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1st time flipper and I feel like I am losing kids

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1st time flipper and I feel like I am losing kids
John Stegmaier
Last year I received my Masters of educational technology from Northern Arizona. As I progressed through this degree, I realized just what a disservice tradition lecture-based teaching really is to my students (I teach high school chemistry). After months of research I took the Flipped Classroom plunge... 100%. All of my classes are flipped. I spend hours of extra time making my videos, designing and posting worksheets, simulations, labs on an electronic syllabus. Effectively I teach the same curriculum as the other chemistry teacher. Prior to using the flipped model, I would say that I had the vast majority of the students compared with the other teacher.
After one semester, several students transferred to his class, and my numbers are down. Our traditional inch-deep-mile-wide standardized test was not kind to the flipped model, yet I feel certain that they are learning the material at a deeper level.
I am the only teacher in our huge district (7 high schools, maybe 10 MS, not sure about elementary) that has flipped their classes, so the kids do not have any experience coming in to my class.
Problems I see:
1) Students in the other chem class do not really have any homework to do... all worksheets, lectures, etc are done in class. I require students to show me lecture notes so they need to take them on their own time, but all other work and projects are done in class.
2) Related to number one... Students are not used to having work required outside the class
3) Students re not used to asking real questions about information, even though I high light the notes at the beginning of class
4) Students are not used to the freedom or being actively involved in their own education.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions will be welcomed... Thanks
Feb. 20, 2014 at 9:14 am
Tammy Keilman
You are in good company and I absolutely understand. No doubt this is very common. I am at the end of my first two months (started mid year at beginning of second semester), and have had 5 or so students go to their guidance counselors and claim that they "can't learn this way." There are some students who just want to play school, and this takes them out of their comfort zone. They can't get away with hanging in the background and slipping through the cracks with flipping, especially when I am now capable of circulating all hour and talking to every student every day. It makes me ecstatic to think about how great flipping is, no matter what these few students say.

Those who have expressed problems are pulled aside by me. I am sure to talk to them and ask them what exactly is the problem. I want them to explain to me why they are dissenting. One girl in particular, whom I have had three years in a row.....she requested me.... Bio, Chem/Phys, and now Chem...told me she would rather fail than do anything in my class now, merely to be stubborn. She couldn't explain what she doesn't like. She just "doesn't like it." It's usually the case that can't even explain what exactly it is that's bothering them. That lack of logic drives me bananas.

When I talk to them I remind them that a.) it's the exact same class, except the parts are being completed in different locations b.) just because it may make them a little uncomfortable doesn't make it wrong. c.) I have had ten times that number tell me they love it. d) I've been told by students that some of their friends want INTO my class.

If some transfer to and/or prefer another teacher because of the method, so what? With all the talk of differentiation, isn't this the prime example?

I am also debating if having made a big deal out of flipping was counterproductive. There is a teacher/professor at the college level who has a blog by the name of Stealth Flipper with an interesting story....she stopped mentioning the word "flipped" at all due to student disapproval and it changed things dramatically. It's now just "her class." Period. Hmmmm. If it's not an issue, it can't be made into an excuse for any poor performance?

These first couple of months have been a challenge, and I have realized the importance of informing the parents ahead of time. I also am happy I surveyed the kids before I did this and that they CHOSE this method when presented with it, at least at this point because I decided to do this mid year. I obviously would never poll them next year. I'm doing it, no matter what.

It is also difficult to press home to some students (those who did a poor job at homework in the past anyway) that they really need to make sure that they do a thorough job with the notes. Some have started to slack off, and so I have had to have a discussion with a few of them about how it will affect everything to follow if they don't take good notes from the video. I check their notes the next day, and that is the best time for me to comment ("Um. You didn't write down the example problems with me? Following along with the examples is important for you to grasp the concept, not to mention writing helps you remember. By being more thorough you will understand the material better." )

I am definitely tweaking every day still, but I would NEVER go back to a traditional classroom. EVER. I would rather change schools than go back, that's how powerful I feel it is.

Stick with it and be flexible. Try new methods, approaches, and assessments. Give the students a survey and ask for their opinions on improvement and or suggestions. That's what I intend to do at the end of this grading period, but with questions in it also directed at how much of an effort they feel they have given as well. Most of all, keep bragging about the benefits to the students. Reinforce to them through questioning how important it is for them to take good notes, slow down, and rewatch something. No excuses.

Oh, and I absolutely agree with the fact that with any time that is freed up that more meaningful, relevant, and fun activities and/or labs should be the only replacement.
Mar. 01, 2014 at 1:49 pm
carolyn fruin
Sounds like you're sharing some common concerns, so you're in good company. There are always growing pains and transparency and educating the students and parents are essential. Research shows that this practice can be extremely successful and engagement increases. It does put more responsibility on the students which is why you're feeling that pain. Remember, its common to be compared to other teachers and kids will always want "the easy way out" in most cases, so don't be discouraged.

Please keep me posted and feel free to ask for any help. In the meantime, you can see my chemistry group - join 483b36 for access.

Feb. 20, 2014 at 11:27 am
Brian Pane
I am also a first year 100% flipper. Two out of the three classes ask for it everyday and love the hands on activities. They love edmodo and post questions regularly. The key with those two classes is the fun activities that I do in class. They complete there wsq sheets and there notes every time. My third and fourth classes are students who wouldn't do work regularly. They have fought very hard watching videos on their own time. I have changed class up a bit doing a schedule of video, practice, video practice, and on Friday activity game to reinforce everything from the week. This is a 1 year course spread over two years because of their skills and being reluctant learners.

To answer your question I think the activities and labs are the trick to get the kids to buy in.

The reason kids do not like this model is because they have to take notes and are responsible for their own thinking. There are no excuses.
Feb. 20, 2014 at 11:19 am
Greg Prater
dont give up. I am having the same challenge. Its not your flipping thats causing it. It's the fact that kids go through a daily schedule where some teachers do meaningful and rigorous activities and others don't. Kids are usually going to take the easiest way out. even before I flipped this past year that same thing happened that you are describing. I dont have an answer except to be a teacher leader in the hopes that everyone will eventually teach at or near the same level. Then I feel kid will adapt to it. they have to the way I see it.
Feb. 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

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