Flipped classrooms are truly changing education (see ‘How To Flip An Entire School‘ and a report on how the flipped classroom can improve test scores.) As a school psychologist intern highly interested in ‘flipping classrooms’, I have consulted with many teachers and school staff that have adopted (or have expressed interest in) the flipped classroom model, and those that have implemented the model, have nothing but great things to say. Below are some frequent questions I get about flipped classrooms from teachers; and my answers, based on personal interactions and professional consultations with teachers.
Has it “solved” the homework problem?
It is a giant leap in the right direction. As Scott Carr put in his article Homework That Motivates, “[the problem is that] …homework is seen as the pursuit of arbitrary points and compliance with a teacher’s request rather than a learning experience.” (Carr, 2012). The flipped classroom’s ‘homework’ is designed to promote understanding, interest, and intrinsic motivation. The way one particular teacher had it set up was that the only homework that existed in her in a flipped classroom was to watch the video (no written homework is ever due). She created her own videos (screen captures of interactive PowerPoint slides) and uploaded them onto her own Youtube channel. Students went home with a set of guided notes, got onto the Youtube channel and watched the detailed explanations however many times they needed (with the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward) so they were prepared to come to class the next day.
What she found was that a majority of students were watching the videos, with only 1 or 2 out of 19 students that would ‘forget’ to watch the video. In the event they didn’t watch the video they would get In School Detention during lunch, where they would watch the video lecture. This didn’t tend to happen very often (1~2 week). Last year 11 of the 19 students got 90% or higher, and the one individual failed but the failure was mainly due to a literacy issues rather than a math or behavioral issue.
How did she ensure students were watching the videos?
She set the standard on day one that it was just going to be part of the class: to watch these videos at home, and so it became routine. She noted that she could tell pretty quickly who hadn’t watched the video, so she could concentrate on those students during class time. She also had parent support, who were very open to the idea, because sometimes parents are a little rusty on high school math that helping their child becomes difficult, they appreciate the videos as they help parents better understand the material and provide help at home.
Does the advanced technology motivate the students?
The ‘advanced’ technology is high motivating for students. There is a need for educators of the next generation to recognize that the world that our youth currently live in is different from what it was just 10 years ago. According to Triadic Reciprocal Determinism, when an environment is changed, there is a cognitive change within the individual that follows, which in turn results in an ultimate change in an individual’s behavior. If we insist on continuing to educate the youth of today with what is often called the ‘traditional model’ of education, not only will we be unsuccessful as we implement an outdated model, we will doing a dis-service to these students due to our failure to prepare them for the future (and the present) by not providing them with experiences that utilize technology in a functional manner. The main reason that approaches like flipping classrooms are showing extreme improvements in attitudes, motivation, grades and retention, is because it is a way of teaching that is relatable, familiar and compatible to the 21st century child/teenager.
Does the fact that students can work at their own pace and receive one-on-one help from teachers motivate the students?
Yes, however the teacher expressed that she believed that this motivation was more a result of experiencing success in the classroom. She found that students were asking much more complex questions (e.g. I understand this part, but after this calculation, I get confused, can you explain this part again (rather than) “What do I do now?” This was because the students had watched the video prior to coming to class.
At the beginning of the class, the teacher would begin with a bell ringer based on the previous night’s lecture that students would work on individually/or in predetermined groups. The teacher would then quickly be able to identify people that are going to have issues and focus with them one-on-one. Next, the teacher would spend the reminder of the class doing one of the following things: entire class worksheet, individual classwork/practice, state assessment practice questions, or other class activity. What the teacher reported was that she was better able to provide effective one-on-one time with any student that needed help, and those that were ahead could continue to move ahead with the lecture. Essentially, most of the teacher’s time is spent engaging individual/groups of students in engaging and critical thinking tasks, rather than giving passive in-class lectures where (for the most part) most of your students are disconnected.
How do you provide the students with a grade for your class?
A grade is provided based on a weekly worksheet that students are handed on Mondays, and is due on Friday, they can submit and resubmit as many times as they like with corrections during the week before the Friday due date.
How do you address possible issues arising from the lack of technological access:
Fortunately, the class in which this was implemented was made up of students who all had Internet access at home. However, the 2 backup plans that are in place if someone does not have internet are as follows: they can utilize one of their study hall periods to watch the lectures on a school computer, or the videos can be burned onto a disc and they can take it home and watch it that way.
To wrap up, below are some useful resources definitely worth checking out if you are interested in flipping your classroom.
Free services like Khan Academy also offer built in algorithm based assessments and progress tracking tool for teachers, allowing the teacher to view who watched the videos, how long did they watch it for, where did they have difficulty, which questions they skipped, etc. The drawback with Khan Academy is that the videos are not your voice/your style.
In comes SOPHIA, a free social and learning network where you upload your own videos, and create groups for your own classes. SOPHIA also offers Flipped Classroom Certification for teachers that is free of charge! Check it out at: http://www.sophia.org
Schoology is another (free) website that offers free classroom management tools that would be helpful with a flipped classroom.
If you are working from a Mac, there is a built in screen capture function that will record your voice and what ever you have up on your computer screen that you are going to use to teach your lesson (SMART Notebook, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.). To access this function, open the QuickTime Player App from your app folder, then while in QuickTime Player, click the File menu option up top, and hit ‘New Screen Recording’. Similar software is also available for non-Mac PC computers: Camtasia, Camstudio and many others (just Google screen recorder).