What Changes When You Flip Your Classroom?
Jennifer Gray Maze
Chemistry Teacher, Vista Ridge High School, Falcon D49
Colorado Springs, CO
Something has changed.
Since I started flipping my chemistry class, the quality of work that I get from my students has improved. Of course it has, because now I expect every student to not only complete assignments, but to achieve mastery. Anything that doesn’t meet the standard has to be revised, whether it’s a quiz, a lab, or a test. I provide feedback and students revise their work accordingly. I allow my students to check their answers as they work, and the work they have to show at the end of the day is approved as meeting or exceeding the standard.
Initially, I thought I’d write this article about how the quality of my students’ work has improved. But as I looked back to find examples of the same assignments pre- and post-flip, I realized that they were very difficult to find. I no longer give the same kinds of assignments. I still ask students to solve some of the same old problems and do some of the same labs, but I’ve changed the way I scaffold the problems and labs and modified them to allow for more collaboration. I also present information in a new and different way, one I never had time for prior to flipping my class.
Applying the flipped method
Here’s an example of a simple modification to increase collaboration in my class. I took a worksheet that an individual student might have completed for homework before and split it in half so it could be used at a station in my class with the Rally Coach1 structure from Dr. Spencer Kagan. Students are more effective when they’re able to talk about what they’re doing as they solve a problem than when they’re trying to work it through on their own. They feel confident in their abilities, and they’re able to get timely and meaningful feedback. Plus, there’s less grading for me!
Flipping your feedback
I also have samples of old lab reports. The new lab reports include revisions made by students because now I flip my feedback. Students get a video recording of my feedback and thought process as I grade their lab reports. And since I write on the screen as I record instead of writing in their notebooks, they don’t find out their grades until they watch the videos and make the recommended corrections (resulting in a higher grade).
My students now submit better writing samples because they tell me that as they’re writing, they’re also imagining what the video might say!
I usually record only one or two videos per student per year. I’m going to spend the time grading their labs anyway, so I just point a document camera at it, hit record, and voice my thoughts out loud as I check their work. The result is still that they turn in better lab reports throughout the year after watching me grade the first one or two labs. They also know I care enough to help them improve their writing and that I believe in their ability to write with clarity and accuracy. When I transition to digital lab journals in 2016, I will continue recording my feedback using a screen capture video.
A benefit to me and my students
Since flipping my classes, I’ve noticed improvements in the quality of work that I get from students, the quality of the assignments, and the quality of the feedback that I’m able to provide. And while it may be unclear as to what’s changed the most, what is clear is that the flipped classroom model has benefited both my students and me.
1 Kagan, S. (1994). Cooperative Learning. San Juan Capistrano, CA: Kagan Cooperative Learning.
2 SE2R adapted from Assessment 3.0 by Mark Barnes (Corwin, 2015).