Tuesday, December 6, 2011


In case you haven't heard, there's a 'new' instructional strategy teachers are using in their classroom called "Flipping your Classroom" or the "Flipped Classroom".

Basically it is this: instead of a teacher lecturing IN class, they digitally provide the videos (they used powerpoint) or podcasts to the students as homework OUT of class.   Class time is spent on collaborative learning projects, individual help and engaging activities. This prevents boring lectures and the students 'sitting and getting'.

Who came up with this notion? Well, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams were the first ones to coin the phrase. As teachers at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, CO they wanted to create ways to engage their students who were present in class and make sure those who missed class were receiving the instructional support they needed.  You can see the chart of how it all came to be at: http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/09/the-flipped-classroom-defined/.

Famous questions, what does the data show? did the test scores go up? Well, they did. In fact, they also saw other positive effects of this teaching model: lower behavior problems and decreases in students flunking math and english. Obviously, the students in this school had devices at home to access the videos. This could be a challenge for some schools and teachers. Students may not have internet access at home and/or the program the teacher is using with the video. If this is the case, the teacher will need to think of a creative solution.

But reflect on this model: instead of sitting through a professor or teacher lecturing each class, what if you did you 'homeowork' and projects IN class and watched those lectures at home. You are able to pause the lecture where you need to take notes, write down questions, and refer to the readings. Then in class you can work on showing what you learned in a collaborative and engaging environment. Instead of, at home, where you may not be able to find the answers and you are isolated in what you are learning. You can also take breaks from watching a 20 + minute lecture!

As you begin a new year, share this idea with an educator. Remembering, it needs to have a purpose tied to the objective! Start with the end in mind and decide if that particular unit, lecture or activity would actually benefit the students, if the Flipped Classroom model is used. I have tried a similar method in my courses with much success. You bet I will 'flip' some lectures and projects in my course next semester, when it will be meaningful to enhance the learning of my students. 

I think it just might make me more flexible as an educator and my students may flip for joy!


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