Home Why and How How and Why I Got Started with Flipped Learning

How and Why I Got Started with Flipped Learning

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It was midway through the 2010-2011 school year, and I had just joined the AP chemistry community discussion forum. Jon Bergmann posted a comment that included the term “flipped classroom.” When I responded, he gave me a succinct summary: lecture goes home via video and homework is done in the classroom. The lights went on in my head and they have become brighter every year since!

I flipped my next unit, making my own videos using my Mimio system, and uploaded them onto my school website. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize kids would have to download the videos to watch them. One of my students told me it took four hours for her download to finish! Despite my early fumbles my students overwhelmingly voted in favor of a flipped classroom. In fact, I caught someone stuffing the ballot box. One student who had pretty much checked out of learning was suddenly up and moving around the room helping his fellow students. I firmly believe that had I flipped at the beginning of the year, he would have passed the class. Needless to say, I was hooked.

At the beginning of the next year my principal, asked me to do a short vision-casting presentation. My friend and colleague, Katie Lanier, made the decision to flip her on-grade-level physics class and dragged her co-worker along with her on her journey (he loved it by the way).  I love that this approach can be successful for all levels of learners. Before long we had quite a group of us embracing flipped learning: anatomy and physiology, honors chemistry, and on-grade-level chemistry, and we were hungry both to learn from others and to share our journey.

At the beginning I was focused primarily on making my own videos and did so without any special training. Recently, I have become involved in the development of new videos that will incorporate best practices from conferences I have attended and from taking Flipped Certification Level 1 through the Flipped Learning Global Initiative (FLGI). While videos are an important part of my flipped classroom, a far more significant development has been the creative space and time that has emerged in my classroom every day. I am able to incorporate engaging learning opportunities, such as peer instruction and free response scoring. Students are getting the help that they need when they are cognitively ready for that help.

Our group of pioneer flippers found positive results from using this approach. Katie observed improved learning by her students, especially for borderline passing students. In my AP level there was a slight improvement in learning, but by far the bigger win was an improved efficiency of learning. Students’ investment of time at home is now less than before and is far more predictable in duration. In fact many watch my videos on 1.5 times the speed! Because of peer help and more directed teacher guidance in class, students achieve a high level of learning in an overall shorter time frame.

I recently transferred schools and have continued to flip in my new context. I can’t imagine going back to a traditional classroom and am grateful for the constant encouragement by students to continue to improve my teaching with the flipped approach as the framework for ongoing creativity and openness to new learning opportunities.

Dena K. Leggett, Ph.D.
Advanced Chemistry Teacher
Franklin High School
Franklin, TN
dena.leggett@wcs.edu

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Dena Leggett
Dr. Leggett currently teaches chemistry at Franklin High School in Franklin, TN. She earned her B.S. in chemistry at Northern Illinois University and her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Wayne State University. Dr. Leggett has also taught at the college level at Lake Forest College and at Collin College in McKinney, Texas. In addition to teaching, she scores the AP Chemistry exam each year and regularly consults for the National Math and Science Institute (www.nms.org). Previously, she served as a corporate trainer, teaching classes on the chemistry of computer chip manufacturing.

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