Examining the Potential for Flipped Literature Units: Flipping The Great Gatsby

Examining the Potential for Flipped Literature Units: Flipping The Great Gatsby

Shelly Shaffer (Eastern Washington University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2242-3.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter discusses a case study of an eleventh-grade American Literature course in the Southwestern United States using flipped teaching approaches with technology for the first time. The study's purpose was to investigate the effects of flipping using technology on how the teacher and students worked, learned, and engaged with English Language Arts (ELA) content. Specifically, the researcher hoped to study the effects of flipped coursework on homework and classwork, the students' and teacher's responses to flipped strategies, and the impact of technology on a two-week unit on The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald, 1925). The teacher worked with the researcher to choose four activities in the unit to flip, which involved a webquest, Google quiz, blog, and online PowerPoint. The participants in the study included the teacher: Mr. Riggs, a veteran ELA teacher with over 20 years' experience and four eleventh grade students: Simone, a bi-racial female; Omar, an African-American male; Garrett, a Caucasian male; and Audrey, a Latino female. Through open-coding analysis of interviews with each participant during the study, field notes taken throughout the unit, and documents collected from online and paper artifacts, three major categories were established. The major categories included perceptions of changes in classwork and homework, impact of technology, and appeal of flipped classrooms. The findings of this study revealed that the flipped unit had an impact on the amount of homework, the type of homework and classwork, homework completion, time spent in class, and the way technology was used. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation played an important role on whether flipped assignments were completed on time or were engaging for students. A final important finding showed that teacher flexibility was necessary for the flipped unit to be successful. This study provides insight into how flipping could work and look in an ELA classroom.
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Literature Review

Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classroom methods (Bergmann & Sams, 2012; Educause Learning Initiative, 2012; Fulton, 2012; 2014; Mok, 2014; Morgan, 2014; Shaffer, 2016; Tucker 2012) have become popular as educators realize flipped methods offer a way to move knowledge and comprehension activities into online delivery methods, which creates more time in class for hands-on, inquiry and discussion-based activities. In this way, using technology to deliver instruction connects to the students’ funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992), a specific term meaning that students’ backgrounds and home knowledge is treated as a “fund” equal in importance to academic funds.

Fulton (2012) identifies some key reasons for adopting a flipped classroom:

  • 1.

    Students move at their own pace;

  • 2.

    Doing “homework” in class gives teachers better insight into student difficulties;

  • 3.

    Teachers can customize and update the curriculum, and provide it to students 24/7;

  • 4.

    Students have access to multiple teachers’ expertise;

  • 5.

    Classroom time can be used more effectively and creatively;

  • 6.

    Parents have a window into the coursework;

  • 7.

    Learning theory supports the new approaches;

  • 8.

    The use of technology is flexible and appropriate for 21st century learning. (p. 2-5)

Dewey (1938), Hyslop-Margison (2004), Liu and Chen (2010), and Vanderstraeten (2002) provide a lens for framing the flipped method as an example of constructivist pedagogy. Hyslop-Margison (2004) suggests that Internet technology encourages students to participate in their learning in constructivist ways. In a constructivist classroom, students construct their own learning and understanding through experiences designed or facilitated by the teacher (Dewey, 1938). For example, in a flipped classroom, students are encouraged to collaborate while learning and communicating, and they have access to a variety of sources online. They are able to go beyond the assignment to find additional information or detour to a completely different topic. This allows students to shape their own experience online.

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