What is a flipped classroom?

Hey, y’all! I am almost done with the Fall semester of Junior Year! My placement this semester has been with a classroom of high school seniors at Western Alamance High School and I have absolutely loved it. Western Alamance experiences significant technological challenges and I have found myself wondering how I would deal with technology struggles if I had my own classroom there.

Therefore, for my final project in “Teaching in 21st Century Classrooms”, I decided to research Flipped Learning. In a series of three blog posts, I will be filling you in on what I’ve learned and linking you to the valuable resources I have come across. In compiling this information, I hope to provide a resource that will be valuable to my fellow education majors as we take on our own classrooms in the next couple of years.

What is Flipped Learning? 

In their book Promoting Active Learning through the Flipped Classroom ModelJared Keengwe, Grace Onchwari, and James Oigara provide a comprehensive discussion on the flipped classroom and the challenges and benefits it brings. The authors state,

The flipped classroom is an instructional approach that educators use to turn the traditional classroom lecture model into a more active learning classroom. In the flipped model, the traditional practice of spending class time for direct instruction and completing content-related activities for homework is “flipped”.

In other words, flipped learning is all about combining face-to-face instruction with online instruction. In most flipped classrooms, teachers film themselves teaching or find videos on a certain subject and assign the video as homework. Then, in class, students have time to work on what traditionally would have been considered “homework.” This might include solving math problems, reading Shakespeare, or working in groups on a project.

6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher Cheryl Morris (linked) has one of the best blogs I have found about what it means to really flip your class. Morris gives a TON of ideas regarding flipped lessons, data on her first flipped class, and feedback from her own students. Additionally, a wealth of information can be found by searching the hashtag on Twitter #flipclass

Flipped learning has gained a lot of attention among educators recently. While it is not a “silver bullet” fix, flipped learning has the potential to increase student understanding when it is well planned, focused, and implemented on lessons that best fit with the “flipped” method. In this series of blog posts, I’ll be letting you know some benefits and challenges to watch out for, how to get started when filming, and what to do in class the day after flipped content.

 

What are the benefits?

Great for classroom management and conferencing:

Many teachers try to schedule weekly or twice weekly conferences with each individual student to touch base and allow students to ask questions. The best method for classroom management is rigorous and engaging coursework. If lectures and memorization activities are moved outside of the classrooms (and filmed in an engaging way), then more class time frees up and can be spent on engaging and interesting material.

Allows students to work at their own pace:

Stacey Roshan writes about the must-have tools that she uses in her flipped classroom. Students can listen to the lectures and re-watch them at their own pace at home. Additionally, teachers can set up online quizzes that give students immediate feedback. Online sites like EdPuzzle help teachers cater to individual student needs.

Encourages active learning:

When flipped lessons are well planned, the lesson both encourages active learning at home and in the classroom. As I will expand on in my next blog post, flipped videos should require the students to take notes or answer questions during the video. Most importantly, content learned at home must be connected to the next classroom lesson. Students should come to class prepared to participate in engaged inquiry, discussion and debate, cooperative learning, and reflective learning.

Maximizes class time:

If the “lecture” is moved to homework, then class time is freed up for more teacher-student and student-student interactions. Teaching strategies like Project Based Learning work together well with a Flipped Classroom because students are able to get the teacher’s help and ask questions during class.

What are the challenges? 

So far, all research I’ve found has suggested that only some content works well “flipped”, and therefore it is best to only flip some lessons. Additionally, while research shows that some students do report being more engaged and scoring higher grades when the flipped method is implemented, it is not yet supported or confirmed by long-term research.

Content:

The best information to teach at home is content that can be memorized or will need to be referred to at a later date. In a math class, explanations of formulas make for great flipped content because students can review them and rewind at any time. In an ELA classroom, reading and writing strategies, grammar videos, or lesson introductions make for an easy “flip.”

Not best for every student:

Students with technological challenges or a strong preference for in-class lectures might not like “flipped units”. In order to cater to the most students, only flipping some units and lessons is best. Both teachers and students may be hesitant to branch out and rely on technology. While this should not be a complete deterrent, it is a factor that should be considered.

Might perpetuate lecture model:

Some scholars worry that flipped learning perpetuates the lecture model by asking students to sit at home and watch videos where the teacher transmits information to them. They argue that in this model, the teacher is still the “holder of knowledge”. However, I believe that if the flipped lecture video acts as a foundation and resources for students to ask questions and engage with the material in class, then it is a beneficial tool. Teachers should offer multiple resources for students to encourage not only learning the material but ultimately learning how to learn.

 

So now you want to flip?!

Watch out for my next post to learn how to make a flipped video and how to best integrate the information into your classroom!

 

 

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