Maybe just a half-flip

As I prepare to start my experiment in flipping my classroom next week, I’m still grappling with the suitability of my model for the history classroom.

Here’s why I’m excited about flipping:

  • It is more engaging. I’m always looking for ways to make history more vivid, and showing videos at home will allow me to do this without sacrificing instructional time. I already do a lot of critical thinking and application in class, and students should be able to apply facts from the video to my existing activities.
  • It may be more useful than my existing homework assignments. Why? The homework I give right now isn’t terribly exciting, but it is valuable as a study tool and reinforcing mechanism. However, the students do a fairly middling job on it, and the threat of point deductions isn’t an incentive to complete it. So if I assess the students more on in-class assignments while having them absorb content at home, it may help them overall.
  • It’s something different. I do think that good teaching always has a bit of a “wow” factor – whether it’s a passionate lecturer or a nurturing facilitator, your classes need to stand out. This will accomplish that.

And here are my concerns:

  • Can videos really stand alone as direct instruction? I know my kids, and I think they will need reinforcement in the classroom; asking them to go directly into application and synthesis won’t work.
  • How do I ensure accountability? My kids are great, but they can also be lazy. If they aren’t willing to complete the homework I’m assigning now and grading, how will I verify that they’ve watched the videos? And how will I accommodate (do I need to accommodate) the kids who don’t watch the videos and thus aren’t able to participate effectively?
  • How do I maintain alignment when I’m supposed to be aligned with the other world history teacher? I can’t find videos that match exactly our existing pacing, and I need to use the same major assessments as him. This means that I’m going to have the supplement the videos I find with the content from our existing curriculum.

I’ve come to modify my plan to be a kind of “half-flip.” This means that I still assign videos for homework, but I’ll supplement them with direct instruction, which will be modeled after Presentation Zen principles. I’ll reserve most of the class for the higher-level thinking and feedback-heavy activities that reverse instruction demands, while adapting the model for my particular student body.

I’ll bring you more as this story develops.