Frequently Asked Questions


Have any of the topics covered been more successful than others? If so why?

We have found that subjects where students have to follow a set of specific instructions is the best use of flipping. Balancing chemical equations, doing stoichiometric calculations, specific calculator processes. Instead of reteaching a specific procedure over and over, you can just refer them to the video.

Are other subjects taking your methods on board? Which have been most successful?

Absolutely! Teachers are using the flipped classroom in science, mathematics, foreign language, and even using in language arts and PE. The best way to see the latest uses is to visit our professional learning community.

What are some additional benefits of flipping?

  1. Parents are watching the vodcasts with their kids and learning along with them.
  2. Kids are moving ahead. This enables them to learn at their own pace. I have one student who started the course midway into the year and has accomplished 1 year of chemistry in 1/2 a year.
  3. As Aaron and I have made the podcasts we have had to discuss how we teach. We have had to have conversations about best practices and this has helped us become better teachers. Our close relationship has truly helped kids out.
  4. Students get more than one perspective on Chemistry. Instead of "me" being their teacher they consider Aaron and I their teachers. It is much more a team approach. I have even had kids stop me in the store, at the dance, etc and tell me that they love my videos--and these are kids I don't know.
  5. We regularly get emails from other students around the country who are watching the vodcasts to help them understand Chemistry
  6. And related, we get emails from teachers who are using our vodcasts from all over the world to supplement their classes.

Where do I purchase Chemistry Vodcasts for my students?

You can purchase Chemistry Vodcasts and Screencasts here.

Who Makes the Vodcasts?

Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams made all of the vodcasts themselves.  However a number of teachers across the country have been using our vodcasts for implementing this model in their classrooms. 

How do you accomodate kids who don't have access to technology?

Now for those of you out there who think I teach in a tech rich school district and all kids have ready access to technology, that would not be true.  We teach in a rural school district that has all socioeconomic strata.  We do have kids who live in million dollar houses, but also many kids who are just above poverty.  For kids without internet or computers we have found a way using NERO software to convert the podcasts into a DVD format. 

How do you make sure that kids watch the vodcasts?

Here is the e-mail that prompted this question:

Jonathan we have been doing Vodcasting at our high school this year, but ran into a few of problems.

  • 1st the students were watching them diligently at the beginning of the year, but a parent complained so our administration said that we were no longer able to require them. And viewership dropped off as did their scores. Any suggestions?

    At least where we are at we have had no problems with admin. They are totally supportive and would like to see more teachers doing what we are doing. I would encourage you to think through how to convince the admin team that pre-Vodcasting is truly a viable methodology to convey content. We tell our students that when they don't watch a vodcast they essentially are skipping class. If a student has not watched a vodcast I won't help them on a particular topic. If they are still struggling after they watch the vodcast I will gladly help them. After all I am not always the perfect presenter. But they must first take responsibility for their own learning before I will help.

  • 2nd when the students were viewing them they were just kind of playing them as they were doing something else. How do we fix this.

    We have had this issue—Students who don't watch them carefully. At the beginning of the year during our 2nd year we decided to spend some time as a group and watch a vodcast together. We taught them how watch the vodcast: Listen, take notes, pause the video at appropriate places, etc.

  • 3rd what do you do with the students who just won't watch them? We found ourselves reverting back to lecturing during class time because they just wouldn't watch the vodcasts. What suggestions do you have?

    How do we check them? Though we are high tech guys and at first tried to think of high tech solutions, we came back to an old old method. The students must take notes on the vodcasts. To receive credit they must simply just show them to us. Not high tech, but effective. Do some students just copy somebody else's notes—sure, but with the mastery system they won't be able to pass the exam until the actually LEARN the material. An interesting story involves 3 young men whom I caught copying both the vodcast notes and some of the assigned problems. After they took a unit exam for the 3rd time and I spent some time with them and realized that they really didn't understand anything, I confronted them on their worksheets. How could they do such a good job on these and not have a clue on the exam when they were virtually the same question. When I confronted them on this they admitted to cheating and I told them they needed to go back and start over from square one. So that is exactly what they did. They went back and re-learned that which they had not learned in the first place.

    How do we start?

    The first day of school we introduce the students to the concept of how this class will operate differently than most other classes.  We introduce how to access the vodcasts since this is a technological hurdle that kids need to address.  We then discuss how to watch a vodcast:  You can't just sit and get.  It isn't like watching a YouTube video. So in class we watch our vodcast about this class together and have them take notes from the vodcast.  One of the key things that kids need to know is that they will need to pause the video multiple times in order to get all of the info.  They also need to back it up.  If you want to watch that video we have it posted at:  MindBites

    What do you do when interesting questions about vodcasts come up?

    When you have the students come up with an interesting question or comment related to the vodcasts, do you begin class with these? Individually? What are the others students doing while you're "conferencing" with individuals? Are these questions written down somewhere and turned in, or just oral?

    Students know that when they come into class they need to start "working." Some do this better than others. When I am moving around the room they know that this is the expectation.

    I conference with them individually, usually. If I have a group of students who are on the same topic I will bring them together to ask questions as a group.

    The questions are all oral. But most students watch the vodcasts and since they know that the expectation is that they must ask a question, they most of the time write down these questions as they are watching the vodcast. They don't get credit unless they ask an interesting question, so they know that it is an expectation.

    What grading rubric do you use for the term grade and how you administer tests?

    50% test grade and 50% weekly progress grade=semester grade: Tests are done on Moodle and every time a kid takes an exam he gets a different exam (1000's of test variations)

    Do you give several tests on the same topic area if they don't pass (or master) the first time?

    Yes: Different test each time

    Are the students using a textbook? Which one?

    Sorta: They have one checked out, but they hardly use it: It is Waterman's Chemistry by Prentice Hall

    Do you use any of the inquiry based learning materials (POGIL)?

    Some POGIL: Kids still do labs and some of those are POGIL labs

    What happens to stragglers?

    One of my principal's concerns is what happens to the stragglers. It's my gut feeling to say that the students who won't work are going to fail regardless of the method used. I'm sure that you have students who just stop working at some point due to frustration. Is this honestly a substantial issue? I would expect this to be somewhat minimal in terms of its effect. I would also expect that it is more easily fixed once you get parents involved. What are your experiences?

    It is an issue. I would say that I have 10-15% of my kids that I would classify as such so it is somewhat significant - And as you stated, parents, etc do help but not always...

    That said and we have some things that we are doing:

    These are the same students that you have that don't get the content. Our take on this is that these kids need to still master the content. What we have done is identify some topics that we encourage them to skip. We do a final project at the end of the year and we feel that it is imperative that ALL kids do this. To that end we think through our units and think about which parts of the project don't help them on the project. Those topics are bonding and to some degree thermo. Thus if a kid has gotten too far behind we have them skip unit 8 (bonding) so that they can get through unit 10 (acid-base) which is needed on the final project. They still take a zero on unit 8 but our contention is that these kids missing the theoretical bonding chapter is no great loss: And thus their grade will be hampered. But their grade will be worse if they don't do the final project (100 pts vs. 300 pts for the final project). It isn't an ideal solution, but it thus far is working. I would rather that kid who either needs more time or is just a slacker - learn the key concepts well then to gloss over all of the topics.

  • Contact for this page

    Jerry Overmyer
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