Reflections on 2015

2015 has been my first foray into flipping. My two Classics classes had quite a lot of content to go through, but the exams require the students to analyse that content rather than just recall it. In 2014 I went through the content in class, but had trouble getting the students to analyse it for homework. This year, I decided to reverse the process.

Method

I used iBooks and Facebook to deliver content to both my classes. To make my videos, I recorded Keynote presentations (I’m camera-shy so didn’t want to be in my videos!) and uploaded them to Youtube. Each video has a series of “key questions” to guide the students through their note-taking. The iBooks contain the unrecorded Keynotes, plus the key questions and suggestions for further reading. I also gave them a selection of readings from primary source material.

Prior to each lesson, I gave the students the Youtube link to the video. At the beginning of each lesson, we went over any questions the students may have had, then moved on to activities. Often this involved reading the primary source material and answering questions.

What went well…

I liked that my resources contained all the information in one place – it’s difficult to find a one-stop textbook for NCEA Classical Studies! A lot of the students liked the resources too and found them useful for revision purposes.

The flipped process saved me from “lecturing” and did free up some time in the classroom for extra activities or to review difficult content. It was also useful for students who were away from class or wanted to go at their own pace.

What didn’t…

I had a few technical difficulties and making resources from scratch meant that the students didn’t have all the videos in perfect working order right from day one. They also had their own issues, like no/slack access to internet, which prevented them from accessing the prep before class. A lot of our students are very busy, with heavy extracurricular commitments, so it was not always possible for them to prepare fully for class. Hopefully this problem will be resolved next year, when I already have the resources and can give them to the students well in advance.

I also believe that a number of students looked for excuses not to watch the videos, and I found it difficult to get a 100% success rate, even when I introduced penalties (like temporary exclusion from lessons to watch the videos) if students were not prepared for class. Some students commented that they just read the text on the videos rather than listening to them, and that it took ages to get all the notes – they are keen to write down everything I say rather than just the answers to the key questions!

I also had some problems with what to do during lessons themselves. My classes are on the smaller side, so when I tried to break the students up into groups for differentiated activities, they were often reluctant to part with their friends. This meant that we could spend a long time going over questions at the beginning of class, and so some students felt like there was no point watching the videos as we just went over them in class. I found it useful going over the primary source material with the students and I think they got more out of it with the prior knowledge from the videos, but lessons could get repetitive at times. I would like to find more interesting and varied activities to do during lessons.

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