Why and How I Flipped this Year

Why I decided to Flip

I decided to do a full flip in 2016/2017 out of self-preservation. My sections of AP® grew from 3 to 4 to 5 per day and I was exhausted from the constant rushing. Lecture days were hurried from bell-to-bell and labs were rushed.  I still have 15-20 years of teaching before I retire and while my expertise is growing, my stamina is declining. Something had to change.

 For many years, I did a partial flip-in terms of requiring content through reading the book. Kids were expected to read the textbook and take an online quiz at home and then we went over the pages of the textbook via “sticky-note lecture” in class.  (See this post about sticky-notes). Students brought their books to class and sticky-noted their books along with my document camera and my master book.

I videoed all the lectures for absent kids a couple of years ago so they wouldn’t get behind. Some kids already watched these videos ahead of in-class lecture.  When I decided to do a full flip, I made these videos mandatory at home and took some of the items that used to be homework and made them class work. Examples are lab reports, online coaching tutorials, math practice. 

How I Flip

I assign a section in the textbook (Withgott, 5th edition) to read for homework. My chapters are usually broken into 4 sections. Most nights, I assign one section, but on occasion, I assign two short sections. The reading assignment is supplemented by a few short videos on Edpuzzle (usually 2-4 minutes long). These Edpuzzles reinforce and give visuals to what is read in the section.

In the example below, I assigned two Edpuzzles for each night, March 28th and March 29th. Edpuzzles work on a phone so all my kids either have computers or smartphones to use to watch.

Edpuzzle dashboard. Mini videos are assigned along with reading.

The next day in class, students take an online quiz to check if they read. I allow  books or notes for the quiz. They can also access an e-text on this site if they don’t want to bring their books to class.  The quiz is timed at 10 minutes so kids do not have time to “wing it” and try to look up all the answers in the allotted time. To do well, they had to read.  I usually assign about 10-15 questions per section.

Sample online quiz question.

The site I use for quizzing is “Mastering Environmental Science” from Pearson which comes with the Withgott textbook Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. There are a lot of free quizzing sites available online if you don’t have one through your textbook.

Instant formative assessment results:

This graphs shows me the questions that kids didn’t know. Instant feedback.

After the online quiz, we will do other activities, labs, videos, practice math etc. in class. Flipping allows the higher level and harder stuff to be done in classtime.

After the students have read all the sections and taken the online quiz, they are assigned “sticky notes” on Edpuzzle for homework.

This chapter has two sticky note lecture videos of about 15 min long.

Students watch the videos (about 15 min each) and answer the questions on Edpuzzle while sticky-noting their own books.  Alternately, students can write the notes on pieces of notebook paper-with pages indicated. You can read more about sticky-noting here

I will do a “note-check” the day before an exam and check that the kids actually wrote the notes and didn’t just watch the videos.  I note-check about 2 chapters at a time, because I test 2 chapters at a time for most exams.

Sample week:

Monday                Tuesday              Wednesday              Thursday               Friday

15.1 Mastering quiz

Water Analysis Video

HW: Bring water samples
Read 15.2
Edpuzzle-CA water


15.2 Mastering Quiz

Water Quality Lab Day 1

HW:  Rd 15.3


15.3 Mastering quiz

Aquifer Demo

Water mini-videos
Oxygen Sag Curve (BOD)
Diagram handout

HW:  Rd 15.4
Edpuzzle-CA Drought Fix-OC’s
Reclaimed water,
desalination water treatment


15.4 Mastering quiz
Water Quality Lab
Day 2

HW:  Conclusion
and questions
on Turnitin


SCV Water notes

Experimental Design

HW: Chapter 15 Sticky
Notes (3 long Edpuzzles)
Due Mon night


Student feedback:

This method worked well.  Here’s the feedback from my students via a survey at the end of the year:

1 = No, I didn’t learn very well this way

5 = Yes, it was great to learn this way.

Why did you choose this number? (Below are what students typed in response)

  • it made us study at home
  • Reviewing at home helps prepare for more interactive learning in class.
  • easier to focus on what i was writing at home
  • I learn much better from doing the notes in class
  • like learning in class better because wont slack off better
  • It was helpful, however a little more instructional time in class would have been helpful in order to complete the online mastering assignments.
  • It helped me to retain the knowledge because I was forced to do it at home.
  • I feel like I would have learned more from the notes if we had done them in class instead of trying to get them done as fast as possible at home for homework
  • I feel like we spent too much time at home learning, when the activities that were done in class could have been homework assignments (apart from labs)
  • Instead of copying notes in class you had more time to actually teach and talk about concepts.
  • I have a tendency of skimping out on homework and just paying attention during class time. As a result, this class structure harms myself.
  • I thought that it gave us more flexibility when we were learning the material.
  • I loved having class time to do more hands-on activities

Results?  Mostly positive.

80% of my class gave it a 3,4,5

20% of my class gave it a 1 or 2

My Personal Reflection on Flipping: 

Most students benefit.  They liked the flexibility of doing notes at home at their own pace. Most liked doing labs in class.

Some struggle with flipping.  Why?  Time management? Not understanding? Wanting to sit back and absorb material instead of active learning? Can’t copy homework?

Next year, I plan to implement more discussion of big ideas/essential questions at the start of class to tie together what they learned at home.