The Beginning of the Flip.
In January of 2013, I flipped my class. I decided to flip my two 8th grade honors classes. I started by creating a video a day or two before the students were to watch it and I would upload it to YouTube. Why did I pick YouTube? YouTube, to me, was a site students were used to using and it required no extra training on my part to teach the kids how to use it. I used an app called Explain Everything. I was roughly a day ahead of the students and would post the videos sometimes the morning of when students were to watch the video that evening. I was uploading about 4 videos per week.
So how did my class look? Students were expected to watch the video and when students came into class I would give them a quick pop quiz. Sometimes I would check their notes and sometimes I would ask them to write down the answer to example 4 on the video. Other times when making the video I would put a cartoon character and have the students tell me what that character was. The idea, at least in my mind, was to hold the students accountable for watching the video. This took 5 minutes or less to complete. Students would then have the whole class period to work on the “homework” which they should finish in class. I learned very quickly I assigned too much homework. Students weren’t able to get it done in class and then they would have to finish it at home along with the video. The whole idea behind the flip was defeated when students had to take it home. I quickly made adjustments and after a few weeks of trial and error students, if they used their class time wisely, would be able to finish in class.
Fourth quarter I flipped all of my classes. I was worried about the lack of technology available to students being that the district was over half low-income. It became very apparent that they all had access to technology with the exception of a couple.
The biggest headache with my regular students was getting them to watch the video. Like anything just because you try something new doesn’t mean students would do it. The kids who didn’t do homework didn’t watch the video. Here is what’s worse. In a traditional classroom the students that didn’t do their homework would still get the lesson taught to them but now since the lesson was taught at home, if a student didn’t watch the video then they also didn’t get the lesson and then couldn’t do the work in class. I had to try something new. This was an ever revolving door for me to try new things.
I found that the students who did watch the video worked productively. The students who didn’t watch the videos were always trying to understand as they go by working with the students that did watch the videos. They often were distracting others. Everyday these students would get 0 out of 5 points in the gradebook for not proving to me they watched the video. (Now I think back and wonder what I was thinking!) So I had to come up with a change….
I decided to do the normal lecture. Roughly 70% of my students would watch the video. As they came into class I gave them a quick check, if they could prove to me they watched the video they sat in the back in class in groups. If they didn’t watch the video they sat in rows facing the front. While I taught the lesson to those who didn’t watch the video, those in the back worked productively. As students copied from the board I would go and check on those working in groups. A shift was about to occur. The students learning the lecture from me were quite aware that their classmates who watched the video were done with their homework in class. The ones who didn’t watch had to do the entire assignment at home with no help. It became apparent to them the benefits of watching the video were far greater than not watching it. The amount of students who didn’t watch the video dwindled to a handful in each class (5 or less). In addition, students who did watch the video and needed extra clarification could tune in and learn the concepts a second time.
I continued this practice into the 2013-2014 school year until about November. While this definitely helped the situation of those not watching the videos, it still didn’t give me full range to walk around the class and be the guide on the side that I wanted.
I will talk about what happened next in my next blog…