Communicating “Why I flipped” to Students and Parents (or Admins)

I believe explaining WHY I do something in class is important for students. While they don’t get to decide or vote on the way my class is run, explaining the thought process or data behind a method models higher level thinking — which is the whole point of a flipped class.

Higher Level Thinking

Flipped classrooms provide more time for higher level thinking.  For Depth of Knowledge, that’s levels 3 and 4.  Levels 1 and 2 are important, but they’re easy. During the first week of school I hand out copies of Depth of knowledge, Bloom’s Taxonomy and AP® Science Practices.

Image from this blogsite

I ask the kids “Which level/s do notes mostly fall into?” and we discuss that notes and textbooks mostly cover DOK 1 and DOK 2.  But the AP® Exam mostly tests on DOK 3 and DOK 4 using content learned in the lower levels.
Then we look at Bloom’s Taxonomy which identifies exam questions. We discuss that learning the lower 2 levels is important because they need content knowledge and lots of it in AP, but that’s the easy stuff. I tell my students that the “easy” stuff is mostly at home. 

“Remember” and “Understand” are lower level thinking

By doing the easy stuff at home, a flipped class can focus and spend more time on the harder stuff (apply, analyze, evaluate and create) during class time.  I also give them the exam breakdown–over 60% of the exam is higher level and the way to get better at it is to practice. How?

  • More time in lab for data collection and analysis
  • More time in class to practice word problem calculations (a HUGE weakness)
  • More time in class for making graphic organizers to help memorize harder information
  • More time for student collaboration and discussion which improves thinking skills
  • More time in class for online coaching tutorials (that came with my textbook and have a lot of higher level activities)

Some of these higher level items (lab reports, math practice, data set analysis) used to go home, but with rampant copying, its better to have it done in class (see Authentic Work below).

I broke down the 2016 APES exam by DOK and Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can find that info on this page. 

(On a side note, explaining why higher level thinking is important for college and future careers and informed citizenry is a good thing for kids to hear–its not all about passing a test)

AP® Science Practices

The higher level questions on the AP® Exam come from the AP® Science Practices. I post these practices and discuss with kids.  Reminders throughout the year of the purpose of activities help to reinforce the “why are we doing this.”  In our course, it seems that a large portion of the higher level questions come from science practice #7.

A high proportion of exam questions apply #7. This is one of the reasons the AP® exam is so difficult. Students may memorize a bunch of knowledge, but connecting it in new and novel ways is challenging for some.

Authentic Work

The past couple of years has seen tremendous changes in technology. Students now have access to information through the internet that I never did. 99% of my students have smart phones which is great for looking up information, but also great for taking pictures of homework and sharing it via group text. Anything I want to make sure is not copied now has to be done in class or submitted through a plagiarism site.  By doing notes at home in a flipped class, students are supposed to copy notes from the video-its not meant to be authentic work.

Other sites for basic knowledge and content, such as Edpuzzle,  account for students logging in on their own and watching an entire video with embedded questions.  This also encourages authenticity.

Notes take less time

An hour-long lecture in class usually only takes 15 minutes of video. This is because I don’t have to pause and wait for students to copy notes.  On video, students can work at their own pace. This helps the fast writer as they don’t get bored and eliminates anxiety for the slow writer who can pause the video as much as needed.

Its NOT more homework

A handful of students last year complained that I gave them more homework since notes were at home. This was not true, but they didn’t have a good reference since this was their first and only AP® class.  This year, I plan to discuss and discuss again to dispel the myth of more homework in a flipped class.  A lot of the items I gave as homework, are now done during class time. On the flip side, the majority of my students LOVED the flipped lectures.


5 thoughts on “Communicating “Why I flipped” to Students and Parents (or Admins)