Thursday, October 8, 2015

From Lecture to Laptop…How to begin “flipping” your classroom

Bridget Riggs
I have been teaching high school English for over 15 years. I was trained in the traditional presentation of knowledge to students. The teacher stood in front of the class, presented knowledge in the most (insert your county’s current buzz word here)-ish manner, and students took notes. The teacher would then assign practice sentences for grammar, a story/chapter to read, or an essay to write for homework.
I did mix it up of course. We used collaborative groupings, games, etc. in addition to whatever the current buzz terminology of the time in education was. Now, with many school utilizing iPads and 1:1 technology in the classroom, I had to rethink my curriculum once again to stay ahead of the curve.
A “flipped” classroom is the classroom of the not-so-distant future. In some counties, like mine, it is becoming mandatory.  It sounded logical and I thought the flip would be easy...until I started planning how to implement it with my students.
I felt VERY OVERWHELMED when I sat down to unit plan!!
I started off slow –

Lesson plan sample:  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Day 1 (traditional class):
  • Class time:  Teacher lectures using a PowerPoint covering the background info on the author, novel, and time period. 
    • Students take notes over the presentation.
  • Homework: Novels are handed out and the first chapter is assigned for homework.

Day 1 (flipped class):
  • Class time:  Students are seated in collaborative groups and given discussion prompts.  Examples of prompts might be, “If you were writing a book about a woman in jail for murder, how would you describe the woman?” or “How are ministers viewed in our current society?” or “Why do people cheat on their marriage partners?”.  Of course, these prompts need to meet the maturity level of your students but get them talking.
    • You can have the groups rotate to each topic or just have 1 large class discussion covering the topics together.
    • As the first week of reading progresses, one of the flipped assignments for each student will be to post to a discussion board (Edublog, Schoology, etc.) set up by the teacher on each of these prompts.  The idea being that students will discuss these at the beginning, middle, and end of their reading.
  • Homework: Students bookmark/download ebook version of The Scarlet Letter ( and complete the first part of a web quest about the novel (  Tomorrow’s classwork will be directly related to the material found in their homework assignment.

Hints for changing unit plans for flipped classrooms:
  • Make the “stuff” the students are responsible for completing relevant and required.  It was very easy to assign homework that was on the iPad, but would it be relevant and would it have purpose?
  • Use class time to practice.  This took a bit of getting used to for me.  General instruction was to be completed via technology BEFORE coming to class.  We used our time together to practice and get individual tutoring.  This required a change of thinking from all of us.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed with the hundreds of apps and education websites out there.  It is easier on both teacher and students to start small and expand when it seems necessary.  I began too broad – using about 6 apps and discussion boards in the first unit alone.  Not only did it spread me too thin, but it confused the students who were getting the hang of a new way to be educated as well.  Master one at a time – together.
My class goals as we progressed to a full flip…
  • Flip lessons in class to make sure everyone knows where to go online to find the activities.
  • Students will have 1 week of assignments as if the class is “flipped”. This will allow time for problem solutions and questions.
  • Students are in a full flip for class and most homework. Student/teacher groups begin to meet once a week.
  • All potential issues should have been resolved. Class is in full flip and weekly conferences are consistent.

I have done the trial and error of planning and structuring lessons and units for a flipped classroom. Visit my TpT store and find templates and planning tools that will help you organize your flip without feeling overwhelmed in the process.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Looking for a Few Good Contributors!

C.L.A.S.S. is a newsletter for Secondary ELA and Social Studies teachers. We are looking for contributions in the following areas for our next issue (April):

*Tech Ideas:
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Would you like to write an ELA or Social Studies article? If you are a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers, we'll highlight a paid product and a freebie of your choice as our thanks. If you are not a seller, you'll get a free product from History Gal or Writing by Rachel.
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*Something that Works in Your Classroom:
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