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How to implement the ‘flipped classroom’

As teachers adopt the flipped model, they’re using the extra time in many ways, depending on their subject matter, location, and style of teaching.

(Editor’s note: Flipped learning, in which students watch instructional videos for homework and use class time to practice what they’ve learned, is catching on in many schools. This is an excerpt from a new book by two pioneers of the flipped approach, titled Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Copyright 2012, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and ASCD; reprinted with permission from ISTE. The book can be purchased in the ISTE Store for $19.95, or $13.97 for ISTE members.)

Despite the attention that the videos get, the greatest benefit to any flipped classroom is not the videos. It’s the in-class time that every teacher must evaluate and redesign. Because our direct instruction was moved outside of the classroom, our students were able to conduct higher-quality and more engaging activities.

As we have seen teachers adopt the flipped model, they use the extra time in myriad ways depending on their subject matter, location, and style of teaching. We asked some of our colleagues to share how they have changed their class time. Following are some examples.

Foreign Language Classes

In foreign language classes, teachers are recording grammar lessons and conversation starters so as to create time in class to use the language more practically. This includes having more conversation, reading literature, and writing stories, all in the target language. We visited one of these classes, a level 1 class, and observed students actively speaking Spanish. They were responding and gesturing in ways that corresponded to the teacher’s instructions, which were entirely in Spanish. He would then ask students questions, and they would respond in Spanish. He reported to us how the videos had freed him up to do more of these engaging activities in his classroom.

For more on flipped learning, see:

Engaging Students with Flipped Learning

Math Classes

Math teachers are finding the time to really help their students engage with deep analysis of mathematical concepts. Others are embracing math manipulatives and emerging technologies where students are engaged not just in learning the algorithmic computation, but in deeply wrestling with the intricacies of the math concepts. Flipped math classes are becoming laboratories of computational thinking, inquiry, and connectedness with other STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Science Classes

One concern about the flipped classroom that has been recently posed is whether flipping is compatible with an inquiry approach to teaching science. We and others have responded with a resounding yes. Flipping a science class creates more time and more opportunities to include inquiry learning. In science classes, teachers who flip have time for students to engage in more inquiry-based activities and to conduct more in-depth experiments. In the chemistry education community, POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning; www.pogil.org), has become a powerful tool for students to create conceptual understanding without direct instruction. The flipped classroom is ideally set up for this type of learning, and we have incorporated many POGIL activities into our classroom. When a well-written POGIL activity is conducted well, the students learn all they need to learn via guided inquiry, and there is no need to teach the material with a video. In cases such as this, we use the POGIL activity as the instructional tool in lieu of a video. However, we have found that some students still use our instructional videos as a secondary resource for remediation.

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Comments:

  1. frharry

    May 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Does she spend valuable class time teaching the entire class how to perform the appropriate math and risk boring the advanced student and losing the student who struggles? Or does she create an instructional video (or perhaps access an archived one) to give the students what they need, without sacrificing class time for direct instruction?

    Perhaps these are not the only two options? Why not require students to read the assigned material and wrestle with the problems outside of class and come to class with questions? Rather than place the onus on teachers to double their workload, doing the teaching in a video and the problem shooting during class time, why not make the student at least half responsible for their own education?

    As a college instructor I have for years assigned reading and then used three minute discussion questions based on the readings to both encourage reading and develop the reading further. I also use video in class to develop the reading, often leading the in-class writing assignment with the question “What ideas from your reading did you observe here? Be specific and explain.”

    I see nothing wrong with using class time to actually work on problems students have encountered with their preparation work. But I do think it’s important that they invest in their own educational process. And I also think we need to discourage the consumerism implicit in having A) teachers double their work load without doubled compensation, and B) students passively watching lecture videos without any effort on their own to prepare.

    Flipped learning as I hear it described here might
    be a good deal for someone, but it’s probably not the teacher and is likely not the student, either. As I ask my students constantly, “Cui bono? Good for whom? And at whose expense?”

  2. guster4lovers

    May 21, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Great excerpt. For those of us flipping in the humanities, it always seems like we are the least developed and understood subject area. Looking forward to when this book makes the huge impact I know it will and our field gets more minds and hands working on it. Cheers!

  3. nofallone12

    June 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I am a math and science fifth grade elementary teacher, and I was curious about bringing flipped learning into my class. Do you have any advice or suggestions about how to handle the beginning stages of implementing flipped learning into my classroom?

    Thanks.

    Nick

  4. fisk

    June 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I suggest that teachers who are flipping, particularly at the elementary level, consider how they will make families part of the team and thereby encourage meaningful completion of the at-home component. Plug: I’m part of ParentSquare.com, an online private communication and organization platform for school and families, and it is a simple way for schools to enable support from home for flipped classrooms.

    Thanks,
    Maria

  5. mikebyster

    July 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I believe flipped learning is a great idea. It provides students with an alternative to the traditional learning methods. As an educator myself, I believe it is very important to teach in new and innovative ways. When I invented my math and memory system Brainetics (http://www.brainetics.com), I wanted to teach children in a way that was engaging and fun. I feel a flipped classroom would do the same. It offers a new and exciting method of learning that children will enjoy.

    Great article,

    Mike Byster
    http://www.mikebyster.com
    Inventor of Brainetics, Author of Genius, Educator, Mathematician