Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flipping History Q & A

Since I started flipping my world history class this year, many educators have asked questions about the model and its implementation.  Chase Moore (@moore2cw), a fellow world history teacher interested in the flipped model, recently posed the following questions.  He had recently read my post about the flipped mastery model in our history class (which has since changed a bit, more below).

I thought posting this brief conversation could further the discussion online with others interested in the ways that the flipped model can be applied to the social studies classroom. 

“How do you develop your Standards?”  

After a few units of flipping, I started applying a standards-based-grading approach.  In sum, their grade was not going to be based upon a combination of homework, classwork, and summative assessments.  Instead, I would assess them based on their proficiency of three particular standards over a 2-3 week period (further discussed below). 

I have since changed the terminology to “learning goals,” since this resonates with the students more than “standards.”    I have also started using Connecticut’s Social Studies Framework to choose particular learning goals for each topic.

For example, one learning goal will be from Standard 1: Content Knowledge.  The second, more challenging learning goal is from Standard 2: History / Social Studies Literacy.  The third, and most challenging learning goal, is from Standard 3: Civic Engagement.    I chose learning goals that aligned with the topic we covered in the last unit, which was “conflict in the middle east.” 

Here is a link to the document I provided the students:

Learning Goals

“Do you break your curriculum into Units, then into Standards? Or do you simply break up your class by each standard?”

I break each unit into three topics.  Each topic (ex. Cold War Era) runs for approximately 2-3 weeks.    For each topic, I choose three learning goals (mentioned above).  I am going to revise the curriculum once school is out, but this basic format seems to work for the students. 

“Roughly how long would it take the average student to complete a standard / how long do you give?”

I assign the entire 2-3 week topic at the start, and the students progress through the three learning goals over that time period at their own pace.  If students do not demonstrate proficiency in all three by the end, they can still do so, but on their own time.  The class moves on to the next topic.

“Do you collaborate with colleagues to develop assignments for components 1 - 3 or are you working on this alone?”

I work in a very small school, so I am actually the only World History teacher in the district.  However, next year we will work on department (and interdepartmental) screencasts that focus on skill development.  For example, all department members will create screencasts on evaluating historical significance, detecting bias in a source, etc.  

We are also going to make “guest appearances” in other screencasts.  For instance, I will work with our civicc teacher to create an end of year recap screencast.  As Jon Bergmann (@jonbergmann) and Aaron Sams (@chemicalsams) suggest, conversational screencasts seem more interesting to students.

“Roughly how many different assignment choices do you plan on offering to students for components 2 - 3?”

I usually offer 2 – 3 assignment choices, but they are allowed to develop their own assessments as long as they can clearly demonstrate proficiency in the learning goal.  For instance, one student asked if they could just be interviewed by me during class.  In the end, it was clear to me that the student was proficient, so they simply moved on to the next goal.  I first heard of this approach from Brian Bennett (@bennettscience).

As with all of us, this is a work in progress and continuously evolving.  If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, please do not hesitate to comment below or email at