Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flipping Out! Techniques and Strategies for Effectively Flipping Your Classroom


Hey there, GTC!
Now that we're past the halfway point of the quarter, our GTC discussion series is definitely in full swing! This time the topic focused on a new and exciting trend among educators: flipping the classroom. Sarah Longo, this week's discussion facilitator, had this to say:
The aim of flipping the classroom is to reverse the traditional teaching paradigm. Instead of a teacher giving lectures in class and assigning homework, basic introduction to knowledge and concepts is done at home by students through readings—or increasingly through online prerecorded lectures in the form of videos, podcasts, or screencasts. This allows classroom time to be for more "homework-esque" exercises such as group projects and problems sets, except that now students have aid and immediate feedback from their peers and teachers. For those of you familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy, the flipped classroom essentially inverts the normal pyramid scheme of teaching; students do the foundational but lower-level learning tasks at home (knowledge, comprehension), then they come to class where exercises and discussion guide them to achieve higher-level learning goals (application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation).
The benefits of being flipped: There are some impressive statistics out there showing that the flipped classroom can have a big positive impact on student grades, as well as overall retention and graduation rates. The key to the success of the flipped style is the encouragement of active-learning in the classroom. Teachers usually spend all their class time lecturing, covering basic concepts, then send students home to apply this information through homework assignments. Most teachers would agree that students only really learn the material once they review it and apply it in these homework activities. However, students have many activities and distractions vying for their attention outside of the classroom. In addition, it is very easy for group-work to turn into copying without teacher supervision, and confusion about material may take a while to correct if the student encounters the problem outside of the classroom.  Instead, when students are doing problem sets and working in groups in the classroom, the teacher can manage the time and attention spent on each exercise, provide immediate feedback, and make sure that all students are progressing in their individual understanding.
Integrating technology: One of the major reasons that the flipped classroom style is taking off is due to the increasing wealth of resources available for educators and students to make and access learning materials online. In many cases, flipping the classroom has become synonymized with the integration of online and electronic resources. Certain programs also allow for “mastery learning” in combination with the flipped classroom. For instance, educators can make is so new material is not available before the student has passed an online quiz from the previous material, therefore proving that they have mastered the content.
The importance of partnership: On one hand, flipping the classroom requires students to take a more active and equal share in their own learning by doing the required readings and viewings before class. Students that do not come prepared to a flipped classroom will not be successful. They will not be able to ask questions about concepts they didn't understand, apply information, or achieve the more advanced level of understanding teachers are aiming for because they are missing the basic foundation. In a normal classroom, students usually do fine in the classroom whether or not they have done their homework, since the homework doesn't affect their ability to sit and listen to the next lecture (although their chances of understanding the new material and getting a passing homework grade are still in danger). 
Secondly, since educators aren't spending all of the class time lecturing, the flipped classroom gives teachers more opportunities to involve students in the classroom learning process. Depending on the type of course, grade level of students, and creativity of the instructor, this partnership could take a variety of forms. Perhaps each student is required to present a 5-minute summary of the homework readings and watchings to the class during the course of the semester. Or maybe students are broken up into groups to discuss questions expanding upon the concepts in the podcasts, while the teacher moves between groups to facilitate discourse and challenge ideas where necessary. In-class debates, experiments, skits, reenactments, and demonstrations with students as the primary participants and the teacher as motivator and facilitator become possible.



For more information on this subject, feel free to contact Sarah (sjlongo@ucdavis.edu). 

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