I have to say that this has been the quickest, most productive 1st semester in my 10 years of teaching. I teach general science to 6th grade students in an elementary setting. (My district has K-6th graders at the elementary buildings) I knew I wanted to flip my classroom at the end of last year so I spent the summer break attending staff developments and planning. I wanted to learn as much as I could about what has worked for experienced “flippers” as well as what didn’t work.
I also had to take into account that my students are still in an elementary setting. I started the school year with technology integration and discussion about the flipped classroom. I waited until my first content unit to try it out. (My first 2 units are process skills – safety and scientific method.) I created a video for our Elements and Compounds unit. Over half of my students watched it as homework. I also gave students the chance to watch it in class since this was our first time. I quickly found that the major problem would be technical issues. I needed to find a common place to post the videos in different formats. I used this first video as a way to introduce the flipped model. We watched the video in class (after it was assigned as homework) and we talked about the best way to watch a video to gather information.
The next unit, Chemical and Physical Changes, was our next Flipped Video. The video leads us in to the unit and everything we do can be explained from the first video. For this video I embedded a wmv file onto my school website. I also hyperlinked the title to the wmv file. I also included a link to the video on Youtube. Even though Youtube is blocked to students at school, it helped those students that could not open the wmv file from home. This really seemed to take care of many of the format issues that we dealt with during the previous unit.
I incorporated a learning contract with our next Flipped Video Lesson on Force and Motion. Students would watch the video as homework and then come to class the next day to start the different activities. The idea was that students could work at their own pace and even though not every student would complete every activity, all would learn the concepts. This went very well. The other sixth grade teachers told me that the students were talking about science in every class. This contract took us through the entire unit and I had a 100% passing rate on the test. Students were using vocabulary and enjoying class! You can find the contract and the parent video I sent out on my website.
My first semester of flipping has been very successful! I was very excited to see my 12 week benchmark scores. I was teaching the same material as previous years but in a totally different way. My passing scores increased as well as my commended rate (less than 3 missed questions) by 30% with over half of my students missing 2 or less questions!
I don’t think that it is the flipped lessons alone that have made my classroom successful during the first semester. My enthusiasm and excitement at trying new things has definitely impacted my students. I also incorporate technology in engaging and relevant ways. I have found a balance between integrating technology with hands on lab activities. I will say that I am working harder before each unit begins but am interacting more with EVERY student during class time.
I continue to learn new things from myself, especially when something doesn’t go smoothly, but also from webinars through Sophia.org, Smarttech.com, and great teachers on Twitter! I am constantly learning and trying to incorporate new things into my 6th grade Science Classroom which has made a huge difference for my students. I have also created a blog for my students to help them look back at each unit of study – Mastering Sixth Grade Science. I am looking forward to what the 2nd semester brings!