BOOK REVIEW: Flipped Mastery Learning

Review / October 17, 2018

-Martha Ramirez-

I had heard about Mastery Learning a couple of years ago and couldn’t seem to wrap my head around it. Its purpose made a lot of sense to me, but it seemed complex and hard to grasp. So when I heard that Cara Johnson was writing a simple guide about Mastery Learning within a Flipped Learning approach, I was buzzing with excitement. After reading this book, I was able to clarify my understanding of what Flipped Mastery Learning is, as well as learn ways in which I could implement it. It was a very informative and definitely an insightful book.

In her book Flipped 3.0 Flipped Mastery Learning: An insanely Simple Guide, Cara explains what Flipped Mastery is, why we should use it, and how to implement it in our teaching by providing steps, strategies and recommendations within the different chapters. Cara Johnson was awarded the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2015, thanks to her application of the Flipped Mastery Learning model, which she has shared with various educators around the world since then. All her experience and expertise are included in an easy-to-read simple guide.

Cara explains that Flipped Mastery is “an instructional strategy in which students learn at a flexible pace and only progress to the next learning objective after they have mastered the preceding learning objective” (p. 1). Then she goes on to describe the main benefits of using this instructional strategy and how to implement a Flipped Mastery lesson following a cycle she proposes, which includes four steps (Pre-work, Practice & Learn, Mastery Check and Summative Assessment). Additionally, she provides various strategies to make these lessons work. Cara’s wide experience with Mastery is evident in the various examples shared throughout the book. She also addresses concerns that any teacher could have regarding students who get ahead, those who stay behind, and the role of testing within a Flipped Mastery lesson, among others. Cara also includes a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts followed by clear explanations of why we should avoid certain behaviors as well as avoid making some wrong decisions in our classrooms. I found this last part particularly useful and applicable to good teaching practices.

All in all, even though this is a simple guide, a lot of valuable information is packed in and in such a digestible way. The book is rich with figures that clarify the different information being presented throughout its five chapters. It also includes pictures that provide evidence of what is being stated in specific sections of the book. It even includes a link to a video of one of Cara’s lessons, which made the idea of planning a mastery lesson something more down to earth and reachable. I would have personally liked to have seen even more images and videos since they add extra value to the material. Likewise, more references on the background of Mastery Learning would contribute to a deeper understanding of this instructional strategy. Nevertheless, the book accomplishes its objective in providing the know-how of applying Flipped Mastery Learning. With this simple guide, I believe enough elements are presented to start taking the first steps in Mastery Learning, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to take the path towards mastery or who just wants to understand what it is and how to use it.

Flipped Learning 3.0 Flipped Mastery Learning: An Insanely Simple Guide
by Cara Johnson with Jon Bergmann
FL Global Publishing, Irvine, CA
2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-9991397-2-1

Martha Ramirez
Flipped Learning Master Teacher
Teacher educator and English teacher
Universidad de Los Andes
Bogotá, Colombia

Editorial Leam
Editorial Team
This article was written by a collaboration of editors and columnists on the FLR editorial team or guest contributors.

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