– Jake Habegger –
It happened. You received the news that your district will be closed indefinitely due to concerns over COVID-19 and will be delivering further instruction remotely. After releasing your content, Johnny opens up the first video. It quickly becomes apparent that he doesn’t know what he is supposed to do with it. Now what?
When you start flipping content, it is equally important that the content is of high quality and that students know how to interact with the content. Check out Peter Santoro’s article, What Planning Is Required to Make A Rapid Transition to Online Learning? for more on the other side of this topic. Shortcomings on either side of that equation can lead to a complete failure. A common misconception is that students know how to watch videos because they are the “YouTube Generation.” The truth is that our students are very proficient at passively viewing many different videos and quickly moving on to something else that catches their eye. Learning from video is a very different skill that must be explicitly taught for most students. At the same time, students must also be given a task to complete along with viewing the content to make sure it becomes an active experience. Yes, watching a video for school can be part of active learning!
Remember the Point of Flipping with Video
The purpose of the individual space, that time where students work independently, is to focus on the lowest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy: Remembering and Understanding. It is important that the focus stays here so that the group space, the “face-to-face time,” is focused on the higher levels with teacher/peer support. Check out Tom Menella’s article Shifting to Teaching online? Make This Decision First, for more on that topic.
Teaching How to Interact with a Video
In my classroom, Mrs. Cornelious, my school’s reading coach, comes in and co-teaches on how to take notes while watching a video. We start by watching the first video together as a class, all taking notes independently before the instruction. Mrs. Cornelious and I then take turns putting up our own personal notes, showing what successful note-taking looks like. We then have a group discussion about the common themes between the two teachers’ notes and then compare them to the ways students took notes. By the end of the period, most students have gained a solid foundation on what good note-taking looks like and how to most effectively do this with video lectures.
This raises a question: If you will not have the face-to-face class time in person to do this, how can this be done? As I said, I had students try taking notes on their own as a sort of pretest on note-taking skills. This was for students to be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses once they were shown effective strategies for note-taking. This step would be the pre-work (in the individual space) before class. The next step could be done synchronously in a virtual classroom or as additional pre-work where the teacher would demonstrate their own note-taking either by video or in a live chat. The same discussion of the key elements of successful note-taking would take place as I described for the in-person classroom. Students could then work in small online groups sharing pictures of their notes with each other to help improve each other’s techniques. After the next day of taking notes in the individual space, I would have students repeat the exercise briefly to look for improvement and to allow peer coaching.
You may be wondering, “Is all of this work really worth my time?” In my experience, heavy, explicit instruction with feedback early on has saved my students much time later throughout the year with efficient, effective note-taking.
What Should My Students DO with the Videos?
Taking effective notes is a way to actively engage with video content, but it is not the only way successful flipped educators have made the individual space more productive. Below are several other examples that have been proven to work well. Know that the strategy you select depends on your end goal, subject area, age, etc.
Completing Guided Notes: Many teachers favor a guided note style such as Cornell Notes. This is a way to guide students through the content by offering leading questions, listing key vocabulary terms, etc.
WSQ Method (Watch, Summarize, Question): Crystal Kirch invented this method while she was trying to figure out how to best help students interact with her videos. WSQ includes three phases of note-taking:
Step One– Watch: Students watch the video and complete her guided notes.
Step Two– Summarize: Students write a summary based on what they learned to better reflect and see if they understand what was explained in the video. The theory is that if a student cannot summarize the content, they did not “get it”. And if that’s so, they may need more support in understanding how to better take notes or a personal explanation of confusing material.
Step 3- Question: Students end by asking a question about the video they have watched. To support all learners, this question could be a clarifying question, a higher-order thinking question to discuss in the group space, or it could be creating their own practice problem, showing a fuller understanding of the content.
Working Sample Problems: In skill-based content such as mathematics, grammar, etc. completing sample problems may be the best use of the individual space. Having students show up to the group space having worked through sample problems will prepare them to discuss, ask questions, and go deeper with teacher/peer support.
Online Quizzes: After taking notes, students can check their understanding with an online quiz which will give real-time feedback. I personally allow students to use their notes for this quiz! This isn’t about memorization; the quiz is to determine if the note-taking was effective and reflects a solid understanding of the material.
Interactive Video Software: EdPuzzle, Playposit, etc.: These programs allow you to upload your video and insert questions for students to answer during the video! The video will auto-pause and not continue until the question is answered. This is a great way to make sure students are not passively watching the video; the interaction is built-in. Another powerful aspect of this tool is that the teacher can see the students’ individual progress- how they have answered questions, how long they have spent on different sections, and which sections they have rewatched. Many flipped educators have chosen this method to keep track of student engagement, with great success.
Which Method Should I Use?
The answer is… it depends. The questions to consider are the age of your students, your subject area, the content in the video, the rigor expected in the individual space, your personal style, etc. For my 8th-grade history class, I have students take notes (either free notes or guided Cornell Notes- I offer both) and then they take an open note, online quiz through Quizizz, on which they have three attempts for mastery. If they have not demonstrated mastery in these three attempts, they must see me. Again, it all depends on what you need! Like everything else in Flipped Learning, you must make it your own!