Thursday, May 2, 2013

Flip Your Way

One of the important insights I'm getting from reading about flipped classes is that there are many ways to flip a class. While what you do to flip remains the same—use technology to deliver content remotely and then practice locally—how you do that can vary. Obviously, some people think flipping is a simple matter of moving the lecture out of the classroom and onto Youtube and moving the homework into the classroom, but this preserves a focus on the lecture method of instruction. What if you want to do a discussion? or use a mastery method? Can you still flip? You can, but it changes how you implement your flip.

In her article Educators Evaluate 'Flipped Classrooms' in Education Week ((Aug 27, 2012), Katie Ash reports an interview with Ramsey Musallam, a chemistry teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, a private Catholic high school in San Francisco, and an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco's College of Education. Mr. Musallam cautions teachers to think carefully about what they want to achieve with a flipped class. "It's a thing you do in the context of an overarching pedagogy, not the pedagogy itself."

For instance, my own writing classes do not have so much content as, say, a history class with all its dates, wars, and characters. Rather, writing classes focus on mastering a skill; thus, it's more like painting or playing a musical instrument than learning new concepts or memorizing facts. Thus, I have students write outside the class in ways that prepare them to write in class. Thus, my flipped classes will not necessarily look like another flipped class. And that's just fine.