icebergs or obstacles. If Day One is a FAILure, Day Two could easily be a rousing success.

As Jason Bretzmann, an expert flipper, has said, “It is a work in progress.” THAT is the beauty of the Flipped Classroom.


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