Ever felt that you don’t have enough time to do what you need to? That the curriculum is so cluttered there is no time to master anything during class time? As teachers this seems to be a common dilemma for all of us.
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When I first started investigating flipped teaching a couple of years ago I was looking for a strategy that could gain me back time. I wanted to run a program in my year 8 science class where the curriculum could be condensed into 8 weeks instead of 10 and the students got to do more activities during that 8 weeks. The extra 2 weeks was to be used for a collaborative project that would run for the year giving students 6 weeks in total to work on it.
When I stumbled across the idea of flipped teaching it resonated with me because for the most part I had been doing many of the things that form the its basis but had been utilising a blended model more than a complete flipped model.
For the most part running my classroom in a blended flip model worked well and we gained the 2 weeks that we needed to run our program where as the other KLAs struggled to condense their units into 8 weeks using the traditional teacher instruction approach. The feedback given by students was positive.
Part way through last year I moved schools and left my flipped model in my year 8 classroom. I knew it worked, I knew the kids enjoyed it but with the stress of a new school, new subjects and new staff I just couldn’t manage to make it work. 12 months on I was faced with the same question again. How could I get more time?
Why did I all the suddenly need more time so desperately? A year 9 unit is usually about 9-10 weeks, in term 3 my class was going to lose at least 6 lessons without additional interruptions or students being away sick. This meant I needed to try to condense my curriculum from 9 weeks to 7 weeks and other classes were still going to get their whole 9 weeks so how could I possibly make it fair? So I decided to go all in this time and flip my year 9 maths class. No more in class lessons.
Normally if you flip a class starting at the beginning of the year when you are establishing routines etc is probably the best idea. However since I started half way through the year here are the top 5 things that I did that made sure it was successful.
1. Watched our first video as a class
I think that this step is especially important. The video was on simple interest and lasted for about 2 minutes. As a class it took us over 2o minutes to watch it. The reason it took us this long is that we were breaking the video down as we went. You don’t want your students passively watching a video at home, they need to take in some of the instruction that you are giving them. For most of our students this will be the first time that they are expected to get something from or do something with what they see in the video so we need to teach them how to do this. The video that we watched can be found here.
2. Formed a common expectation of how to watch and use videos
This step is just as important as watching the video together and essentially points 1 and 2 go together. By having a standard set of expectations it was easier to keep the students accountable for what I expected to see in book checks. It also helped to make sure that students didn’t watch passively as mentioned above. This is the instructions that students were given. How to use a Flipped Video Instructions
3. Students could access powerpoint notes on each video content
While I support the idea that students could watch the videos and form their own notes, I am also a realist and have students of varying abilities in my class. Providing the accompanying notes meant that all students would be on the same playing field. As year 9 students they probably hadn’t had much experience in writing notes yet and this meant that they couldn’t use that as an excuse. This is an example of the type of notes that I provided. Student notes on simple interest
4. Check question after every video
Having a check question at the end of every video gives students an opportunity to see if they have understood what the video was talking about and if not they can go back and rewatch the relevant parts. I always have the answer hidden so that it doesn’t appear with the question. (it is a separate file that needs to be opened) Students then check their answer once they have completed the question. This step also gives students the opportunity to note in their books if they didn’t understand something. I also have statistics tracking on the question so that I can see if they have done it or not.
5. Book checks and Checkpoint tests
These two points are exceptionally important. I do book checks because essentially I’m not seeing them write their notes in class so I want to check that they are correct and complete. Students understand that their are consequences if their work is incomplete like you would expect in a traditional classroom setting. I use a checklist to keep track of student progress in both their notes and exercises. The checkpoint tests happen every 2 weeks and are completed through our LMS, elearn. This gives students the opportunity to find out how they are progressing. Ideally the comments in the marking would link students back to the sections that they need to work on but I haven’t quite got that far yet.
So these are my top 5 strategies that I used to gain my class time this year. It has worked we managed to complete our content in just over 6 weeks worth of lessons. With some adjustments it will be even better next term.
Please comment below with how you gained time in your classroom, or on our Facebook page.