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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

So. You've tried flipping your class, and it didn't go well. Or you've heard about flipping and want to try the approach, but you're pretty sure it won't work in your school. Don't give up yet -- with a slight twist, flipping might be possible for you after all.

Flipped classrooms -- where direct instruction happens via video at home, and "homework" takes place in class -- are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Early research on flipped learning looks promising. In its 2013 Executive Summary, the Flipped Learning Network reported that teachers who practice flipping have seen "higher student achievement, increased student engagement, and better attitudes toward learning and school."

But successful flipping has one big catch -- if it's going to work, the at-home learning absolutely must happen. And teachers have zero control over what happens at home. For one example, we can't guarantee reliable, consistent Internet access in every household -- not yet, anyway. Those committed to flipping have found creative fixes:

  • Arranging access before and after school
  • Lending out devices
  • Sending recorded lectures home on flash drives or DVDs

These are all workable solutions. Still, the extra work may dissuade some teachers from making the leap. And even if the technology issue is resolved, that doesn't help with chaotic home environments or students who have a tendency to let homework slide.

Modifying the Flipped Classroom Concept

None of these problems should stop us from trying, but there's another way to apply the flipped model without the problems associated with sending the work home. I'm calling it the "In-Class Flip."

The teacher records a lecture.

Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez

An In-Class Flip works like this. Just like with a traditional flip, the teacher pre-records direct instruction, say, in a video lecture. But instead of having students view the content at home, that video becomes a station in class that small groups rotate through. The rest of their time is spent on other activities -- independent work and group work, with some activities related to the lesson and others focusing on different course content. As with a traditional flip, the direct instruction runs on its own, which frees the teacher for more one-on-one time with students.

This video shows you how to do it:


Besides the fact that it avoids the home-related problems of a traditional flip, the In-Class Flip has other advantages as well:

  1. The teacher can observe whether students are really watching. When attention starts to stray, the instructor can get students back on track right away. To boost accountability even more, try a platform like Educanon, which allows you to embed any video into an online multiple-choice assessment that you create yourself.
  2. The initial exposure to the video content has a better chance to sink in. The teacher can answer questions with more immediacy. And for students who struggle, the instructor can send them directly back to the video for a refresher.
  3. Hardware is (presumably) safer. There's less risk of a device getting broken or lost if it remains in the classroom.

Students go to a station for the lecture.

Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez


In-Class Flipping is not without its own challenges:

  1. It doesn't make for tidy one-period lesson plans. With short daily class periods, you won't be able to do a single-day flip. You need enough stations to provide work for students who haven't seen the video and some for those who have. That kind of rotation takes time. Instead of individual days, plan in bigger chunks of time where students have weekly goals and can reach them at their own pace, in any order. Traditional flips pose similar management challenges, but experienced flippers have figured out how to make it work. The discussion forums on the Flipped Learning Network offer great ideas and advice.
  2. More preparation is required at the beginning. Setting up and fine-tuning stations -- not to mention recording videos -- takes time, so start slow. Once you've been flipping for a few years, you'll have stations and videos that can be recycled.
  3. Technically, you don’t "gain" more class time. Because the traditional flip moves the direct instruction outside of school hours, there is more time for classwork. The In-Class Flip can't do this. But think about those cases where traditional flipping results in unevenly prepared classes -- in these scenarios, the teacher has to catch up students who didn't do the home viewing, so the net gain may ultimately be pretty low.

Top-down view of stations within a classroom.

Credit: Jennifer Gonzalez

Flipping is a great way to take advantage of new technologies, and it's still in its infancy. If it hasn't worked for you yet, don't throw that baby out with the bathwater. Try an In-Class Flip.


Comments (38)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Connie's picture

This is a wonderful idea. I work with a small group of children who are kenesthetic learners. Even though, I have a small group,I findit hard to get one on one time with each child. I am going to use try your flip-flop classroom instruction. However, I am going to let them use individual I-Pads to view my instruction.

Connie Winter

Todd's picture
IB Psychology Teacher G 11 G 12

The inflipped classroom i like. My dilemma sometimes is generating station ideas ( i plan by myself---not on purpose). It would be great if some might share a few ideas. I'm teaching Humanities and Psychology---I think this would well for both subjects. Thanks to those who posted so far,

Kate's picture

Thanks, Jennifer! I really enjoyed reading this twist on the flipped classroom. Flipping is a major topic in my education classes and something that I definitely want to try when I begin teaching. It's great to have additional tools and variations to keep it fresh for students, and to allow for those students that may not have reliable internet access at home. I also like Stacey K.'s idea of using short videos to provide/review instruction during long-term projects. Excellent stuff!

Rafael Angel's picture
Rafael Angel
IB PYP MYP DP Spanish B and French B

Dear Jennifer,
I was happy to read your entry for this is what has helped me go beyond my expectations in my teaching-learning rapport with my students. When parents tell you they are learning along with their kids through your videos, it's just priceless.

The strategies that you have mentioned have helped me enormously in the processes of differentiation, which are extremely necessary in a language class; moreover, this way of working has truly helped me witness my students learning styles and strengths, and, as a result, I am more aware of what they can do best, and how I can make the most of their talents.
I have found this strategy to be quite effective in terms of helping students develop a sense of belonging in the language learning level they are at, for it truly empowers them to find out how much they can do on their own, and to use me as a resource only when they truly need to.
This is a reflection of one of my best experiences in the modification of the flipped classroom: http://rafangel.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/an-efl-approach-to-teach-spanis...


Betty Rose's picture

great article, I have really enjoyed reading this. I have been looking everywhere for some different literacy activities to try with my two young children.

Roseanne Byrne's picture
Roseanne Byrne
Primary teacher in Australia. Love 21st Century Learning

Sounds a bit like what we do under David Langford's Quality Learning Approach. But we take it a step further. In my Year 4 class kids were given a fortnightly matrix (subjects or topics, perhaps, projects, even specific skills) and have to prove with evidence that 'I can'. Kids opt in as needed by them into 'workshops' covering key elements of the learning. Workshops could be by their teacher or a team teacher. Rarely more than an hour of workshops per day. The biggest surprises for me have been:
- student ownership of their learning
- engagement because they own the learning
- how quickly the learning happens
- kids knowing not only what to learn but why they were learning it (matrices have to be high quality)
- students giving effective feedback about the teaching (what worked, what they needed more or less of
- students able to identify their own learning goals
- their capacity to work independently and to support each other and PROBLEM SOLVE together
- my capacity time wise to really teach those who needed it, and push along the gifted and talented and often just hard workers.
- overall - the effective us of everyone's time. Kids walking in the door and working independently (OMG). and voluntarily taking things home to IMPROVE them.
The growth in their capacity to self evaluate stunned me. In 10 weeks I felt like I was teaching mostly geniuses! And this is a run of the mill population.
I wish I wasn't retiring this year. It's so exciting when you get to do what you should be doing. Thanks Namadgi!

bree's picture
5th grade reading teacher

I am new to the flipping idea! I'm very excited to research more into this topic. I love the idea of rotations or stations. I have found that many students love the independence and after the initial "we're free, lets chat!" stage has passed, students will become more in charge of their own learning. What are some resources you suggest for these stations and videos? I can't wait to experiment.

kaykonk's picture


This was an awesome article! Thank you for sharing your idea of bringing the flipped classroom into the classroom. Flipping our classrooms is something that we as a 7th grade language arts department have talked about, but have not quite figured out just yet how to approach it to reach all of our students. I think that using this technique would be a great way to ease into the flipping of the classroom by setting up the stations and having them watch a video, then if it works okay and we have the resources, we could completely flip if possible. However, I really do love this idea about keeping it in the classroom so then I can better monitor what they are gaining and how they apply what they learn from the video station, for instance, and how they apply it to the rest of the activities. I cannot wait to share this approach with my department, and my team! Thanks!

Mia Pezzuolo's picture
Mia Pezzuolo
Intervention Specialist, Youngstown, Ohio

What a great article!!! As a special education teacher teaching in an inclusion environment for the first time, I have struggled to find ways to manage small group environments within that setting as well as during my intervention time which is quite limited. This gave me some great ideas!!! I'm so grateful!

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