When the force awakened this week (yeah you know what I'm talking about), it received widely positive reviews. That's all the more impressive when you consider how primed and ready the fanbase was to squash it flat -- just like an audience of middle or high school students! What did we like about it? Familiarity with characters, recognizable archetypes and settings, a fairly standard plot structure, and technically solid presentation. JJ Abrams didn't try to wow us with something terrifically new, and he even avoided using lens flares or diagonal (canted) camera angles. When George Lucas tried to get fancy and nouveau in his prequels, we got a totally unexpected and impossible subplot about intergalactic diplomacy, Ewan McGregor wandering around the Close Encounters ship for ten minutes, Natalie Portman as a kabuki queen, and a Rastafarian frilled lizard.
Flipping is still different and unfamiliar enough for my students, so why should I overcomplicate their lives by 'mixing it up' too much in the classroom?
One of my best units is wrapping up this week: the Declaration of Independence. This year my colleague and I switched the culminating assignment to be an individual task instead of a group project. Overall that turned out to be good decision. 3 years ago that was a new and different assignment; now I feel like I have mastered my timing and presentation. There is something to be said for retaining some tasks, units, instructions, etc.