After implementing PBL into our school in the junior years and then Problem Based Learning in Year 11, we were looking for a pedagogical approach to engage our Higher School Certificate students. We decided to roll out the Flipped Classroom approach.
After three years of teaching exclusively using this approach, and some very positive student results, I though I would like to share some of the insights I have gained from the experience.
After some reflection, I’ve come to think that there are 5 essential factors that can help to ensure the success of flipped learning: Accountability, Access to the Teacher, Assessment Strategies, Application of the Content and Active Collaboration. I was originally looking to write one blog post, but once I started, I realised that it would be better to talk to each of the 5 A’s of flipped learning in in their own post. So here is the first of 5 posts: Accountability.
One of the biggest challenges to the implementation of Flipped Learning in the high school setting is ensuring that students are accountable for completing the pre-lesson work at home. How are we able to determine which students have completed the readings and which students have watched our videos? How well have our students understood the work they have completed at home? If we can’t answer these questions before we enter the classroom for the lesson, then we can’t possibly hope to fully address the needs of our students.
Fortunately, technology can provide solutions for some of these concerns. The Google suite has helped our teachers to ensure students are completing the pre-lesson work at home. Many of our teachers use Google Docs to have students complete summary notes and questions based on the material learned at home. Google Docs provides the teacher with access to the student work, prior to the lesson, allowing them time to assess student strengths and weaknesses and tailor the focus of the lesson to suit the needs of the students.
There are also some there great online apps specifically geared towards ensuring students have watched the videos that have been provided for study. Zaption allows access to view analytics base on the students in the class. How many have the students watched the videos? How often did they pause and rewind?
Educanon allows for the teacher to periodically embed questions into videos and provides performance data based on the questions. These two tools offer teachers some excellent opportunities to determine student understanding prior to the lesson.
The benefits of flipping are made redundant when students are entering into the classroom without having completed the prior learning activities. This is a particular concern when students are engaging with the content in groups. The inability for a group member to contribute to their team can become a source of frustration for other class members. In our experience, the irritation expressed by the other team members can and does act as a form of deterrent for students not completing their homework. The positive peer pressure from other students to make sure they can contribute to the group’s work can help ensure that all students complete their work. What we have found is that the need to have completed the work prior to the lesson in order to fully participate usually results in very high rates of homework completion. I think what we really need to remember when we approach the flipped classroom is that there will always be times when some students don’t complete their pre-lesson homework. Just because one of our students misses the pre-learning work, does not mean that they can’t participate in the lesson, it just means their learning will not be as effective. Some kind of extrinsic motivation will always be required to ensure that students are not missing homework regularly. I am often asked what the best thing to do is when students don’t complete their homework. The question I usually respond with is “what do you do now when your student’s don’t get their homework done?”
I think there are some very simple solutions for this tricky issue with the flipped classroom and technology plays a very important role in ensuring student accountability. However, what works within my context may not be he best solution for others. Ultimately, I think if we can ensure most of our students are accountable, most of the time, then we can be assured of the success of the flipped approach to teaching and learning.
In my next post, I will be talking about the success of flipped learning is impacted on by the access the students have to their teacher, beyond the four walls of the classroom.