Flipping the Classroom

Should you flip your classroom?

Image from http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

What is a flipped classroom?

A flipped classroom is one where the traditional homework and in-class activities have been 'flipped,' so students watch video lectures for homework, then solve problems and work on assignments during class.

What's the point?

Many teachers have found that students needed their support most while working on homework, not during direct instruction. Furthermore, many teachers have determined that whole-class direct instruction is often ineffective, as some students need to go slower while others are ready to speed ahead. Providing direct instruction via online videos allows students to watch them at their own pace, pausing and re-watching, or skipping ahead, to meet their individual needs. This approach frees up class time for more individualized support, as students apply what they learned from the lecture video to solve problems individually or collaboratively, with help and facilitation from their teacher.

Should I try it?

The key question to ask yourself is: What is the best use of class time, and what is the best use of homework time?

If you spend a lot of your class time lecturing and delivering whole-class direct instruction, then you may want to try recording a some condensed mini-lectures and assigning them as homework so you and your students have more time to interact in class. Or, if there are a few essential concepts that you have to explain over and over every year, maybe providing a video of those key concepts would allow you to provide more support for students in class.

There are logistical issues to consider when assigning video lecture as homework: students must have access to the Internet and to a device on which to watch the video. And creating your own videos can be time-consuming, and it needs to be done well to be effective.

Who's doing it?

Flipped classrooms are becoming very common at colleges and universities, where videos with interactive questions are starting to replace the large lecture, which has long been criticized as a delivery method.

Thousands of K-12 teachers are experimenting with video lectures to make their class time more interactive as well. Two teachers at Woodland Park High School in Colorado are often cited as the concept's founders.

Here in the RFSD, Basalt Middle School teachers Craig Macek and Jane Douglas have implemented a partially flipped classroom model by producing weekly video tutorials explaining new math concepts. Students watch the video tutorials for homework, at their own pace outside of class, pausing and rewatching challenging concepts as many times as needed until they understand. Then, in class, students work on problems and get help from their teacher as needed, often using a Chromebook to return to the video to get an explanation of a concept. These videos have been especially helpful to parents, who can learn the concept and help their children more effectively.

Click here for Jane's explanation of how she and Craig have leveraged the Educreations iPad app, Google Classroom, and Socrative to meet their students' needs.

Does it work?

The research is still coming in, and at this stage, there is no conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of the flipped classroom approach for increasing student achievement. Student perceptions are mixed, with some preferring it and others preferring a more traditional approach. So, for now, flipping your classroom is an experiment.

Clintondale High School in Michigan has been touted as a flipped classroom success story, with startling statistics (failure rate dropped 20%! college enrollment increased 17%!). PBS NewsHour profiled the school in this story. But I am skeptical of attributing these huge gains all to the flipped classroom approach, and this success has not been replicated at other schools, or verified in any peer-reviewed studies.

If a school or a classroom switches from a teacher-centered, lecture-based instructional model to a student-centered, problem-based model, I would expect to see some significant learning gains, as we have long known that the teacher-centered lecture model is not the best way to teach. So I would attribute some of the flipped classroom success stories to a more general pedagogical shift that makes learning more engaging and interactive for students, which works with or without the emphasis on video lectures as homework.

What tech tools would help me flip my classroom?

To create your videos, you could start with a Screencasting tool (which records your screen and your voice) like SnagIt Chrome Extension, or even QuickTime (which is already installed on your Mac!). Or, follow Craig and Jane's lead and use the EduCreations iPad app.

You can upload your video to YouTube, then insert interactive questions in it using Zaption.
Finally, you can share the video with your students via Google Classroom, the Zaption interface, or the Educreations website.

How can I learn more about this?

Here's an overview video by the founders of the Flipped Classroom model

Here's an Infographic giving a nice overview of the concept.

FlippedClassroom.org is a Ning social network for educators to share ideas about this approach.

The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University wrote a nice summary about Flipped Classrooms.

We'll also have a breakout session exploring flipped classrooms at the EdTech Summit in Aspen on Feb 28. You can still register here if you haven't yet.

And of course you can email me and I can help you think through what will work best in your classroom, which tools to use to get started!

Please comment below if you've flipped some elements in your classroom or if you have questions or thoughts on this approach.


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