The Flipped Classroom

There’s a lot of conversation going on about the “flipped classroom model.”  The idea is that students use their “homework” time to watch video lessons created or assigned by their teacher and then use classroom time to work on assignments or projects related to that assignment.  This was made popular by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams and is described in the book, Flip Your Classroom.  Students listen to lectures or watch demonstrations outside of the classroom and work on “homework” in the classroom.  The main advantage is that students will have access to the teacher while they do their work.   If they have problems, there is time for the teacher to help them. They can also work with other students on projects without having to make arrangements for after school get-togethers.  Ideally, this is a great idea.  But there are many factors to consider in order to achieve a successful flipped classroom.

1. Teachers must feel comfortable  recording videos of their lessons.  Working with students in real time is different from reading a script in front of a camera or microphone.  If well planned, the video lesson has the potential to be better than a classroom lesson.  There will be no distractions, the lesson can be delivered in a logical sequence, and the teacher can answer anticipated questions.  The downside is that the teacher might not anticipate all the questions.  If the lesson isn’t clear or the students have questions, the teacher won’t know until the next day.  I think the best approach is to let go of any notion that the video is going to win an Academy Award.  In the classroom, teachers make mistakes and fill sentences with “Uh, you know, I mean…”  You can take hours re-taping or editing your recording, but is it worth it? Just go for it.

2. Teachers must have the tools to create the tutorials and know how to use them.  There are several ways to create a tutorial.  The simplest is a screen capture of a presentation of some sort (PowerPoint, Google Presentation, Prezi, etc.) along with a voice recording.  The teacher can appear on screen before, after, or during the presentation, or not at all. Another version is a video which shows the teacher (or others) demonstrating something that could not be demonstrated in the classroom.    Some tools allow you to embed quizzes or note-taking while watching the video.  TechSmith offers some great tools for screen-casting.  Here’s a blog post from Douchy’s Blog about these and other screen-casting tools.

3. There must be a site where teachers can post the tutorials.  Wikis, blogs, Edmodo, Google Classroom, and YouTube are places to post tutorials, whether it’s an audio or video recording.  Tutorials can also be uploaded to podcast hosting sites, such as iTunes.  The teacher will need to understand the correct format needed for each of these options and know the method of posting to them.

4. Remember that the resources on your flipped classroom site don’t have to be limited to recordings.  You can also share documents, presentations, and links to websites, articles, and blog posts that support your class.  When you start thinking about what you want your students to have access to, the sky is the limit.  You may also want to consider asking students to contribute to the resources.  There are multiple ways for students to add their own work or links to resources they have discovered.  Giving them shared editing access to Diigo, a Google website, spreadsheet, or document, etc. opens the door to a wealth of resources that you might not have the time to discover.


5. Keep it short.  Videos and presentations are great, but unless they are full of bells and whistles, they need to be short.  Your productions are competing with all the shiny videos available on television and the Internet.  Their production budgets were way higher than yours, so don’t kid yourself: keep it short!

6. Check out what others have done.  Here is short list of some flipped classroom resources that other teachers have shared.


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