Posted by David R. Wetzel, Ph.D.
Flipping a classroom is not a teaching technique, it is more in line with a philosophy or way of teaching. It involves using technology as a tool, not the main focus, for helping students increase their understanding of science or math concepts.
Effective use of this way of thinking helps reduce student anxiety and frustration when studying science or math, especially when homework is involved. Unfortunately, failure to complete homework is a common problem among students, because they typically work in isolation.
This aggravation causes students to view homework as a maddening waste of time — leading to incomplete assignments and ultimately poor grades as they fall further and further behind.
Contrary to perceptions some may have about flipping a classroom, homework is not eliminated. It uses an entirely different approach (Learning 4 Mastery, Student Impressions).
How does Homework Change?
Homework becomes a series of shortinstructional videos, teacher lecture screencasts, and podcasts on your blog or wiki designed to replace in-class lectures.
Why is this a good thing?
Lecturing Does Not = Learning
Have you ever experienced the glazed look in your students’ eyes when lecturing?
Do you observe them taking copious notes and not really paying attention to you as you talk or place notes for them to copy on the overhead, chalk board, whiteboard, or smart board?
Also, this delivery method provides students limited time to make sense and formulate questions regarding new information, i.e., they do not have time to assimilate the information or make connections.
Impact of Lecturing
Lectures result in a one-way transfer of knowledge that does not pass through your students brains. It goes straight from your mouth or screen to their pen or pencil onto paper — passing go (the brain), proceeding directly to a potentially never opened notebook.
Through your best efforts to teach the important concept(s) in a lesson, they have learned little and typically cannot apply the information. This is why traditional home work is frustrating and viewed as a waste of time by most students. Typically, students do not remember enough from class to complete their homework assignments.
Impact on Homework
Using the flipped philosophy, students learn from podcasts, lectures, or videos at their own pace. Also, they can review them as many times as want. Of course questions will come up, even higher-order questions. Why? Because students now have time to think about what they are observing — this is a good thing. Now lectures and content videos are passing through your student brains! Homework is now useful and a beginning point for the next day’s class.
The following is a short list of vieo resources for science and math.
- Kahn Academy an extensive list of short videos of science and math concepts and procedures.
- Teacher Tube – Science hundreds of short videos covering all science content areas.
- Teacher Tube – Math hundreds of short videos covering all math content areas.
- Student Made Math Movies – elementary math concepts
How Does In-Class Time Change?
Classes now become a center for student learning. You have more time to interact with students on a one-to-on basis. Additionally,:
- you address student higher-order questions concerning homework.
- your opportunity to discover student misconceptions and procedural confusion is increased.
- students spend more time on experiments and investigations.
- students spend more time on project based learning activities.
- students work in groups or independently to solve problems.
- you can differentiate instruction as necessary.
Flipping Your Classroom: Things to Consider
Is this for you and your students? Think about the following, remembering that like anything new it takes time and should be implemented in steps to avoid frustrating yourself and students. A flipped classroom is:
- not a substitute for you.
- a place where you are no longer the purveyor (one way communication) of all knowledge.
- a place where content is stored on your blog or wiki for student review prior to tests and absent or home bound students can review.
Challenging the Status Quo
Why use this strategy? Because in far too many cases the status quo is not working.
Although there are a multitude of reasons why students drop out of school, the process begins as early as elementary school. The leading cause is poor grades and test scores. Students do not feel engaged in school and find it monotonous (California Dropout Research Project).
California Dropout Research Project, UC Santa Barbara, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, 2008
Learning 4 Mystery, Flipped/Mastery Educational Model: Student Impressions, Accessed December 12, 2011
Should You Flip Your Classroom? Edutopia, October 26, 2011
The White House, President Obama Announces Steps to Reduce Dropout Rate, Office of the Press Secretary, 2010