COMPILATION: flipped classroom, note-taking, Post Game Analysis (PGA) in Modeling Instruction


Date: Monday, September 26, 2011

From: Kay Fincher

We're getting some pressure to do some "flipping" in our physics classes.  We're not keen on it but feel we must compromise and do at least a few videos to make our school board happy.

Any ideas on how to do this without sacrificing Modeling?


Date:    Mon, 26 Sep 2011

From:    "Park, Nicholas"


It can even strengthen modeling...


Students complete a paradigm lab and establish tentative model in their own words.


Then they have an assignment: watch a video or read an animated text describing the same model. Compare and contrast what you see/read to what we developed in class. Can you justify the claims of the text based on our analyzed data? Does the text add helpful terminology or representations to help us better express our model?


Then the next day you discuss.


[Editor’s note: this earlier post by Nicholas expands on it. Jj]

Date:    Mon, 12 Sep 2011

From:    "Park, Nicholas"

I would explore the real advantages of the "flipped classroom": it is true that there are some things that are best done in class and other things that can be done individually. "Flipped classroom" theorists are correct that lecturing is a waste of classroom time -- so they move the lecturing out of the classroom and use class time for labs, discussions, problem solving, etc.


Great first step, just not far enough. The next step is to realize that those out-of-class lectures actually hinder the learning process, because the students mis-interpret what they are reading (or viewing). And so another shift is needed, to something closer to modeling instruction. The videos, readings from Hewitt, etc., can still be used, but only after the model is constructed, as part of a "compare and contrast" or "evaluate what the author is saying on the basis of evidence we've collected" assignment.


Date:    Mon, 26 Sep 2011

From:    Jane Jackson <jane.jackson@ASU.EDU>

What are some examples of videos and animated texts that you would assign? Let's make a list, for specific models -- and post it on the modeling website or on a modeler's blog. 

[Note in 2013: I posted links that modelers suggested, at WEBLINKS FOR MODELERS:]



Date:    Mon, 26 Sep 2011

From:    Chris Horton


Two video clips I used to use and would again:  the PSSC clip of an object being dropped from the mast of a moving ship, shown from different angles and both frames of reference; and the Skylab video from the 70's showing an astronaut throwing a ball slowly the considerable length of the space station, where it can be observed traveling in what appears to be a straight line.


Others I was looking for but never found: a time lapse video of a Cavendish experiment, a Coulomb's law experiment and a Millikan oil drop experiment, with careful documentation of the setup and results that can be read or measured from the screen, so students can do their own calculations.


Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011

From: Kay Fincher


> Just what are you being pressured to do?


Some parents (or perhaps just one?) are concerned that students don't have a resource for when they are confused.


The example told to me was in the context of our standing waves lab--the student didn't know to analyze the linear wavelength vs 1/frequency graph and instead put a slope on the inverse curve and tried to explain that in her lab report. The student's grade suffered and the parent was a bit peeved. The student is not in my class but I'm fairly certain the correct process was emphasized during and after whiteboarding.


Administration, I think, wants the students to have a place, apparently other than their notes, where they can look up information to confirm what they learned so that success (meaning "good grades") can be had.


I don't think we're being asked to actually flip the learning but rather provide instruction that students can access "after hours". The old teacher in me says, "why can't they look at their notes?" but I understand videos are all the rage and appear to be so easy to understand.


I wonder if posting videos, podcasts, or pencasts after paradigm labs and whiteboarding in class would help students who struggle with it in class?


I envision more a recap of what went on in class rather than a lecture.


Any more ideas? I think more of us may have to address this in the future.



Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011

From: Paul Bianchi [in New York, where the Regents exam must be used – which is said to be about 80% factoids, as of 2013]

Hi Kay,

I started using a "flipped" classroom last year (never having heard the term) specifically because I WANTED to do Modeling. I ran into frustration over two things: a lack of contact time with my kids, and several students with disabilities who were required to be given printed copies of notes.


In order to retain lab time when other teachers were reducing it, I decided to reduce rote note-taking time in class. I typed up a set of student notes in one-page chunks with a few questions at the end of each -- about three sets of notes per Modeling topic -- and posted them on the school Blackboard site.


It's much shorter and more targeted than having them read a bit of the textbook, focusing only on the main model. I still open the unit with the lab, no notes until it's all done and discussed. But after that, once or twice a week they get a reading assignment with a few questions to

"encourage" them to actually read it.


The first set of notes summarize the main ideas from the lab, so the students have seen those ideas already. It just saves me about 10 or 15 minutes in class for having to get them to write it all down in their regular (non-lab) notebook again the day after lab's all done.


I go over the notes and associated problems briefly (I check that the problems are done), do some example problems on the board with them and take some questions, then have them do the modeling worksheets, some of which we do in class and some of which are homework.


It's not Earth shattering, but it probably gives me back half an hour a week from time saved note-taking, and that adds up to let me take more than one day on a few labs each quarter to allow for proper discussion. The kids love being able to get the notes easily when they are out (senior college visits are a royal pain), special education parents love it because it takes away some of the sting of a common disability.


I don't often use videos (though the kids quite like me putting up some solved problems with the Echo pen for review, so I wouldn't discount video, I'm just not there at the moment). Occasionally I link out to applets or a current events article online.


It's working for me. I've got more time back to do more important things in class than have kids copy stuff off the board.


[Ed. note: a link to Paul Bianchi’s notes is at ]



Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011

From: Matt Greenwolfe


Kay wrote, "Some parents (or perhaps just one?) are concerned that students don't have a resource for when they are confused.  ... "why can't they look at their notes?" "


Another approach is to make those notes more effective.  One thing I've noticed this year with my experiment in Post Game Analysis (PGA) (see earlier post for details) is that many students don't recognize a fundamental principle even if it hits them over the head.  By writing the PGA board, our whole class discussions are modeling how to extract those fundamental ideas from the specific experience we've just gone through.  Sure seems like having students discover the new principle in their group work, and state it and discuss it in class discussion should be sufficient, and then all the students would write it down.   But some students write down everything so that the important stuff gets buried.  Others write down everything **but** the important stuff.  I let the students make the decision about what is important enough to go on the PGA board, but when they identify something as PGA worthy, it gets written down and then continues to be posted prominently during class.


Too early to say with certainty, but I think it is improving students' individual notes as they have a better idea of what is important to write down or at least to feature as more important.  Extracting the important principles is just a skill they haven't practiced or maybe even thought about.  The PGA is also a good model for them of what to do when they are solving homework problems.  It's not over when they have the right answer.  There's still PGA. 


So what other tips do people have for improving the notes that students take during modeling classes?


This also gets at the problem with providing textbooks or videos, etc.  If those resources focus on the important fundamental principles, but the students are still responsible for applying them, then fine.  But if they focus on the details and reduce the subject to memorized procedures to follow rotely, then they can actually be detrimental.  There's too much of the latter both in textbooks and the available online videos. 



From: Jane Jackson <>

Subject: post game analysis for better whiteboard discussions (Matt Greenwolfe)


[An excerpt from Matt Greenwolfe's post on Sept. 9, 2011, to refresh your memory. -- Jane J]


I've been trying to better communicate to my students what I want out of the board meetings. ... This year, I'm trying to make the meetings primarily about the deeper analysis, with some presentation of whiteboards happening incidentally along the way. 


To do this, I'm telling the students about post game analysis (PGA).  ...


So each section keeps a PGA board (one or two whiteboards), where we record things like common mistakes and how to avoid them, or anything judged important enough that it should get recorded in a prominent place and not left in the details of the solution to a particular problem.  When a student makes a really perceptive comment, they get the PGA board and are asked to write down their observations.


I'm just in the third week of actual classes.  The first couple board meetings I did ask someone to start it off by presenting what they did, then at the end asked for PGA.  But yesterday, I looked around.  Everyone had pretty much the same stuff.  So I just said, "Let's start with PGA."  I immediately got some good insights about unit 1 - "It helps to know the meaning of the equation and not just randomly select it."  "Don't confuse units with variables."  "Graphs have different shapes and aren't always linear."  "About five major divisions is good on an axis.  Too many is confusing."   Also some stuff about mistakes made and how to avoid them. 


After that, I did ask a couple groups to show and explain how they figured out the units of the constant in the equation, as that was the latest thing that was introduced.  Some students did tune out at that point, hopefully because they already understood how to do it.  But it was a nice contrast from students tuning out during presentations of whiteboards that had become too routine, and then facing a struggle to tune back in when we got to the more important stuff.  We got to the most important things first, this way.  I also think the discussion was more productive, but took less time than it would have the other way.


[Ed. note: related to PGA is Matt Greenwolfe’s large collection of worksheets called “More Models in Modeling”. An updated version is available to AMTA members who log in to the AMTA website: Download an introduction at “Resources for the Modeling Classroom”: in the section on discourse.]



Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011

From: Robin Marcus, Program Director for STEM Education. North Carolina New Schools Project


My interest, consistent with Modeling I think, is a different kind of flipping - putting problem solving and application first, the generalization and abstraction after. My husband on the other hand is a national leader in virtual and blended learning. So conversation at home becomes a little heated when Khan and "flipping" classrooms comes up... What if students and parents (or tutors or whomever) could access video of the Post Game Analysis (PGA) that Matt Greenwolfe described? Rather than the teacher creating review videos or notes, what if the class summary was captured and archived, for students who were absent or just need to see/hear the discussion again? If anyone tries something along these lines, I would love to see the videos and read/hear student and teacher reflections on their value...


Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2011

From: "Steinert, Jeff"


Here are two flipping possibilities:


First, "A Million to One", video of a flea accelerating more than 1,000,000 times its own mass across a frictionless surface.


Second, "Frames of Reference", the classic PSSC video that still has the best sequences on fictitious forces.



From: Rob Lang and Chris Aderhold, Glenbard East High School

Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011


We are both Modelers; and we created a few videos this summer. We made sure that the videos were strictly "how-to" videos. One was on the use of the LabPro. Another was how to use the motion detector. A smaller series was how to use LoggerPro. We didn't create any videos that would distract from the class discussions. We created the videos for students who were absent on the day of instruction or needed to see how to use the equipment again during a future lab. Our Administration loves them!

Links to our videos:


Feel free to use them in your classes or as examples when you create your own!



Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011

From: Jacob Roark, Lenoir City High School


Most of the arguments against the "flipping" come from fundamental ideas of how students

learn - which of course are very important and valid concerns.  However, for me there

are some more practical issues that would apply in my classes.


Perhaps it's just because I'm used to teaching mostly Freshmen, but I balk at the idea

 that the students would actually watch the videos outside of class.  I can't get my students to take 30s to check the class website when they're absent to see what they've missed much less watch a video every night to prepare for class (I cry inside every time a student says "I've been out for four days, did I miss anything?") 


We have this notion that since students are online all of the time (and they definitely are) that if we make learning available online they will be more willing to do it.  While this may be true in isolated cases, overall teenagers are still teenagers and laziness is still laziness.


It's nice that the students can rewind or review the video but I wonder how many of them would.

A typical student in my class would say "I watched it once, what more do you want?"  I struggle

all semester long (with limited success). to change their view that understanding comes from intelligence instead of critical thinking, reflection and effort



I use self-produced videos when I need to leave things for a sub (they can't mess up playing a video) and as a supplement on my class website.  I think they do have their place.  I really can't see them replacing what I do in class though.


Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011

From: "Gell, James"


I came across this TED talk today and thought it tied in to the ongoing discussion on flipping.  It's only about six minutes long and it is about Studio Schools in Britain.  They are dealing with a less-than-ideal group of learners and find that students learn best by doing, working in groups, and doing things for real.  Gosh, that sounds familiar!!


I really like the way the speaker says in his intro that it is "one solution", not THE solution.


Date:    Wed, 28 Sep 2011

From:    David Meyer, Missouri

Kay and everyone else,

I've started using a wiki as a resource for students. Students can edit it and contribute to --the collective learning. I also take pictures of the whiteboards after we discuss worksheets and post them so that students can check them when they are gone or re-look at them. I have, in the past, posted videos of discussions as well.  It's very easy to set up and can be set up as private or public. They are free and come with 2 GB of storage space. Feel free to check my physics class out at


Date:    Wed, 28 Sep 2011

From:    Helene Dauerty, Indiana

Subject: Lecture-Video-Issues


I spoke to the frustration I felt in physics as a major in college this past summer on the listserv.  I get a bit defensive at the suggestion that either I was not smart, or I lacked motivation.  I appeared to be doing the same things as the peers I was working so hard with 20+ hours/week.  Hard work does not save you if you do the wrong kind of hard work.  "Practice makes permanent", NOT "perfect."


There are a host of social/psychological/pedagogical issues involved in this issue.  Not ONE of the barriers I have overcome to have a reasonable grasp on the subject would have been addressed by being able to watch and rewind the videos on physics that I see online, irrespective of motive or intelligence.


 For many of us, it takes a skilled practitioner to uncover thinking and prescribe experiences that will lead to real changes in how we understand the world to work.  Ego also is an issue.  Just today I looked through student self-evaluations on a test.  My students' ran the gamut from "I really know what I'm doing I just didn't do it on the test" to "I know I got a 95% but I really know I know nothing."  Neither extreme is helpful.


Peer discussion helps protect more gentle souls to some extent, while allowing divergent thinking to be aired.  An expert asking questions of the group consensus can serve to prevent more elaborate naive mental models from taking full root.  Video without expert feedback in most cases (sans those who "get" lecture anyway) leads to a perception of understanding and a growth in confidence that, more often than not, is illusory. We need DIALOG!!! INTELLIGENTLY GUIDED!!!


Videos, like textbooks, are great when you already know the physics.



Date:    Thu, 5 Jan 2012

From:    Evan Halstead

Subject: The Many Different Flipped Classrooms


I ran across this link this morning about Flipped Classrooms, written by one of the people who developed the idea in the first place.  Basically, his point is that 'flipped' is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of methods.  In the article, he challenges criticizers to be aware of the many

different 'flipping' methods that there are.  Unfortunately, he does not elaborate on these methods or their differences here.


Given how much critiquing of this method we do on this listserv, I thought this may be a good way to elevate the discourse.



Date:    Thu, 5 Jan 2012

From:    Frank Noschese


I've been in close communication with Aaron Sams, the author of the article, over the last few months. He is seeking to take back the word "flip" from its association with Khan Academy (as seen in the recent media stories about KA).


The traditional flip (ala KA) is simply the time-shift of lectures by having kids watch a video or read the text in order to make class time more interactive. Sams wants flip to mean ANY shift that makes class time more interactive.


So I think Modeling Instruction would be included in Aaron's new definition of flip. Modeling classrooms are typically more interactive than a traditional class. If you want to use the flip metaphor: instead of a teacher-centered classroom with knowledge for students to consume, Modeling flips that and is a student-centered classroom with knowledge created by students. Instead of labs done as verification, Modeling flips that and uses lab for exploration. Instead of the teacher talking to students, modeling flips that and students are talking to each other. Etc., etc.


I don't have any research to back this up (but let me know if you do!), but....

I would argue that what happens IN class is more important than what happens outside. In other words, any form of interactivity in class will trump traditional instruction. Some people see putting videos online as a way to make class more interactive. I see modeling instruction as a way to increase interactivity without making any videos at all.



Date:    Thu, 5 Jan 2012

From:    Andrew Smith

I followed one of the links in the blog mentioned by Evan.  This guy is using a cycle he calls "Explore-Flip-Apply," which is his attempt to combine inquiry learning with the flipped classroom.  Here is a link to his cycle.  I think it sounds promising.