When the students enter the classroom the day after beginning flipped notes, a journal prompt is on the LCD projector. I greet students at the door and ask them to take out their science journals and answer the prompt. This helps to set a routine, so they know to look at the screen for instructions at the beginning of class.
The prompt reads:
Please describe your feelings about the process of taking flipped notes. What seemed frustrating? What seemed okay? What can I do to help?
Students to work on the prompt for a couple of minutes and then I ask for volunteers to share their thoughts. The students are usually quick to respond, so I do not need to cold call. If students do not respond, I use a card system, drawing a random card with someone's name on it. Interestingly, students will see me reach for the box and someone tends to volunteer before I am able to draw a card.
I acknowledge the students' feedback in a positive manner and I am careful not to brush off their concerns. Using technology in the classroom can be frustrating from time to time and the students need to know that I understand their frustration and will do what I can to alleviate it. I also try to consistently model positive reactions when technology does not work the way I would like for it to. When students are able to watch me troubleshoot without getting flustered, they are better able to troubleshoot on their own.
The goal of today's discussion is to give me an understanding of the students' confidence level in working with the flipped notes. Students also hear that they are not alone in their struggles. The discussion also helps provide students with a voice in what happens in the classroom. I regularly ask the students for feedback and suggestions so they become more active agents of their own learning.
Once the students have put their journals away and taken out their Chromebooks, I ask for a volunteer to remind me how to use Cornell Notes and how to access the flipped notes. From there, I explain to the students that once they finish their notes they will complete a problem solving notes review. I also explain that if they are unable to answer the questions on their notes review by looking at their notes, they should ask for help and possibly rewrite their notes.
I show the students where the notes reviews are located online and where hard copies are located in the classroom. I remind them that they will be responsible for obtaining the worksheets. In the beginning of the year, it is difficult for some students to remember to pick up a worksheet, so my reminders are intended to develop students' habits of learning, in this case to take responsibility for staying on top of their work. By the third set of flipped notes, most students automatically pick up their notes reviews without being reminded. Several students also choose to complete and turn in their notes reviews online. The goal is for students to begin completing and submitting their notes reviews online during the second unit.
After the explanation about the notes reviews, the students begin working on their flipped notes at their own pace and I monitor the room to ensure that students are completing their work.
As in the previous day, the students work on their notes individually while I help them troubleshoot technology problems. Spending at least two days to introduce the concept of flipped notes is essential for the students. Since it is the beginning of the year, I use this time to review my expectations of the students when they use technology. I also establish and explain the routines for how and where students will access the information they need online. This time is also valuable because it allows the students to directly ask questions and receive one on one support while working on the notes, something that will be more infrequent as they work on the notes outside of class. In this flipped note interview, students reflected back on learning how to take flipped notes and provided their thoughts on the topic.
The video is a set of notes that I have recorded specifically for my students. While there are numerous high quality resources available online, I have found that creating my own videos of notes, tailored to my students' needs and abilities, are most effective for my teaching context. I have shared my video as a model. I also review their notes as I move throughout the room to ensure that they understand how to use the Cornell format. This section of notes reviews basic scientific processes, the scientific method, and various tools and units of measure (RST.6-8.3 - Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks., RST.6-8.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics., SP3 - Planning and Carrying Out Investigations - specifically: Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data points are needed to support a claim.
I end the lesson with a brief group discussion very similar to the one from the day before. I ask the students about their comfort level with the flipped notes after the second day of working. At this point, the students should be feeling confident about their notes and, if they haven't already finished, be able to finish their notes on their own. I remind them that if they have not already picked up a copy of the notes review that they should do so before they leave the room. This serves as a reminder not only to complete the assignment, but also to ensure that their notes are accurate.