The whole purpose of flipping my classes was to have more time to assist students in the learning process. To make the learning process more meaningful and engaging for them, rather than having to listen to me speak. I strongly believe that, a well structured class can take the learning to a whole another level for your students.
Most common question I get asked is, “How do you know if your students watch the screencasts? How can you make sure that they come to class prepared?” This is one of the main reasons why teachers can be hesitant about trying this method. So, what did I do to make this method work for me? The most important thing I have learned is to have students’ “buy in” with the method. If students believe that this is something that is worth investing their time and energy into, they will do it. And once they start seeing the benefits, they are willing to try out new techniques and go with you on this ride.
So here is my typical structure, in a nutshell. I have adopted some of the Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies in my day-to-day running of the class.
1) I group the students in mixed ability groups, 3-5 students per group. 4 is ideal but sometimes the numbers in class does not allow the perfect grouping.
2) I set a task for them to complete while watching the screencast at home. Previously, I have asked them to come up with concept questions, but this year I am asking them to take notes on the lecture.
3) They come to class with their notes, which I check for completion, and we spend the first 6-8 minutes at the beginning of the class for them to go through their notes in their groups. At the end of their sharing session, I throw a few concept questions to different groups to check for understanding.
4) I give each student a handheld whiteboard and I ask them to solve a question I have selected from the textbook. After a minute of solving on their own quietly, one member in each group is selected to explain step by step to the rest of the group how they went about solving the given question. This process happens for 5-6 questions, while each member in the group is taking turns in explaining the steps to others. I will step in and explain concepts and/or methods of problem solving to the whole class when needed.
5) For the remaining of the class, they are given time to work on individual practice problems, ask questions and just solidifying their understanding of what they just learned.
The above structure is for the day-to-day lecture learning classes. The verbalisation and repetition of explaining helps with the retention of the information and it also creates an engaging, comfortable and cooperative learning environment. Students, in their reflection and feedback, have all said that they enjoy the group discussion, as it keeps the class interesting and really helps them to understand the concepts better.
Having said that, each teacher needs to find a structure that works to their teaching style, their personality and the dynamics of the classroom. I have tried number of different things and I’m still tweaking as I go along. Through reflection and student feedback, I am confident that we all can find a structure that each of us are happy with that engages our students in a dynamic way.
Below are some images of students working in groups explaining their solving process to each other.