By Hc_07 from Flickr

The concept of the flipped classroom sounds so revolutionary to people when they first hear it that it almost boarders on heresy.  A typical reaction might be something like, “You mean I don’t teach the students in my class?” or “How will I know they are paying attention to the lessons?”  The whole idea sounds like some ill-conceived experiment that has the potential to go horrifically wrong.

After a moment of mild to moderate panic, people begin to see the benefits, at that is how things went for me.  I really struggled with the idea of the kids learning the lessons out of my class, particularly with making sure they had learned the material.  I felt like I needed to be there at the moment of instruction to ensure that all my students got the concepts.  But when I started to look at the advantages that come with freed-up class time, I realized that I would be able to check for understanding far better than I could before.

This is the real advantage of the flipped classroom.  Where previously your class time needed to be spent making sure that the concepts were delivered, you now can get at the heart of teaching, which is making sure the students actually understand the material.  Your lesson time now becomes a time where you can check in with each student to really see how they are progressing.  I also believe that it aids in differentiation.  It frees up class time to spend extra time with students that need more support, while allowing your other students to work independently.

Another benefit to the flipped classroom is the availability of content to students.  By creating lessons that are meant to be viewed outside of the class, it also means that the lesson can be viewed more than once.  Students who need more time are able to view the lesson over and over again to get the concepts.  Students who are absent for one reason or another have access to the content even if they can’t come to class.  Students can come to class prepared with questions they have from the lesson, and class time can then be spent refining the concepts for the students.

As wonderful as flipped classroom can be, I do think it is important to balance your teaching style.  It is important for kids to be presented with a variety of learning situations.  It is really best to pick units that fit well with this concept, and go a more traditional strategy with other units.  I worry that we could do a disservice to kids if we went totally flipped for everything we did.

Here is a great video showing a science teacher using the flipped classroom model effectively:

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