Saturday, 28 September 2013

Flipping homework!

I've read lots about flipped learning, via the likes of Bruno Reddy (@mrereddymaths) here, and Colin Hegarty (@hegartymaths) here. I like the concept but have never tried it myself... until now.

Not fully flipped but encouraging independence
This week's homeworks have all contained internet links to different resources.

One class had a link to some of the Hegartymaths videos to give them support with a topic I know they've struggled with, and then included some related exam questions. Another class had links to information about a topic we've not covered before, and the homework sheet required them to answer key questions about the topic (and the resource), then answer some questions.

Both of these classes included an extra task to find out about another GCSE topic and tell me 3 key facts about it.

To help the students to access the resources the sheets included the full internet link, they were given access to a PDF copy with a working hyperlink, and I also put on a QR code in case they wanted to scan it with a phone/tablet.

An example of one of the homeworks is as follows:

Early indications are good
I've not yet collected all of the homeworks - not due until Tuesday. However I've already had some submitted to me, and I'm really impressed at the results.

The students have grasped the key points about the main bit of the homework, and when questioned were able to go into reasonable detail.

What's more interesting though is the extra "choose your own" bit. They've chosen very different topics, none of which I've actually covered in lesson before. The 3 key points given clearly demonstrate that they have understood the new content to a reasonable extent.

Not making the classroom redundant
I should be clear that I will re-cap and double check any understanding gained via independent work to make sure it is sound and not riddled with misconceptions or really superficial. However I do think this is really powerful as a way to either consolidate a topic or introduce a new one and get a foothold on a tricky topic.

Doesn't just have to be videos
Of course I know that some people dislike the video tutorial - think the objections are along the lines that they are too didactic, possibly not engaging enough or encouraging enough deep thought? The same people are usually highly anti-textbook. While I do recognise this argument I also think there is a valid place for the straight tutorial alongside other teaching methods and approaches. For some students a traditional "chalk and talk" approach really is the best thing to do to maximise their exam performance.

It certainly seems to me that online videos can be very effective, and so far the students do seem to engage with it very well. However I should be clear that don't plan to use the same source or type of links every week.

Sometimes I'll be linking to our online textbook resources, other times tutorial videos, other times it might be a google doc or padlet  to contribute to, a news item that might be relevant, and there are a few other ideas that I need to flesh out... The power of the internet is that there are just so many different types of resources out there that it is always possible.

Taxonomy of errors
A key thing I'm really interested by is that this approach makes response to individual student's needs far easier. This links nicely to the "taxonomy of errors" approach proposed by Keven Bartle  (@kevbartle) in this post.

By spotting patterns in the mistakes made by students I plan to be able to personalise homeworks and responses far more by guiding the students to particular resources based on their needs. This kind of personalisation has always been a real challenge for me to do effectively without spending hours and hours creating the right resources, however using the power of the internet I think it becomes far more accessible.

Early days
As with many of my posts - this is early days and I'm going to keep an eye on how it progresses. Several of my department are also pushing this and developing it so there will be a large amount of feedback in a relatively short period of time.

I'd be keen to hear about others using this kind of thing and any other ideas you might have to make it more effective. As always all comments welcome.


  1. Fascinating blog post. I 100% agree that need a variety in the "flip". I actually call it "prep" with my pupils as for me they need to come to class prepared in some way - either by engaging with a video, thinking about how they would answer a question, researching something etc.

    Thanks very much indeed for the insight and good luck with this project - it sounds very exciting.

    Mr Hegarty (from

    1. Thanks Colin (and thanks for the excellent videos too!)