Flipping A&P: Going All The Way

 “V"J day in Times Square” inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photo.
“V”J day in Times Square” inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo.

I’ve been in a relationship with Flipping for over a year now.  I think it’s time to take this relationship to the next level.  It’s time to ‘Go All The Way’.  That’s right, Flipped Mastery.

I really love flipping my class.  I feel that my students have the chance to obtain a deeper understanding of the course material with this instructional method.  Students work WITH the material and don’t just memorize it.  Unfortunately, this is not true for all my students.  Some participate too little in their groups and generally these students do poorly.  But there isn’t really a way to FORCE them to be actively involved.  This has led me to consider the next step: Mastery.

With Mastery, every student would have to be actively learning.  They would have to master a subject before they could move on.  No one is struggling to keep up.  And on the other end of the spectrum, no one is bored waiting for the next topic.  Unhappily, this will probably mean even more grading for me.  Instead of eight group worksheets every day, I might have as many as thirty two individual worksheets to grade.  But I’d rather grade more, but better, assignments than fewer, worse assignments.

I feel that I could help students even more by letting them make choices about their education.  Most students are more active in my classes now, but they still do what I say when I say to do it, at least during class.  I’m hoping that students will be more motivated to complete their work when it is their choice of which assignments to do and in which order.  Why do students need to study topics in the same order as the book?  Is it necessary to study the Integumentary system before the Muscular system?  As long as topics are scaffolded, I don’t see why students can’t choose their own path through the material.  The coursework can become a tree with multiple branches, rather than a rigid linear path.

It will also take a bit of work to come up with a menu of assignments for each topic, but I think that grading a variety of assignments will make grading more interesting for me, too.  It is so tedious to grade the same assignment over and over and over.

The one thing that has held me back from taking the plunge is the loss of group interaction.  If all the students are working at their own pace, no one will be working together.  The gurus of Flipping, Aaron Sams and John Bergmann, say in their book Flip your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day that students will automatically organize themselves into learning groups.  I hope that this is true of my students because I have seen a real benefit to student collaboration.

I don’t think I’m ready to fully commit in all my classes, but I think I’ll take a deep breath and jump in with both feet into at least one course.  I just hope that ‘Going All the Way’ doesn’t end in tears.

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