Flipping the Classroom

I enjoyed learning about flipping classrooms and I am intrigued by the idea.  I can see many benefits to such an approach.  This approach allows for differentiated instruction as students can take as much or as little time needed to watch the lesson.  Students who are struggling have the opportunity to pause the lecture or rewind to review a topic.  This give students more time to digest the information.  When students show up in class, they will already have a good understanding of the topic.  This allows teachers to spend class time working on in depth problems, helping students to think critically and problem solve.  It appears that teachers in flipped classrooms act more as facilitators or guides.  The students themselves have the opportunity to take control of and responsibility for their own learning.  In certain disciplines, particularly science, a flipped classroom would give students more time to experiment and participate in authentic activities.

I do have a few concerns about this approach.  One problem, which was raised frequently on the websites I visited, is how do you implement this concept in schools whose students may not have the necessary technology at home.  Clintondale High School, which has successfully flipped classrooms, addresses that concern by allowing students to access school computers before school, during lunch and after school.  I am not sure this equalizes the playing field for those disadvantaged students. However, it is hard to argue with the results they have seen at Clintondale.  Another question I have about the approach is how different is it really from the “old” style?  Some critics say that “flipped classrooms still rely heavily on lectures by teachers, which they argue are not as effective as hands-on learning”(Mindshift, 2012).  A flipped classroom approach gives educators the time in the classroom to guide students through hands-on learning experiences.  But is that what is really happening?  Finally, what about those students who have different learning styles?  Teachers would need to be very careful when creating the lectures to make sure that all of their students’ needs are met.

While I see great potential in a flipped classroom, I think it should be used carefully in elementary school, especially the primary grades.  There could be occasions when flipping the classroom for younger students would be beneficial.  For example, my Animoto project was an introductory video for a first grade unit on American symbols.  Students could watch this video at home at the beginning of the unit.  When they came to class, they would already be excited and ready to start the unit.  This would allow more time for hands-on activities and real life experiences.  Also, I think that parents would appreciate more meaningful homework.   As a mother of three elementary students, I know I would like to see a change in the quality of homework assignments.

References

BES Photos. (2012).  Retrieved on October 4, 2012, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/besphotos/2701835845/in/photostream

Mindshift. (2012, June 18). Can the flipped classroom benefit low-income students? Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/06/can-the-flipped-classroom-benefit-low-income-students/

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2 Responses to Flipping the Classroom

  1. alongerb says:

    I agree that the biggest challenge with flipping the classroom is access to the online content for students.

    As far as differentiation goes, I think that the flipped classroom concept could be more beneficial to a wider variety of learner styles. Teachers do have to keep their students’ needs in mind when creating the videos (e.g. if students are hearing impaired, it might be harder for them if the teacher is not visually shown on the screen; fewer context for hearing makes it more difficult). However, if students have more difficulty with the concepts, they are able to replay the videos again and again, which you cannot do in the classroom (it would be a social stigma to ask your teacher to repeat things again and again). Also, in the traditional format, students have much less time to ask questions to clarify concepts; in the flipped classroom model, the entire class period is devoted to asking questions for clarification.

  2. krazza says:

    I agree that this approach needs to be used carefully in elementary school. I do not think it will work well until the students are in fourth or fifth grade. And saying that, I also think a mixture of the traditional and flipped classroom approach would be the most beneficial. I think this approach would work best in a science and history class, but I think a mixture, again, would would for math and English classrooms. However, I think I need to look into this more. There may be ways to incorporate this type of classroom for all subjects.