Flipped Learning is a phrase that we hear thrown about quite often as of late. I, as you may or may not be aware, have completely invested myself into making flipped learning work for me and my honors physics students. I currently use Flipped Learning exclusively to teach honors physics. Note that I said “teach” as I am still the teacher. Flipped learning is not, as some refer to it, a “teach yourself” class. So what is flipped learning? The Flipped Learning Network has crafted the following definition: Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group learning space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides the students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. As the definition states, direct instruction is still provided, just not in the traditional sense. The students continue to come to the classroom, but as active learners each and every day. No one can sit on the bench, watch the education game unfold and depend upon another’s success to pull them along.
Creating a Flipped lesson can be accomplished in many ways. I have been flipping for a little over four years now and am constantly making changes to my particular style. The current incarnation is a Flipped Learning Mastery format. Each unit is presented in syllabus form, a single lesson excerpt is shown in figure 1.
This lesson begins with a lecture that I have previously recorded and uploaded to YouTube, see figure 2.
The students are provided a link to the lecture and are encouraged to treat the recording as they would a live lecture, thus taking notes, answering questions posed within the lecture and recording their own questions for later discussion. After viewing the lecture the students continue working through the remainder of the lesson. The two example problems listed are also recordings to be viewed. Following the example problems the students begin applying their new knowledge. In this lesson that starts with a short inquiry activity (ALA#7) followed by two assignments consisting of multiple choice questions and mathematical applications. In the Mastery Classroom each student has the ability to work at their own pace through each lesson. There are no deadlines; deep and meaningful learning is the goal.
Eight years ago I had this crazy thought of how to better teach physics so that every student had the opportunity to reach deep understanding. That thought was to allow students to work at their own pace and use whatever time necessary to achieve deep understanding. Three years later I developed my first flipped classroom and have never looked back. The Flipped Learning Model affords me the opportunity to sit down, one-on-one, with every student every day during class time. Not every student needs me every day, but they know that I am just a shout out away. Face time with the students is my greatest joy. The second is not being needed as I know that they are not just learning physics, but also learning how to learn. If you have ever given a thought to trying Flipped Learning, and I know you have as you just read this post, go for it! Terrific resources are available on the Flipped Learning Network web site, http://flippedlearning.org/ , check it out.
By Doug Macek
Physics Teacher at Montour High School