Homework: It’s a Flippin’ assignment! Can’t you turn it in?

One of the biggest innovations that the flipped model brings, and what is often the quickest misconception that teachers use to dismiss the philosophy, is the idea that students watch content at home and practice content in class. Now most of us would look at this and say…

“Well, what if kids don’t do the homework (watch the videos?). Not only will they miss out on the content knowledge that night, lose points, and come to class unprepared, but now I have to spend class time… THE VERY TIME I DEEMED SACRED ENOUGH TO DO THIS MODEL… to teach the concept anyway to them anyway.”

These same teachers will use this, and this alone, to close the book on Flipped learning and go about their time none the wiser, and would they be wrong? It depends on the philosophy you as an educator believe for your classroom. I know that in my class last year of 125 students, I had few, but 2-4 assignments that 30 students did not hand in. That is a staggering amount to me!!! Now flip that to be 30 students that missed class content! That’s 30 kids that need taught the content before they can dig into the class work. Lots of time lost and lots of personal disappointment. I have not heard many blogs talk to much into the implications of that to the flipped model.

What this revelation has also brought to my attention is the following questions.

  • What value do I currently place on homework?
  • What am I doing in response to this lack of responsibility to get work done?
  • How do I change my class to hold students accountable for this homework.

Take these questions into the flipped model and, at least for me, It really opened my eyes as to what I deemed important. The problem is how to get the kids to take the responsibility to learning. Is it enough for students know that this is their content they will need for the class? What is the panacea to student responsibility in this regard?

Some simple thoughts in the beginning that I believe would make homework, and in that respect (your direct instruction content) more meaningful at home. THese are pretty simple in mind and make sense in August, but can be more difficult to implement when you are in the trenches with the kids in October. Try to make a habit of these early on so that they become routines down the road.

  1. Create and follow Procedure- Simple thoughts bring back dividends of time later- Give the students practice on what you expect for homework and give them time to do it in class. Students that get time in class to see the material are more likely to make the connection back home after a long day of class… especially if they have you second period and just got back from Soccer Practice.
  2. Make it Meaningful- Set the precedent that all work in class is meaningful… and make it so. Make homework meaningful and contextual to student interest if possible.
  3. Hold them Accountable- Hold students accountable the first day forward. Set up procedures for forgetting homework. I have read of teachers assigning pink slips. Others make a mark on a copy that reminds the teacher later that its late. Then this information is brought up in conferences or through a call home. When students know you mean business and the parents know what is going on in school, usually the students step up. If something doesn’t work, find out what does.
  4. Reward Your Everyday Heroes- You know, the kid that you look at and say to yourself with a sigh, “Oh if every student was as responsible as you…” Also the kids in your class, that on the majority, are giving their best effort. Reward those students that come in day in and day out and get it done. Sometimes this can be as small as recognition by you that they are doing an awesome job! Other times it may mean a public display depending on the type of class. And others may need a note from the teacher complimenting their efforts in class.

Bringing this back to the flipped model– Your content is very important for you to teach, whether it is in your classroom, or at home. If students are avoiding the videos, it can be many factors. The best way to find out and deal with it is to ask them. There may be some factors (internet, home issues, etc…) that they are dealing with that you may be able to handle through changing the way content is delivered. Additionally, if students are avoiding work, hold them accountable right then and there.Keep record for conferences and for your own protection when parents call on grades. After 2-3 missed assignments, communicate with parents to see what issues are going on at home and how you can work together to help the student succeed. There there are ways to push kids to doing the videos for you, most of the attitude on “homework” through the year starts with you.

Being a first time flipper, I am looking at this from the outside in. Any veterans of the model that can add suggestions and critiques to my approach are greatly appreciated.



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