Strategy for Flipping a Lesson

Strategy for Flipping a Lesson

I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time looking at teachers’ lessons/tasks and instruction as well as student work.  While doing this I have found a few strategies that I have shared with teachers to help them “flip” their lessons/tasks and instruction from one that is more teacher directed-low level thinking to one that is more student directed-higher order thinking.  I thought that sharing one of my strategies for “flipping” a lesson with a larger audience would be beneficial to educators.  Below is my attempt to share my thinking.

BEFORE LESSON:  Students watch and listen to the teacher give a Prezi. They use a Google Doc and fill in the blanks and take notes on Sedimentary Rock.

AFTER/FLIPPED LESSON: When I looked at the topic of sedimentary rock, I tried to find a connection to the IA Core to see what important conceptual learning would be associated with sedimentary rock.  The essential concept that most directly connects to the IA Core Science Essential Concept is listed here:

Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand and apply knowledge of the structure and processes of the earth system and the processes that change the earth and its surface. 

Details:  Some changes in the earth can be described as the “rock cycle.” Rocks at the earth’s surface weather, forming sediments that are buried, then compacted, heated, and often re–crystallized into new rock. Eventually, those new rocks may be brought to the surface by the forces that drive plate motions, and the rock cycle continues. Soil consists of weathered rocks and decomposed organic matter from dead plants, animals, and bacteria.

When I look at the Prezi and know that students are filling in the blanks, the students are not being asked to understand or apply knowledge of the structure and processes of the earth system & the processes that change the earth & its surface.

So a strategy that I have used with teachers is to take the Essential Concept/Skill from the IA Core and turn it into Essential Questions or an Enduring Understanding. In this case, I turned the Essential Concept into Essential Questions.

  1. How do the structures and processes of the earth system and the processes change the earth and its surface?  
  2. Why do the structures and processes of the earth system and the processes change the earth and its surface?  

Then I would use the next part of my strategy and make some connections to the real world.

  1. What are the implications when these structures and process change the earth and its surface?
  2. What examples (past & present) are out there?
  3. What should we stop doing? Why?  Who needs to be informed or persuaded?

The students would begin researching and discussing these questions and coming back with claims and evidence and asking more questions.  Using this process, they would be learning about sedimentary rock and the cycle. Students could take their findings and share this information with an appropriate audience.

So what is similar between the before and after lessons? The similarity is that sedimentary rock is still part of the lesson.

What is the difference?  The after/flipped lesson includes inquiry, student agency, technology, an authentic audience, writing & research (IA Core ELA), deeper thinking, a tight connection to the IA Core science essential concept, collaboration, and possibly more.

I hope that you can see that when teachers design or redesign lessons/tasks that ask students to think at a conceptual level rather than topical or factual levels, it is much easier to incorporate higher order thinking, student agency, and higher levels of technology use.

When I think about Scott McLeod’s recent blogpost, Option B, I believe this is an example of what he is talking about.