This is a summary an article by Shelley Wright, entitled The Flip: End of a Love Affair. The title eludes to the fact that Ms. Wright had tried the flipped classroom, but wasn’t satisfied with the results, and so gradually moved on to a different teaching strategy.
So what is “The Flip”, you may ask? The flip refers to the practice of flipping the traditional classroom. Rather than having students listen to lectures in class and then do assignments at home, the students view lectures at home via the internet and the class time is spent doing assignments and projects based on the knowledge gained.
Ms. Wright began by using the flipped classroom sparingly, not moving completely away from a teacher-centered classroom right away. When she did begin to change her classroom to one of student-centered learning, she did so by helping the students to develop research skills, finding and assessing sources and peer collaboration. In other words, she helped them learn to learn. Over time, it was no longer necessary for her to prepare resources for the students. They had learned to find their own resources, and so, as Ms. Wright puts it, “the flip simply disappeared from our classroom”.
Ms. Wright lists four reasons why she would never employ the flip in her classroom again. (1) She dislikes giving students homework, as she is a proponent of Alfie Kohn’s book The Homework Myth. (2) She believes that a video lecture is still a lecture,and as such, does not encourage students to take ownership of their own learning. (3) She wants her students to own their learning and prefers to do so via a framework that employs three questions – What are you going to learn? How are you going to learn it? How are you going to show me your learning? (4) She believes that her students must be able to find and critically evaluate their own resources, rather than relying on her to do so.
So, how did this play out in a practical way? She gives an example of the Stoichiometry unit of her chemistry class. She explained to her students that they had ten concepts to learn by the end of the eight week semester. Each concept built on the next, so there was a specific route that needed to be followed in order for it all to make sense, but the students were encouraged to work at their own pace, work with other students of their choice who were working on the same concepts at the same time, find and evaluate their own resources. All of this was done with the teacher acting as facilitator. She was able to talk to every student every day, look at their work, have them articulate their thinking process and see where they needed extra help. The difference was that the students were developing an understanding of how stoichiometry works, rather than memorizing equations and regurgitating facts.
In conclusion, my feeling is that Ms. Wright’s current way of teaching is simply the logical outcome of employing The Flip – the natural evolution. I feel that it would be difficult to start with an inquiry and problem-based learning (PBL) classroom structure without first employing a traditional flipped classroom. The move from the flip to an inquiry and PBL classroom seems to be a question of the degree of scaffolding provided by the teacher. Once the scaffolding is no longer needed, the inquiry & PBL classroom structure will naturally emerge.
Would you agree that this was an evolution? Would it be practical to skip the flip and move straight to an inquiry & PBL classroom?