MONTHLY FEATURE

WHAT MAKES A FLIPPED CLASSROOM EFFECTIVE?

Making a flipped classroom effective is about more than just recording a lecture and sending it home with students - it starts with a teacher’s enthusiasm and a willingness to color lessons with creativity.

Teika Clavell is a vibrant eighth-grade science teacher in Cumberland County and the 2016 Educator on Loan at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She has spent the last six years building technology into her classroom to boost student involvement and encourage students to take ownership of their learning, and now as the Educator on Loan she facilitates professional development courses for teachers looking to improve their use of technology.

Teika’s specialty is flipping classrooms, which in its most basic sense is just that – a flip of instructional content with exercises usually assigned as homework. She excels not only because of this creative teaching technique but also because she practices what she preaches and has genuine enthusiasm for science and teaching.

“I like to Teika-fy things,” she said. “My classroom takes on a personality all its own and that enhances the kids’ experience.”

Teika learned how to flip up from her curriculum specialist, Mr. Scott Grumelot, secondary science curriculum specialist for Cumberland County Schools. As one of the first in her county to implement the technique, she took the chance to change the way her students would experience the classroom.

As one of the first, she started creating her content, which has been a hit with students and parents. She said that before science experiments she sends out a promo video to students and parents that is often shared on social media.

“I know where people view the videos because of the analytics I’ve set up. It was interesting to learn that people were coming from a link posted on social media. I think it is really fun because I’ve had people view my videos all over the world.”

As she described a video she created for her class about the atom with her two dogs acting as the proton, neutron and electrons, she noted that the creative aspect helped her to connect with the kids. “They really like it when I can make them laugh and it’s fun because my kids get to know a little more about me. I’m not a soul-less teacher at the front of the class,” she said.

Virtual reach and adjustable pacing is central to flipping a classroom, but there are different types that are used based on teacher need:

  • Traditional Flip - a video or video based lecture is provided to students outside of class with an in-class discussion that follows
  • Flip within the classroom - students are assigned different individual online assignments within the classroom to help struggling students
  • Webinars - students dial in and the material is presented orally (Cavell typically reserves these for snow days)
  • Demo-based Flips - these flips are for labs that are not safe or too expensive to do in class.
  • Game-based Flips - an online game is assigned to connect concepts in a hands-on way (This Hydrosphere Webquest is an example of interactive assignments she develops)

The atom video would be considered a traditional flip, where Teika would have a discussion to assess the students’ understanding of the concept.

“The more questions you ask, the better the students learn. The hope is that one day they may even ask the questions themselves.”

With an arsenal of resources from previous years, Teika has the choice to use older materials or create new ones based on student need. Having videos and demonstrations prepared over the summer or from previous years allows her to spend more time on each new video, which oftentimes results in a better video.

“Comparing audiences as I move forward allows me to see what videos worked, and what subjects need more time. As sample size increases my ability to determine what was a bad video rather than just a misunderstanding for one student is better,” Teika said.

When confronted with the question of student access to online resources at home she said she has not had a lot of difficulty getting to students in the online platform.

“Even the students considered homeless will have some sort of access to the internet, and if not, I have time during study periods where my room is open and technology is available for student access.” The way that the video is accessed might be on a flash drive instead of a web video, or other materials can be printed.

Flipping done well is likely to yield a statistically significant difference in a student’s performance. Every year Teika has exceeded growth with her students and has noticed a 1.9-point increase in average final grades from her fellow eighth-grade science teachers who also consistently exceed growth.

There is also an 8-12% increase in EOG and Benchmark scores from Teika’s teaching before flipping her classroom.

It is this increase that attracts teachers to flipped classrooms, but it does not stop there, students a flipped classroom is only as effective as the moderator. Learning begins and ends with a personal connection that reinforces the concepts delivered. In a visceral flipped classroom students are gaining life lessons and learning to be better stewards of the digital age. Those are lessons that Teika likes teaching the most, things that will not come from a textbook, but a grade A educator with creativity and enthusiasm.

Teika is currently on loan with NCDPI offering her professional development to schools interested in hosting a professional development focusing on media best practices in the classroom. Contact her for more information.

Visit her website (http://mscscience.weebly.com) for science resources upon request.