There is one big problem with wanting students to do background reading outside of the classroom; accountability. This is certainly an age-old problem, whereby only the most motivated of students actually complete the task. Step forwards Google Docs. I first used Google Forms to gather anonymous feedback from my students on teaching and learning styles they found most useful in Psychology. Encouraged by how quick, easy, but powerful it was I considered its utilisation for flipped learning.
For my year 13 Psychology students, one third of their course requires basic knowledge, with two-thirds strong evaluative skills. It is inevitably the latter skill students find challenging and cannot learn from a textbook, whereas facts can easily be absorbed outside of the classroom and consolidated in lessons. I recently trialled setting my students a pre-reading task before every new topic, emailing out a very short 7 question multiple-choice quiz to separate classes. Not only does Google Forms collate all of the students’ results in real-time, but it also time-stamps them and thus introduces accountability. It is as simple as it sounds. My main concern was whether students would fail to complete the task and arrive at lessons behind others, however within a week the opposite was true. Students knew results would be projected on the board at the start of the lesson, so would hastily complete on their phones in the break time before class if they’d forgotten.
It has been fantastically successful. All students arrive at new topics with prior knowledge, which means that we spend much more time in lessons focusing on higher level analytical skills, with consolidation tasks at the start to check for understanding. I can also identify any areas of misunderstanding from the outset (after throwing the odd tricky question in). All of my year 13s voted for keeping the quizzes (despite the extra reading four nights a week!) although half said they would prefer to be sent a quiz after a topic in class, either in addition to, or instead of the pre-reading one.
If interested in doing something similar, I would definitely recommend setting quizzes up in the holidays on your Google Drive, as they are time-consuming to create, but take seconds to share with a class at the end of a lesson.
Kimberley Croft @kimcroft
International Links Coordinator
Teacher of Psychology and Science