One thing I keep hearing from teachers who embrace flipped learning is that they now have time to incorporate projects into their courses. This is because teachers have moved whole group instruction away from the class time. 

An example of this comes from Ryan Hull, a seventh grade social studies teacher in Olathe, Kansas. He teaches one semester of Kansas history and another semester of world geography. In his semester on Kansas History he creates simple flipped videos about what happened in Kansas’ history and he retools class to be filled with projects, activities, and other engaging learning times for his students. 

At the end of each quarter Ryan has his students do what he calls his multi-genre project. Students look back at what they have learned throughout the quarter and then choose three to four topics they want to learn more about. Some students report on geologically ancient Kansas when it was covered in water, while others study the story of John Brown, the freedom fighter, and others explore the life of Kansas born president Dwight Eisenhower. Students do research and show what they learned in a variety of ways. The reason it is called the multi-genre project is that students can choose any medium they want to demonstrate their understanding and insights into their topics. Students are creating audio podcasts, art work, sculptures, paintings and their own flipped videos. Ryan reports that these projects have helped his students understand research, design, and how to creatively present interesting topics that they care about. I like that his students have some autonomy which leads to more student engagement and buy-in. When the project is complete, students have a “gallery walk” where they proudly show off what they learned to each other and to a larger audience.

The kicker is that these students get to do this four times a year. Because of the flipped classroom, Ryan’s students have the opportunity to learn more about primary research, how to creatively demonstrate understanding, and how to apply their learning to current events and problems. Ryan states:  “Flipped Learning is the game changer for my students. I now have time to do the projects I’ve always wanted to do with my students.”  

What are your reactions? What has flipped learning allowed you to do that you couldn’t do in a more traditional environment? If you are trying to implement more Project Based Learning in your class, we encourage you to explore flipped learning and see, like Ryan, that flipped learning allows for PBL to flourish in your classroom.



6 thoughts on “Using Projects in a Flipped Social Studies Class

  1. I love hearing this is going on!  I also teach Social Studies and am working toward flipping my classroom (I started in January and plan to be completely flipped by next year–starting with a flipped back-to-school night).  I have grown tired of hearing that a flipped classroom is not "doable" in certain subjects–specifically Social Studies and Language Arts.  This is not true!  Flipping my classroom has made my teaching life so much easier (including making up absences and giving feedback!) and allowed me and my students to be much more creative on a daily basis!  Differentiation is built-in and you cannot avoid higher levels of critical thinking!  Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Andrea,

      Thanks so much for the comment! Social Studies has always been a tough one to picture flipped, but as soon as I started, everything fell into place. It's amazing how many more cool things we can do with our content now that I'm not doing the "chalk and talk" anymore! The students are always involved in a lesson, and those who aren't are the ones I can spend time with and help get them on track. I just held individual conferences with each one of my students over the past two days as they were working on their Genius Hour projects… Who would've thought I could have time to have these conferences with 129 students in the middle of 4th quarter? 

      The class has taken on an amazing, new dynamic every year of my three years flipping. Although the math/science flips seem obvious to flip, the possibilities with social studies are endless!  Thanks again for your comments!

      1. Ryan: thanks for jumping in.  Aaron and I just submmited the manuscript for Flipped Learning for Social Sciences and are very pleased with the creativity of flipped social studies teachers.  And you are a prominent voice.

  2. Hi,

     I am a social studies teacher and I agree that this works for our content. When my students obtain background knowledge from the flip, our class time is used to produce artifacts to enhance their learning. Our classroom discussions are richer because more students "got it". We use the artifacts we produce to teach one another, and elementary students as well.

     I feel like my students are not just consumers of knowledge now, but producers also. They love designing assessments within their artifacts to test one another. I am so grateful I took the plunge even though I was discouraged from doing so by other teachers. They had never tried it, they just instinctively knew it would not work (lol). I know that worksheets don't go dendrites, so I tried this method and I know my students are benefitting from it greatly.

    1. Daisy:  Someone has to be the first at a school.  I am glad you took the plunge.  Keep up the great work and keep innovating and working hard for YOUR students.  Cheers. 

    2. I agree with Kris!  I was the first at my school for 2 years… This year, we have 5 others jumping in with me and it's awesome!  Being able to have conversations with those who are doing this too is very important, however not necessary.  My first years were spent gathering info from Twitter, Jon and Aaron's book, and the Flipped Leaning Network.  The more we pave the way, the more people will follow.  They will find out what we all have already discovered: The flipped class is a game changer for our sudents!

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