Flipped Lessons in Middle School Science

I loved the idea of “flipping” my classes, but my question has always been, “where does this strategy belong in my classroom?” I think I’ve finally begun to figure that out.

As some background I teach 8th grade science and this is an example of what a short unit looks like in my class

Day 1: Demo about density and Day 1 for the density inquiry lab.

Day 2: Finish the density lab and notes on density through PearDeck (also lets me quickly assess understanding from the lab). And introduction videos on marine plastics. (Homework – watch Irregular Shapes Density video and fill out form.)

Day 3: Rotation Lab on Marine Plastics (focus on density of different plastics and buoyancy).

Day 4: Finish Rotation Lab conclusion and final video on marine plastics. Evaluate proposed solutions to marine plastics and consider alternative solutions.

Day 5: Assessment activity calculating density of irregular objects and predicting where they would float in a column of liquids.

If we look through there, other than some class discussions throughout, most of that is student or group work. There is a section of notes day 2, but most of that is assessment, reinforcement from the lab, and introduction to the next subtopic.

The key thing is there is not a lot of time to be gained from cutting this from my class so my motivation is not to gain time. But there’s a lot more to flipping than that.

Right now I have four main areas I am working on flipping:

Introductions – I try to begin my units with something to engage the students, but by beginning with engagement and then moving straight into inquiry some of my students struggle. They need to see what’s coming ahead. I’ve begun flipping introduction to my units with short videos highlighting vocab and the general topic for students to watch before we dive into it.

Demos (and Sometimes Labs) – I will admit I hate setting up makeup labs and I am always disappointed when students miss out on a cool demo that’ll help them become engaged and understand the material. I’ve begun filming these for the students who are absent. It saves me time by not having to make them up and gives the students a chance to see something that might not be reproducible.

Skill Lessons – I’ve taken to flipping short, concrete lessons such as balancing equations and finding the density of irregular objects. I’ve used these videos both in class and as homework. More than the time savings, I like that it allows the students to return to the video again and again.

Inquiry lab explanations – As I move to more inquiry labs I know I will have more students that struggle with the material. For these types of labs I not only film the lab procedure and results, but I add in explanation of the scientific concepts at work as well. It allows me to assign revisions for students that struggle and give them the support to better understand the concepts.

Ok, technically not all of those are flipped in that they are viewed at home, but they use the key thing I like about flipping, which is that it makes what would be just an in class lesson into something they can view at any time and any place whether they were absent or just need to watch the material again. Is there more I can do? Of course, but I think I finally get what flipping looks like in my classes.

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