We’ve got a bit more than a month before we return to campus for the 2021-2022 school year. Barring some major turn of events, the most onerous of policies related to COVID-19 will be gone. When we start up again, we’re back to business as usual. This means the return of my efforts to flip my classroom.
The usual format for many classes goes something like this (in theory):
1. The students arrive and take X amount of time to get settled and attentive.
2. The goals and structure of the day’s lesson are previewed.
3. Explanations, discussions, examples, and note-taking about the day’s lesson occur.
4. During some of time remaining in class (often about 10-15 minutes), the students work on a class assignment.
5. Homework is given, and the day’s class is summed up.
6. The students leave. When they get home, they have X amount of homework to complete before the next time class meets.
In practice, those six steps may go awry. One or more students may be absent or arrive late. Note-taking may grind progress to a halt while most wait on the few to catch up. The homework may not get done until the following morning in the time between arrival and morning prayer. Et cetera.
The most pressing problem with this usual format also relates to homework. A student may claim he understands the concepts covered via homework. This claim may be based in reality, or the student may be saying what he thinks the teacher wants to hear, or the student’s self-assessment of his understanding may be inaccurate. Regardless, when the student gets home, he struggles with the homework as well as with a lack of access to the one who assigned the homework. None of my students live with me, and attempting to contact me via email after the school day’s end may not produce results quickly enough for the student’s needs.
A flipped classroom shifts typical classroom steps 2, 3, and 5 to different locations, thus transforming step 4 into something with greater impact. Via recorded lecture, I move steps 2 and 3 from the classroom to the home. The lesson’s goals and structure, explanations, examples, and note-taking become homework. For example, here’s one of my videos.
The next time class meets after the video has been assigned, we pick up with discussion and questions about the video followed by in-class activities designed to give students a chance to see how well they understand the lesson. Consequently, the amount of time available for work under the supervision and with the guidance of the expert (me) may increase by as much as one-hundred percent. Along the way, students develop two important skills applicable to more than just the classroom:
First, they develop the discipline needed to prepare for work by focusing their attention on expository material and includes note-taking and a small amount of independent work. This occurs at home with no expectations that anyone assists the student.
Second, given the longer periods of sustained, supervised work, the students continue to strengthen their self-discipline and their fortitude. It also becomes more difficult to rush through a short assignment (step 4 above) so that class time can be used (or misused) for other things.
The Knights of the Mightier Pen gather in the hallowed halls of the Regis School in Houston, Texas, to share their tales and poems.