It is hard to believe that I have almost two years of flipping experience under my belt. Sometimes flipping feels so crazy that I forget to acknowledge how much extra work is required to pull it all together. And there are so many layers in a successful classroom, flipped or not, that it is often quite challenging to effectively steer the ship.
During my first year of flipping, I spent most of my time recording video lectures. This left the actual class time VERY unstructured, and I relied primarily on student questions posed DURING class to fill that time. I struggled with low attendance throughout my first flipped year and I was chronically dissatisfied with the quality of student engagement during the “new” lecture hour. In my second year of flipping, I reused most of my video lectures (for better or for worse). This freed up my time to use the Life Science Teaching Resource Community (the Archive of Teaching Resources has a new name!) to improve the quality of my class activities. This, in conjunction with the fact that I also started using clickers (for which students earn 5% of their course grade), has improved the class tremendously, in my opinion. But my students expressed a different opinion the other day when I failed to prepare a set of clicker-activities for my class on “Blood.”
First, I did NOT admit to my students that I was unprepared. (Ahem.) Instead, I started class by asking them what they thought was the most important concept in the lecture. This began the discussion and I capitalized on their questions and confusions to engage them in a 90 minute review session. At the end of the 90 minutes, several of them made a pronounced effort to tell me how helpful the class had been that day. They actually explained that sometimes the interesting and creative activities I facilitate require so much application and critical thinking that, in their minds, they don’t get a chance to really review the material from the previous night’s lecture. This was such an interesting perspective and while I can not concede that the “easier” review session was BETTER than the more challenging application tasks, it did make me think about the value of VARIETY in the flipped class. We all know that Anatomy and Physiology are really challenging courses. But we’re coaches, and good coaches push their players hard, but they also know when to let up and make sure their players know they can be successful. The take home message for me? Variety is good.