Flipped Classroom Adoption
Educators are often asked to set aside traditional education models to try something new. Flipped classrooms are often the new challenge. Those who are looking to make the switch can learn from those who are already doing it and are teaching others to do it successfully. I got the opportunity to be a panelist on a Sevenstar-sponsored webinar presented by teacher, researcher, and speaker Aaron Sams. This post is a collection of his tips and resources.
Educause, a digital tech-for-education non-profit, defines the flipped classroom as “a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.”
Planning is key
Sams shared the following website to assist lesson plan creation for teachers to help determine what should go into a flipped classroom video: bit.ly/flipplanningdocs. Being strategic in this area helps determine what should be direct instructional pieces and what needs to still be read or explored by students outside of the video. Teachers should not opt to put more work on students in their homework time. Rather, take homework out of that “home” time and flip what has been done there to be done in the classroom.
As teachers begin to consider flipping, many start curating video and online instruction tools and then begin creating their own. For Christian school educators, content isn’t neutral. Christian educators should frame their content from a worldview similar to their classroom and/or school goals. This may mean more original content and less material gleaned from preexisting resources on the web.
Beware! Don’t fall into the habit of re-lecturing the material because students come to class unprepared. Stick to your in-class plan and have a secondary plan for those who don’t come prepared. Some schools Sams has worked with have computers available in the classroom where students can catch up. With consistency, they will get better, but maybe not 100 percent.
Another successful flipped classroom utilized a five-question quiz after each lesson online. Before class the teacher would know which students had done their work. He then offered the computers to these who had not yet taken online quiz to watch content for the first time. Those with great quiz scores got to move on to a new assignment, and mid-range learners got to have a brief review of content with the teacher before going on to the in-class assignment or activity.
Buy-in from all those involved is necessary for success. Students must understand why they’re doing this. Help them realize they will be making better use of class time AND homework time. Train them how to view video effectively: to be active listeners, viewing for instruction/learning. Encourage them to pause, rewind, and take notes to help them remain engaged in the content.
This will be new to parents as well. Discuss how this new format isn’t to replace the teacher or de-emphasis class time, but to ENHANCE it! Be prepared for complaints. Especially prepare for complaints from kids who have gotten good at “playing school.” Be proactive about how you are going to combat those.
Get staff buy-in early. Model flipped classroom formats as an administrator with your staff. For example, run staff meetings in a flipped manner, where you solve problems together and learn new information online ahead of time. Provide teachers with training from online resources, from books, and from teachers and consultants who have experience.
Reinvent your class time
In the traditional classroom in the US, 58 percent of class time in traditional courses is spent interacting with new content (lecture), 36 percent of time is spent practicing and deepening new content (i.e. worksheets), and 6 percent is spent on cognitively complex tasks involving generating hypothesis. The goal is to change those percentages so that classroom time is spent on complex tasks.
Other thoughts for school leaders and administrators:
- Classrooms won’t look like a lecture hall: They will include group work and individual learning, so moveable/flexible learning space furniture is necessary.
- Encouragement: Build a community of people who are all flipping classrooms together. Have a cheerleader or group of encouragers who get the vision and help iron out the bugs. Maintain rigor, but create success.
- Consider who you are hiring. Find those who are willing to hand responsibility for learning to the students. You want teachers who are comfortable with the technology needed to have a successful flipped classroom.
- Be a buffer: Act as an administrator who helps coach parents and students through the transition from traditional learning.
- Be a sounding board: Help find solutions to continue making the class better through constructive criticism. Give good feedback, and work together to find solutions.
Why bother flipping a classroom?
- We can choose to avoid or to infiltrate online video content; it’s better to choose to infiltrate the culture rather than fight it.
- Students are realizing that they don’t need to show up to a classroom to learn new content. Information is now available online and from others in addition to their teachers. The train has left the station; your students are already learning stuff through video. Utilize this to capture their attention.
Aaron Sams says boldly, “If you can be replaced by a YouTube video, perhaps you should be! You need to provide more than information transfer. Yes, you provide care, understanding, integration of worldview, understanding changes in student development within character qualities…PLUS your content area.”
Questions from webinar attendees:
- How do you manage rural-living students? Content can be put on DVDs or flash drives if internet is a struggle, or it can be uploaded to student iPods available for check out.
- Does grading change for flipped classrooms? It doesn’t need to change much. Standards-based grading works for mastery understanding.
- How do you prepare students for standardized testing? Continued teaching/quizzing as it helps direct future instruction. It doesn’t need to be a main focus as long as the information is being learned.
- How much time is needed to launch this successfully in a classroom? “Pick a group to pilot it for you who may be early adopters of new initiatives,” says Pam Bernards from NCEA.
“Start slowly,” says Shannon Bomar, a panelist from ACSI. “Flip certain lessons throughout the year; don’t feel like it needs to be all or nothing. If a teacher already has many digital components/tools being used in their instruction, the transition might be quicker than others who need to build a library of tools and resources.”
All ideas from this post are from Aaron Sams unless otherwise noted. His books are published by ISTE.org and are available on Amazon.com. Some are available as eBooks, and others will be available in electronic form soon.
Please feel free to watch the recording and view the related resources:
- Watch recording: https://vimeo.com/146186673
- View slides (PDF): http://hubs.ly/H01qCMs0
- Order books: http://hubs.ly/H01qCMB0