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My Flipped Physics Class

August 25, 2011

Besides my inquiry course for elementary teachers, I am also teaching is a section of non-calculus-based physics. The class is highly structured, so that I am told exactly what to do each day. The basic setup is this:

(1) Students come in and take a 2-3 minute reading quiz, which consists of five MC questions that I write (so that each section has different quiz). They are supposed to have read “lecture” materials online, and quizzes are intended to have required reading but not full understanding.

(2) Students get into a group (8 groups of 4 I think) and work through a series of conceptual questions on a computer (10-15 minutes). This isn’t graded, but the questions give immediate feedback.

(3) Students then come back to listen and watch as an instructor works through a sample problem (20-30 minutes). The example problem is a goalless problem. It’s also probable that the instructor will discuss the computer exercises. I am told exactly what example problem to go over.

(4) Students then go off to work in groups on different but related goalless problems, structuring what they do, in part, on the sample problem that was just worked out.

(5) Students discuss their problem solutions with the whole class. They work on their problems in whiteboards, so that is also how discussions are structured.

(6) Students go work on a lab. Most of the labs are not graded. They are just checked. I think 2 or 3 labs are graded more closely, but students are told which ones will be ahead of time.

Everything happening in any given day of class is around one concept. Class is 2.5 hours long and is twice a week. Often for the labs, they will collect data one day and analyze it the following day. There is also a 1.5 hour lecture, where all the sections meet. The lecturer runs some Peer Instructions with clickers, but also discusses the data students should have collected. They discuss issues in graphing data, linearizing data, etc, in order to prepare them for the next day where they do analysis in the lab.

As part of the lab class, they also have to carry out an independent investigation, write a paper, and give a presentation. I still need to learn more about what this is all about.

I’ll try to keep everyone updated on the how the flipped class goes for me.

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