Effectively flipping the classroom through smart lesson design

At EP we are passionate about providing teachers with the tools to create effective and productive learning environments. We are also incredibly lucky to have a passionate and experienced team driving our platform’s content, features and lesson design.

Following is a piece from our talented Global Head of Science, Kelly Hollis, discussing her experience with lesson design, some top tips and flipping the classroom. Only together with our teachers and students can we continue to create positive learning outcomes and help to design incredible futures.

The importance of lesson design to effectively flip the classroom by Kelly Hollis.

I taught Stage 4–6 Science throughout my teaching career and as technology was introduced into classrooms, I spent quite some time integrating it where possible. When our school moved to a 1:1 environment, our students had access to Apple MacBooks with Google Apps for Education suites, and my interest in technology integration really increased.

The Science curriculum remained relatively unchanged throughout my time in the classroom. However, the introduction of the Australian Curriculum saw the Stage 4 & 5 Science syllabus updated and with this change came the need to create new teaching and learning programs. This was a great opportunity for us as a department to integrate technology more into the junior Science classroom in a number of ways. Technology is great for Science through the use of simulations, interactive activities, data collection and analysis and video/photo creation.

Flipping my classroom and lesson planning

When planning lessons, I always began with the lesson objectives. This is still important with an ever-expanding curriculum where teachers need to ensure that all syllabus dot points are met within the set timeframe.

In order to ‘buy back’ classroom time I started to flip my Stage 6 Biology classroom in 2014. The process I used to flip my classroom evolved over the years and during that time I saw a number of changes in my students. This approach required a lot of time on the part of the teacher to decide which format the flipping was going to take. I chose to create my own videos for each syllabus dot point as well as provide the students with a range of activities that go with the videos for them to complete at home. Consequently, I changed my approach to face-to-face class time to ensure that the students were actively engaged in an activity that moved them beyond the bottom levels of Bloom’s taxonomy such as group or project work.

I found that lesson planning became necessary again for me to be able to effectively flip my class. I spent time planning out the unit to ensure all syllabus dot points were met and then I worked out how to ‘chunk’ them together as it was difficult to teach each point in isolation. I used a range of tools to create my videos, such as Screencastify as it’s user friendly and allowed me to sync to both Google Drive and YouTube. From here, these videos were given a shortened URL that related to the topic and the video number. I also created a Google Document booklet that had each syllabus dot point, the associated video; the pre-work that the students needed to do that related to that video and then the in-class activities.

An example of pre-work for my Year 12 Biology students. Students would have completed this work before coming to class.

An example of an activity that students completed in class after completing the pre-work that was assigned. This activity could be completed in pairs, allowing students to work collaboratively.

After uploading lesson plans to Google Calendar I shared them with students and their parents. Each student knew exactly what was expected of him or her for each lesson and if they were absent, they could catch up in their own time. Parents responded positively to this, as they were able to keep track of their child’s work. It helped build a collaborative relationship.

For a new teacher, it is great to have a fairly detailed lesson plan, but always remember that you need to be flexible. There is no point persisting with an activity if you feel that the students are not enthusiastic or engaged. I tried to create lessons that were interesting, meaningful and memorable (Simmons, 2009). Or, as Dave Burgess (2012) says in his ‘Teach Like a Pirate’ book, ‘LCL’ or ‘life changing lessons’. My teaching changed considerably after reading this book as I was always conscious of making sure that my lessons didn’t just meet outcomes but helped to make an impact on my students in some way.

A sketch note outlining the ‘PIRATE” philosophy explored in Dave Burgess’ book.

Another top tip

Another big tip I have is — get to know your students! Before you try to teach your students, you need to know what makes them ‘tick’. Every class is going to be different and you cannot teach every class the same way. Some classes will take to technology like a duck to water, but others will hate it. Don’t fight it. Your students will appreciate the fact that you take the time to get to know them and you will build rapport quickly. This is another thing that Dave Burgess points out in his book.

Lesson planning may take time, but it definitely doesn’t have to be boring! There are many resources out there to help you design amazing lesson and unit plans — you just need to go looking for them. But you also need to make sure you look around and just don’t dive into the first resource you find! Some resources I turn to for lesson planning include:

  • * Pinterest — my Pinterest boards — some personal, but a lot of them are education, have thousands of ‘pins’ of things that inspire me in some way or another
  • * Twitter — get on to Twitter and start exploring some hashtags that fit around what you teach. Starting with #aussieED, you will find a huge range of educators sharing ideas and resources with each other from all year levels and all subject areas
  • * PHET — this website has MANY MANY awesome interactive simulations that your students can interact with for a wide range of ages and subjects!
  • * Scootle there is a huge range of technology-based resources for all subject areas, not just Science!

 

When first starting out with introducing technology into your lessons or looking in to the flipped classroom, you do not have to go ‘all in’ straight away. Start off by flipping a few lessons or a small unit. Get your students to create something for you using their technology tool of choice rather than stipulating which format you want to receive the product in. Remember, the most important thing is that you want the technology you are using to enhance your students’ learning, not just replace something that they could do with their usual exercise book and pens. Effective pedagogy should always be the driver of your lessons, however, technology can help to be an accelerator (Michael Fullan)!

 

Thanks so much Kelly for your insights. If you have any insights you would like to share please email support@educationperfect.com.