How to Start a Flipped Classroom
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I teach English, and most of the flipped classroom lessons I have seen are geared towards Math and Science. My goal when we went 1:1 with laptops last year was to start to flip. What I mean is having the students watch brief video lessons at home and then do the practice or traditional homework together at school. This concept is innovative, but it’s not brand new. Thousands of teachers have used this method, and I have tried a few lessons myself. After practicing and taking the advice of others, here’s some flipped classroom tips you can try in your own classroom that I’ve compiled.
Communication is key.
I want to tell parents and students alike what’s going on in the classroom. Collect preferred emails early on. Often, these are in an electronic gradebook, or you may want to send out a Google Form to help collect data on your students and parents. This helps tremendously when attempting new approaches or working on more complicated projects. When you start a flipped classroom, it’s great to let your parents know what that is and what to expect. Parents and students both are included in every step, and when questions and debates arise, my emails are my first line of defense. Especially when using technology, it’s important parents know what is being used, why, and to what extent. They become more involved and then they become your biggest support in your endeavors.
Don’t go all in right away.
I would never suggest to dive in with something unfamiliar and new. Start with the lessons that you believe would be a good fit. Prepare them, teach them, gauge their success. Repeat! Your first flipped lesson, for example, could be a review concept. Rather than teaching the students a new delivery method and content, you’re just focused on getting them (and you) comfortable with new delivery.
Plan time for reflection.
After your lesson, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, then troubleshoot on how to improve it for the following year or the following lesson. The key to reflection’s success? Include your students and parents! When students have a voice in formatting how lessons are structured, they tend to engage more, so if they know you are sincerely wanting their opinion, they will share. You can try this anonymously using Padlet or with a Google Form, or ask students to submit feedback using their name.
Share your purpose and objective.
Make sure that each flipped lesson has a purpose or intention. Yes, I know each of our lessons have that lovely objective we post on the top of our plans, but if you want to succeed in flipping, be sure you know why you are choosing this specific lesson. Otherwise, you’ll flounder and may not see the success you desire. The students (and of course your admin) want to know your why, but you should be confident in the plan and intention as well.
Make students accountable.
As with all homework, you need to have a way to ensure students are watching the videos. When I was a student, I tried to find ways around working too hard, and I’m sure your students may too. Tools like Edpuzzle make it possible for you to track your students’ progress with questions and stopping points throughout the video. You could also consider giving brief video quizzes the next day.
Keep your videos short.
Research finds that students have the attention span of about their age. I tend to think it’s a little bit less for older students and adults. When I took an Educational Technology course, one of the few facts that stayed with me is that even the best student will stop paying attention to a “must see” video after around seven minutes. I’ll admit, my attention span in watching required videos doesn’t even last that long. When creating video, keep in mind the attention span. When the topic is not of their choosing, keep it simple and keep it short!
Give them time.
This concept is two-fold. First, you may consider giving students more than a day to watch a video. Some may not have access to internet at home and will have to do it in study hall. If you are 1:1, you may be able to tighten your timeline a bit more. I often give parents a tech survey at the beginning of the year to find out their technology accessibility at home.
Another aspect of time is giving your students (and yourself) time to adapt to this shift in lesson delivery and format. Students don’t always like change, and a flipped classroom is a definite change in mindset and habits alike. Students need time to adjust to this new method of teaching. Some may openly resist it while some will love the newness. Allow your students the necessary time to succeed, and don’t take their resistance personally.
Here are some potential lessons you may want to flip in your classroom this year!
I hate reviewing directions for longer assignments. Repeating answers over and over can frustrate students who are ready to go and take your time away from assisting the class as a whole or individually. Because each student processes directions differently, I have found that it’s easier not only to give the directions on paper, but to explain the more complicated parts in video form for reference later.
The first time you present a project lesson to a class or on your own time, record it with a screencast tool! This video may not follow the “Keep it short” rule, but it saves my students from listening to you for the entire class. They, instead, can pause and review your project information (as in the directions above) and get your undivided attention and help while they are working on the assigned tasks in class. It also didn’t take as long since I wasn’t being interrupted with constant questions and concerns. Their homework for the video? Write down as many questions as they could and we would discuss those in class instead reviewing my PowerPoint.
Grammar Lessons for ELA
Grammar is possibly the closest black and white lesson English teachers have (Besides those little exception rules, but we can still record those!) Because it is more of a black and white subject, transferring a few of these ideas into videos could be worth your time. You could do a quick introduction in class, skimming the surface of the concept, then have them watch the video, coming to class ready to work on this concept in their own writing, in correcting others’ writing, or in creating their own ways to teach it in class. Your role during class is also to help them with any questions that may arise.
Let your students get extra help when they need it in study hall, in small groups, or at home. Teaching writing is complicated as there is not one magical way to write. There are also as many ways as there are students to interpret the lesson. For example, try videos on three part thesis statements (topic, proposition, support). The video will be there for them to review and revisit this concept. When students are absent, these videos will also be available for them.
“How To” Videos
At times, teacher demonstrations are the best way for students to grasp a more complicated skill or to see a specific strategy in use. In your “how to” videos, you could demonstrate close-reading, peer-review, proofreading, your thought process while grading essays, and more. Math teachers can show step-by-step problem solving and science teachers can demonstrate experiments. The possibilities are endless!
Believe it or not, our students cannot use technology the way we assume they can. Gaming and texting or phone apps may come second nature, but we can’t always assume that everything will come easy. Creating videos to demonstrate the bells and whistles of your required tech can help, and it will then be their choice as to whether they want to figure it out themselves, or watch how to do it. Some of your students may even want to help make these tech tutorials.
As with any lesson, the key to success is you. You have to be the one to embrace flipped learning. You have to personalize it so that it feels right for you. You have to be willing to share in both your successes and failures. If you don’t like it, your kids won’t like it, and your work may be for nothing. However, if the mood to trail blaze hits, and you are up to hearing yourself on video and engaging students in new and different ways, then hopefully these tips will help! Best of luck to you and your endeavors; I’m sure hoping for it with mine!
Check out these amazing books by innovative educators who have used flipped classroom or other innovative teaching methods in their classrooms.
The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google AppsShift This!: How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact in Your ClassroomTeach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an EducatorEmpower: What Happens When Students Own Their LearningGenius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student InquiryPure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level
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