The Flipped Classroom Conversation

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

There are lots of great conversations taking place around education on "Flipping" the classroom.  If you are unfamiliar with this term, the most basic definition is it is a classroom where the teachers provide a video of the lessons the used to teach and the students watch them as homework.  Then, the next day the students do what used to be homework in the classroom with the teacher present.  The lectures are now homework and homework is now done in class.  That's why it's been called the flipped classroom.  However, here is where I think people are having problems with the flipped classroom.  They stop at the basic definition and never move forward.  The flipping of lessons and homework is only the beginning and not the end.  For far better definitions about the flipped classroom I recommend you read this blog by Dan Spencer and this website from Ramsey Musallam.  I would also recommend you check out The Flipped Class Network from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams.

Recently there was an article in the USA today about the flipped classroom.  From that article, The Innovative Educator gave five reasons she's not flipping out over the flipped classroom.  Let me highly recommend that you read this article. First of all, it is well written and raises some very good questions that need to be addressed.  Also, the rest of this blog won't make much sense because I would like to respond to her five valid concerns.

As I stated above, I think a lot of people think that flipping the classroom is all about the videos. The videos are a starting point but they are not the end game. The end game is to design a curriculum that gives students the curation of information they need for a unit. It could include websites, textbook, PBL, games, and videos to teach the content. The student would chose the way that works best for them. Students in Aaron Sams flipped class students are not even required to view the videos. They are there as a resource.

Here are my responses to her concerns:

1) The problem of students not having access is one we live with every week in my district.  I work in a 1:1 environment and many students don't have internet access at home. So you make adaptations for those students. Whether that's providing DVDs or a more traditional method way to deliver the content. The flipped classroom provides opportunity for small-group instruction for these students. The point is that it is unlikely we will ever see a day where every student has the same level of access.  You differentiate your instruction and assessments in the flipped classroom just like you should in any classroom.

2) I agree with this point, flipped homework is still homework. I have major issues with homework because the students who don't need usually are the ones that do it and the students who need it can't do it because they don't understand it.  However, flipped class homework is more meaningful because it is utilized the next day and it also engages students in a more classical way of learning.

3) This is too much of a "what if" concern. That's the same argument that people with many innovative ideas. You can "what if" yourself out if anything if you want to.  The issue of people teaching to the test, or just bad pedagogy exist with or without the flipped classroom.

4) I also agree with this point. That's why the videos are a starting point but not the end game.  Classes should be a place that driven by formative and summative assessments. Where what the students learn is based around standards, interest, data, and learning style. Flipping allows for this. As Brian Bennett will tell you, "It's a ideology not a methodology." It's about engaging students in classical learning and providing students with support at the times when they need it most.

5) Again, this is based on the notion that videos are the ending point and not the starting point. As Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams say, "Flipping won't turn a bad teacher into a good teacher." It's not a fix. Bad teaching on video is still bad teaching.

Ok, those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts!