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Flipping Fridays

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After reading about flipped classrooms and attending an NSF-sponsored cCWCS workshop (Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops & Communities of Scholars) June 20-23 2016, I decided to try out flipping my organic chemistry lecture. My class meets for lecture every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 50 minutes. I decided to try out flipping my organic class on Fridays only as an experiment during the fall semester of 2016.

First I had to become comfortable with recording my lectures. After investigating several software programs, I settled on the use of Debut Video Capture. Several other software programs were just as good, but Debut was simple to use and easily recorded my computer screen and my voice very well. An additional incentive was a free 3-month trial followed by a one-time fee of $19.99 for use of the software. I’ve used this software for two years now and find no reason to switch. I show PowerPoint slides on half of the screen and Paint software on the other side. With the Paint software, I can draw anything necessary, or I can pre-copy and paste items before recording. These recorded lectures are posted a week in advance by downloading them onto YouTube and providing the URL to my students. Sometimes I either collect a copy of their notes or quiz them to provide incentive for watching the online videos.

During class on Fridays, we work on problems related to the online lecture. I have introduced a variety of activities into Fridays including worksheets, mini-quizzes, Kahoot online quizzes, old exam reviews, individual problems that they answer and explain on the whiteboard, etc... 

One of my favorite activities involves predicting pka values. I bring in individual slips of paper with one organic structure on each. Students are given a slip of paper with an organic acid or base, then they have to compare to their neighbor’s structure and rank them based on relative acidity. Then each group of two students compared their ranking to another group of two students. We then have time to review the results and talk about inherent problems with predicting relative pka values.

 

Friday lectures are now fun! They are energetic, real active learning takes place, students sharing their ideas is the focus, not the professor. I can use Friday’s for pre- and post-exam reviews, for class-cancellation make-ups, for a more detailed review of complex topics, etc...  I sometimes bring in a bag of cheap gifts for students to compete for. I truly believe I am a better teacher because of the flipped classroom concept.

About the Author
Dr. Dan Esterline has been the organic chemistry professor at Thomas More College for 10 years. He holds a BS and MS degree from Wright State University and a PhD From Miami University in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Dr Esterline also has 15 years of teaching experience at Heidelberg University.