Success! Our 1st Flipped Science Inclusion Class

A MiddleWeb Blog

2-teachers-nobordr-210Reflection is a natural part of my everyday teaching cycle, but I find this time of year I add another dimension: I think about the goals I set for myself for this school year. 

I’m happy to say that with just about six weeks left in the school year, I was able to weave in my goal of implementing at least one flipped learning experience. Mission accomplished. And sweet success!  

Just the other day, my science co-teacher and I made this happen. For a quick glance at how flipping the learning sparks students in co-taught classrooms, check out this presentation by Michael Stano and Ali Moss, Flipped Over, Learning in a Co-Taught Classroom, shared at the Council for Exceptional Children’s 2014 annual conference last month. It is truly inspiring. 

Now here’s the story of my first-time flip in our middle school classroom.

The Prep Work

This was a completely new concept for my co-teacher.  After I shared the basic idea, he was as enthusiastic as I was to give this flip a go! We decided on the topic of moon phases for our first flip with seventh grade students. I began the prep by asking myself sequential questions:

Click to see the infographic

Click to see the infographic

Question 1: What are our lesson objectives and in what parts of the lesson would students need additional supports?

Question 2: What tools, websites or software will I use, and how can I set this up so that all students will have access to the information?

Question 3: What concepts must the students know to be able to participate in class activities?

Question 4: Since my co-teacher and I have very limited planning time, how can I make sure we co-plan this lesson?

The Plan

I opened up a Google Docs page so that I could share my plan with my co-teacher. Google Docs made it possible for us to both plan together and to do it at different times (asynchronously), which worked well with both of our schedules.

I shared some links that supported our aim to guide students to identify the moon’s phases and to explain why the phases occur. After evaluating the links asynchronously, we decided on one of the 3-minute videos I suggested. To support students to retain the information, I created a guided notes sheet so they would be active viewers.

We posted the online activities assignment on our team’s website, as well as emailing the assignment sheet with the links to the parents. Here’s the Moon Phases Flip Lesson assignment and here’s the guided notes sheet. Enjoy!

In Class—After the Flip

We gave the students two days to complete their part of this flipped lesson (at home or otherwise outside of class). When the time came for us to apply the information they learned through our lesson, there were noticeable sparks in the classroom.  The students were ready to jump right into our lab work. We saw no need for us to first lecture and introduce the moon’s phases. It was a successful first flip! 

moon phasesWhat my co-teacher and I noticed:

Most students expressed positive feedback like…

• “This was cool!”

• “I liked that I could keep re-watching the video until I really understood the facts.”

• “It made me want to learn more—I liked the bonus parts of the lesson, too!” 

• “The guided notes made it easier for me to remember the information—and it went right along with the video, so it was easy to follow and understand.” 

One student said, “I just wish we had more time to be the teachers in class—I like taking charge of my own learning.” Really!

More prior knowledge

We also noticed that during the lab that day, the students came to class with a much deeper background knowledge base.  In addition, they were able to use the academic vocabulary needed to express their understanding of the moon phases. 

They applied their background knowledge; they were engaged in the application of their knowledge; and my co-teacher and I really felt the success of this first-time flip!  I am definitely ready to take this flipped learning approach to a whole new level in the future.

Questions about our flip?

And what goals do you have before the school year is over?

What would you like to try with your co-teacher in order to deepen the learning for your students? Go on, give it a go, and then come back and tell us about it!

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein is a 20-year teaching veteran, specializing in literacy and special education, with experience in both upper elementary and middle school. She’s currently a middle grades teacher and new-teacher mentor in Long Island NY’s Smithtown Central School District. Elizabeth is National Board Certified in Literacy and a contributor to Education Week and other publications. Her first book Comprehension Lessons for RTI (Grades 3-5), is published by Scholastic (June 2013). Follow her on Twitter @elizabethlstein.

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