Recipe for a #flipclass: Homework + worksheets + random videos.

Simple. Send students home to watch videos (Videos don’t even have to be yours! Just find some random You Tube video!) Better yet, assign these videos for HOMEWORK, as in they MUST be done for next day. Then when students come back to class have them fill out gobs of WORKSHEETS.

Done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. You have yourself a full-fledged flip class.

Except: THIS. IS. NOT. ACCURATE.

This is not the flip class I know, see, hear, or read about.

This is a reductive picture that some critics are painting. These critics seem hell-bent on reducing flip class to “It’s ALL about homework and therefore is WRONG. It’s all about random video, so it is WRONG. It is all about WORKSHEETS so that makes it wrong.

Sorry fellows but I am not, nor is my practice a cheap balsamic vinegar that reduction will improve and thicken.

My practice is full-bodied, reflective, eclectic, intense, always changing and does not lend well to reduction. When you show up NOW and reduce my practice to one thing such as homework and then proceed demonize it, I feel confused.

You don’t even know me, you have never stepped foot into my work space, nor have you even asked me two simple questions that easily fit into 140 characters: “Do you use homework in your flip class?” and “Do you use worksheets?”

Have you ever renovated a major room in your house? Say your kitchen or bathroom?

Do you remember the chaos and disarray, the feeling of being off-balance as your daily routines vanished. If you did the renovation yourself you know the time, energy and passion that went in and the months it took to decide on all the key components of this new space, let alone decide on the finishes. Have you every renovated to beat the band and then a friend shows up and says “Huh, I thought you renovated? Isn’t that the OLD faucet from the OLD kitchen?” And you as the chief renovator feel all the work and effort is reduced to this: the OLD faucet.

Last year I renovated the inner workings of my practice. I pulled everything out; I got rid of 20 years of multiple choice tests; I emptied a 20 year treasure trove filing cabinet into the recycling; I pulled out every activity, every lab, every lesson and examined each to decide if they should stay or they should go; I moved away from a points driven system to a mastery standard based model; I read teacher blogs to track down and discover new activities that I could put in to my renovated practice; I re-invented my role in the classroom; I lobbied to attend more ProD; I began blogging on a regular basis; I could go on!

But what I need you to know, need you to know right now, is that the flip class teachers I know and who I collaborate with in the Flip Class community are educators who are 110% committed to renovating their practices out in the open, transparently; regardless of the disruption and stress that comes with such a major and public renovation. These are teachers who are reflecting on, sharing and revising their practices EVERYDAY.

I am not trying to equate effort to excellence. What I do want to make clear is that this change is not static, nor is it a one time application; it is a constant and evolving renovation.

These are not teachers who are stuck and are blindly, reflexively assigning homework and gobs of worksheets just to keep students busy, quiet and maintain control.

Could we perhaps talk about homework and worksheets in general and not attach them to flip class like we invented them or something? And can we stop assuming that we teachers using the flip class model are all worksheet and homework addicts and pushers alike?

Do I have vestiges and remains from my OLD practice. YES.
Is there more I want to change? YES.

Do I assign and mandate homework and worksheets? NO.

And if you would like to know what I do within this still under renovation flip class, just ask.

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12 thoughts on “Recipe for a #flipclass: Homework + worksheets + random videos.

  1. I SO get the purging aspect. I’ve been trying to go through a shelf or a drawer in my classroom once a week or so. In the past, this would have meant picking through and keeping a bunch, which would mean more clutter as it had to find a home until like things could be found. Recently though, I’ve dumped contents of entire binders, and drawers. If there’s something I have REALLY fond memories of and I think it could turn into something good for the future, I scan it and then toss it. (Buying a scanner for my room was the best thing I’ve ever done).

    • Yes, it is very freeing and scary at the same time. But letting go is a process in itself, never mind trying to figure out what to use in place! I still have binders I brought home, just in case! And I figure if I don’t look for the stuff in the next year I can safely let go of them. I almost find it worse when I try to re-invent the old stuff into new, as I get caught up in my old points of view. Such a process!
      Thanks Malisa for sharing your process!

  2. Excellent post Carolyn! There are some very staunch critics of flipped learning out there, but I think as you clearly pointed out, these are people who have no idea what is actually going on in people’s classrooms! I think anyone who is trying some form of a flipped class approach needs to be supported not condemned as they are clearly trying to improve their students’ learning experience. From what I’ve seen these teachers are motivated, passionate, creative and inspiring individuals who are taking a risk and trying something different. I am most impressed with their reflective nature and dedication to improving their practice. I think some people don’t realize that truly flipped classrooms are not about doing lecture-homework in the reverse, but switching from a teacher centred to student centred classroom.

  3. Carolyn, it befuddles me that you need to defend your practice. Anyone who reads your blog mows and understands the depth of your flip. You are challenging all your widely held assumptions as a teacher and discarding the ones that no longer fit your context. What remains is a classroom that supports learning to the core. You are modelling the discovery of learning that Will Richardson speaks of in Why School? Don’t let the naysayers get you down…keep up the inspiring work.

    • Thanks Darcy! I appreciate your support, enthusiasm and willingness to consider new possibilities. I waned to respond to naysayers beyond 140 characters and provide a response for some questions that either directly or indirectly come my way. I felt relieved to say my piece and feel solid in my own mind. In the heat of a dialogue I sometimes lose site of what I really do in my classroom and succumb to the emotion of the attack, so it was cathartic for me 🙂

  4. I’m with Darcy. Carolyn you are the most transparent and reflective educator I know. Keep sharing the journey you are on, but don’t waste your energy on the critics. Reflecting on and defending your purpose is always a good idea, but I would ignore those who obviously haven’t dug beneath a superficial view of a “flipped class” and who are only trying to criticize and offer nothing constructive in return.

    • Some days it is so easy to deflect criticism that comes your way, other days it is a knife deep into the heart. Teaching is so deeply personal and from the heart, it is hard to avoid the heart ache. This reflection felt strong and clear, I knew what I had to say and it needed saying as it had been brewing for months. I find it so intriguing how ideas and feelings can percolate for a long time and then BOOM become so clear and imminent.
      I like your comment “offer nothing in return” as I have been thinking about this idea lately in relation to collaboration and what it really means.
      So appreciate you taking the time to listen and commenting.

  5. Hi – I am In the 2012 MERIT program and am having my mind blown every day around what is means to be a productive teacher in the 21st century. I am very interested in taking a class in flipped curriculum so I can better understand it. What class do you suggest? I am so impressed with your creativity and willingness to change.

    • Hi Kate, thanks for the comment, I am so excited the at this stage in life I have the opportunity to write, what a gift! But a bigger thank you for being such an encouraging, positive and even keeled voice in my #flipclass life. You are ever wise and insightful 🙂 Not too mention book recommender and dog lover too, feel so lucky!!
      c

      • You make me blush! I value your voice & input as well and am lucky to have found YOU! I am so happy to find a community of like-minded, progressive #flipclass teachers. I’ve always felt like the eccentric oddball among the traditionalists. We’re all in this together!

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