To Flip or Not to Flip

A Flipped classroom is a bit like Opposite Day on steroids.  In a traditional classroom, students spend most of their classroom time listening to the teacher lecture or explain, some of the time applying, and the majority of their practice happens at home.  In a flipped classroom, the students view a video of their teacher’s lecture or explanation at home and come to school ready to practice, understand misconceptions, and work in groups or with the teacher to apply their new knowledge.

I’ve been contemplating “The Flip” for a while now.  I have done research.  I’ve read the book Flip Your Classroom:  Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. I’ve read some awesome blogs from teachers who have  flipped their classrooms and who love it.  One of my favorites that I just read this morning is by Carolyn Durley who has blogged about her first full year of flipping at http://flipperteach.com.

Like all good researchers I decided that I wanted to take a look at what critics of the flipped classroom had to say.  The biggest issues that seemed to pop up over and over from the critics included the following:

  • Access to technology for students
  • We shouldn’t be giving students homework

What I found interesting however, was that none of the critics had TRIED flipping their classroom.  People are certainly allowed and even encouraged to have their own opinion about educational pedagogy.  However, I felt that some of these critics saw certain things as mountains instead of speed bumps.

I am fortunate because the first speed bump is a non-issue for me.  I currently teach in an affluent school and all of my students have access to technology.  Many have ipads or an ereader of some sort, most have an ipod-touch, and all of them have computer access at home.  I realize that this is not the reality for everyone.  The majority of my teaching career has been spent in Title I schools.  If technology access is a stumbling block, then I would consider writing grants for necessary technology.  If technology access was a problem for only a few students then I would make my classroom computers available to my students before and after school.

I agree that we shouldn’t be giving students homework that requires them to practice and apply skills on their own before they are ready.  I can’t imagine there is a teacher anywhere who wants their students to practice incorrectly.  However, I see nothing wrong with requiring students to watch a 10-15 minute video.  Dare I say that it could teach students how to manage their time?  My students are definitely victims of overscheduling.  They have dance, basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, music lessons, art lessons, and the list continues.  I believe it is safe to say that if you are reading this blog…that you are an adult with a lot on your plate.  Yet, you chose to take a few minutes to read this.  Perhaps the students will be required to make a choice to watch a video on a math concept, as opposed to looking for a youtube video that is on its way to becoming a viral hit. No one is going to have to give up a sport because they have a 15-minute video to watch, a few notes to take, and a question to generate.

I HAVE decided to take the plunge, assuming I can get permission from my principal to flip math.  Honestly, it won’t be a huge difference in my day-to-day math class.  I have been doing guided math groups for years, so I’m not worried about figuring out what to do with the additional class time I will gain.  I am instead excited about the extra class time I will gain to engage with students in meaningful discussions about their understandings.

This journey will be interesting, and I am sure I will encounter some speed bumps.  I’ll just back up a little bit, and get a running jump.

Please let me know your thoughts.

3 Comments

  1. I’m fascinated by the “flipping” concept and have used it to good effect in a number of my classes. I find that there’s more opposition from professors in areas that are felt to be “content-heavy,” especially the sciences–fields in which information delivery is (or appears to be) the main job of the course. The Chronicle of Higher Ed had a good piece on flipping that discussed science courses specifically, and I thought the best argument there was that the work students normally do at home, that all-important work of actually USING the concepts, they normally have to do without any help or guidance. Whereas the lecture part, the listening, they can probably do on their own. An interesting post!

    • Thank you for commenting! I agree with you about the best argument being that students will get to USE the concepts with teacher guidance.

  2. I actually did a presentation on the Flipped Classroom for school.
    I used the SHOW ME app to create lessons. You can link it to your webpage, and send it to parents.
    Link: http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=KUlEfo0
    This year, I plan on doing more of this. But, I also want the kids to do their own lessons and send them in for homework.
    I MISS YOU!!!
    kIm

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