Flipped learning: A response to five common criticisms


Two chemistry teachers who are early pioneers in using the Flipped Learning method, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, have already figured this out. They quickly learned that they each have different strengths that motivate individual students in unique ways, so they teach using a team approach. Even though one teaches AP chemistry and the other teaches regular chemistry, they alternate who produces the content for each class. They understand that their students appreciate the different teaching styles. At Clintondale, Greg Green agrees as well. In a recent podcast, he told us that he does not care where the videos come from. Whether from his school, from another state, or even somewhere on the other side of the globe, his goal is to have the best teachers he can find teaching his students every single day.

The other key point to remember is that an entire school should not jump into teaching this way with two feet. Begin by finding a core group of teachers who might be interested in experimenting with this method. Charge them with trying a Flipped Learning lesson once or twice a week. As a leader, meet with these teachers regularly so that you can learn about the successes and issues that arise. Over time, these teachers will be starting a library of content that they will be able to use as a base for years to come. With success, more teachers might become interested. They should be encouraged and given the professional development they need at that time to get started. They also should be partnered with the pioneering teachers, who can serve as mentors.

Creating tutorial videos is certainly not for every teacher, but there are other components that can involve every teacher. Remember that the really important component of this process is to develop high-level, engaging questions that serve to deepen thinking and address misconceptions. These other teachers can help in the development of such questions. They can then use these questions in their classes, whether they are “flipping” or not. Also, they can be taught how to scour the web to find high-quality resources that have already been produced and can become resources for all teachers. Through this team approach, all teachers in the community can be involved in ways with which they are comfortable. (By the way, students also can be tapped to locate high-quality resources from around the world.)

Conclusion: Make thinking ‘visible’

One of the most important concepts in teaching is creating opportunities to make thinking visible. When teachers can really see the thinking of their students, they can provide these students with the support and encouragement they need to be successful. We believe that by using the thoughtful approach to the Flipped Learning method described at the beginning of this article, teachers have an amazing opportunity to gain insights into where students are struggling.

To hear more about how the Flipped Learning method has impacted students, teachers, and entire schools, we encourage you to listen to Dr. Mazur’s BLC11 keynote, as well as our podcasts with Greg Green, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, and Bob Goodman. We are sure you will enjoy them.

Alan November is the Founder and Brian Mull is the Director of Innovation at November Learning. They invite your questions through their website at http://www.novemberlearning.com.

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