Flipping the Classroom


Today I wanted to talk about flipping the classroom, which seems to be the educational buzzword everywhere I turn. My own school is even starting this conversation informally (for now!).  The concept is simple, but the application I believe will be a little more complicated. Basically, the idea is to flip the traditional school schedule of lecture then homework practice.  The flipped schedule would see students front loading information at home through video lectures, reading, and other research followed by application, analysis, and practice in the classroom with the teacher.  For me, the jury is still out.  There are many ways that I see the flipped classroom as a marked improvement on the traditional breakdown, but there are also many obstacles that must be overcome to make this actually work in my real classroom.  I made the following infographic as a way to layout my thoughts on flipping the classroom.  Please note, this is from my perspective as a seasoned teacher with technical savvy and a toddler needing most of my non-school time.   We may see different pros and cons and may come up with different end solutions, but I’d love to hear your thoughts to keep this conversation going! Leave me a comment and share with your other teacher friends so we can learn from each other!

Flipping the Classroom

Emily Guthrie has taught junior high and high school English in Southern California for 8 years. She currently teaches grades 9-12, including AP English Language and Composition.  She specializes in working with technology to enhance curriculum for English learners and enrichment students.  She also blogs about fitness and motherhood at TheBusyMomsDiet.com

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  1. Connan McElvogue
    June 21, 2013 - 6:37 am

    I am not sold on a complete flip. Our students are still going to encounter lecture-based learning at the college level; they need to be accustomed to it. I also don’t want the classroom to devolve into a study hall for completing homework. I want to teach and develop minds. I don’t want to “tutor” 30 students an hour.

    That being said: if students do a bit of reading snd research relevant to the next day’s lesson, there is more time in the class period for a lecture to evolve into a discussion. Students will already have information to create connections for higher level thinking, evaluating the given texts further than before. This will lead to students better understanding the homework, which will lead to more completed and productive assignments.

    We as teachers should encourage students in seeking out the information they have readily available at their fingertips. This won’t rob us teachers of those “light bulb” moments; it will create more of them.

    The pitfalls are when students don’t do the prior research and reading or the teacher front-ending everything. Teachers need to persevere in holding students accountable to the front-end work. They also must not become lazy, leaving students to teaching themselves, students doing busy work in class, while the teacher sits at the desk grading papers.

    • Connan,
      I’m not sold 100% on the flip either, but I do see a lot of potential benefits if it is handled right. I’d really love to negotiate more time for direct writing instruction without forsaking any of the core lit, which I think could be managed well with a flip. Some teachers may turn it in to a glorified study hall, but it also may mean holding students accountable to reading, viewing, and researching without falling back on the pop-corn reading (or listening) that can take up hours of valuable classroom time and accomplish very little passive learning. Overall, I’d say a few flipped lessons here and there are worth a try!

  2. I,too, have been doing a lot of research into the “flipped” classroom model. Like anything else in education, you must first think about the types of students you have and what works best for them. I teach 7th grade science. I’m thinking that I could use this on occasion to front load notes say before doing a lab in class. With the amount of material that needs to be covered for testing, and common core, if done properly, this could free up time in class for more in depth discussions and in science, investigations or projects. Like you said, it is best to proceed slowly and evaluate it. My major concern has been access to the technology. But from what I read, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a video lecture, it could be a reading of some kind, for example. I discovered a website called Sophia.org. It shows how to make web based tutorials, but it also has tutorials about flipped classrooms and how it works. Worth a look. I’m also reading “Flip Your Classroom” by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, the two teachers who pioneered this use of this technique in their classes.

    • Bruce,
      Thanks for the book recommendations! I’ll have to check those out. I can see how this may be ideal for a science class before a lab.

      I agree with you that the video lecture is far from the only way to front load instruction. I just saw this info graphic with 27 ways to flip the classroom: http://www.edudemic.com/2013/04/27-simple-ways-to-flip-the-classroom/ As a high school English teacher, it is my modus operandi to have students read before class to prepare for discussion and other activities. The thing I would really love to get out of flipping is the ability to deliver certain fundamental lectures repeatedly over the year to hone student skills. I find that many students come to high school missing fundamentals of grammar and writing and my curriculum does not have time to go back very often.

  3. Hello!
    This past year I implemented a flipped classroom at the elementary level. It started as a grad school project but ended up being so much more than I ever imagined!!! I fell in love with the concept and the “extra” time I found for my students. It is time consuming on the teacher but the benefits for the kids out weigh the extra work. It is not a process that can be implemented in one year. It takes time and baby steps BUT is well worth the adventure. This summer I’ve started a blog to document this process and would love followers and suggestions. I am not a professional blogger but would love to use it as a collaboration and sharing piece. I’d love to connect!

    • Jennifer,
      Thanks! I’m definitely going to follow your blog and I look forward to reading about your adventure. What grade level do you teach? Do you flip all of the subjects or focus on one or two?

  4. There are a lot of pros and cons to this concept of flipping the classroom. If you are someone like me this is good and bad. I learn a lot more information if I study it on my own however if I am doing this at home the add will kick in and no force could bring me to focus on the actual studying. For some students it will be great they are more comfortable front loading on their own and asking questions one on one and then when they apply it having the guidance of a teacher there makes all the difference. Others need it to be explained to them in person and then can apply it on their own. I feel this is a decision that the students themselves should have a say in as they are the ones who it will most affect. Maybe even running a test group would be the appropriate way of making this decision.

  5. It might work with some students in certain parts of the country but it won’t work everywhere. I teach in Brooklyn in a Title I school (that means that at least 75% of the kids qualify for free lunch) and believe it or not I have plenty of kids with no internet at home. Every time I give a project where I want them to type it I have to bring laptops into my room, even then sometimes we run into issues. You can’t assume that every kid has internet access and you can’t assume that every kid has the time. Most of my students have jobs after school. Many of them work every day because they’re contributing to pay their parent’s bills. Many of them have younger siblings they have to watch and others play sports after school. We can’t assume that they’ll learn on their own. I think it’s something that sounds good in theory but will not work in most cases.

    • Tammy and Madeline-
      You make great points! One of the number 1 rules of teaching is to know who you are working with. I don’t think that flipping the classroom will work for every student or every class in every situation, but I think it is a handy pedagogical tool to have in our repertoire. Thanks for your input; it’s totally food for thought! :)

  6. I am seriously considering this as well. I went as far as discussing it with my principal before the school year ended. I am waiting to see my new schedule to decide if I am going to attempt this with one of my classes or all four different classes. I’m thinking that with the front end preparation time, that I may test this out with one class for at least the first marking period. Thanks for the information that everyone has provided thus far. I’ve been reading a lot about this, but I will definitely check out the resources that have been mentioned. Thanks all!

    • Thanks for stopping by Stephanie! I think flipping has the potential to be a very powerful tool, but there will be a lot of front end preparation and management. Let us know how it goes if you try it out this school year. I’d love to hear your experiences.

  7. Hi Emily,

    Very impressed with the infographic- curious. What web 2.0 did you use to create it?

    • Thanks! I used piktochart.com. They have a free version all, a special teacher price for the pro version and it’s super user friendly!

  8. The concern that I have about flipped classrooms is accessibility for all students. Some students just don’t have internet access. Our local library limits the time that a person can spend on the internet, so if a student had 7 classes that were flipped and had to watch 15 minute video, then they would not be able to be prepared for the next day’s class. That being said, if there were more resources made available where I am, I would support some of my lessons being flipped.

  9. There is one teacher who uses the flipped method to teach the Business Certificate II in senior school. I am planning on doing a couple of flipped lessons in my year nine English class in a few weeks and it is a lot of prep work, however, I am trying to encourage students to develop stronger study habits for year ten when they will be judged on their academic results and attitudes towards their education before entering of university path ways in senior school. So I am hoping this might help. A couple of lessons a term, to introduce new topics and revise old topics may be useful in my context.

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