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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

As interest in flipped learning continues to grow, so does its adoption among the educational rank and file. By moving entry-level information outside the classroom -- typically (but not exclusively) through self-paced, scored videos -- teachers can reframe learning so that students spend more instructional time engaged in deeper discussions, hands-on applications and project-based learning. With a focus on more direct contact between teachers and students, greater application of basic concepts, and increased collaboration between learners, flipped learning provides yet another outlet for 21st century teaching.

No doubt, making this kind of change can be intimidating. Before teachers flip out, here are four tips to make the transition smoother -- and more impactful.

1. Start with Lesson Goals, Then Build Out

Making a dazzling video without first determining its instructional value is like putting the cart before the horse. It's counterproductive. A more sensible approach: identify the lesson's core objectives, from simplest to deepest, tracing the path of knowledge that students will follow. Lower-order targets (the what) should be sorted out for video delivery, while higher-order objectives (the how and why) should be tagged for deeper exploration. Next, teachers must answer some fundamental questions about the learning process:

  1. Once students understand the entry-level information, what will they be able to do with it?
  2. What kinds of activities will reinforce these concepts?
  3. Will students add value to basic ideas by simulating them through experiments, deepening them through inquiry-based discussion, or broadening them through project-based learning?
  4. How will teachers facilitate and monitor classroom collaboration?
  5. How will students demonstrate their burgeoning knowledge in these learning laboratories?

Teachers who successfully deliver flipped learning always begin with the end in mind.

2. Use Rich Imagery and Direct Language

Teaching with a visual medium like video is both exhilarating and challenging. Trying to compress introductory information into a five-minute video leaves little room for verbal waste or unimaginative imagery. Once you've identified the core objectives that you want students to achieve, sketch a virtual collage of images, diagrams, or charts that add impact to your presentation. It's not a bad idea to write a script for your narrative, either, and to include cues that will help you seamlessly transition from one shot to the next. Avoid flowery language and long-winded monologues. The inviolable rule of video making: Be direct, be powerful, and be gone.

3. Make Videos That Reveal What Students Know

Creating videos is easier than ever with the emergence of free and easy-to-use screencasting platforms like Screenr and Screencast-o-Matic. (For savvier video makers who don't mind a price tag, consider Camtasia or Screenflow.) The more perplexing question is what to do with them post-production. Hosting videos on a YouTube channel or a personal website or blog is relatively easy to do, but doesn't provide much insight into how your students fared during the video (or if they even bothered to watch it). One compelling hosting solution is eduCanon, an interactive video environment which allows teachers to create real-time questions that students must answer as they learn. It also features a question-by-question breakdown of student performance and exportable score reports. Microsoft recently announced a similar initiative called Office Mix, which transforms PowerPoint presentations (version 2013) into interactive videos complete with quizzes and labs. (A fully interactive version for tablets is coming soon.) If teachers can gain insight into what their students know before class starts, they can strategically assign them to specific learning hubs (based on readiness) during "live" instruction, reinforcing the focus on differentiation and investigation.

4. Bring Parents on Board

If the concept of an inverted classroom seems strange to teachers, it's even more foreign to parents. A successful rollout must involve meaningful outreach to parents about the goals, rationale, and logistics of flipping. They are your active partners in educating children, and now that you're ceding some control over learning, you'll need their support more than ever. Onboarding could address misconceptions about flipped learning, provide resources for further study on the topic, illustrate the practice with a sample video demo, and provide examples of live classroom applications. (Great resources are available through the Flipped Learning Network.) Distribute this onboarding packet to parents before the school year begins, with a request that they review it before back-to-school night. They'll have a chance to process the information at their own pace -- modeling the same style of learning that their children will follow. In the spirit of learning by doing, "flip" this traditional evening by letting parents deepen their appreciation of flipped learning through live activities or discussions. Conclude with a whole-group discussion about the expectations and execution of a flipped approach. They'll appreciate your candor and transparency, and you'll win much-needed allies.

The payoff from flipped learning is significant. Teachers will recapture instructional time that can be used to deepen learning. Student engagement will likely rise due to more personalized contact with information. And a richer culture of collaboration will emerge among students who learn to work together. Flipped learning means that teachers do less talking and more listening. Their students will flip for that.

Comments (11)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

vcurtis12's picture

Another often overlooked great tool for flipping is Knowmia Teach. There is a website as well as an app. The best part is that there is an assignment feature that allows you to upload your videos and other related documents, presentations, and websites. Additionally, it tracks your students' work and provides you learner analytics.

Denise's picture

I'm really curious for some feedback on a questions I've had about flipped learning. It has been my experience that students prefer not to do prep work before a lesson. Recommended reading is left unread, research undone, problems unsolved. What strategies do you use to make sure that students actually complete the flipped lessons so you don't spend time the next day reteaching what they should have learned the night before? How to you bridge the gap between students that do the pre-requisite work vs. those that don't?

Joe Hirsch's picture
Joe Hirsch
Educator, Akiba Academy of Dallas
Blogger

Great question, Denise. I've used a few tactics to ensure that the pre-teach gets done: (1) Give students a few days of lead time to complete the assignment - especially if it's video; (2) Create a mechanism for feedback and accountability so that students can receive real-time response while they're learning and demonstrate that they've completed the task (check out eduCanon for video); and, most importantly, (3) create "live" classroom activities that demonstrably deepen and expand the entry-level information covered outside of class. When students see that the prep work is vitally connected to the subsequent in-class lesson/activity, they will make every effort to complete it on time. In my class, students who do not watch the video before class cannot participate in the "deep dive" that takes place during instruction. I explain to them that they cannot proceed to advanced material until they have covered the basics. (It's a "life skill" that aims to be corrective, not punitive.) So while their classmates move on to the hands-on expansion of the lesson, they spend that time reading up on the basics (or watching the video they should have completed prior to arrival). As long as the classroom activities are compelling, relevant and exciting, you'll help your cause. Best of luck!

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

We recently promoted this blog post to our Facebook community (https://www.facebook.com/edutopia/posts/10152610517724917) and some brought up the important question on how to implement the flipped-classroom learning model when your students don't have access to Internet at home. It's an important point so I thought it was worth talking through here as well.

We had an educator blog about her tips and strategies used for the modified or "in-class" flipped model: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-in-class-version-jennife... but I'd love to hear your tips and tricks as well.

Joe Hirsch's picture
Joe Hirsch
Educator, Akiba Academy of Dallas
Blogger

Elana, I agree that lack of access to technology can pose a barrier (although not every flipped lesson must necessarily be delivered via video ). One workaround is to schedule flipped learning with several days' lead time to allow students a chance to access the video while they're on campus. Depending on school policy, students could access the videos after school, during center work, or during a free period (if they're inclined). If teachers are proactive, they'll find a way to make it happen. In fact, giving a few days' lead also helps the students with ease of access. With after-school schedules overtaking many families, it's probably helpful for the entire class to have a clear view and enough time to prepare for the wider learning experience that awaits them with flipped learning.

Doug Dysart's picture

I have tried flipped learning in my classroom, but always had difficulty in getting students to participate or view online videos on their own time, rather than in class. What might be some ways to get them to do things on their own time?

Robin's picture

I use www.Educanon.com for accountability with my flipped lessons. I create my own videos, but you can upload other videos as well. You embed questions into the video, which I use for formative assessments - I can quickly look and see who has watched the video, and then I can see if students appear to be "getting" the topic we are working on based on the number answering questions correctly. Students get notes to fill in, and there are usually a couple of practice problems as well. Both watching the vid and filling in the notes and trying the practice problem are counted as homework.

kcrockett's picture

I am interested in flipping my classroom for the upcoming year and this article was helpful. I have been interested in flipped classrooms for some time, but I was not sure how to implement it properly. My main concern is how to get the students interested in viewing the lessons outside of class and then how to continue with the lesson and/or activities and follow-up the next day. Please share any additional ideas on how to implement a flipped classroom successfully.

Miss A's picture
Miss A
High school teacher-World and American History, Spanish 1-4

These tips were really helpful. I am just beginning to flip some of my classes, and I was concerned about the accountability of students. Using a site to track their participation and allowing them lead time to do the activities outside of class are great ideas, especially because of the limited technology for some of my students. Thanks for the ideas!

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