By Sunny Gunessee.
Over the last 18 months my form sixth form teaching has undergone some significant changes, after visiting the Sociology department at Yavneh College I became sold on the practice of ‘flipped classroom’. I produced an independent enquiry on flipped classroom earlier in the calendar year, and further details can be found by clicking here.
With students becoming more and more comfortable completing readings and making effective notes lesson time had to generate greater impact rather than just reviewing previously covered knowledge. This has led me to trial a variety of different teaching strategies; trying, testing, reviewing, modifying and re-implementing. After trawling through many twitter feeds for teaching and learning ideas, I have become versed at trying these different activities on my Y12 and Y13. Their patience in allowing me to explore different technique is testament to their high expectations of the lesson, willingness to be challenged and yearning for best teaching experience possible.
One of the more positive experiences of recent times is the activity ‘guess who’s coming to dinner?’. This activity is the epitome of flipped classroom in practice, students are set a homework of completing a sizeable reading task where they have make to notes. The readings include a variety of different sociologists being discussed on a certain issue, students were explicitly told to make notes on these sociologists in preparation for the lesson.
Once students come to lesson they are given 6-10 paper plates per table of 4 students and a contentious statement. Using their notes, they have to create a dinner party where all sociologists will agree with the statement or create a dinner party where a variety of sociologists will clash with one another over the statement. This is great activity to get student to explore the similarities and differences between specific research, it also beneficial in getting students to prioritise key information through discussion. Once the ‘dinner guests’ have been invited, students need to summarise the research on the paper plate and explain who the sociologist would either get on with or not get on with at the dinner party. Once students have done this, they have to link the paper plates together by attaching them with a piece string.
This activity took a particularly positive turn with a Y12 class who decided that like any good party you need someone at the head of the table. This manifested itself in the form of the lead sociologists they thought would completely agree with the statement at one end of the dinner table. This lead sociologist would have on his/her left and right, sociologists who would provide secondary support to the original idea. But at the opposite end of the table would be a sociologist who is arguing the complete opposite. This unexpected but amazing outcome to prioritise arguments into an order, helped them to structure a verbal response when feeding back to the class. This demonstrates that a simple reading and note taking exercise for homework, can be taken further through some carefully positioned paper plates, notes, felt tips, string, hole punch and a teacher a who is willing to facilitate the task through questioning to check their understanding of notes they have made.
For me this activity suggested that the flipped classroom approach is an excellent methodology to adopt if your trying to ingrain accountability and responsibility into sixth form students, but also make students see the benefit of completing readings outside of contact time, allowing time in lessons to deepen knowledge, refining debate and essay writing. I am hoping this will be the first of a few a posts over the next academic year, where I can provide some ideas for those who are trying flipped classroom with their sixth form classes. In the meantime, happy teaching and learning.