June 21, 2012
For my flipped class lesson plan I chose a lesson that I have been doing for years in 10th-12th Grade Earth Science called “Planet for Sale”. The project is a six day project from which a student presentation in front of the class is the final assessment. After picking a planet of their choice, the groups work as realtors who are attempting to sell their planet. In order to sell their planet the groups will advertise to potential “customers”. To do this the groups will create a PowerPoint Presentation, poster and a paper mache model of their chosen planet. Each group’s project, once completed, will compete against other solar system realtor (classmate) projects for “business”. The project, as mentioned earlier, is a six day project, but in order to keep the lesson plan concise I chose to focus only on the first day of the assignment which is the research portion.
Before choosing their planet, the students are given the option of working independently or in groups of two when completing the Planet for Sale Project requirements for Day 1 (Research) and the project as a whole. Once the students choose their groups and planet they will use the “Planet for Sale: Video Links” document (attached) to view a 6-10 minute you tube video about their individual planet. While viewing the video each partner will answer the questions on the “Planet for Sale: Video Questions” document (attached). The groups of two are only required to turn in one set of answers to the questions for Day 1. However, if the students choose to work in groups, each student has a specific job to perform in order to ensure both partners are contributing. One partner answers the seven questions listed under Partner 1 on the “Planet for Sale: Video Questions” document. The other student answers the six questions listed under Partner 2 on the “Planet for Sale: Video Questions” document. If the video for a group’s planet does not contain some of the information needed, the group is allowed to use the internet to find the missing information. Groups finishing early are assessed for completion and may work ahead by starting on Day 2 which is producing a PowerPoint Presentation of their findings. After the PowerPoint is completed the students produce a poster using the Comic Life program on their Macbooks to create a company name, logo and slogan. Finally, the students build a model planet out of paper mache to scale and paint it show the atmosphere/surface colors associated with the planet. The final assessment is the group presentation which is not only graded for quality of advertising (PowerPoint, Poster, Model), but also the group’s ability to present in front of a group (voice, eye contact, etc.).
In past years for the research portion of the assignment I simply gave the students the questions and said, “Use Google or another search engine to find the answers”. To flip the assignment I found a YouTube video for each planet and the student research is done by watching each group’s individual planet video. I like this idea better because the research is much more streamlined. I believe the students will stay on task more, because the answers to their questions are simply found in the video rather than some broad internet based search. Also, since I have previously viewed the videos I know that the students will be getting accurate planet specifications and information. In the past students would have a wide range of information due to the fact that some websites did not have updated information or simply provided information that was inaccurate. In addition, when I sent students on a wide internet search I found it easy for them to stray of task by going to websites that were not associated with class. With the video links I know they should all be on YouTube and can quickly assess if the students are on task by quickly viewing each groups screen.
Another aspect I like about flipping the class for the research portion of this project is that although I provide the videos the students put their own creative spin on their project after they finalize their research. Doing the project “flipped” guarantees that the students have the proper information and then how they “advertise” after that through their PowerPoint, Poster and model is completely up to them. Therefore, after the initial providing of the videos, the project is completely student driven. As a teacher, I simply roam the class and oversee each group’s progress.
The obvious drawback to the flipped classroom for this assignment is the cost of the technology involved. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am very fortunate in that our district has made the commitment to provide a laptop for every student and faculty member in our school. The students basically check out the Macbooks for the entire school year and are allowed to take them home to do schoolwork. However, the MacBooks do cost a minimum of around $1000, which may be a hefty price for many districts during these down economic times. Another inhibiting factor could be the lack of student internet access at home. I teach in a district with a very high rate of poverty and most students do not have internet access at home. To enable all students have the ability to access their planetary video at home I could simply convert the YouTube videos into mp4 files prior to class which could be played using various programs on the student’s MacBook.
Despite the costs of the technology and the extra work (I had to find a video for each of the eight planets) for me there is significant research that shows classroom flipping to be effective. First there is no doubt that the interaction between students increases significantly in a flipped classroom. As we all know, when students are interacting and working together to solve problems the levels at which they learn are dramatically higher. “One of the greatest benefits of flipping is that overall interaction increases: Teacher to student and student to student. Since the role of the teacher has changed from presenter of content to learning coach, we spend our time talking to kids. We are answering questions, working with small groups, and guiding the learning of each student individually.” (Bergmann). Also, when a class is flipped hands on learning is promoted, which is a style from which many students process and analyze information. Engagement is also increased as students are found to be genuinely interested in learning and not bored. “I see the power of engaging kids in science and technology through the practices of making and hands-on experiences, through tinkering and taking things apart. Schools seem to have forgotten that students learn best when they are engaged; in fact, the biggest problem in schools is boredom. Students sit passively, expected to absorb all the content that is thrown at them without much context. The context that’s missing is the real world.” (Dougherty). Finally, classroom flipping has been proven in many studies to benefit students from low income and low SES backgrounds. Since my classroom consists mostly of students of this background, classroom flipping could greatly enhance the educational environment. “The flipped classroom, and the unprecedented amount of one-on-one time it provides students, could even be enough to close the achievement gap between low-income, minority students and their more affluent white peers. (Butrymowicz). With all of this in mind I plan to “flip” the first day of this project in the upcoming year. I believe the projects produced will be much better due to an increased level of ownership from the students. Therefore, I expect the characteristics of each of the eight planets to be fully engrained in every student’s mind for the Solar System test at the end of the unit. If this project is a success I will absolutely consider more flipping in the future.
Bergmann, Johnathan. “The Daily Riff – BE SMARTER. ABOUT EDUCATION.” How the Flipped Classroom Is Radically Transforming Learning. The Daily Riff, 15 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 June 2012. <http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/how-the-flipped-classroom-is-radically-transforming-learning-536.php>.
Butrymowicz, Sarah. “Can the Flipped Classroom Benefit Low-Income Students?” MindShift. KQED, 18 June 2012. Web. 21 June 2012. <http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/06/can-the-flipped-classroom-benefit-low-income-students/>.
Dougherty, Dale. “Learning by Making.” Slate.com. Slate Magazine, 4 June 2012. Web. 21 June 2012. <http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/06/maker_faire_and_science_education_american_kids_should_be_building_rockets_and_robots_not_taking_standardized_tests_.html>.