What the Flipped Class Allows Us To Do

Earlier this week I learned from Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann in their “Flipped Classroom” webinar hosted by Classroom 2.0 LIVE. I shared some of my earlier reflections from this webinar in previous posts (re: Algebra II and Anatomy).

At one point in the webinar, Aaron began discussing the Flipped-Inquiry model, as shown in the figure above. I have been using the 5E lesson model for the last two years as part of the curriculum my district has adopted (while I was an early skeptic, I am a huge believer now!). It was exciting to see that other teachers are using flipped instruction and the 5E model! There is certainly no “one way” to flip your classroom — the flipped inquiry model shown above is just one of many. However, it’s a great starting point for me, because I am comfortable with (and confident in) the 5E model — flipping from this framework allows me to start where I’m at and explore new instructional strategies from a familiar home base.

Another idea that struck me in the webinar came from Aaron’s discussion of Bloom’s Taxonomy, as applied to the flipped classroom. The lower levels of this taxonomy (namely remembering and understanding) can often be taught/learned through instructional videos. I would certainly agree with this as it applies to both of my flipped classes — Algebra II and Anatomy/Physiology. The value of the videos, then, is not acquisition of basic skills (remembering and understanding); rather, the value of the videos is the transition of this low-level thinking out of our precious, limited class time, so that we can use this time for much more valuable higher-order thinking skills (analyzing, evaluating, and creating). I have seen this in action in my classes and this is the heart (and value!) of the flipped classroom — the opportunity to go further and deeper through more meaningful and important activities…in class!

Aaron and Jonathan shared the slide above, showing how the flipped classroom actually allows for the inversion of the typical Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. Using the flipped model, we spend more time creating, evaluating, and analyzing — definitely a teacher’s dream! In the past, I had always wanted to incorporate more of these activities, but we spent so much class time learning initial content (lower levels) that there “wasn’t time” for the synthesis and evaluation activities I wanted to do. The flipped model has definitely helped me find the time!

Next steps for me include further developing my in-class activities to create even more solid, rich learning tasks at these higher levels. This is definitely a good problem to have — I now have all of this class time with initial content understanding, so what valuable learning activities can we tackle?


What do you think? What are some ways that you create time for creation, evaluation, and analysis in your lesson cycle?

What is the Best Use of Our Class Time — Algebra II Version

As discussed in a previous post, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams have me thinking — which is a great thing! This post is a continuation of the discussion “What is the best use of your class time?” or “What part of the learning cycle do my students most need face-to-face time with me?“, as these questions apply to my flipped Algebra II class. Here are some thoughts:

Algebra II

I think the best use of our class time in Algebra II varies based on our position in a lesson cycle. We are following a 5E lesson model in our math classes, with great effectiveness.

Early in the lesson cycle (say during “Engage” and “Explore” activities), I believe our class time is best spent working through these activities (usually self-directed group work) and then discussing our findings/results/epiphanies. Some of the initial parts of these activities can be introduced with short instructional videos, opening up more class time to really analyze and synthesize the results of the exploration.

So far, the “Explain” piece has been effectively broken into “lecture” portions (delivered outside of class via short instructional videos — some examples here), followed by class time spent practicing these new skills. To specifically answer the question posed in the webinar, I think my class time during the “Explain” phase is best spent helping students fine-tune their skills via practice rather than direct content delivery.

During the “Elaborate” cycle, I think our class time is best spent on application of the material to new and engaging problems. This usually involves group work, projects, more challenging examples, modeling real-world applications, etc.. Thankfully, I have a wealth of these opportunities at my fingertips, thanks to great modeling applications in our textbook resources, Vernier’s Video Physics app, and Dan Meyer’s brilliance.

As per the “Evaluate” portion, this is currently broken into two different opportunities — “performance indicator” tasks where students apply, describe, and communicate their learning in an extended way (a great use of class time, in my opinion — see an example below), and the more traditional assessments (quizzes/tests). Currently, all tests and quizzes occur during class time under my careful watch — BUT, is this the best use of our class time? Do students most need face-to-face time with me for this part of the lesson cycle? I’m not sure… I would like to transfer this part out of my precious class time (since I don’t think they really need me for this)—but, how to do this in a way that still maintains the integrity of the assessment? This is something I am still thinking about… Please share your thoughts!

What do we do with all the extra class time?

This is the other question from Jon and Aaron’s webinar that really had me thinking. I think I’m on the right track here in Algebra II. Currently, we do a lot more applications, modeling, math projects, and reflective thinking (currently loving the use of PollEverywhere, as do my students!), than we were doing before. Also, I’m able to spend much more time with students who really need the help, which is a huge bonus. I also think that I will be able to easily incorporate great extension activities for students who are working through the content at a faster pace.

I am excited about the progress and possibilities for my flipped Algebra II class!


What do you think? In what part of the learning cycle do you think your students most need face-to-face time with you?

What is the Best Use of Our Class Time? — A&P Version

This afternoon I was able to watch and enjoy a recorded version of Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams’ recent “The Flipped Classroom” webinar hosted by Classroom 2.0 LIVE. One of the things that hit me early in this webinar was this question: What is the best use of your class time? Phrased differently, where in the learning cycle do my students most need me face-to-face? What a powerful (and important!) question!

I have been operating a “flipped” Anatomy & Physiology class since the beginning of the school year. Just two weeks ago, I flipped my Algebra II class, as well. I believe that I would answer this question differently for each class. Here are some thoughts about Anatomy & Physiology. (See here for my answers re: Algebra II.)

Before answering this question, consider some of the choices Jonathan & Aaron mentioned as shown on the slide above.

Anatomy & Physiology

I think our Anatomy & Physiology class time is best spent in rich discussion and application settings. These are probably the situations in which face-to-face time with me is most valuable — mostly because of the scenarios I can create at the school with everyone together (i.e. discussions, hands-on labs with school materials, etc.).

Discussions involve: why anatomical parts are named the way they are; different “tricks” students come up with for why something is named the way it is or operates the way it does; connections made between different units of studies; etc..

Applications involve: explorations and lab activities (i.e. building joints with bone models — seeing how specific bone markings interact); debates and analysis of current events related to A&P (i.e. discussion of factors contributing to obesity epidemic and analysis of a case study where the courts removed an obese child from his parents’ care); creation of products that explain complex processes (i.e. nerve impulse transmission, bone healing, etc.); and, analysis of case studies where students apply their growing knowledge of both anatomy and physiology.

To answer the “opposite” question (Where in the lesson cycle do my students need face-to-face time with me the least?), I would answer with direct content-delivery (lectures) and practice. In A&P, much of the content delivery can be delivered very effectively via short instructional videos (see some of my examples here). The content is not necessarily difficult (naming parts and explaining their functions) — it is just massive. I don’t think that my students need face-to-face time with me for a lot of the initial content delivery. Also, A&P involves a lot of memorization or practice of “facts”/names. I do not think my students need face-to-face time with me for this either. (We do, however, spend face-to-face time discussing and modeling how to practice, which I think is valuable.)

In summary, for A&P I think our precious class time is best spent discussing, exploring and applying the science, with initial content delivery and practice occurring outside of the classroom (through instructional videos and iPads in our case).

Later in the webinar, Jon and Aaron pose this equally-important question: What do we do with all the extra class time?

To my chagrin, I thought about this question in a fairly superficial manner before implementing my flipped classroom. “Why, I’ll use the extra class time for labs and activities and discussions!” Yes, great idea!! BUT…which ones?! How will I structure them? Do I have all of the materials I need? I definitely could have done a better job of planning out these details in advance! I am still very glad that I have flipped the classroom — I feel like the instructional video library I am building is solid and that we have had more time to really discuss and explore the science in class. One thing that I am working to improve, however, is my class time activities. I am building a more complete repertoire of A&P labs (and acquiring materials!) while also investigating ways to better structure (and formalize?) class discussions and case studies. I am excited by the possibilities!

My advice to a first-time flipper would be…build your class time activities in advance — as far in advance as possible! You will be gaining back so much precious class time — dream big about what you would like to do with it and prepare for these awesome activities!


What do you think? What is the best use of your class time?

How We Warm-Up

In July 2008 I attended an AP Summer Institute with Stacey McMullen, an AP Calculus teacher from Dallas ISD. The institute was FABULOUS!! I learned so much from Stacey–and this learning was definitely transferred on to my students. One of the (many) things I learned from her was a new Warm-Up procedure. Here’s how I’ve adapted it to my class.

Class starts every period with 5 minutes on the board thanks to the free Online Stopwatch site. Students have 5 minutes to work on their Warm-Ups, while I check HW and take attendance.

Each Monday, students are given a new Warm-Ups questions page (see the examples below) and a blank Warm-Ups template (see the example at left). The template  stays the same every week — students just fill in a different week number at the top. It is setup for 10 different questions — two graphs, two tables, and six short answer questions. One of the big emphases of AP Calculus is understanding math using multiple representations (physical, verbal, analytic, numerical, and graphical). Setting up my Warm-Ups with graphs, tables, and short answer sections makes my students practice these multiple representations on a weekly basis.

Students store these Warm-Up pages in a folder with a self-adhesive fastener across the top of it. These folders are stored in a “folder holder” in a corner of my classroom. At the beginning of each period, students come in, grab their folder, and get to work on their warm-ups. Once the 5 minutes are up, they place their warm-up folders back in the holding area until the next day.

The Warm-Up question documents, shown below, are written to include two graphing questions, two table questions, and six short answer questions. I usually include a mix of problems on these — some problems over recent studies, some over previous studies (review), and some foreshadowing what is  coming soon.

What I Like About This Process

Students know what to expect on a weekly basis. They come in and get right to work, with very little time wasted while I do administrative things.

Students are reviewing a variety of concepts on a daily/weekly basis. When we get closer to state-assessments, I cycle a few state-assessment questions into the Warm-Ups each week.

Students are practicing mathematics using multiple representations, which helps to cement big ideas, while also preparing them for Calculus studies.


What Do You Think?

How do you “warm-up” your students at the beginning of class?