Before the Flip
I look back at my fairly short career as a teacher and remember all the days standing in front of my students lecturing to them for the entire period, five times a day. One of the things that bugged me the most about doing this was asking my students, “have I said this yet”? Teaching the same thing over and over throughout the day can be monotonous and draining on your soul. You feel like a robot saying the same thing, on repeat, five or six times. I consider myself to be a pretty fun guy and to have a lot of energy during class making stupid jokes that get more looks of are you kidding me Mr. Lovein than actual laughs, but after lunch, I found myself holding back and pulling some of my jokes because I didn’t have the energy to get through all of those looks again. To be quite honest, as I kept lecturing in the traditional format I felt as though my students became less and less interested in what I was saying, and
more and more interested in their phone. I had tried everything at my disposal to engage them, but nothing seemed to work. Our district had invested in Activboards and I had the students coming to the board multiple times a period to manipulate the content by grouping topics and concepts. Each teacher at our school has a class set of student responders which allowed them to answer questions during lecture, but these soon became more of a hassle than anything else. I felt like I was losing my students and their overstimulated brains. I felt that I was no longer enough for them and seriously contemplated if teaching was for me. If I was going to stick with teaching I had to find a way to reach these new T-800 student terminator robots, Skynet was here and I needed to defeat them.
One day in 2013, I was browsing Facebook and came across an article about the flipped classroom. I read over it and the topic seemed really interesting to me. If I gave students lectures to complete at home, it would give me more time to interact with them in the class. At the time, Brent and I were coaching basketball together and we began to discuss to topic. He was having similar issues with his college-prep US history class, and we both decided to give it a try. I recorded my own voice over existing PowerPoints (they are cringeworthy), and he sent students home with his Keynotes for them to take notes. We took two different approaches doing something separate and things seemed to pick up a little. Students came to class armed with knowledge for us to talk about. I would start my class with a warm up question or even a quiz to make sure students had completed their lecture and then move into an activity that would reinforce the concept. The interesting thing about flipping the classroom was that I had so much time in class to do whatever I wanted. I needed something to fill the time. Think about it, if I’m not lecturing for 45 minutes a day, what the heck are we supposed to do all class period? This was my biggest struggle in implementing the flipped classroom.
Brent and I realized that we needed ultra-engaging classroom activities that would keep our students captivated by the content. We felt that if we worked together we could create something great and really attack this situation. Brent already had a strong resource library that he had been creating through his first years teaching. Brent and I decided to work together to build a one of a kind resource library that would immerse our students into the historical content like never before. For a year and a half, we spent every free second creating new content for the course. We combed through the internet, reading countless documents and letters. We looked at political cartoons, and other historical images in an attempt to find just the right mix to get our students to really buy into the content. Now that we had the in class “why” aspect completed it was time to tackle the “what” and enhance those cringeworthy lectures to make them more engaging for our little terminators.
Brent was working on some enrichment classes at a local university and there was a course that was offered on the flipped classroom, it must have been fate! During this class he read a book called Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. This book offered some great resources about how to properly flip your classroom and if you are interested it is a MUST read. It is a quick and painless read that will give you some amazing
insight. After Brent read the book he gave it to me to read and we were inspired to take the next step. We took all of the recommendations and started making our own engaging lecture videos. We will talk in a later post about what we do to create our videos. It was 2015 and we were now set, we started with a resource library of activities and a couple of videos. We spent the almost every free second together creating videos, and bless Brent’s soul because there were nights he was up until 2 in the morning getting the next video ready for that day’s lecture. I eventually was able to borrow a Macbook which allowed me to help him out because we were then able to divide the workload. We got in a groove creating these videos and by the end of the year we were putting out really good and engaging content on our YouTube channel. We now have over 80 videos on our You Will Love History channel and Brent is rapidly building his You Will Love Economics channel that already has over 45 videos. He has flipped his AP Economic course and is seeing amazing results. You can read about his journey in our post The Advanced Experiment. While Brent was making the videos, I was creating and managing the online course we use through the platform Moodle. This is the hub of the class and includes our lectures, digital copies of our activities, quizzes and exams. You can read our post on What is the Flipped-Mastery Classroom to get more information about that aspect of the class.
You Can Do It!
So what was the point of this article? FLIP YOUR CLASS! If you have thought about changing things up because you have lost your students, it’s ok, just do it! We have a whole new view of teaching since we have done this. Brent and I have more one on one time with our students, we have more time to do fun activities in class, and we have more TIME to teach HISTORY, the only subject where there is more content to teach every year. We used through the 1960s and up to Nixon, but not really teach about his presidency. Now this year, we will finish through the 80s and our goal for next year is to get to 9/11! The flipped classroom has opened so many opportunities for us and we are so thankful that we took the plunge! No matter the subject area, you can flip the classroom. If you teach science, you will have more time for labs, if you teach math, you will be there for you students to help them through the problems as a tutor for them!
If you are thinking about flipping your class and need a little motivation, send us an email or comment on this page and we would love to share our ideas with you. We are not perfect, but what teacher is? Your students will appreciate that you are doing something different and it will show that you truly want to create a unique and engaging experience for them.
Remember, we teach US History, Economics and Psychology and if you teach one of those subjects we offer resources in our TpT store that can make flipping your class a breeze. Creating the activities was the most time consuming and difficult part of flipping the class. This bundle for US History will give you every activity that we use throughout the year, the work is done for you! You can even use our lecture videos on YouTube to get you started!
Thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment about your experiences flipping your class.