Early in my flipped learning journey, I presented at a conference attended by district administrators who were unfamiliar with the concept of flipping a class. After listening to me talk about how much my class had improved, one of the questions that struck me was “Is this the silver bullet we’ve been looking for?” I wanted to say yes, but the real answer is no, but it is worth trying. The simple act of moving direct teaching moments out of a whole class session and into homework or other student driven time is not enough to change much. The real change comes when the teacher uses the face to face time purposefully with well designed lessons and active interactions with students. Since all high school students in Texas are required to take physics, I was desperate for ways to help my students succeed, so flipping my class was worth a try.
Teaching is about student learning, so I will start with how things changed for my physics students. First and foremost, students got the help they needed when they needed and before they became frustrated or learned material incorrectly. Class became time to do physics instead of listen to physics. We were able to complete labs, including a post lab discussion. We often had time to collect data twice, an important part of science that is often omitted due to time constraints in the classroom. Tough problems that were sent home, where there was often little assistance, were worked on collaboratively in class with assistance. Watching videos and taking notes became physics homework parents could help with. (Some learned along with their kids and emailed questions the next day.) Overall, students were less frustrated and more successful. At the end of the year, students reported that they actually enjoyed physics even though they thought they would hate it.
Flipping the classroom improved the class culture. We came to class to work everyday. Students, eventually, took responsibility for their learning. They learned to ask meaningful questions. They were also happy and active during class. There were some who fought the change, but most embraced the opportunity and took advantage of the benefits. Grades improved, attitudes improved, and class was fun for me and the students. Not quite a silver bullet, but a big jump in the right direction.