Flipping learning at KS3

Over the last few years my timetable has been entirely KS4 and Post 16, which has been great for developing Flippedlearning techniques with the older students, but less good for my teaching skills.

Therefore I had a mix of excitement and apprehension when I was timetabled a mixed ability Year 7 group for next year. Would my skills at dealing with the older kids work with tiny Year 7’s? Do I remember anything about the Norman Conquest and the Tudors? Probably most importantly had I become too cynical for their incessant questionning and enthusiasm?

Initially I thought I would just have to put to one side my experiments with flipped learning with this group as they would be too young and not ready for a high level of content. However the more I have thought about it the more I realised three things. 

Firstly the lack of content we were able to cover in KS3 lessons was always a limiting factor to developing historical analysis and accessing really interesting historical enquiries.

Secondly that I had always struggled with consistently setting meaningful and engaging high quality homework at KS3.

Lastly that the acquisition and retention of historical content was becoming more important in all areas and so training students in methods like flippedlearning from Year 7 to aid this would be a good idea.

By happy coincidence (honestly!) I was asked to pick up a KS3 History class at the end of last term as one of our teachers went on maternity leave so I decided to try out my flippedlearning resources with them.

I decided firstly to try out some of my resources in lesson time and so used my Home Front In WW1 videos and worksheets with the class. Interestingly a relatively lively group of Year 9’s were completely engaged by watching the videos – you could hear a pin drop! More importantly the discussion as they shared what they had found out was engaged, interesting and supported by evidence. It was great to hear the students asking very interesting questions about the content.

My next stage was to try it out for homework. For this I set a pretty high level documentary on Lightning War before they studied it in lesson. Again I was pleasantly surprised that the class mostly completed the work and came to the next lesson with a very comprehensive understanding of Blitzkrieg. The students who had not completed it were able to get a reasonable understanding from the initial discussion and the lesson was able to focus on the impact and successes of Lightning War.

So, my conclusion is that there is every reason to use these techniques with the younger students and I am already enjoying trawling YouTube for videos about the Normans and the Tudors and brushing up on my subject knowledge ready for my enthusiastic and soon to be very knowledgable Year 7’s!

Watch this space for updates about flipping my Year 7 classroom.

For regular updates about my journey and new resources follow me on @flipyourhistory

Home Front in WW1 resources are available here

Lightning War Blitzkrieg resource is available here

Germany resources suitable for KS3 are available here

My new Norman Conquest resources are available here

My new Tudors resources are available here

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Flipping my A2 Coursework…

I have used a flippedlearning approach with my A2 coursework for the last couple of years and think that this course lends itself to a flippedlearning approach more than any other.

I started teaching the Arab-Israeli conflict 1900-2001 for the Edexcel course 3 years ago with little more than a copy of Michael Scott Baumamns excellent book on the topic from the Access to History series, a reading list and a willingness to learn! During that first very stressful year I desperately tried to cram enough information into my lessons and homeworks to prepare the students to write their coursework essays. I will admit that I massively struggled, both to meet the looming coursework deadline and to not spend more than the allotted time actually teaching them. It’s fair to say I left far too little time focusing on how to actually research and answer the questions.

After scraping my students through this bruising first year I decided I needed to rethink my approach to the coursework and I decided several things.

1. The students should start their coursework immediately on completing AS in June do they had more time to prepare

2. The students would spend the summer time reading and researching the key information themselves

3. No one would be allowed back into the lessons in September unless they had completed the reading

4. The lessons in September would be purely focused on consolidation and analysis

So how would this work? I decided that I would give each students a copy of the textbook along with a structured note taking booklet complete with higher order extension questions. To make the topics more interesting I also decided to include some WS based on some relevant YouTube documentaries I had found. They were then given their remaining lessons and the holidays to complete this.

What have I learned along the way? In many ways this has been my purest attempt at flippedlearning and it has taught me quite a lot. Some has been purely administrative (students lose the textbooks, most work better when supervised) but others have been more insightful. For example just giving the students the booklets has not been enough. They need the teacher to stop and talk to them and consolidate their understanding at regular intervals. Also the first lessons in September are really important to allow space and activities to draw together what they have learned.

However most importantly it has had a marked improvement on the coursework with work handed in far earlier, students research skills and individual interests being piqued by independent work, and, perhaps most importantly results improving.

It has led me to think why not use this approach more often and I have concluded that wouldn’t be suitable. These are A2 students and this is a chance to prepare them for university, but it is probably not the most efficient use of time. It also suits a broad course like the coursework which perhaps requires less reinforcement of key information as the teacher can have the information available at all times. However here it has been very helpful and now I would not teach the new coursework any other way!

To view my Arab-Israeli coursework resources please go to – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/arab-israeli-conflict-resources-11056844

I have also used the same #flippedlearning approach when teaching China in the C20th for A2 coursework. Documentary WS available here – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory%20china&s=-createdDate&country=GB 

To follow me on Twitter go to @flipyourhistory

How do I structure a flippedhistory video?

This week I have been thinking about how to structure the videos/worksheets I have been creating to ensure that they cater for all my learners needs. In the process I have hit upon a few things.

Firstly structure is as important in a video as it is in a lesson. It is a peculiarity of videos that they lend themselves to a narrative, linear form of learning. In a sense they can become merely “telling the story” something I generally try to avoid. However I think there is a balance to be struck here as there is no harm in presenting information in a linear way, as long as a more analytical approach is adopted later, either in the actual lesson or at the end of the video/worksheet.

In terms of structure I think it is really important to treat the video like a lesson. Therefore I have been starting with an enquiry question and a learning outcome to make it clear the main point or message the students are learning about.

The next stage has caused me some difficulty. In a lesson I would be looking for some way to start some discussion and bring some understanding of the issues being raised, perhaps by relating it to the world today. However this is obviously quite difficult with a video students are passively watching. So far I have tried to pique their interest by asking a speculative question, getting them to consider and reflect on some of the key issues and pause the video. Some of my students like this, some admit they ignore it! I feel that perhaps including some interesting stimulus and asking some questions of it could be a different approach that I will be trying on my next video.

In many ways I find the next bit the easiest, presenting the content I want the students to be introduced to before the lesson. If the question or topic is thematic I present the themes and then look at them one by one. If it is more chronological, perhaps looking at how things changed, it is presented in order. In a sense I really like this aspect of flipped learning. I used to spend hours agonising how to take a chunk of content and present it in an engaging way in the classroom to make sure it sticks with the students, but now I create the video and allow students to digest it at their own pace and return to it if it does not stick first time.

I always try and include a summary as I feel it is an important way of reviewing and reinforcing the main content briefly.

Lastly (before the cheesy plug for my blog and other resources!) I have been experimenting with introducing a higher order, analysis question. This is for three reasons. Firstly it provides an opportunity to reinforce their understanding and use the information provided. Secondly it starts to introduce the kind of focuses that lead to higher order thinking, which normally links to the exam questions (or certainly the higher mark ones!). Lastly it provides a way to start the next lesson with a focus on the key, higher order question that the students need to understand and can be drilled down to support their views on it with factual information.

This is how I have been structuring my videos, would be very interested to hear how others are doing it to. Please comment below!

Also should probably say so far I have been quite simple and traditional and have stuck to recording my voice over a PowerPoint and then converting to MP4, but I am sure others have more innovative approaches! Again, comments welcome

To view one of my videos please go to 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=FD3FWSG-J54
To see my resources please go to

Votes for women – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory%20votes%20for%20women

Home Front in WW1 – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory%20Home%20front

USA in the 1920’s – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory%20Usa%201920

All my flippedlearning resources – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory

Follow me on Twitter @flipyourhistory

Experiments with flippedlearning – how much detail should go in the video?

I have had a very successful couple of flippedlearning lessons this week.

First of all my Year 10’s amazed me with the level of knowledge they displayed in my lesson with them on Votes for Women. After, for want of a better description, tearing strips off some of them last week I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of them had watched the required videos before the lesson. This led to a very effective discussion about the different methods used to campaign for the vote, a very well answered reliability source question and then me scratching my head as to what to do next! Luckily I did some thinking on my feet and am now excited about setting up a class debate for next week!

My Year 13’s were a little different. We are revising Germany 1918-45 and I made the classic mistake of forgetting to take some resources home to plan my lesson. Therefore I decided we would try using flippedlearning videos as a revision tool (thanks @rogershistory and @bennewmark!). Although these videos were designed for GCSE the students were able to watch them on their PC’s and them use them as revision prompts to begin their notes on a variety of key questions.

However both sessions got me thinking about the level of detail to include in the videos I create. I have done flippedlearning with hour long complex documentaries (sometimes too detailed and narrative) AND short homemade 5 minute videos (focused, but perhaps including more detail might lead on to more effective extension)

I feel the next development for me is going to be adding more complexity to the videos I am creating, without making them too long and complex. I also feel that the next focus for my flippedlearning journey may be about how to differentiate effectively using flippedlearning resources…watch this space!

As always you can follow me on Twitter @flipyourhistory or find all my resources on TES if you search flipyourhistory or go to https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=Flipyourhistory%20/ 

Teaching in the dark ages – the value of Youtube

I have spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about how teaching has changed in my time at the chalkface.  I say chalkface but I have never actually used a blackboard, but I do remember such things as writing on OHP transparencies (which I was crap at) and wheeling in the department TV to watch a film on VHS.  In fact I remember the excitement I felt when I realised I could get video and film digitally and spending ages building up a digital library…until Youtube came along…

Now I think Youtube might actually be one of the most underrated developments in education.  No longer do we need to keep VHS, DVD or worry about storing loads of digital video (though we do have to worry about inappropriate adverts and comments below!)  I also think it is probably one of my first thoughts when I start to think about resourcing a lesson – is there a good video clip I can use as a hook/starter or to engage the pupils in some way?

This does link into flippedlearning, as my first attempts at flipping my classroom have invariably involved Youtube.  I am someone who vehemently argues that showing lengthy documentaries or films in the classroom is not good pedagogical practice due to the fact that the learning is passive and very rarely involves high level, analytical questioning or activities.  However the power of a good documentary or feature film as an introduction, revision or consolidation exercise outside the classroom is not to be overrated and I have experimented with documentaries all the way down to KS3 and even got my Year 12’s and 10’s to watch all 3+ hours of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (inaccuracies and all!) as an introduction to both AS and Controlled Assessment topics on the Raj.  Also the fact that youtube is often blocked for students, and I firmly believe that every student needs their own screen to pause and take notes, means that using Youtube forces you to make them take it home!

As my first real attempts at flipping the classroom using video I would argue that these were very positive experiences.  The perils of getting lost in the detail can be overcome by ensuring that there are analytical summary and extension questions and the power of asking pupils the next day what they found most striking or interesting about these films was something that astounded me.

Therefore I do argue that Youtube, as a source of a wide range of film and video footage is amazingly useful for flipping the classroom as, ultimately, sad as it is, it is often a lot more engaging for some students than reading a book!

My current Youtube based @flipyourhistory resources are available at

China – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory%20china

Cold War – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory cold war

Arab-Israeli Conflict – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources/search/?q=flipyourhistory arab israeli

Votes for women – https://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/video-worksheet–mark-steel-lectures-sylvia-pankhurst-11047322