Today my first online workshop started which is a very different venue from the teaching I’ve been doing for the last 2.5 years. Although teaching online, along with a workshop of the SCALE-UP project, is what had me reshaping my classes – flipping my classrooms.
I went into the Fall semester knowing I wanted less focus on lectures and more focus on product. Each semester I was getting closer and closer to that. Heck, even my lectures were more of a class discussion, but this last semester I really struggled with the number of students who seemed unprepared for the course work.
Here’s what an old lesson plan might have looked like:
- Learning about rhetorical situations.
- Read the chapter in the book.
- Come to class and I’ll lecture/lead discussion to supposedly reinforce the topic.
- Have a class activity and/or homework to reinforce the topic.
- Chapter was not read by most.
- Only a handful of students who did read the chapter would participate in the discussion.
- If we did an in class activity there were a lot of people who had to borrow books because they were not prepared to do the activity.
- Or there were many who just didn’t do the activity at all in class and would only do it the night before I “graded” it via a journal check (checked them four times a semester usually).
What my flipped classroom tried to do:
- Read the assigned chapter before you come to class.
- I’d give a journal topic at the top of class that touched on the topic, but we didn’t discuss in detail instead I’d have a video or a something to read that reinforced the topic. The review of those also went into the journal.
- In class activity was assigned to reinforce the topic, but before a student could move on to the next topic they had to show me and discuss their work on the topic.
The part in bold was something that came to me after the first few weeks of the semester when I realized many of the students still were not doing the in class work and were not coming prepared. Once there was a “reward” (working ahead) they started to do it. I found this also worked in my online class. Those who wanted to work ahead could, but they could only move on after I graded their last work and left comments so they weren’t going on to learn new material before I was sure they had understood the work before.
I had planned to take this a bit further this semester and work specifically with these modules that you had to complete and share with me and at least two other classmates before you could move on. This would have given students the chance to work at their own pace, but to also show mastery. I was excited about the opportunity and I do hope I’ll be back in a physical classroom very soon so I can implement my plans. I had more success with it in composition two than I did in composition one and that is often just the nature of composition one where you are also teaching the students how to BE college students.
Has anyone else tried this? Variations? What do you think about doing application work versus lecturing? To supplement this discussion I also suggest the video about Khan Academy (if you have students and you haven’t used Khan Academy yet, you should!)