What is the Best Use of Our Class Time? — A&P Version

This afternoon I was able to watch and enjoy a recorded version of Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams’ recent “The Flipped Classroom” webinar hosted by Classroom 2.0 LIVE. One of the things that hit me early in this webinar was this question: What is the best use of your class time? Phrased differently, where in the learning cycle do my students most need me face-to-face? What a powerful (and important!) question!

I have been operating a “flipped” Anatomy & Physiology class since the beginning of the school year. Just two weeks ago, I flipped my Algebra II class, as well. I believe that I would answer this question differently for each class. Here are some thoughts about Anatomy & Physiology. (See here for my answers re: Algebra II.)

Before answering this question, consider some of the choices Jonathan & Aaron mentioned as shown on the slide above.

Anatomy & Physiology

I think our Anatomy & Physiology class time is best spent in rich discussion and application settings. These are probably the situations in which face-to-face time with me is most valuable — mostly because of the scenarios I can create at the school with everyone together (i.e. discussions, hands-on labs with school materials, etc.).

Discussions involve: why anatomical parts are named the way they are; different “tricks” students come up with for why something is named the way it is or operates the way it does; connections made between different units of studies; etc..

Applications involve: explorations and lab activities (i.e. building joints with bone models — seeing how specific bone markings interact); debates and analysis of current events related to A&P (i.e. discussion of factors contributing to obesity epidemic and analysis of a case study where the courts removed an obese child from his parents’ care); creation of products that explain complex processes (i.e. nerve impulse transmission, bone healing, etc.); and, analysis of case studies where students apply their growing knowledge of both anatomy and physiology.

To answer the “opposite” question (Where in the lesson cycle do my students need face-to-face time with me the least?), I would answer with direct content-delivery (lectures) and practice. In A&P, much of the content delivery can be delivered very effectively via short instructional videos (see some of my examples here). The content is not necessarily difficult (naming parts and explaining their functions) — it is just massive. I don’t think that my students need face-to-face time with me for a lot of the initial content delivery. Also, A&P involves a lot of memorization or practice of “facts”/names. I do not think my students need face-to-face time with me for this either. (We do, however, spend face-to-face time discussing and modeling how to practice, which I think is valuable.)

In summary, for A&P I think our precious class time is best spent discussing, exploring and applying the science, with initial content delivery and practice occurring outside of the classroom (through instructional videos and iPads in our case).

Later in the webinar, Jon and Aaron pose this equally-important question: What do we do with all the extra class time?

To my chagrin, I thought about this question in a fairly superficial manner before implementing my flipped classroom. “Why, I’ll use the extra class time for labs and activities and discussions!” Yes, great idea!! BUT…which ones?! How will I structure them? Do I have all of the materials I need? I definitely could have done a better job of planning out these details in advance! I am still very glad that I have flipped the classroom — I feel like the instructional video library I am building is solid and that we have had more time to really discuss and explore the science in class. One thing that I am working to improve, however, is my class time activities. I am building a more complete repertoire of A&P labs (and acquiring materials!) while also investigating ways to better structure (and formalize?) class discussions and case studies. I am excited by the possibilities!

My advice to a first-time flipper would be…build your class time activities in advance — as far in advance as possible! You will be gaining back so much precious class time — dream big about what you would like to do with it and prepare for these awesome activities!

***

What do you think? What is the best use of your class time?


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