Saturday, March 11, 2017

Flipped Classrooms: Are They a Flop?

As a technology coach, I am actively searching for the next best thing in digital education. While flipped classrooms aren’t exactly a new trend, the term has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years. I wanted to know, are flipped classrooms something to flip over, or just a flop?

What is a Flipped Classroom?
Imagine going to each of your students’ houses every night to help teach or reteach lessons before they came to school the next day. An impossible feat, right? Luckily, a 21st century teacher can clone themselves with the use of video creation tools. And, teachers all over the country are doing just that! Educators are creating video lessons for their students, then students access these lessons at home, and come prepared to discuss, ask questions, and dig deeper into the lesson. The ‘flip’ happens when, “Class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time” (Tucker, 2013).

What Makes it Successful?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a flipped classroom. You, the teacher, are the most important ally in whether or not your classroom will find success in being flipped. Pay attention to what lessons are or aren’t working in your classroom. If you’re like most teachers, your students hit the snooze button during direct instruction.

“For many teachers, lecturing may not be the best use of their in-class time. When they're lecturing, they may be delivering important content to students, but they're not working one-on-one with students, they're not necessarily engaging students in higher-order thinking, and they're not differentiating instruction” (Bergmann & Sams, 2013).

The success of flipping happens when students do the learning at home (watch you teacher-directed lesson at home) and then practice what they learned in school. The practicing and applying of the skill is what makes learning stick, isn’t it? So, why are students practicing at home instead of at school?

Not every lesson is made for flipping! Lessons that require inquiry, investigation, discussion, or don’t have factual content are best kept for school (Bergmann & Sams, 2013).

What Doesn’t Make it a Flop?
Flipping has only recently gained traction, and much of the research is geared toward higher education. The research I found for the elementary classroom is lacking, but I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more about this in the future!

What did come up with flipped classroom action research projects was the question of accessibility.  Having worked in Title I schools for most of my teaching career, I know that access to devices and the internet are not equitable among students.

A recent study found that, “low achieving students had less access to the videos at home and more frequently found them frustrating or confusing” (Wiley, 2015). Would video lessons help our struggling learners and ELL students by giving them a chance to re-watch lessons for a better understanding, or would video lessons hurt have a negative impact on these learners? I think it is safe to say that more research needs to be done! In the meantime, try it out for yourself and see what your students say!

What Resources Can You Use to Flip Your Classroom?
Are you ready to try flipping your classroom? There are many, many, many resources to help get you started!

If you want to create your own video lessons unique to your class, try using Explain Everything or Screencastify. Youtube has simple editing features built in, allowing you to cut, split, and add some pizzazz to your video lessons.

There are also several video lessons already created by teachers, for teachers. Have you heard of Khan Academy? LearnZillion? I use these video resources often!

Not Ready to Jump In With Both Feet?
Some of my favorite lessons used videos in class! Instead of students watching videos at home, I had students watch my video lessons during small-group time. While I worked with a group of students during Daily 5 time, one of the rotations involved students watching a video lesson. After Daily 5, we would discuss and dive deeper into the video content.

My students were much more engaged with video lessons, and this was a great use of class time! I could skip the lecture, and dive right into higher-order thinking skills. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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