I have flipped my classroom for the past three years, but I wanted to try something different this year. I spoke to a colleague recently about flipping and explained how I want it to be done organically. Since no one seems to know what I mean by that (a fault of my own), let me explain. I strongly believe in having students own their learning and, in many ways, own their classroom. I did not want to put my foot down and force my students to be okay with my decision to flip because they could think that I think it is a good idea and not be valuing their opinion. Also, by forcing something new upon them, it could be more likely used as an excuse as to why they might not succeed. Long story short, I want them to think it is a good idea and also basically come up with the idea themselves. I figured this would cause more student buy-in and excitement about the big change.

Like any good scientist, I wanted to prove my point with data. However, what data could I really use to show that flipping is a good idea and have the students come up with this idea on their own? Because flipping allows a lot more freedom and negates many of the negative attributes of teaching, I decided to start there. I surveyed the class to reflect on the positives that they experienced in their science classes since they started school and also what they would want to change about their science classes if they had a choice. I then aggregated the data in order to analyze with the students. The entire exercise involved a little ACT skills of data interpretation and conclusion drawing. The data can be viewed here. The surveys were completely free response and no ideas were given in order to avoid swaying their thoughts in any way.

For the data discussion, we started with the positives first. The obvious conclusion we drew was that the students love doing lab work. It was the number one response by a lot! From there, I asked the scholars:

"How can we do more experiments in class?"

Many responded by saying to the effect of:

"Let's just do all experiments and no lecturing".

From there, I asked them:

"How will you get the fundamental ideas and concepts in order to do the experiments?"

Sure, they will be getting many of the concepts from a modified modeling curriculum I am experimenting with, but putting it all together for some might need some other resources as well.

Some students suggested such things as reading the book, but these ideas were often met with sighs and ugh's. Most seemed to prefer lectures to reading the book. Because of that, I had them think about how this can be done without books or in-class lecturing. I emphasized "in-class". Two out of the three classes had students that suggested videos and the other class received a nudge where I asked if there was anything that could be done at home in this regard. So they "came up" with the idea of using videos. I then asked how will I assess that they watched or even learned anything from the video. Some students suggested worksheets that go along with the video. However, I pointed out that I thought the video was supposed to be the homework. Plus, they listed that they hated traditional homework or wanted less homework in their survey. After pointing this out, all three classes came up with doing the assessment as part of the bell work.

Issues that might come up include students not watching the videos at home or not having internet access, etc. To counteract this, I will be supplying some computers (2-3) in the classroom as well as some students have volunteered to bring in their iPads for their group to borrow in case they need to learn or relearn some material while working on problem sets or other work in class. I also have students coming from study halls as needed. It also helps that all but a couple of the students have smart phones that play YouTube videos on them. There are some options that we can experiment with.

With flipping, there will be more time for experiments, cooperative learning, and individualized help. This is what I am most looking forward to.

I am far from saying that everyone in the class has bought in to the idea or that they all came to a consensus of the idea. I am strictly pointing out the fact that because the idea came from students, there might be more buy-in than if I was mandating it. The future will only tell on how this goes.

I'll be sure to keep you posted...
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