#FlipClass and #Cornell Notes: A perfect combination

The fall semester is 1/4 over.  I am teaching general chemistry again in a flipped classroom learning environment.  I continue to structure the class as I did during the Spring 2014 semester.  You can read about it here.  The structure seemed to be conducive to student learning in that most knew what was expected before class.  However, expectations and actually completing the activities were very different.  One of the biggest issues was that most students did not watch the videos, let alone interact with them in a meaningful way.  You can read about this here.

I decided to implement Cornell Note-taking method into my pre-class activities.  The Lessons templates were distributed during the first class and available to students upon request. These notes are then collected periodically and unannounced.  I have collected the first two chapters and was amazed that 85% of the students not only filled in the template, but took amazingly detailed notes.  Most students went beyond my expectations; highlighting and color coding ideas and topics.  The comments students have made to me have been very positive:  They like the structure.  It makes them take notes more carefully.  One said that knowing they would be collected is key.

As a result of taking good notes and completing the pre-class lesson activities, the in class sessions are more positive.  Most students are ready to do the more complex problems and are willing to help each other.  The questions students are asking are at a higher level which indicates a deeper level of understanding.  Now, this atmosphere may just be my luck of the draw.  I have a really dynamic, focused group of students who are willing to help each other.  But, I do think the implementation of the Notes template has solved the problem of the students not watching the videos.  In fact, “watching” is not really what the students are doing.  The are interacting with the content in meaningful ways.  That’s the piece of this flipped class puzzle I have been trying to find.  The flipped classroom is “not about the video”, rather it’s about actively interacting with the content so that knowledge is constructed.

My next blog entry will occur after the first exam.  I am cautiously optimistic about the students’ success.

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