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Four steps to flipping the classroom

Four steps to flipping the classroom

“There are sites popping up all the time that have great content,” Holden said.

An example of an easy topic to flip is the mathematical order of operations, or PEMDAS—Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally—to help students remember which mathematical processes to compute first.

Teachers should use increased class time to engage students. Flipping the classroom allows for more in-class discussion time, cooperative learning, and project-based learning, Holden said. But teachers shouldn’t use the flipped classroom as a chance to leave students to their own devices, he cautioned.

“Don’t turn your class into a study hall because kids are getting the lessons at home and now they’re able to do their homework at school—that’s how flipping can fail,” he said.

Educators should not expect to flip every lesson, and they should start by flipping, say, one lesson per week as they work to build a library of flipped lessons. Teachers in the same department can take turns flipping the classroom with different lessons, so that each teacher will wind up with a stash of flipped lessons.

Believing that flipping the classroom is a magic bullet to save education inevitably will lead to a failed experiment, Holden said.

“It is a tool in your toolbox—it’s a very effective, powerful tool, but it is not the be-all and end-all,” he said.

Additionally, teachers must have a Plan B for students who do not have internet access at home.

For those students without home internet access, teachers can:

  • Record videos on a DVD.
  • Save videos on a flash drive for students who have computers but no internet access.
  • Help students visit the public library to access the internet there.
  • Let students play videos during the first few minutes of class during attendance and record-keeping.
  • Arrange for classroom or school computers or computer labs to be open before or after school or during lunch.

Educators can check out advice and tips from “flipping gurus” including Aaron Sams, Jonathan Bergmann, and Katie Gimbar. Still in beta, TED-Ed’s “Lessons Worth Sharing” offers valuable resources, too.

See also:

New developments enhance school video use

How TED-Ed is helping to amplify instruction

The truth about flipped learning

How to make videos your students will love


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  1. tsihly

    January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I just recently learned about flipped classrooms and I think it’s a great idea. What a wonderful time for capitalizing on learning time in class. I would love to try it.


    January 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Ms. Laura Devaney:
    Thanks for your article on flipping the classroom. I enjoyed it and the resources to which it led.

    I am “beginning small” with my church with a product based idea that has great promise. The prooduct is a word game (QUE IT) that makes logic visible and fun to learn. This product borrows from the wisdom used to get children to exercise. Instead of telling them to “Go excercise!”, we ask them to play a sport or game they enjoy.

    Playing QUE IT gives students an overview of logic skills and strategies to be successful logicians. After this overview, I can employ the cognitive apprenticeship model (Brown, Collins), and model, coach, scaffold, fade, and prove student sucess. At the end of the course (a semester) students can write and articulate their understanding of inductive and deductive reasoning.

    I think this basic understanding of logic should be a prerequsite for any study of advanced mathematics or science courses. How can students be expected to suceed in courses that demand logic if they are not taught how logic works?

    This effort will hopefully end that practice. I’ll kep you abreast if you are interested. In any event, thank you for the information you provided. It should accelerate my efforts. Bill

  3. ctdahle

    January 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Help Wanted: Public School Teacher. Requirements: Applicant must be able to write, produce, direct, perform, edit and publish high quality live and animated video. Applicant must own and be licensed to carry a hand gun and be trained and certified in defensive guerrilla combat. Applicant must be trained, qualified, and licensed to identify, diagnose, and treat all known psychological disorders affecting children and parents. Applicant must have a working knowledge of computer hardware and network design, installation, repair, and administration. Applicant must have a commercial drivers license and demonstrate competence in handling a school bus. Applicant must be able to design and manage a charitable giving program to fund all classroom expenses. Content area knowledge preferred, but not required. Salary $22,000.

  4. texasmom

    February 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Enjoyed reading your comment, ctdahle — it’s important to keep all educational strategies and fads in perspective: “It’s a tool in your toolbox” as Holden is quoted, and this holds true for most everything. Teachers will have to determine if it’s an effective tool for themselves and their students. What I like a lot about flipping is that a teacher can flip just one lesson to start, learn from that experience, and let the results they see and lessons they learn guide them from there. I hope it’s a strategy that more teachers experiment with, as I’ve heard of some awesome results, but I also hope that it never moves into the realm of “district-required” methodology or anything like that…

  5. lizke

    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

    And when during my day of working with students, recess duty, calling/meeting with parents, correcting papers, planning units, etc… will I have time to plan, rehearse, record watch, edit and post this 15m lecture?

    • jaking1

      February 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Hi, lizke. You could start with leveraging one of the many resources that are already available, such as YouTube EDU or Khan Academy. 15 minutes is actually a bit long for a flipped lesson — I’d go with more like 5 to 10 minutes at the most. And you could record yourself on a smart phone, tablet or web cam; no fancy equipment or editing skills necessary.

      In the short-term, flipping is a classroom time saver, (it really IS easier to be a “guide on the side,” working with students who need help rather than trying to get an entire class to pay attention to a lecture) and ultimately a teacher time-saver as you build a library of content that you re-use.

  6. wilkcd

    February 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Using the iPad and an app such as Explain Everything allows a teacher to make a video to teach a basic concept or an advanced one without a full computer. Then, the struggling students can be allowed to view the basic concept videos and complete extra practice over that topic until they master it while the students who need more challenging material can be working on enrichment. Both assignments can be worth the same points in the grade book, assigned based on the needs of the student. This allows us to truly differentiate instruction while keeping the interest of all students. It will require more technology in schools, either iPads, Android tablets or computers, and will require a teacher to be a true master of the classroom, but is best for some students. But I don’t know that I’d do it for what my former district paid.

    • afrith

      February 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Hi wilkcd,

      I was so interested to read your comment about Explain Everything. Do you use this personally, and it is relatively easy to use? Or do you know teachers who’ve easily learned how to use it? I am recruiting teachers to develop video lessons and this tool may be extremely helpful. Currently, we are using Camtasia Studio. Thanks for any advice!

      • brichardsyhs

        March 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        I recently started using Explain Everything and LOVE it. It’s inexpensive ($3), but has a ton of great features. My personal favorite is that I can import multi-page PDFs for which I want to annotate and record explanations. I also love that it’s hooked up with DropBox…as well as Google Drive/Docs(I believe), Evernote, Etc. There are a lot of great “how to” videos on YouTube showing you how to make use of the app. I highly recommend it.