As I journey into my experiment in a flipped classroom, I thought it appropriate to reflect on what I have learned, discovered, and been challenged with over the course of a week. I hope to keep these updates weekly, but I know what some of the projects my students will be working on will require no flipping at all. One project in particular, a ROV submarine, will require very little video work as my students will be building the sub over a few weeks and will rarely be on the computers during this time.

Overall I’m not totally happy with my first week of flipping. I think the students enjoyed it for the most part (you can see what they had to say a little later in this post), but I think that I could’ve done a better job. Some of the videos were too short and didn’t contain enough content that was useable for the students.

In my quest to keep videos short, I sacrificed the amount of content that I threw at them. I need to find a better balance between content and time. Another area I struggled with was in properly communicating what students were to do in their assignments. The directions and such are clearly in each assignment, but students were expecting to find their assignment in the video and not in text form. I have to find a better solution to that because I don’t want it to put the assignment in the video because the assignment changes from year to year, whereas the content is pretty static.

The final thing I need to work on is being more vocal with my students. I let them go to the computers, watch my video, and work on the assignment. This worked for some but not for all. I need to engage the students who are not embracing the flipped classroom more and do more frequent check-ins with all of my students. Have a classroom where all of my students are at computers watching the video and doing work does not mean that they are engaged or learning. This applies to a tiny group of students, but it can’t apply to any students.

On the success side of things, I think the notetaking went well. I was expecting a big pushback from students on the notes, but I got very little. Students kept decent notes and had good questions that I was able to address in a timely manner. While small, I’ll count it as a success.

Student Voice

More important than any of my views are how my students viewed everything. If they aren’t happy, engaged, or enjoying the flipped classroom I have to stop. I sent them a Google Form with a few brief questions about the flipped classroom. Out of 70ish students I had 41 responses. I did not require that students answered the survey and I did not capture names, email address, or anything else that is identifiable. The thinking behind this is that I want them to be honest.

Over 90% of respondents said that they live watching a video instead of the normal lecture. Win.

My 7th graders had fun with this section but the main thing I saw in the open response is to add more personality and detail to the videos. They also don’t want any sugarcoating, they want the content right away.

A general theme I saw here is to be more descriptive and to do a bit more editing. However, the vast majority of students were happy with the current form of the videos.

Students enjoy the videos being around the 5-minute mark. It’s very difficult to fit everything in on that timeline but I will continue to shoot for that mark based on what my students have said.

Again, the vast majority of my students feel they are able to learn via video. Only one student did not like learning through video. I need to find that student and work with him/her.

This is the thing that most shocked me, about 60% of students found that writing notes helped them. I spent a few days at the beginning of the year showing them how to write good notes, since most had never been shown how to do it, and I’m happy with the results. This was the question I was expecting the most pushback to, and I go it, just not as much as I was expecting.

This one surprised me a bit. 90% of my students said that they want edited video. When I went to a flipped conference last summer I found that most people said to not edit videos. My students want something different. Most of the teachers at the conference were high school teachers so it’s possible that middle schoolers have different tastes or something else could be going on. When I look at YouTubers popular with my students, all of their videos are highly edited. This doesn’t mean that the production or video quality are amazingly high, it means that the editing is snappy. I’ll have to tune my editing style to better fit this expectation.