This is my first year to "Flip" my AP Chemistry class. We are now in the middle of the second quarter of students watching the lecture at home in a video podcast and spending their class time working collaboratively or independently to solve the problems, doing labs and demos, and discussing the implications of their work. I move from group to group and help when they get stuck -- coaching them through complex problems or processes, then challenging them to teach someone else what they just learned.
Now I am more impressed with the results of this type of learning than ever before. Rather than looking to me to show them what to do, I am getting questions like, "What is the question really asking for?" and "Can you show me how to find the slope and intercept of this line with my graphing calculator?" All the other work, they look to their notes, their book, each other... one guy even used Google to see if their values were reasonable and said, "Hey we must be on the right track!"
Since we started flipping our chemistry classes, I have purposefully taught my students to become more independent, telling them to "Ask three before me." I can't say how much it excites me to look down this long table at Starbucks and see them teaching and learning from one another. I feel like I've moved out of the role of "Chemistry Know-it-all" to "Consultant" or "Coach." It actually feels like a huge promotion!
I have been teaching for 16 years and this is one of the most powerful changes I have made. It ranks right up there with Open-Inquiry and Cooperative Learning as a tool to enhance independence and critical thinking while at the same time achieving simultaneous engagement of all learners and positive interdependence among the team. I am finally training kids to think for themselves and evaluate their results rather than regurgitate book answers.