Guest post by Michael Lutz @LutzEducation
The idea behind it
In the classical classroom, as the students are used to it, the elaboration takes place or the theory is explained in the lesson and then at home the tasks are solved, strengthened and consolidated. Depending on the teacher, the knowledge transfer is often done with teacher-centered teaching. In the flipped classroom, the elaboration/preparation is done at home and the tasks and exercises are solved together in class. The input at home is often given in the form of an explanatory video.
First, I explained the concept of flipped classrooms to my students and highlighted the advantages: short preparation time at home, collaborative working and solving the tasks in class.
In my chemistry classes, I have found that the class time of 45 min is often not enough: the students leave my classroom and go to the science lab together with me. There is a theory part and then practical experimentation: Reading and understanding the experimental set-up, getting material from the cupboards, setting up the experiment, performing it, evaluating it and documenting it. And now it’s already time to tidy up again. This situation is unsatisfactory for me and my students! That’s why I chose to have a go with the flipped classroom concept. My students read the experimental setups at home and watch the theory and experiments through video clips. They prepare the lesson at home.
As soon as the class arrived in the chemistry room, 15 out of 20 students immediately started setting up the experiments. 5 stood around awkwardly, not knowing what to do. They had not prepared the lesson. I presented them with the chemistry book and they had to work out the knowledge theoretically with the books, while their classmates were full of joy experimenting. A week later: everyone was prepared and the time in class could be spent experimenting.
I applied this concept to some of my math lessons as well. As an assignment, I gave them an educational video that I peppered with questions on the topic of solving equations with one variable: Fast-forwarding or skipping was not possible. Multiplechoice and short-text questions explained two equation transformations, and I quizzed their knowledge 9 times. Before my classes came to the math lessons, I studied the answers and data. This way, even before the first person entered my classroom, I knew about the stumbling blocks and what had been successful.
One class was immediately able to begin solving the problems in partnership, and I clarified comprehension questions with two students. Afterwards, they also started working with their classmates. With the other class there were bigger gaps and at the beginning of the lesson I had to discuss the difficulties and build up understanding in a teacher-centered way. Afterwards, the work on the tasks was done collaboratively.
After 20 min of intensive and concentrated work in partnership, I then conducted a learning review. A new, still unknown equation, which was a bit more difficult than the two in the explanatory videos, had to be worked on. Out of 43 students, 41 solved it correctly and one student declared with shining eyes, ” Mr. Lutz, now I finally understand. Thank you so much!”
Advantages and disadvantages of flipped classroom
In a normal lesson, the teacher sets the pace. For some students, the pace is too slow, for others, too fast. In addition, some students would need a little more time or repetition. They leave the lesson and first have to process what they have heard at home or teach themselves again; parents know what I am talking about ;-). The teacher then asks them to solve tasks where they would need support. However, no one is there (except maybe the class chat where the solutions are posted). That’s not how I understand the learning process.
In the flipped classroom concept, the input is done at home. It can be paused and repeated. When working on the tasks in class, classmates are present in the classroom as experts and I as the teacher can intervene and support. If students do not prepare for the lesson, their knowledge gap will increase as the weeks go by. Watching a video at home is not enough, because it is not possible to check the level of knowledge and understanding. This data is important to me as a teacher because I want to build my teaching on it. That’s why I use video tools, which I can combine with my digital formative learning assessments. Also, I have designated a digital place where my students can put questions and things they don’t understand. These things serve as lesson starters and help me have insight into my students’ learning. Introverted students enjoy this way of working because it allows them to participate in the lesson in a safe environment.
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