By now, almost everyone has heard of the idea of the flipped classroom. This is a trend (Fad? Too early to tell.) that has met with a lot of positive press and a lot of teachers dipping their toes into the idea of posting the major content of their classes online and moving the practice, usually reserved for homework, to the actual class time. (Heck, just do a quick search for “Flipped Classroom” and see how many hits come back!)Wikipedia talks about flipped teaching in these terms:
In flip teaching, the students first study the topic by themselves, typically using video lessons prepared by the teacher or third parties.
In class, students apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work. The teacher tutors the students when they become stuck, rather than imparting the initial lesson in person. Complementary techniques include differentiated instruction and project-based learning.
Flipped classrooms free class time for hands-on work. Students learn by doing and asking questions. Students can also help each other, a process that benefits both the advanced and less advanced learners. Flipping also changes the allocation of teacher time. Traditionally, the teacher engages with the students who ask questions — but those who don’t ask tend to need the most attention. “We refer to ‘silent failers,’ ” said one teacher, claiming that flipping allows her to target those who need the most help rather than the most confident. Flipping changes teachers from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”, allowing them to work with individuals or groups of students throughout the session.
(To be clear, flipped learning is STILL assigning homework. It is just that the homework assignment has changed from the practice to the theory. So if you are a teacher that has issues with homework, flipping may be a better way to get students to do homework, or if you are opposed to homework in general, then flipping may not be for you.)
Flipping is also not merely having kids sit at home and watch videos. It involves the careful planning of the proper content delivered at the proper time in the lesson cycle.
Books have been written on flipping the classroom, such as“Flip Your Classroom" and there are entire online courses about how to flip classroom such as this one on iTunes U
The IDEA of a flipped classroom is intriguing and promises to save time and expand the amount of time students are actually DOING as opposed to the time that they are simply getting.
That is the promise. However, as with many educational initiatives, the idea can differ greatly from the actual implimentation and practice.
After taking a course in flipping their classrooms, many teachers are excited about doing it in their classes. However, once the reality of what actually is needed to flip the lesson sets in, the excitement fades.
In order to flip the classroom, the teacher must provide the students with the resources that replace the lecture and they have to be posted online. Unless they already have these handy, the search can be a great time consumer. No teacher wants to put unvetted material online in their flipped classroom, and finding appropriate material from a trusted source, creating videos of lessons , creating screen casts or narrating power points can all be great time consumers.
So unless you are a teacher that is a podcasting/screen-casting/lecture capturing geek, chances are that flipping will be pretty time consuming, at least at first.
And in my experience, the more time something takes to do, the less chance that people will actually do it. Motivated teachers will do it. Teachers that see it as a time consumer will balk.
So how can a district help teachers out with flipping their classrooms, while at the same time allowing for the personalization that teachers need to make it appear that they are responsible for the content?
The 80/20 Model of Flipped Classrooms
After thinking about the idea for a while, it occurred to me that MOST of the material for a flipped classroom in a district would probably be pretty redundant across specific classes. For instance, a chemistry teacher teacher with a Chem 1 class at one school or in one department is pretty much teaching the same concepts that a Chem 1 teacher in the same district or the same school is teaching.
For instance, the periodic table and how it is organized does not change from class to class. That is basically unchanging information and can be shared across all classes with all teachers.
Since the concepts are similar, then there should be a good starting point to gather a storehouse of flipped classroom material. Video, audio, tests, text readings, all can be gathered into a single space for all teachers of a similar course of study to pull from.
By providing the materials for the teachers upfront, the heavy lifting so to speak, is already done. Like an iceberg, the majority of the material is already there, unseen, but ready for use.
The remaining 20% of the flip is the teacher’s own material. (If they wanted, a teacher could use 100%) The district provides material that is aligned, that is vetted, and ready for use, saving the teachers tons of time. This can be as simply as creating a Google spreadsheet that lists the resource, the lesson aligned to it, the type of resource it is, and some description of it.
By providing materials for the flip, teachers will be more likely to try it, and less likely to blame time as an issue for not trying it.Here are some resources from AASA: Book and Articles
• “10 Reasons to Flip” by Kathleen P. Fulton, Phi Delta Kappan, October 2012
• Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. ISTE/ASCD, Eugene, Ore. “Flipped Learning: What Does the Research Say? A Literature Review,” commissioned by the Flipped Learning Network
• “It’s Never Too Late to Flip” by Pat Semple, Internet @ Schools, January/February 2013. http://bit.ly/NeverToo LateFlip
• “Alternative Use of Video in the Classroom — It’s Not Just for Homework Anymore” by Kari M. Arfstrom. http://bit.ly/AltVideoClassroom
• The Byron, Minn., High School mathematics department site shares details about its use of flipped instruction. http://tinyurl.com/bhsmath
• “Cycles of Learning” (blog run by Ramsey Musallam, science teacher in San Francisco). www.cyclesoflearning.com
• Flipped Learning: What It Means for District Administrators and How Administrators Can Support Flipped Learning (webinar and tip sheet by Jonathan Bergmann and Brian Bennett, board members of the Flipped Learning Network). www.schoolwires.com/Page/232
• “Flipping for Administrators: How Do You Support Your Teachers as They Start to Flip?” (blog post). http://flipped-learning.com/?p=937
• The Havana, Ill., High School District’s teacher resource site used by students to access homework. www.mason.k12.il.us/havanahs/contacts.htm
• An online professional learning community operated by the Flipped Learning Network for educators using screencasting in education. http://flippedclassroom.org
• “Turning Learning on Its Head” (blog maintained by Jonathan Bergmann, a pioneer in flipped instruction). www.flipped-learning.com