A first-hand look inside a flipped classroom

By Meris Stansbury, Online Editor
February 9th, 2012

Teachers say that even though the pilot is over, they won’t go back to the old way of teaching.

There have been many school reform trends over the past few years: student response systems, video games for math, mobile phones for learning—but none have completely transformed the notion of learning like the flipped classroom.

Flipped learning, in essence, turns the idea of traditional classroom instruction on its head by asking students to watch videos of teacher lectures for homework, then apply the lesson with the teacher in the classroom.

Using this method, proponents say, teachers have the opportunity to help students learn as individuals, and students can learn concepts more quickly.

Yet, since its takeoff, skeptics have questioned whether students have the time management skills to watch the videos at home and whether in-class work really does affect student achievement. Some have even questioned whether students and parents like the new approach, and if flipped learning is just a fad.

To help peers and skeptics better understand the concept of flipped learning, Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, high school science teachers and pioneers in the Flipped Class ideology, recently created a first-of-its kind flipped classroom “open house,” which invited other educators to see how flipped learning works and what students have to say about it. The event took place in two countries, 20 states, and more than 30 cities and towns.

Watch Lake Elmo Elementary’s experience:


One of the open houses took place at Lake Elmo Elementary School in Lake Elmo, Minn. Lake Elmo, part of Stillwater Area Schools—a rural district serving more than 8,900 students in 10 elementary schools (grades K-6), two junior high schools (grades 7-9), and one high school (grades 10-12)—started a flipped learning pilot in September that ended last month. Students in fifth grade math were given iPads and earphones and asked to watch 10- to 15-minute chunks of instruction a few times per week, then were asked to complete comprehension questions via the Moodle learning management system.

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11 Responses to “A first-hand look inside a flipped classroom”

This sounds fantastic I work in CTE and it is very hands on I can see a huge benefit to both the student and the teacher. This is focused and productive being a kinetic learner myself I would love this type of classroom. I am currently finishing my Master’s in Education and hope to see more models like this appear in education.

February 9, 2012

I think this is a great idea. As a parent we can watch and see what the lesson is and assist our children when needed. Sometimes it takes multiple exposures to the lesson for them to comprehend.

February 10, 2012

Love that you covered the student and parent perspectives, too!

Last week a bunch of us at TechSmith got together to publish a set of how-to guides and video stories for “flippers.”

We hope it’s useful content for teachers and administrators and are keen to hear ideas for other resources we could develop!

Daniel Foster
New Media Specialist, TechSmith

The flipped classroom started with Jon Bergman and Aaron Samms. The twosome continue to develop this methodology to include mastery learning.

Jon Bergmann moved to Illinois this past school year. Just learned that the 2012 Flipped Conference will be in the Chicago area from June 18 -20th.
Here is the link with more information:

Check out this video on mastery learning using the flipped model, which I believe helps with assessment and student accountability.

This looks good…but I do find great value in seeing the faces of the students as I introduce a lesson. It’s a way to constantly “check for understanding.” I would certainly miss that.

How do you ensure students have access to devices and the Internet at home that can play these teaching videos? I saw some tablets in a few of the scenes and can tell you that the majority of schools in AZ and perhaps across the country do not have that level of technology. Where can I find more in-depth info on the Flipped Classroom concept and some data that supports it?

Thank you! Deena

February 14, 2012

This certainly sounds like a great way to increase one-on-one time with students. My question is, what kind of technology does each student have to have available at home to be able to access the information. My school district has a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students who don’t have computers at home. How are these students watching the videos?

February 15, 2012

I spent 2 months at a high school in Xi’an, China last spring, and this is the model that Chinese schools use. (Their students spend 5-6 hours a night on homework.)I find it interesting that China is sending delegations to the U.S. to observe and possibly implement our teaching strategies and here we are changing to theirs!

March 7, 2012

This is really cool stuff. I agree with ballen97–if the kids don’t have access, they are sort screwed. And if their parents, like too many I know, have night jobs in addition to the day job just to make ends meet, the value of parent interaction is lost. Again, that is far more kids than it should be. I suppose the increased one-to-one time in class accommodates that issue, but with so many kids already underserved. I’m leery of potentially increasing instead of decreasing the existing gaps or making more gaps to tackle. But, largely, this is a great innovation to be sure.