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Slouching toward flipping this class

August 21, 2011

On Friday, our school had its fall convocation to introduce the new school year. We met in our new fine arts building and many of the usual routines were gone through such as honoring the service of staff who have worked at the school for 5 years periods from 10 years to 35 years. New staff members stood and others were recognized for special achievements.

Our guest speaker was Mark Milliron who was president of the League for Innovation and currently works on the Gates Foundations Aspen Institute. He spoke well and challenged us not to lose the developmental students, my department. He also spoke of how colleges gather data, but little data is gathered for teachers or provided for them. He made several other good points and mentioned the movement toward flipping the class. Flipping a class involves assigning students to watch explanatory videos or listen to explanatory lectures as homework and work in class on the material that supports the lectures. I have been thinking about this for a while, but I could not figure out how I would have the time to make the videos and when I tried to find videos, they have not been very good.

To my surprise, this morning I looked for videos on YouTube for some of the topics I teach in my intermediate writing class, and there are some good ones that seem to have been added recently. So I have begun to prepare for flipping my writing class by constructing webpages using Google Sites, including pages for nouns and subject-verb agreement. This quick search this morning indicates I can find enough material to assign appropriate videos for many of the grammar topics. Furthermore, I found a YouTube channel by Edward Meade that uses a Khan Academy approach and covers other grammar topics that we use, so I am confident there will be video materials available for student use.

The next challenge involves redesigning what I do in the classroom since I no longer will introduce the grammar topics in class but will work with the students on them. Since I have seen discussions of flipping classes, I know I will be able to find out more about how to do it. I will be writing about this experience in future posts as I learn more about how to do it.

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