Recently, New Forums published the eighth book in our It Works for Me, Flipping the Classroom, and we couldn’t be more excited. Way back in the last century, we began the series with It Works for Me! Shared Tips for Teaching (1998), what we thought of as a one-shot of practical tips. At the time only two of us served as editors (Rusty would join us with the most recent book), and we were primarily professors of English interested in helping our newer colleagues navigate the treacherous tidal waves of tenure, but, realizing we had a few more tips in us, we started issuing an average of a book every other year.
Along the way we began to realize how vast the area of pedagogy is, and we made a major career move, shifting from being mostly professors of creative writing to professional developers co-directing for the University’s newly-created Teaching & Learning Center. We began to publish pieces in such professional forums as the Journal of Faculty Development and learned we were practicing what had become known as the Scholarship of Teaching and learning (SOTL).
In Enhancing Scholarly Work on Teaching & Learning (2006), Maryellen Weimer posits that the field of SOTL is large, running the gamut from practitioner pedagogical scholarship to pure education research. In Weimer’s terms we began our entry into SOTL with the former and moved toward the latter. Our early New Forums books focus mostly on specific experiential tips, but gradually evolved toward more specific domains such as scholarship, creativity, and now the bleeding edge with flipping the classroom. We’ve gotten more specific with a tribute book to our old field, creative writing with Options (2014), while at the same time we tried to sum up recent trends in higher ed research with Achieving Excellence in Teaching (2014).
If one theme other than practical pedagogy emerges in our writing, it’s probably creativity. While we always stressed being a creative instructor, in the past four years we’ve focused on the growing discipline of creative thinking with It Works for Me, Creatively (2011), Introduction to Applied Creative Thinking (2012), and Teaching Applied Creative Thinking (2013). While our newest book on flipping the classroom doesn’t focus on creativity per se, it did result from Bloom’s higher-order thinking skills of applying and creating.
In Introduction to Applied Creative Thinking we present nine basic strategies of creative thinking, beginning with perception shift, which we say “involves looking at a person, idea, or situation from a new perspective” (28). Flipping the classroom stands as an excellent example of practical perception shift. Educators began reflecting on such societal trends as the rise of active learning replacing the sage on the stage, the sudden spurt of technology (especially the Internet), and advances in brain science. One result was the experiment of “flipping” the two major portions of the learning experience, the classroom and “homework.” In simple terms professors began providing what had been their usual classroom lectures along with traditional assignments as the homework portion and utilizing the more limited classroom time for higher-order (Bloom) activities that aided in students’ deep learning.
It Works for Me, Flipping the Classroom (IWFMFTC) focuses on this paradigm shift. The book begins with some essays about transitioning into a flipped classroom, moves to a section on out-of-class assignments, and then lists some in-class activities for the flipper. After a section on electronic resources, the book ends with ever-important ways to assess the effectiveness of the flipped class. In short, IWFMFTC serves as a handbook for the would-be flipper, providing guidelines, exercises, and tips along the way.
Why should you try this book? Professional development means more than staying current in one’s chosen discipline. The complete instructor needs a familiarity with current trends in higher education as well as advances in technology. ITWMFTC offers a quick introduction to that very crossroads. It’s the kind of book Poe would have liked as it can be read in a single session, but it can also be the academic equivalent of power bars, providing energizing snacks at key moments.
Feast or munch—it’s your choice.
Ph.D Hal Blythe writes literary criticism to mystery stories. In addition to the eleven books he’s published with New Forums, Hal has collaborated on four books on a variety of subjects, over 1000 pieces of fiction/nonfiction, and a host of television scripts and interactive mysteries performed by their repertory company. He is currently co-director of the Teaching and Learning Center for Eastern Kentucky University. Meet Hal Blythe.
Dr. Russell Carpenter is director of the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and Program Director of the Minor in Applied Creative Thinking at Eastern Kentucky University. He is also Assistant Professor of English. Dr. Carpenter has published on the topic of creative thinking, among other areas, including two texts by New Forums Press. In addition, he has taught courses in creative thinking in EKU’s Minor in Applied Creative Thinking, which was featured in the New York Times in February 2014. Meet Russell.
Charlie Sweet is currently Co-Director of the Teaching & Learning Center (2007+) at Eastern Kentucky University. Before going over to the dark side of administration, for 37 years he taught American Lit and Creative Writing in EKU’s Department of English & Theatre, where he also served as chair (2003-2006). Collabo-writing with Hal Blythe, he has published well over 1000 items, including 15 books; of his 11 books with New Forums. Meet Charlie.