Does Flipping Instruction Fit?

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Since watching Salman Khan’s Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education, I have wondered how could I flip instruction in my classroom. There is plenty of positive tweet, posting and buzz about using the model of vodcasting, also known as reversing instruction or ‘flipping’ from tech savvy educators alike.

According to Jac de Haan, author of the blog Technology with Intention:

“. . . the focus of flipped teaching is different from other examples in that the technology itself is simply a tool for flexible communication that allows educators to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs and spend more time in the classroom focused on collaboration and higher-order thinking.”

On the blog Connected Principals, John Martin articulates the benefits of flipped instruction:

“Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved.”

Martin continues to point out that flipping instruction should not the ‘end all, be all.’ It is just one arrow in the teachers quiver and should be applied alongside the many other methods of instruction. Variety is still key to differentiation in learning.

Reversing instruction seems to work naturally in the fields of science, mathematic and technology. What about in language arts? I don’t want to flip lessons because that’s the latest trend; the reason should be purposeful by design with intentions to increase learning for my students.

I found the Edutopia post Should You Flip Your Classroom? by chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam, a most resourceful for me. This guy is ‘flipping’ for a living. Impressive, indeed. Here are four reflective steps he explains to help decide whether the lesson is worth flipping:

“Step 1: Identify your current or desired teaching style.

Step 2: Ask yourself this question: Given my style, do I currently use class time to teach any low level, procedural, algorithmic concepts?

Step 3: If yes, begin by creating opportunities for students to obtain this information outside of the classroom. (More info on creating annotated and narrated instructional videos).

Step 4: Include a system that encourages reflection and synthesis of homework-based instruction (Click here and here for ways to make instructional videos more interactive and reflective).”

In this video Ramsey explains ways in which he’s made lecture videos more instructional and reflective for students.

Tracking from Ramsey Musallam on Vimeo.

I really liked two ideas he shared. First, embedding the Google Documents ‘Form’ below the video so students can reflect their learning as they watch the lecture and be held accountable for completing the lesson. Second, using a word cloud tool like Wordle to highlight frequently used words in student summaries to quickly identify whether important terms have been applied. Clever. I have used Wordle before to display word lists and vocabulary, but only for it’s aesthetic look.

In the his blog FlipTeaching, Ramsey shows teachers the tools he uses to annotate, which according to him can be the biggest hurdle in reversing instruction. To learn more about the tools needed to screencast and annotate, click the Vimeo Annotating.

Flipping instruction for some of the lessons I teach could be a valuable alternative. Then I could spend more time supporting students in applying their skills in class. Also, I would like to learn more about how to create my own video lectures. Here are 10 Tools to Help You Flip Your Classroom by the Electric Educator.

This year I now have a class set of iPads available to use. I would like to learn how to screencast my own lectures for language arts as well as integrative technology. I searched the blog Technology with Intentions and found the post Screencasting and flipping instruction: beyond math, where Jac de Haan shares 10 ideas of flipping instruction using the iPad:

I wonder if flipping instruction when teaching sentence diagrams would be beneficial? For me, diagraming sentences has been a chore to teach. Students don’t place it too high on the totem pole either. Perhaps, if I combine School House Rock’s  grammar Youtube videos with my time-shifted lecture examples, embed a Google Form so students can write and respond to the lesson, and stick all these on my class wiki, students would find this an effective and fun way to learn. It’s worth the try.

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About Brent Fullerton

An international educator who strives to enhance learning.
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3 Responses to Does Flipping Instruction Fit?

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  2. Kim Cofino says:

    Fantastic! I also love Ramsay’s approach! If sentence structure is one of those low level skills, it could be perfect for flipped instruction. I’m envisioning the video already! You could even make your video, and then have students create their own and use those for future lessons. I’m so glad that you’re thinking about the purpose of the strategy before employing it. It may not be right for you every time, but it can be just one item in your teaching toolbox that you use when needed.

  3. Brent,
    I find myself doing the same thing you’re doing; figuring out just HOW this flipped idea fits into my specific classroom with what I teach? How is technology my tool and not my master? You’ve done some great research for me to look at and get inspired. But I must be honest, I am lazy. I just want some veteran tech teacher, who also teaches Religion (what I teach) and who also doesn’t spend hours prepping outside video homework AND daily inside the classroom activities. It used to be, I could assign the kids reading from the textbook as homework, but now, it sounds like I’m going to have to record all my lectures for their homework AND also develop the classroom collaboration and activities as well. I wonder: Is this just a lot more for teachers to do in the initial tech set-up? Or has technology simply redefined what a teacher does?

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