Flipping the Class

I have flipped classes in the past, but really want to change how they are done. In the past, students would watch videos or read the book, and then do an activity in class or have class discussion. However, I never knew how to handle these activities. 

When I first started, I tried to have only participation grades, and not collect the actual work. If I did collect work, it wasn't graded. However, even with a participation grade, I found many students not actively engaging in the work, or not really trying or concerned about doing the work correctly. 

To counteract this, I started grading these activities for a small percentage of the overall grade. This also didn't work, since students were extremely concerned about finishing before class was over or whether it was correct. It resulted in a few students actually doing the work, and the rest just getting the answers from them. In addition, it was a ton of grading and extremely time consuming.

This past year, I tried a nice balance. The grades were 70% participation and 30% came from 2-3 randomly selected problems in the activity. However, it was difficult to select the problems, especially if I didn't want to penalize them for not finishing in class. Some students work slower than others, and they shouldn't be punished for this. 

This year, I hope to do something new that I think will work. Students will work in groups that are randomly selected and different every day. This will (hopefully) prevent the select students from just relying on the rest of the group to do the work for them. Towards the end of class, each group will be responsible for presenting the complete solution to a set of problems. These will be randomly selected, and the group will not know which ones they are responsible for until the end of class. In addition, there will be 1-2 problems turned in for the entire group, rather than individually. 

My activities will be different as well. I want to break them into three categories: Getting Started, Main Course, and Let's Keep Going!. The first of these will be basic skill building exercises to make sure all the students understand the basic ideas of the lesson for the day. The second will be a variety of problems that are slightly more involved, as well as the problem(s) they will turn in for the day. This will typically be some kind of puzzle they need to solve using the particular topic. The final section is slightly more in depth and is really designed for the more advanced students. No one will be penalized for not getting to that section, or doing it incorrectly. It is just to extend a little bit to keep those students interested. I hope to have at least one group get to this section each class, so it can be discussed in closing for the end of class.

I hope this will relieve some of my grading, as well as keep students engaged. It also allows students to instantly have the answer keys to these activities. In addition, students may present a problem they had done incorrectly, which can be a great place to start a discussion in the class!