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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

Eric Russo's picture
Eric Russo
8th grade RELA and SPED teacher from Suitland, MD

I'm doing this currently as a flipped PBL assignment. Students access the videos as they need to while working through the writing process. I actually allow them to make the mistakes first and then view the videos because it has more meaning for them that way. As I go around the room I may tell them, "check out the video on setting." So far it's been useful. The kids who are viewing in advance tend to have to go back anyway.

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

Eric, that sounds like a great process. It seems like the re-watching would help kids make that same leap with reading, too. Lots of students fight the idea that there's any value in re-reading a text, so the practice of re-watching a video can show them just how much you miss on the first go-around of any "read."

pablo's picture

I love the idea of a flipped classroom. I also like the in-class flip and the advantages to practicing it. The best way for a teacher to know if the student is comprehending what is being learned is to see it done correctly. The advantage of making the video lectures in-class is that it gives the students an opportunity to clarify with the teacher.

Alex Selkirk's picture
Alex Selkirk
New York

Hi Jen - We have been doing a lot of research working on expanding our critical reading platform, Ponder, to support video, to help address the challenges of flip. To your point, we can't give teachers more control over what happens at home, but we can provide scaffolding to make the time more productive for students, and provide teachers with more information to use in reviewing the flipped material back in class. The scaffold is important because while watching the video (even in class) the students are practicing an independent and not yet familiar thought process.

I just published a blog post summarizing our thinking so far and am curious what prerequisites you see as essential for flip. http://blog.ponder.co/2014/03/24/implementing-flip-higher-order-literacy...

newteacherhelp.com's picture
Adjunct Instructor at Missouri State University

Love this concept! I also like the way Dr. Lodge McCammon at N.C. State University does his "In-Class" flipping - he has students watch a 7-minute (or so) video, then do 40 minutes of activities related to the video lesson, then watch the 7-minute video again to reinforce learning. There are more ideas in this online Flipping course....you can see the first lesson at http://bit.ly/FlipLesson1
Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Sarah Baldwin's picture
Sarah Baldwin
K-9 Music, MS History & Language Arts, & Character Education

While I have done this in my MS History classroom, this video sparked ideas for doing it in my Music classes. Students come to music class with a range of backgrounds, interests, and skills. Stations with foundational and differentiated components would help engage each student - whether the topic is music theory, composition, history, or performance. Thank you for the encouragement to keep working and re-working the In-Class Flip!

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.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

Stacey, I just wanted to say that the work you and your partner are doing sounds amazing.

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