Two Sides of the Flip in Middle Grades ELA: Student and Teacher Perspectives

Two Sides of the Flip in Middle Grades ELA: Student and Teacher Perspectives

Natascha Brooks (Wake County Public Schools, USA) and Hannah Weaver (Wake County Public Schools, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2242-3.ch004
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This chapter aims to guide secondary teachers through the process of flipping their classrooms. The authors will share results from their action research and lay out recommendations for before, during, and after a flipped unit, providing readers with resources to flip their own classrooms. The authors will also share student perspectives and describe how these perspectives have shaped future flipped lessons and classroom approaches.
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As teachers who consistently used technology in our instruction, we were curious about all the excitement around flipped learning. We knew that the idea behind flipped learning was to “do what had been conceptualized as ‘homework’ at school and hear traditional lectures at home via online digital videos” (Moran & Young, 2015). It seemed like everywhere we turned, people were talking about flipping the classroom, and though we understood the basic premise, we struggled to imagine what flipped learning would look like in our own 7th grade ELA classrooms. We had experimented with flipping a few lessons when a doctoral student approached us to request our participation in a study about the flipped classroom method. Because our own search for scholarly literature about the flipped method in the ELA classroom had yielded limited results, we were excited about participating and eager to help provide important insights about the method’s effectiveness. We hoped that participating in the study would give us the opportunity to try the method first-hand while also seeing data about our own classrooms from the eyes of an outside observer.

The doctoral student’s research questions focused on student engagement. As classroom teachers, however, our research questions were broader, for we were trying out the flipped method to see if it was a viable instructional practice in our own classrooms. We were, of course, interested in student engagement, but we also wanted to know how to flip. Our questions included the following: What can we do to maximize the effectiveness of the flipped method in our classrooms before, during, and after a unit? What problems arise during the flip, and what can we do to mitigate them? Do middle school students enjoy flipped learning?

We saw our work with the doctoral student and our research that followed as ways to bridge the gap between research and practice. Too often, educational research is disconnected from real classrooms, and teachers, including ourselves, judge “much of the research to be lacking in practicality and to be inconsistent with classroom realities” (Pine, 2009, p. 6). Pine (2009) defines action research as “a process of concurrently inquiring about problems and taking action to solve them” (p. 30). Therefore, while the doctoral student studied our students’ engagement, we conducted ongoing, recursive action research to find answers to our own research questions and to figure out solutions to problems that arose. In the months following the doctoral student’s research, our action research continued, and we measured the effectiveness of modifications we made to our subsequent flipped units.

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