If you read my first ever blog post back in September then you know that I started the year with the goal of “flipping” my Algebra 1 class. If you chat with me on Twitter or know me in real life, then you may also know that I stuck with it about two months before officially declaring it a flop. Although I am back to a much more traditional teaching approach now, I intend to try the flipped classroom again (and again and again and again) until I get it right. At this point, I am thinking of the fall flop as trial 1. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but my plans were put to the test and lots of my questions were answered. In this post I’ll try to summarize the challenges so that I can reference them as I prepare for trial 2. As always, I welcome tips and feedback in the same vein.
*Lack of Technological Access: I first posted that 5 of my students didn’t have access to my videos and that 10 more had spotty internet access. I later discovered that there were several more who were not watching videos due to lack of access to technology both in and outside of school. I tried making DVDs but had no success. I did successfully set up a system with two students to give them videos on USB drives. I felt an overwhelming guilt assigning videos when I knew that there was even one student who was not able to access them.
*Lack of time/ability to create interesting video: I made my first set of videos over the summer with the intention of making my second set of videos while students were watching and learning from the first set. That turned into the night before students were supposed to start watching the second set. I got into a position where I was taking 20 minutes every night to make a 15 minute video and the videos were boring. Very boring. I need some PD on this and/or I need to use videos made by someone else. Even then, I will need time to find and select good quality video.
*Student resistance: I didn’t have a system set up where I could easily tell who was watching the videos versus copying in the guided notes sheet from another and then claiming that they watched but didn’t understand the video. I was exhausted by conversations with (the minority of) students who continually resisted the flipped class structure. In the end, these turned out to be the same students who resist traditional homework. However, when traditional homework isn’t completed, students still have a chance of catching onto some of the basic concepts during classroom instruction. When students refuse to watch videos, they can’t participate in classroom practice. It felt like a double loss and was frustrating for me.
*Time spent reteaching during class: Perhaps because of ineffective videos or perhaps due to my students not watching videos, I ended up spending many classes reteaching what had been presented in the video. I still can’t get to the bottom of why this happened but it wasn’t the best use of our face to face time.
I have some thoughts about improving some of these areas and have already taken some steps toward preparing for a second try with flipped class next year. In the meantime, we are still using technology and video in class more than before. I have been given several opportunities for professional development in blended learning and have connected with many inspiring educators to learn more about this. No doubt these have been tremendous benefits for my students and for me.