What is a flipped classroom?
A flipped classroom is a class that has “flipped” the organization of instruction and practice. Instead of following the traditional classroom model, in which teachers give direct instruction during class time and practice as classwork or homework (generally done outside of class), the flipped classroom reverses this by having students receive direct instruction outside of the classroom and the teacher turns class time into an interactive and cooperative practice space.
Essentially, students watch a video or read an article outside of class in preparation for class, and then use class time to practice what they learned under the guidance of the teacher.
A popular acronym has been developed to guide teachers in creating a flipped classroom. This acronym is called the Four Pillars of FLIP. To create flipped classrooms, try to follow the changes suggested by this acronym.
Flexible Learning Environment
Lecture style seating is a thing of the past! Because direct instruction happens outside of class, students should be encouraged to sit and work together to practice and solidify their understanding of the material. Modular seating allows for a flexible space for students to group, separate, and regroup to practice the material. Time should also be more flexible as students should be using class time to explore a topic at their own pace.
A traditional classroom is teacher centric because it necessitates that the teacher use direct instruction. Flipped classrooms are student-centered because students guide the pace of their own learning. Teachers thus act more as facilitators who guide students through activities such as problem sets, experiments, discussions, and others.
Often teachers find there is not enough time in the traditional classroom to cover all the content that is required and necessary for the student to succeed in their class. Being “intentional” about the content is about selecting what material is better to be reviewed and discussed in class and what material can be viewed and reviewed by students outside of the classroom. Activities or content that require more hands-on approaches can become prioritized in the classroom to ensure student engagement and comprehension.
Being a teacher in a flipped classroom may be more demanding and active than in a traditional classroom. Since less of your time as a teacher is spent delivering content, you are more available in class. In a flipped classroom, the teacher is there to track students’ learning and comprehension instantaneously in a more active role. This also relieves a lot of stress because the teacher does not have to constantly juggle delivering content, managing student behavior, and other necessary classroom tasks.
Why a flipped classroom is an effective teaching strategy
A flipped classroom turns group class time with teacher into practice time, model time, and student-centered learning time.
Pedagogically, flipped classrooms work effectively because the student starts the educational process about a specific topic or skill at the lowest levels of thinking, specifically: Remembering and Understanding. This means that before class has even started, students are being introduced to the topic through videos or readings. Then, during class, students move to higher levels of thinking (Applying and Analyzing) through practice, which is modeled and monitored by the teacher. Even higher levels of thinking, Evaluating and Creating, can thus be achieved in or out of class through extension assignments.
Flipped classrooms also have a few other benefits.
They give students more power over their own learning by allowing them to repeat, pause, rewind, etc. direct instruction as much as needed. This power can simultaneously help busy students, struggling students, and students at varied ability levels. Because of this, flipped classrooms allow for real differentiation in the hands of the students themselves.
Because students are doing direct instruction outside of the classroom, the time that would have been spent for direct instruction can be used for other purposes. For this reason, flipped classrooms often result in increased student-teacher and student-student interactions. This allows teachers to learn more about their students, and vice versa; allowing students to learn more about each other increases the ability for cooperative and collaborative learning.
Because flipped classrooms change the way students are delivered direct instruction, it also changes how a classroom needs to be managed. With direct instruction happening outside of class, teachers generally remove the opportunity for poor behavior and boredom that comes when a teacher is lecturing or instructing a class. This is because the class time has been changed to be more focused on engagement, collaboration, cooperation, investigation, or otherwise any form of practice of skills and knowledge of a lesson. It is easier to manage misbehavior when a teacher is actively engaged in the classroom whereas it is more difficult when a teacher is focused on delivering instruction or lecturing.
Flipped classrooms are also a great option for teachers who must be absent from the classroom but are still able to produce materials for their guest teachers, such as those taking maternity or paternity leave or those who become quarantined.
How to implement the flipped classroom model
Start with your first video/lesson.
Decide what tools you want to use to create and implement your lesson
- There are several different options for tools, especially now with the increase in distance learning across all age groups, that can help you create a flipped classroom. Very popular tools on the market are Khan Academy, Nearpod, Peardeck, Edpuzzle, BrainPOP, and Playposit. Some of these have different levels of membership, requiring fees. Also, some of these sites have premade videos, while others have tools to edit or create your own videos or interactive slideshows.
- Khan Academy has video lectures available to teachers to use, covering a large number of topics, subjects, and grade levels. Teachers can see the progress a student has made in a lesson, allowing them to see what level students are at and what areas need to be addressed in the classroom.
- Nearpod allows you to import your own powerpoints and do a voiceover of the material and add interactive activities to your lesson. In addition, Nearpod already has several built in videos and lessons that you can use from different subject areas and grade levels. For each of these lessons, reports are made to assess student performance and progress.
- Edpuzzle has both premade videos and the ability to create your own interactive video for your students. You can add questions to the videos and, depending on the type of question, it will grade it for you so you only need to see where areas of success and areas for improvement are for your students.
- BrainPOP is another educational site with animated videos, games and activities for students. The content is interactive and engaging and covers several different subject areas. BrainPOP seeks to make learning more fun and entertaining.
- Playposit is a platform that teachers can use to create interactive videos, lessons, and assessments. The purpose of these videos is to upload them to different video sites for students to easily access. Playposit makes it easier for teachers to create engaging content for their students.
Take a lesson plan and chart it out
- Look at your standards and what students need to achieve by the end of the lesson.
- What will be your direct instruction; what will be the independent practice and guided practice?
- What do you want your students to be able to do after you have completed the lesson?
- What do you think needs to be done under your supervision and what is simple enough that you do not need to be there to help your students?
- After you have determined these answers, parse out that material into direct instruction (to be viewed/read at home) and guided/independent practice (to be done in class).
Take your instruction time and create a video out of it
- Whichever portions of the lesson are simple and require skill sets, such as Remembering and Understanding, create an at home lesson and video for that. You can utilize videos that already exist, or create your own video. Try to aim for only 10-15 minutes of direct instruction – anything more will lose the attention and engagement of your students.
Save the practice and assessment sections for class time when it’s most efficient!
- The parts of the lesson that are more difficult, require modeling and scaffolding, should be addressed during group class time. This will allow for students to ask questions on the material they reviewed on their own and begin practicing under the supervision of the teacher. As a teacher you can use this time to immediately address any misconceptions or praise correct application of the content.
Now repeat this process for every lesson you have (or each lesson you want to be flipped). Initially, this will be a lot of work. However, as time goes on creating lessons and videos for a flipped classroom will become easier and easier. Plus, for consecutive years, you will have all of these lessons done! All that will need to be done is to update the videos occasionally to reflect new material and new teaching methods.
Also, while it is always recommended to have a consistent teaching style that students can expect and thrive in, there is no pressure to immediately switch your entire style into a flipped classroom model. You can gradually create lessons and videos, building your model over several years. Each year will be easier than the next!