The Flipped Classroom is a relatively new teaching approach that I have embraced. I invite you to join me in the "flipped" experience as I share with you not only science lessons, but how to teach them in the flipped classroom. There are many different types of flipped classrooms and each teacher implements a flip a little bit differently. In my classroom, I flip the notes. I begin by creating a PowerPoint or Google presentation. I then narrate the presentation and record the narration using a free program called Screencast-o-matic. After that I use the program to automatically upload the video to YouTube. I have my own YouTube channel and last year many of my students subscribed to it as a way to keep track of the videos. I have found that YouTube can be a black hole, sucking students into various unrelated videos though and they end up spending precious science time watching squirrels water ski. Also, some parents do not want their children viewing YouTube. To help remedy these situations, I also embed the YouTube clips on our class website.
One of my goals for the year is to help students begin to take more responsibility for their learning. To better facilitate this, I create a unit information sheet that includes all of the flipped videos for the unit, which helps students work at their own pace. I have my students use the Cornell notes format and I explain the format to them before we begin. I allow the students to write on their own paper or use the printed templates. I just have a stack of templates in my room and the students are able to get them as they need them. The students also have access to online copies of the template.
I give my students at least two days to finish viewing and writing a set of flipped notes. I go through the first set with them in class, to help them understand what I am expecting of them. I request that my students view the notes at least three times. In general, I expect students to simply view the notes the first time. I ask them to view the notes a second time while writing down the information. I then ask them to watch the notes a third time to make sure they have everything written down. Once they write their notes, they complete a brief notes review. This is usually a worksheet containing questions about the most pertinent parts of the notes. I tell the students that if they are unable to answer the questions in the notes, they need to rewrite their notes.
Once the students finish the notes and accompanying notes review, they turn them in. I grade all of the assignments the night before I plan to review them in class. This helps me gain insights into the students misconceptions and shows me where I need to devote the most focus in class the next day. Notes are assessed on a credit/no credit basis while the notes review is graded for accuracy. I return the notes to the students and then go over the notes briefly with them in class. This allows me to address their misconceptions and provides them with an opportunity to add items to their notes. The rest of the period is then free for us to explore the concepts introduced in the notes.
I always have "no-tech" options available for students. This consists of having hard copies of the notes slides. I have also begun creating transcripts of the notes for students with IEPs.
I begin the lesson with a whole group discussion by asking students to share their thoughts regarding taking notes. For instance, I ask them to explain whether or not they think notes are useful. I also ask them how they prefer to take and organize their notes. Additionally, I ask them to list some of the possible benefits of taking notes and to explain why taking notes is important in science.
I believe very strongly in making sure students understand why we are completing specific activities in the classroom and I want them to begin to think critically about their study habits and practices. This initial discussion provides me with insights into their thought process regarding notes. In my flipped classroom, notes are essential and it is important for students to take accurate notes as this is one of the main ways content is delivered.
After gauging the students' perceptions on taking notes, I explain that we will be using flipped notes in the science classroom. I tell students that for our purposes, flipped notes are notes that I record online for them to view and write notes from at home. They will then bring their notes to school where we will briefly review them before completing an activity to help them better understand the information from the notes. I also explain that, ideally, they will view the notes one time just to listen, a second time to write their notes, and a third time to review that what they have written is accurate. This is one key benefit of the flipped classroom because it provides students with the opportunity to engage with and review key concepts at their own pace as frequently as necessary while freeing up classroom time for application of the material. I have found it to be an excellent way to differentiate while giving the students more responsibility over their learning.
I hand out copies of the Cornell Notes Template for students to refer to as I explain my expectations for their notes. I tell the students that a title should be written at the top of the page. Key words and phrases will be written on the left hand side while definitions and explanations will go on the left. I also have them put a star by the summary section. I tell the students that they must provide a summary for each set of notes, but not for each page. I explain that the summary section is also where they will write any questions they have about the notes.
After ensuring the students understand the procedure for writing the notes, I have them each get their Chromebook out of the cart. On the first day of class I give students a number and tell them to write it down. This is the number they will use for any technology device we use in class. I make sure the students know that they will be held accountable for their device. This also helps provide them with a sense of ownership. I direct them to the Problem Solving Unit Information sheet and explain how they will use the flipped notes chart.
This is the most critical portion of the lesson as it is the students' opportunity to begin taking notes. I play a bit of the flipped notes on the LCD projector and explain to the students how the process will work as far as the fact that they will listen to a portion of the notes and then write down information.
I model this for them by listening to the information about the first slide. I then show where to place the information on their Cornell notes. It is important that the modeling extend beyond the process to the metacognitive - reviewing the information while listening once again to the the slide to ensure that what is written is accurate.
After modeling a few slides, I have the students put headphones on and begin working on the notes on their own, at their own pace. I walk around the room helping students troubleshoot and ensuring that students are completing their notes correctly.
This is the first set of flipped notes the students listen to. It is by far the longest set of notes because I spend time in the video reviewing what the students should write down and how it should be written in their notes. This section of notes reviews basic scientific processes, the scientific method, and various tools and units of measure (RST.6-8.3, RST.6-8.4, SP3).
Writing notes poses some difficulties for students either due to physical difficulties (broken arms during sports seasons) or processing difficulties. I accommodate for students by allowing them to type their notes or use dictation software. I also make transcripts of the flipped notes and allow students to highlight the key sections of the notes. Ideally using one color for key words and another color for definitions.
I end the lesson with a brief teacher-led group discussion. I ask the students for feedback regarding the activity. For instance, I ask them to tell me what the most difficult part was and to describe the easiest part. The purpose of this discussion is to help me gauge the students' level of comfort using the notes and what they are feeling unsure about. I am then able to address those issues directly during the discussion and the next day during instruction. I end by reminding the students that we will finish the notes in class on the following day. I also tell them that they may work on the notes at home if they so choose, and I give a preview of the Problem Solving Notes Review that will accompany the notes. Previewing the notes review serves as a reminder that it needs to be completed and as a way to reinforce the importance of good note taking.