My colleague and I just wrote an article for Faculty Focus titled The Flipped Classroom: Integrating Moments of Reflection. As someone who practices what I teach, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on this article and offer a few more strategies for integrating reflection into the flipped classroom.
I just finished reading the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. As an introvert and a reflective person in general, I often struggle with the active learning classroom when I am a participant. I need quiet time. I like to think about something before I share it with others. I prefer to wrestle with an idea in my own head and toss around different possibilities and scenarios.
But I know that I also learn by doing (I’ve certainly been learning more about running a business by actually running a business rather than just reflecting on it!). And, as one of my students said in a workshop last week, it’s all about balance. It’s about creating a balanced learning environment that includes both action and reflection. We can’t spend too much time reflecting, or we’ll never get anything done. And if we only take action, we’ll never stop and think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
So what does this mean for our students in the flipped class? It’s important to remember that in any active, experiential, or flipped experience, students may not necessarily learn from the activity itself. They learn by reflecting on it. I first encountered this phenomenon when I developed an educational game for my dissertation several years ago.
I created a game which integrated application, analysis, and assessment of course concepts. The game balanced collaboration and competition, and the students were highly engaged throughout the whole process. However, they were so involved in the play of the game that they couldn’t see the connections between the concepts in the same way I could being an external facilitator. I see the same thing happen when any active learning strategy is used, not just games. Students are immersed in the doing, and we have to make sure they stop and reflect and make meaning.
We have to design for reflection just as carefully as we design for activities in our classes. In addition to the three reflective strategies from the Faculty Focus article, here are three more ideas to integrate into your flipped or active learning classroom:
1. 10 Hands: After you ask a question in class, wait for at least 10 students to raise their hands before you call on someone to share their answer. Too often, we call on the students who raise their hands first. Tell your students you want to give everyone time to think and process the question, therefore you’re going to wait until at least 10 hands are raised. They’ll wait, and the hands will slowly go up as more students formulate their response.
2. Collaborative Real Time Writing Prompt: If you have access to Google Docs or another shared writing platform, give students a writing prompt or a question to think about. Post it on the Google Doc and give all students real-time access to the document. During class, allow students time to think and write together. Watch the document come to life. You can also consider projecting their document on the screen so everyone can see how ideas transform and grow with more time to think. Usually we send students out of class to do this type of collaborative work, but if they are together in the same space with you and their colleagues, more discussion and in-depth analysis will emerge in real time.
3. Read, Record, Reflect, & Review: During class, assign a reading. The reading could be a section of a chapter, an excerpt from a journal article, a chart or diagram to analyze, or a creative piece of work. Any type of reading task will work. Ask students to read it and record any interesting points, relevant quotes, or confusing information. They may record it in their notes, on a worksheet, on a computer screen, on the board, etc. It doesn’t matter how they record it as long as they document what they see, think, or feel. This process makes learning visible, and that’s what we want to encourage them to do. Give them time to go back and review the reading and make additional notes. You could end this activity by asking them to choose only one or two notes to discuss as a class, or you could do a follow up activity with their notes that allows everyone to share their ideas. The point of this reflective activity is to guide students through reading for critical analysis, not just for comprehension. Slowing down and giving them time to do all four parts of reading, recording, reflecting, and reviewing encourages them to re-read and to think.
There are many ways to build reflective activities into your class. These are a few ideas. What other reflective strategies have you used in your classes?