The Ultimate Guide to Active Learning in the College Classroom: Part 5 – How to Flip Your Classroom for a Day

You’ve tried integrating a few active learning exercises into your lectures and you know what works. Taking the next step and flipping your classroom for a day isn’t that complicated.

Simply designating a day in your syllabus for an in-class competition or a field trip can bring an element of experiential learning to your course. However, if you’d like to try something a little different, consider asking students to coach each other for a day. Here are a few ways that you can create a peer-instructed day.

3 Peer-Instructed Lecture Classes

1) Lecture vs. Reading: Divide the class into two groups and teach one group while the other completes the reading assignment in class or reviews your lesson plan. Then, have the students each pair with someone from the other group and share what they learned. This can also cover multiple learning styles.

2) Student Lecture: Choose a lecture that easily breaks into multiple sections and assign each section to a group of students. Ask the students to create their own lecture or PowerPoint either outside of class or in the first half of a class. Once they are prepared, have them present what they live.

3) Spot the Bad Apple: Have groups of students design products or come up with plans for conducting an experiment or launching a business. Tell one or more group to deliberately create a plan that will fail. The groups then present, and the class debates which was the bad apple.

You can also structure the class so that students learn from each other through discussion and experimentation. These active learning techniques work best for classes of under 50 students. This ensures that everyone gets an opportunity to participate and interact.

Discussion-Based Flipped Classes

Jigsaw Discussion: Create small groups of students to discuss different aspects of a concept you’re teaching. After 20-30 minutes, ask the students to form new groups composed of one student from each of the original groups. The students serve as representatives for their original group, and the second group must complete a task that synthesizes the results from all of the prior groups.

• Learning Stations: For a lesson that builds on itself or requires mastering several concepts, split your students into teams and give them a task for each stage of the lesson. If there is room, ask the students to move between ‘stations’ as they complete each task. Allow them to leave class once they’ve completed all the tasks, but make sure to tell them each task will be graded. Students will fill in their knowledge gaps with each other and be motivated to stay engaged.

• Mind Map/Concept Map: Pick a topic with several associative links or points in the syllabus that rely on previous lessons and ask groups of students to draw how the elements/lessons relate to one another. This is a great way to spark creativity and visual learning, but you might have to explain the mind mapping concept to students first.

By this point in our Ultimate Guide to Active Learning in the College Classroom series, you’re getting to be a pro. Hopefully, you have several successful exercises that you use during lectures, and after a month or two you’ll likely try a few ways of flipping the classroom for a day.

For the final post in this series, we’ll lay out how all of this builds to 6 steps for flipping your classroom for a semester.