Modifying the Flipped Classroom: The "In-Class" Version | Edutopia
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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.

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Valyne Esquibel's picture

I really liked how you set everything up. I can see myself using the station rotation model with my kids. I think this would allow me to work with the students who need that extra help while allowing the others to move on when they are ready.

Colleen Ganley's picture

Thanks Jennifer, I really liked the idea of an in-class flip. I have been contemplating flipping my classroom but have not felt confident enough to do it. I am going to try the modified flip first. Hopefully, it will allow me to transition easier into a fully flipped classroom. Also, your video was extremely helpful. I liked the idea of adding an extra station to deal with "overflow". Thanks.

MsHdz's picture

I tried this in a modified way in my class. I only had about 5 students working on grade level last year so I decided to in-class flip just this group. It worked beautifully and I saw eye-opening, measurable gains. Attitudes greatly improved, and the kids in the group blossomed. They would watch brief videos at the guided table, take very brief notes, then a few sample problems on their own. Then they got together with their group to do the homework segment and were to make sure that no one in the group was left behind and to teach each each other. I would "check in" with the group to answer questions briefly every day. There was lots of good conversation and they worked well as a group. After a few months I disbanded the flipped group and grades as well as spirits faltered within the group. It was an eye-opener for me. I am excites to try this again with self motivated students!

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

MsHdz, I'm so grateful that you came here to share this. It's one thing to hear people say they think this is a good idea, but it means so much more to have evidence that it's working in real classrooms. Do you have any advice to share with people who want to try this with their students? What factors contributed to its success for you?
Again, thank you for contributing to the conversation!

SCarowick's picture

I also use an online curriculum with students who are in a physical classroom. I like the in-class flip idea and the stations. It is hard to keep students motivated with an online curriculum. I will be using it with 7th and 8th grade students in Language Arts. I look forward to reading about successes, problems, and tips for using it!

Monica Soukup's picture

Thank you so much for this post. I have never thought about a flipped classroom, but I am going to do more research on it and decide if it something I could have in my classroom. Good luck with everything!

tishlerj's picture

Thank you for this wonderful post and video with very detailed information regarding how to use the flipped model in class. I had experimented with flipping two of my classes just for the last marking period of school last year. I am very fortunate that I had an opposite experience from the pitfalls you mentioned. Every student in those classes had reliable internet access from home and actually viewed the videos I created. So I had assumed the flip was a success! But when I surveyed those students about their opinions on the flipped model at the end of June, I was discouraged to hear some common complaints. They disliked not being able to ask me clarification questions and did not like walking into class the following day feeling uncertain or confused. I felt a little hopeless based on their feedback, but this post has shed a new light onto a way that I can continue to incorporate the flip. I love the idea of station #6, which will provide a solution to this issue.

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

tishlerj, I'm happy to hear that this is going to help you fine-tune your flipping this year. Come back and tell me later if students respond more positively this time around!

Teach Gold's picture

The "in-class flip" model may be a great option for our demographic. I know that many of our students often don't even have a telephone at home, much less access to the internet. With this said, the in-class flip model offers one solution to this problem. I like how this works well with station rotation that i think work work well in a social studies classroom. I see this element of the blended learning classroom to be one the students will look forward to and help them to remain motivated as they advance through rotations. In social studies, I vision many different types of mediums from interactive maps and primary sources to short recorded lectures. These ideas seem more realistic than loaning out technology.

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

Hey Mark,

I would give the remaining 10 (or whatever the number ends up being of students who are still waiting to access the flipped lesson on the iPads) a review of a skill that was covered in a previous lesson (possibly several lessons before, so you're spiraling) or an enrichment activity that has students apply or extend the lesson from the day before -- students may actually fall into two groups -- some who need the review, and others who need the extension. I also think some cooperative or collaborative work for small groups of students could do the trick.

Managing this type of arrangement certainly isn't without its challenges -- students have to get used to more independence, and this requires a different kind of classroom management. I found this report -- "An Up-Close Look at Student-Centered Math Teaching" -- that offers some good examples of ways to personalize learning for students (Part 2 is especially helpful for this). Here's a link:

I would love to hear back from you if you decide to give this a go. Talk to your students ahead of time about the idea (you might even show them the video) and have them help you think about potential problems and solutions. If they understand the rationale behind what you're trying, they're likely to want to be more cooperative.

Good luck!

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

Hi Oates.

It sounds like you are already on a good path. My recommendation to avoid being behind a screen all day would be to include active, hands-on work in every class. The options for this are pretty broad: Students can be put into discussion groups, do short problem-solving tasks, or work on more long-term inquiry projects. Social studies is not my content area, so I can only offer general suggestions for this, but I'm sure there are a lot of resources right here on Edutopia for making social studies more hands-on and interactive. Build some of those kinds of experiences into students' rotation.

Also, I'm curious about what happened with the layered curriculum and why it didn't work as expected for you. I have not tried it myself, but it looks like a really good approach. Have you decided not to move forward with it, or are you going to try again?

Ken Wong's picture

Hey Jennifer, I really enjoyed your article on In Class-Flip and video, well done. As others and yourself have mentioned, the blended or rotation activities lends well with flipped lesson activities incorporated into the lesson. Obviously Nawal had other thoughts which I do not totally agree with, I don't think you were renaming the concept of flipped learning but illustrating how it fits in with some of your teaching strategies. Most readers obviously agree and appreciate your efforts and I think Nawal's overly "wordy" response was missing the point. Keep up the good work.

Stacey Kerr's picture

My grade-level partner and I are using this method for the first time this year, with much success. We do a full-marking period research paper project with our 9th graders that begins with intensive research and ends with intensive synthesis and writing. Typically, students were ready for the writing part of the unit at different times, but we'd give our writing instruction (on making a works cited page, on doing parenthetical citations, etc.) as whole class lessons, whether students were ready for them or not.

This year, we did a lot of our lessons as either screencasts or Google Drive presentations that were available as "just in time" lessons on our eboards. Students were able to watch the lessons in class or at home, and the classroom turned into much more of a lab environment than it's ever been. Students are doing their papers in shared documents in Google Drive, so I'm constantly peeking in and saying things like, "Whoa! You don't have citations. Go watch the citations video again!"

Next year, we plan to add more lessons. We also have plans to re-record some of the longer ones as separate shorter lessons. Despite the ideas for improvement, I have to say that this is the best iteration of this unit I've done in the 8 years I've been teaching it.


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