Unit 3: Planning the Classroom Activity


What makes an engaging lesson?

monitor.png Before we begin, please watch this video, which depicts a typical day in Aaron Sams's Flipped Classroom.

brainstorming.png Now take a few moments to think about this question- How is the structure of the classroom in the video different from a traditional classroom?

In a traditional model, students often wait for their teacher to tell them what to learn, how and when to learn it, and how to prove they have learned it. You may have noticed that the teacher in the flipped classroom video has a very different role than the traditional teacher. The classroom activities are centered around the students, with the instructor moving around the classroom guiding students, answering questions, and providing feedback.

In this module, you will:

  • Become familiar with higher order skills
  • Discover strategies you can use to engage students in the class activity
  • Learn how to select content and an activity type for students to work on during class

What are higher order skills?

Image from Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain

Bloom's Taxonomy is a tool to categorize the levels of learning. When looking at the pyramid above, you will see the Knowledge and Comprehension levels at the bottom. These skills are generally considered lower order skills that serve as the basis for attaining more advanced skills. They involve recall of information, and general explanation of the concepts.

As you move up the pyramid, you will see the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation levels. These levels are known as higher order skills. Higher order skills involve reaching a deeper understanding by using learned concepts in context and applying them to real life problems. Rather than attaining information, students are developing specific skills in the upper levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. The skills help students gain deep understanding and improve retention, and are often skills that students will use in their adult lives.

To learn more about higher order skills, visit the following resources:

How can I design an engaging activity?

The main advantage of the flipped classroom method is to restructure class time for active student centered learning. The following are teaching methods that you may want to consider when designing your activities:

Active Learning

  • Students are busy and involved in their learning
  • Provides opportunities for hands on learning
  • Can incorporate authentic learning tasks
  • Students are actively constructing meaning from their experience
  • Some examples are: Student Presentations, Speeches, Personal Demonstrations, etc.

Group Based

  • Can foster healthy competition
  • Allows students to express ideas among peers
  • Students receive feedback from other students
  • Some examples are: Debates, Role Play, Peer Review, Think Pair Share, etc.

Problem Based

  • Students make connections to concepts through deep analysis and inquiry
  • Students can practice concepts in real world context
  • Some examples are: Experiments, Research, etc.

Formative Assessment

  • Provides students with helpful timely feedback
  • Instructors can uncover and dispel misconceptions
  • Students can receive individualized remediation
  • Can guide student's path of learning
  • Some examples are: Interactive Polling, Open Questioning, Self and Peer Assessment, and Feedback Through Marking etc.

Click here for more Active Learning Ideas

What topics should my activity cover?

Through delivering the direct instruction before scheduled class time, you can organize activities for your students to practice and apply concepts during class. This allows for the instructor to provide guidance and feedback, as well as fostering student collaboration. Here are some questions to ask yourself when selecting topics for the in class activity:

  • Which objectives can best be learned through inquiry?
  • What concepts need to be placed in context for students to reach a deeper understanding?
  • What content should students practice to reach mastery?
  • What are the challenging points that your students struggle with?

You may also want to consider these strategies:

  • Require students to come to class with questions from the pre-class lesson
  • Practice Just in Time teaching, by giving a brief assessment at or before class to determine which areas students need help on
  • Consider allowing students to work on different activities based on their progress and areas of difficulty

Test Your Understanding

Please use the following quiz to test and refine your understanding of the concepts in this unit:

Take the quiz to check your understanding

Apply your Knowledge

1. Now that you have learned about the in class component to this method, plan out what activities your students will work on. Post your plan in the discussion tab on the top of this page. Remember to include the following aspects in your plan:

  • Concepts and skills you would like to focus on
  • Activity style
  • Strategies you will implement to make your classroom more student centered

2. Reply to a classmate's post in the discussion area and comment on their in class activity plan. Please be sure to offer constructive and helpful comments!

Putting it all Together

Remember through the Flipped Classroom model, the instructor acts as the guide on the side. Here is an article that may help you sharpen your facilitation skills:

4.png Now that you have completed Unit 3, click here to view the Flipped Classroom Final Thoughts.


Bergmann, Jonathan, and Aaron Sams. Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Everyday. International Society for Technology in Education, 2012.

Bloom's Pyramid. Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain. 5 Dec. 2012. http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/Resources2/bloomstax.htm.

Gerstein, Jackie, "The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture." User Generated Education. 13, June 2011. 19, Oct. 2012.

Spencer, Dan, Deb Wolf and Aaron Sams. "Are you Ready to Flip?" The Daily Riff 24, June 2011: n. pag. Web. 19, Oct. 2012.

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