Oct 2, 2012

The Flipped Classroom - Is it Best Practice?

I've heard and read a bit about the new "Flipped Classroom" phenomenon and this most recent article has me wondering a few things.  The concept behind the "Flipped Classroom" is to switch your in-class instruction with the student's homework so that your students are watching your instruction at home and working on their homework while in your classroom.  According to the article 'Flipped classrooms' in North Texas turn traditional teaching on its head, the teachers have recorded their in-class lectures for the students to watch at home on their computers or portable devices and the teachers are "Freed from lecturing...they can use class time to delve deeper into the subject, focus on difficult concepts and work individually with students."  The results purportedly show improvements in engagement and test scores.

My Concerns and Thoughts:

  • How engaged, whether in school or at home, have you ever been by a lecture? (That goes for middle school through college and beyond)

    • I don't think that lecturing has ever been on the top of my most engaging teaching techniques list.

    • I'm sure there are times when a bit of lecture is appropriate, but not for any sustained length of time.

  • If teachers need more time to work with their students to explore the depths of their content, why don't they just revise the curriculum to incorporate more opportunities for the students to be stewards of their own resources and information gathering?

    • Let the students create their own libraries of resources (making sure to cite all references) and gather the data needed to answer the inquiry type questions posed by teachers in the classroom.

    • Let the in-class time be devoted to working with the data/information collected outside of school and synthesizing it with regard to the bigger picture, which is what we should be teaching toward anyways.

    • The new Common Core State Standards are going to require teachers to go in this direction.

  • Everything should be done in moderation.

    • Don't get me wrong, I think the concept of a flipped classroom is an intriguing idea, but should be done sparingly and WHEN appropriate.

    • I think that showing a video clip or watching a short presentation and discussing/writing about it in class with the help of your teacher might not be a bad way to flip your classroom, but I can't imagine you would be able to get away with doing this on a regular basis.

What do you think?


  1. I've been tinkering with this idea a bit in my class. Instead of spending 20 minutes or so of class time to go over their blog assignment I simply typed it all up this year and had reading over the handout the assignment for homework. I then gave the opportunity the next class to ask any questions they had or discuss the assignment. As you can imagine their were maybe a total of 5 questions amongst all 12 of my classes. From this I have learned a few things.

    1. The majority did not read it. I think mostly because they knew they were not getting a "grade" on it.
    2. Some did not read it when assigned but did look it over the night or two before their blog was due and therefore did a pretty good job. I think they realized that it would help get them get a good grade on the actual blog assignment even though reading it was not graded.
    3. Those who did not read it have earned a poor grade on the first assignment and now have to work harder on the second to bring the grade up. In the end they are learning the value of learning independently.
    4. My response to students when asked what did I do wrong has become read the handout or use the Google Docs help menu. I think this is teaching some independence and learning how to use technology for things other than Facebook and gaming.
    5. I have learned that if you see this "flipped classroom" idea as beneficial in education that it is going to take some undoing of learned behaviors of doing that which just earns a grade. It takes a little more work.

    I am now debating whether or not to spend the time teaching "MovieMaker" prior to starting their video project or putting together a resource of links to online tutorials on how to use it that they need to watch and be ready to use in class and save the 3-4 class periods to really focus on the finer details of creating a good video.
    Any thoughts on this endeavor?

  2. What about some Google Presentations with embedded YouTube clips that show how to use Movie Maker? You could assign them a presentation on a certain aspect of the software, have them complete a step in the process, and then a grade would be given at that checkpoint for that portion of the overall project. It fits the flipped concept, chunks assignments, and holds the students accountable for each step of the process.

  3. I think any way that you can save class time and encourage students to learn at home is worth trying even if saving a class period. Either way they will come to class with more knowledge and the students that did not do their homework can be helped by the students that did their homework. Good JOb! In addition, your actions will help basic subject teachers as well.

  4. Thanks for the thoughts Brian. However should kids that did the hwk then be given the burden of helping kids that were too lazy to do it. As a student I would be annoyed with this. I think the students that did the homework should then use that learning in some meaningful activity. The kids that were too lazy should then be required to complete the hwk first. Maybe thus having to make up the activity on their lunch time or something