I have been a fan of the flipped classroom pedagogy since 2010, when I utilized student mobile phones in my classroom to record and reflect on practical demonstrations by visiting speakers. The students were kind enough to share the videos with me via a Google Drive and I edited them into a learning summary using a very battered laptop and a copy of Movie Maker.

However, I didn’t fully explore how to maximize the impact of these videos in my class at the time. I naively thought that providing the students with multi-modal resources would be the hard part, and that motivation on the part of the student would ensure improved attainment. It actually did have impact on results, which is why I continued to use this teaching strategy at key points in the year. But I didn’t exactly know why, or which student it helped most, and — this was key for me — I didn’t have the opportunity to know exactly when to intervene and provide further support to individual students based on the videos they watched.

In January this year I joined a Flipped Classroom Voxer group and really benefited from the advice and ideas suggested by talented and experienced teachers from all over the world. One suggestion I tried was to utilize a WSQ sheet to structure the flipped task set for your student. WSQ stands for Watch, Summarize, Question, and was created by Crystal Kirch.

In the first part of the WSQ form, the student is instructed to watch the video. This should be a good length (perhaps five minutes) and may include embedded questions or text overlays. You can use services that track whether students have watched the entire video if you want, but I feel the next two sections negate the need.

Students are then asked to summarize the key points from the video into their own words. This helps to ensure that the student has paid attention and has understood the salient information that you wanted to share.

In the third section you give each student the opportunity to ask a question. The student chooses between:

  • Confusion — where the student can ask for clarification of a concept;
  • Discussion — where the student can suggest a topic of discussion that would deepen the learning;
  • Example — where the student understands the concept enough to share an example of the concept with their peers The rule is that every student must ask one question per WSQ.

During the next classroom lesson or workshop the teacher begins the lesson by discussing all or a number of questions. This works best if you split the class into groups based on their needs. Those who understand clearly might chair a group discussion or investigation while you work with students who need some support.

The tasks should relate to the concepts covered in the video and in my opinion be as practical as possible. I find this aids the motivation of the students to watch the videos set for homework because if they don’t, they will watch them in class and risk missing out on the more advanced labs.

The WSQ forms can also provide a wealth of information about a student’s progress and help target setting. The fact you almost always have this information before class allows you to intervene at the point of difficulty rather than react and recode learning after a summative assessment.

The WSQ sheets can be physical or digital and exactly how you set them up is personal preference. The important thing is to make changes to your lessons as a result of the information each student shares with you.

Author: Ian Simpson

Ian Simpson is Head of Computer Science and ICT at St Louis School of Milan, Italy. He is passionate about using educational technology to improve outcomes for both students and teachers in all subject areas and in collaborating with other international educators through social media. He blogs on a fairly regular basis about Computer Science and his creation of the Hackable Classroom at http://familysimpson.me.uk