Making the flip: Joan Barnatt educates the future with flipped instruction

education_sign_resizedAssistant Professor of Education Joan Barnatt sets an example for her education students by integrating “flipped instruction” into her Education Research class for early childhood majors.

Having taught this class previously, Professor Barnatt was able to approach her curriculum here at Elon with a new perspective right from the start. Barnatt explained,  “In the past, the course was much more book and lecture, and exercises and activities in the classroom.” By integrating flipped instruction she changed the whole method of how students received and accessed the information discussed in the course, as well as in application. Though this is not the first time Barnatt has “flipped” her instruction, she is using this particular experience to update her own skills and make learning and teaching more efficient. 

 According to Barnatt flipped instruction “can be as simple as reading something in advance or watching a video.” It provides a backbone for each class period so the students and teacher are “all on the same foundation.”  Specifically in her class, finding these resources is a collaborative effort. Both Barnatt and the students either create or research material that relates to the curriculum.

So how does it work?

1. Students watch a video and complete a reading before coming to class.

Barnatt used the free Mozilla Popcorn maker to remix an existing YouTube video to highlight the differences between qualitative and quantitative analysis. Even Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth II had something to say about the result. Take a look at the remixed video.

2. Students complete a “Do Now” activity to check their understanding of the previously completed assignment.

For this assignment, the students were asked to develop T-chart comparisons on the different types of analysis at the beginning of class.

3. Students participate in a class discussion.

Once everyone was on the same page, students were asked to discuss the questions posted at the end of the remix.

Barnatt has had much success with this new method, specifically her “Do Now” activities. She said, “You’d come into the classroom and there is something there for you to do right away. It’s not a big piece, but it gets us into the activity right away. It’s a little more engaging.”

A flip in the right direction

With this new approach, Professor Barnatt has found the results to be very beneficial both inside and outside the classroom. The students “have options other than listening to me, even if it’s a five minute lecture on some form of statistics, or a humorous clip that demonstrates an issue. [The information] is there that the students can go back to when I am not available.”

In this Education Research class, Barnatt has the students formulate instructional tools to help enhance skills that they will utilize in the future when they are teachers.  Barnatt mentioned, “The students are very accepting of [flipped instruction]. They are in education so they are familiar with it. It makes sense.”

From an education standpoint, Professor Barnatt has used this method as a tool to help her own lesson plans for the class. “It’s a nice way for me to review the material and look at it from a different perspective.”

Advice for Future Flippers

Teachers may not be too far from the flip. Barnatt claimed “It’s something I have done in the past without calling it that.” However, finding and assessing appropriate material for this purpose in advance is a bit time-consuming. Barnatt commented, “You have to put it aside and dedicate yourself to doing something you are not facile with.”

Though this may seem challenging, there is no need to fear the flip. It can be as simple as editing, expanding and assessing material you already use. If you are thinking about flipping a course, Barnatt suggested that you start by “targeting those lessons you’ve never been fully satisfied with, one at a time.”

Overall, flipped instruction “provides an opportunity to use different formats that target different ways that students learn.” The world is changing so quickly around us, and it would be beneficial to embrace that change and bring it into the classroom. Barnatt expressed, “You can enrich a [lesson] so much with flipping,” and in turn, enrich the classroom and learning environment for all.

Education Image by Sarah Wright, Education Portal

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