Flipping lecture content is all the rage these days and, generally, I’m a fan of the concept. It makes sense to have students listen to lecture materials on their own as homework (at their own pace, rewinding and re-listening as needed) and then reinforce the concept during class with hands-on activities. It’s the ol’ sage-on-the-stage vs. guide-on-the-side debate and I tend to fall more in the guide camp, as I grow weary repeating the same lecture material five times a day.
When I heard about flipping, I knew I could make the idea work for my high school English students. Flipped lessons are usually a tool for math teachers (think Khan Academy), but I’ve been able to slice off bits of my daily lecture routines and use a modified flip. Click here to view a typical Tuesday night literary term lecture I’ve used with both my freshman and junior English classes. (Click here for the whole 19-week series.)
After experimenting a bit with flipping over the past year, I’ve learned a few tips that will (I hope) save you some time:
• Get comfortable with imperfection. The goal is a completed video, not a perfect video. We all say “um” when we speak and, apparently, I say it a lot. We prattle on longer than we should. The dog barks while you’re taping a lecture. It’s fine. In fact, my students actually like the random Randazzo household noises that were caught by the mic and often ask about my dog, Riley.
• Keep video lectures short. A 10-minute video is an eternity for the viewer. Instead, shoot for five minutes. Remember, your students have homework for five or six other classes each night. It’s not reasonable to have them watch a 45-minute lecture every night for your class.
• Use Educreations (it’s free!) and just import screenshots of Powerpoint slides you already made. Don’t start from scratch; your time is too valuable to rebuild every lecture slide for this new venture.
• Don’t feel like you need to create every single lecture you use. It’s perfectly fine to link to a pre-existing lecture you found on YouTube, SchoolTube, or Educreations. I’ve occasionally used John Green’s Crash Course materials or an especially good T.E.D. talk with my classes. It’s just like inviting an expert guest lecturer to lead your class for a few minutes, after all.
• Require your students to take notes and check those notes for easy homework points each day at the beginning of class.
• Ensure sure all students can access the clips. Some of your students may not have a computer, printer, and/or internet access at home. Students regularly come to my room to view the video clips at lunch or after school. Also, I’ve posted my Educreations video clips on YouTube so they can be accessed by all Smartphones. Even though some families don’t have computers at home, all of my students have daily access to a Smartphone, either a friend’s or their own. Be sensitive toward students who lack these technologies and work a plan to make sure everyone gets the content.
• Be brave. Ignore the naysayers and build something great for your kids.