For the past couple of years I’ve heard a lot about teachers flipping their classrooms.
At first the concept seemed appealing to me, but I wasn’t all the way sold. Wasn’t this the same as my 10th grade history class? “Ok people, go home read in your textbooks about the battle of Normandy and return with questions to discuss.”
The people I knew that were experimenting with flipping their classes were taking a basic approach that left their students felling less supported and more confused at times. The set up was watching lectures at home and completing homework at school.
The basic concept of a “Flipped Classroom” is that the lectures are given as online homework assignment while the homework is done in class with the teacher being able to spend more time helping the students. If this was all that was happening, this system wouldn’t work. This model can work, but needs some improvements.
There needs to be some type of an activity for the students to try during or after the video. Then add a communication element between the students and the teacher to check for problems or confusion.
Example: My 4th grade students go home and watch a flipped video on partial quotients. In the video I have them try two or three problems as I walk them through it. At the end of the video I could have them look at two different problems on surveygizmo’s image choice. I’d post three incorrect and one correct image of the process being taught. By checking the survey responses before class I could get a formative assessment on what they understood. I could even use the survey to help divide my class into differentiated learning groups.
I feel the flipped concept could be used affectively within the classroom as well. I generally have three different groups in my math class due to pretesting. The groups fluctuate and change, but using the flipped concept can help with the differentiating. As I work with group A (lower level), Group B (middle level) could watch a video on the same concept I’m working on with group A but at a slower pace. Group C (higher level) could be working on an independent project covering the same concept, but more complicated. I could spend my time shifting between groups B and C after I finished working with the A group and they are completing their work independently or with a partner.
Not all lessons are appropriate for flipping. I agree with teacher Saul Wagner’s comment on Edutopia’s blog “The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con”,
“Flipped learning is a tool that should be part of every teacher’s repertoire. Finding when it can be best and most effectively used is no different than knowing when to change activities, when to use cooperative learning and when to teach frontally.”
Picking the lessons that work is key. Human interaction can’t be replaced. Seeing when a kid is frustrated, confused, or starting to “turn off” can’t be see through video. Lessons where you anticipate or have experienced this should be avoided. You want to pick lessons where you anticipate a high level of success.
The last thing I feel that is important is getting the support from your administrators and parents. Change isn’t easy for most. Parents might feel uncertain or confused. As we teach new methods in math at my school I frequently hear parents say, “But that’s not the way I learned it!” Getting them to accept that things are different. The way kids learn is different. The technology that we now have to assist, motivate and connect students for learning isn’t the same as when the were in school. It’s part of the ever changing school environment.
- Change happens
Recognize that change is always occurring, whether in the classroom, school, educational philosophies, curriculum or the occupants.
- Anticipate change
Stay positive and realize that change is happening not only to you, but also others, including the students in the classroom.
- Monitor change
Be aware that change is happening.
- Adapt to change quickly
The quicker you let go of the old, the sooner you can enjoy the new.
Accept the change as a new beginning.
- Enjoy the change
Too many people are too comfortable in their own setting and are not willing to enjoy change.
- Be ready to quickly change again and again
Remember, change is a constant. The change might be in the classroom; in the functional use of spaces; in the furniture, fixtures and equipment; or in the operations and maintenance of the facilities.