The Flipclass

Presented here are some of my thoughts and opinions on what a flipped classroom is and is not and how the videos were created.  I provide several links for you to explore, click into them and see what was used.  This is a long-ish post, take your time and think about what is written.  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or ask questions.

What the Flipped Classroom Is

Teacher designed lessons that introduce students to topics that are available outside of the school day.  These lessons can be teacher created videos, webpages that tie into the lesson topics, an activity that can be done with parents.  Anything were a student is introduced (not independent practice) to the topic coming up in the classroom.  Think about something that you repeat over and over and over and over and over and…This can be your lesson.

One of the biggest perks of a flipped classroom is the amount of actual homework will decrease.  In my classroom, homework went from almost an hour each night, to less than twenty minutes each night.  It also provided a place where students could go anytime to get help or review a difficult topic.  It also eliminates the situation where a student is stuck on one of the first problems and gives up for the night.

For secondary students the lesson can be some specific examples with teacher explanation.  Very easy to do this in science and math.  In social studies, provide some of the key concepts that will be discussed in class the next few days.  Give some common language for all students to base their thinking on.  Maybe you could identify some key questions for students to think on.

In English, provide some of the key points of the text that you are reading and prime students for discussing those points and why.  Also in English, students have to do research – find/create some lessons where students can see this research in action.  Students need to understand that research takes time and can lead toward several different rabbit holes.

In the primary grades, flipping every lesson that you do would be really difficult.  The goal is to reduce the overall homework load of a student.  One thing that you could flip is a math lesson.  There are so many different ways that math is being taught differently today, make a video to show parents how to help with homework.  You could make a video for the spelling words, or for parents to see how to check the school website.  Think about those questions that you frequently get from parents, then make a video to address some of those things.

The goal with the flipped lesson is to introduce students to new material, new ideas, new thinking.  Do not expect them to be experts the next day, but guide their journey as they learn.  Answer those key questions the next day in the classroom.  Provide focused questions for small groups to work together to answer.  Allow your room to become “messy” so that students are able to have a safe struggle with the material.  Then as they really grapple with this new stuff, answer their specific questions and push them to see more.  This model allows differentiated instruction to flourish.  Students who are stronger can work on problems more challenging.  Students who are weaker are able to ask key questions about understanding.

**Do not expect students to understand everything the next day.  They need you, THE TEACHER, to be the expert and guide them!!

What the Flipped Classroom Is Not

It is not hands off teaching or the computer teaching the students.  I answered more questions during the first few weeks of flipping my class than I had answered in the previous ten years.  Students will have questions and for the flipped classroom model to have any opportunity to succeed, you, THE TEACHER, must be there to answer those questions.  You can guide the learning, you provide opportunity for growth.  You allow the classroom to become student focused.

This is not an easy process – most of us teach the way we are taught.  We are in control.  The master of the material.  The keeper of the knowledge.  This is not true in the flipped classroom.  As the teacher, you will need allow your students to make some noise.  You will need to direct the conversations.  It is totally different than a lecture based, rows and columns, silent classroom.

It is not a silver bullet teaching model.  Students who do not do homework, will still not do homework.  Students may be excited about this for the first few days, but this will be different for them as well.  Some student will struggle with this model.  Some will not like it at all.  Consistency from you, the teacher, is important.  Allow students to ask questions about this model.  Share with parents and administrators exactly what is happening.  In my experience, most parents will be on board.  Remember this will be new for all involved.

It is not an all or nothing situation.  The important thing here is consistency.  If there is a part of your school day that you want to flip, experiment with that.  Keep in mind though, if you only flip a lesson once every six weeks, you may not develop some “homework” habits that are necessary for success.  Students do not need to have a flipped lesson every single night.  You could create or share something twice a week.

Don’t forget about age appropriate length.  High school students go for about 15 minutes, primary students should be closer to five.  I would create an entire lesson, then split it into specific examples.  My students had the opportunity to see the whole thing (sometimes almost an hour) or one example at a time.  For high school teachers, I told my students to give me 18 minutes of there day outside of my classroom.  If an entire lesson was longer than this, they could finish the lesson the next night.  For elementary school teachers you could prepare a week’s worth (20 minutes total) and have parents work with their children.  Maybe they could do ten minutes one nigh and none the next.

You do not have to flip every lesson every day. During my busiest weeks students were getting their content videos on three nights.

Some Potential Issues

Each school presents unique opportunities for the flipped classroom.  I truly believe that it can work in almost every environment.  Here are some ways to provide content outside of school:

  1. Put all of your video content on a flashdrive.
  2. With help from your media specialist (or a sports coach), burn a DVD of material.
  3. Offer students the opportunity to get the lesson in your class before/after school or during lunch.
  4. Create a partnership with the community library – maybe bus routes that run later and drop off/pick up at the library.
  5. Allow students to watch the lesson during class.  This sounds like the “normal” classroom – remember the lesson will be shorter and students should still have time to work with classmates and you during the class period.
  6. Provide flexibility in your learning schedule: students will have one week to __________.  This will give students some freedom to get their content.
  7. Where do students type up their research papers outside of the school day?  Use that space.

What You Can Do/Use To Flip Your Lessons

There are several links that will follow.  I used a variety of things to create lessons, one of my favorites is Camtasia from Techsmith.  It is an all in one video editing software – be willing to experiment and learn.  Camtasia can be a simple or as complicated as you like.  When I was creating my first lessons, they were not very fancy.  As I grew more comfortable with the software, I could make a more complex video and not spend a lot of extra time on it.

Notes were created in Google Docs, then using SnagIt, screen captures were taken of the math problems.  The entire unit was in Google Docs – this made it possible to give students everything they would need.  My district did not have Google Classroom, so I printed the doc and gave it to students at the beginning of a unit.  This doc would guide the students through the notes that they were responsible for taking.  

The SnagIt screen captures were posted into Sketchbook Express.  There are two version, we (my partner in crime, Kristina) and I used the free version.  It allowed us to do everything we needed to do.  Using a Bamboo Tablet we could write in Sketchbook and narrate our examples and record the screen with Camtasia.

Completed videos were uploaded to YouTube and Knowmia for our students.  Videos were posted in two different places so students could access them anytime, anywhere.  School blocked YouTube, another option was needed for students who could only work in school.

There were several different apps that were used as well.  The two apps that I like best are Explain Everything and Knowmia Teach.  Knowmia Teach will post directly to and Explain Everything will create a video that can be posted anywhere online.

Flipping your class is not the easiest thing to do.  It requires some time and thought.  It will take patience on your part.  You will have to explore and think with a pioneering spirit.

I hope this will help as you explore the flipped classroom.  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions – we can both learn from them!

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