Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Flipped Classroom

Until I started taking this course, I had never heard the term "flipped classroom".  So the obvious place to start was to read the first article on the list that defined it, but upon finishing that article I found myself wanting to learn more because I realized that I had attempted to teach this way in the past but I never felt that I did it well and the second part of the article promised to tell me more about how to do that.  So I ended up clicking the link to the second part of that article to find out how to prepare myself to teach that way better. 

I initially thought a flipped classroom must be having the students teach the material to the class.  I think that CAN be a version of flipped classroom but the key component to a flipped classroom is to create a lesson that requires students to be prepared up front.  I have been a student in this method many times as that is how graduate program seminars, where their might be 10 students in a course,  work.  Unfortunately, I am stuck in a scenario where I teach to large classes of 50+ students.  The larger the classroom, the more likely it is they can hide and not be prepared when they walk in the room. And they operate on that assumption and they don't prepare.  So I lecture. A lot. And I use question and answer. A lot.  I spoon feed.  A lot.

But nearly 5 years ago I floated in, last minute, to be a sessional at the University (the big one) and teach a course in Women and Health. In fact, I wrote a blog on my trepidation related to this employment opportunity. (I do apologize a head of time for the image(s) that will invade your senses if you click on that link..... if you are a heterosexual male you may enjoy it though...... made you look).  The class size was about 30 but the course was set up in such a way that there were no exams so the trick was to motivate the students to show up, because they could do the readings, complete the assignments, and never attend class and still pass. (I felt participation marks just for showing up, was not very adult centered, nor was it women centered and this was a feminist course, so I refused to make that an evaluation component. Really, the students have the right to decide how to structure their lives. Come if you want. Don't come if you don't want.). So I used readings and the discussion of those pre-assigned readings to be the focus of class time. 

For one topic, I think it was on the medicalization of pregnancy and birth but it doesn't really matter because it would have worked for near any of the topics in the course, I set up a debate format.  I randomly divided the class in half and had one half of the class take the stance that the technology and testing rampant in pregnancy and birth these days (and for the last 20 years or more) saved lives and was beneficial to mothers and babies.  The other half of the class took the stance that it was unnecessary and took away from person centered holistic care.  Women giving birth are not numbers on a monitor printout.  I gave them class time to prepare for their debate and then the two sides had a discussion -- I didn't demand debate rules.  But they had to pre-read to have that discussion so it was a flipped classroom before I'd ever heard the term.

It was an interesting exercise because I had people who ended up on the side they agreed with strongly but I had others who disagreed with their assigned sided of the argument and had to stretch their thinking. Never a bad thing.  As I recall, the debate went well.  I didn't have to do much to keep the discussion going (I just had to re-direct, and keep it respectful and peaceful).  There was some prep up front but it wasn't as intensive as preparing a lecture.  There are some topics that just shouldn't be lectured on and I am hoping to recreate this class at RRC so I made to use flipped classroom a lot at some point in the near future.

1 comment:

Eva Brown said...

Hi Kim,
Your blog posts are amazing and provoke educators to learn more! I don't see that others have commented as required and these posts need to be highlighted to share your experiences with other educators. I will do some Tweeting!