Jared Tarbell, https://www.flickr.com/photos/generated/4542048705/
“Flippin’ Lit” is what I hope my students don’t say in their heads when they think of my class.
But what is it?
This is my struggle. The majority of the definitions of flipping instruction are meant to replace content delivery in the classroom with content delivery outside the classroom. I can’t claim never to tell my students something or define it for them in the classroom, but even when I’m sharing information with students, I ask them to respond, to talk with each other, to give me their ideas first. So I don’t think it’s relevant to my teaching.
What is more relevant for me to consider is what Jeff Utecht pointed out some time ago in The Thinking Stick,
The flipped approach, if nothing else, is making educators look at how they are using homework time and class time differently. That’s a good thing…we can only change approaches if we’re first willing to look at what we’re doing now and how we can use our time with students both at home and in the classroom better.
I feel like I never have enough class time. With our schedule, I spend only 3 hours and 15 minutes every six days with my grade 9 literature class. At the same time, I know my students are bogged down with hours of homework every night, on top of the other activities and extracurricular studies they pursue. Many of my students sleep less than six hours a night. I need to be careful with my class time, but I also need to be careful with their at home time.
Here’s where I think I’m already flipping my instruction:
1. Online discussions and/or comment threads: I use the easy and well-designed discussion option in Haiku to set up discussions for my students. Though I give them a starter-question sometimes, they mainly write their own questions. I assess them for how well they respond to each other, use text to support their ideas, think independently. Though we have loads of discussions in class, I often direct the conversations and ask follow-up questions. In-class discussions favor kids who think quickly and have outgoing, confident personalities. Online discussions give the benefit to students who take time to formulate their ideas and who aren’t as likely to jump in and speak their minds. I love to read these discussions. They fill me with awe and warm fuzzies about the level of thinking and analysis of these great students.
1b. Another version of online discussions I’ve used is article commenting. They read an article, or choose from a set of articles, at home, and are responsible for posting a comment in response to the article and to the comments already posted. This allows me to see they’ve done the reading, gives an incentive for them to do their homework early (so they don’t have to read as many comments) and it teaches them the skills they’ll need to be part of our culture’s online conversations. I can easily point out one or two “gems” from the set of comments to show them exemplars.
2. Students read and annotate their texts at home. Haha! This is the English class classic. But then I ask students to work together to prepare a section of text to teach to the rest of the class, via discussion, not just students lecturing each other. They decide which questions to raise and which passages to focus on. This is well-spent collaboration time.
3. Haiku Wikiprojects provides a place where they can post their writing and I require them to read and comment on each other’s pieces at home. Turnitin.com also has this function, but it’s more complex and time-consuming, so I only used it once.
4. I post grammar and writing resources to Haiku, allowing students to access them if they need to, rather than teaching the whole class. This is an area where I can continue to develop. Some of the resources I open up and look at with them in class and others I just point out as optional, like the “Biography Tightening” checklist.