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

Advantages

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

Challenges

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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Kristin N's picture

I was very excited to see this because this is my exact vision as my school moves into the blended learning classroom. I do not believe that the flipped classroom will be the most effective learning method for my students, especially since many do not have access to technology or the parent support needed at home to make this worth the effort. I really like the idea behind the flipped classroom because it maximizes teacher time with students one-on-one and in small groups. Therefore, I have decided to try it in addition to the station rotation model. Seeing this only confirmed my decision and I am excited to slowly work the change into my teaching. Looking forward to more 21st century learning to come!

Christine's picture

I really like this article about the modified flipped classroom. Like some of the others have said, this is more like what we are trying this year at our school, and I like that it gives more information about how to do this. It combines the rotation model with the modified flipped classroom to make it possible to do in class. While the challenges are true and we need more plan time to get started, I think that this is a way to successfully implement blended learning into the classroom. We just need to know how to find the data we need to plan instruction, and we need to know how to plan groups accordingly.

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.

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Ingrid Dillehay's picture

I agree with some that I would just call this what it is, which is station rotation. I appreciate this model, because the teacher knows that the students have seen the instruction. There are also less barriers due to no technology at home.

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

A lot of time has passed since you wrote this, but I'm curious to know how it went. Did you implement the rotation? Are you still using this approach?

Victoria Smith's picture

Jennifer,

I really like the idea of the flipped classroom but have been faced with the realization that my student's home life is not ideal for this type of learning. I like the idea of the in-class flipped classroom as you described. This looks rather easy to implement, once you get the logistics figured out. We are required to do small groups with our students in both reading and math for differentiating instruction. For reading, there isn't much time for whole group instruction. By recording the videos before class, whole group instruction could be via this video and then applied in the following station. We have a few days before state testing but I'm definitely going to use this approach afterwards to see how it works for my students. I think this will be a welcomed change for them.

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

I'm so glad to hear it. This is a perfect time of year to experiment. Please come back and tell me how it went!

meyer27's picture

I appreciated reading this post. I was actually just talking with some other teachers this morning about frustrations around homework and that so many of our students don't do it, but it poses a problem in our classes when some do and some don't. This idea of the flipped classroom inside the classroom definitely provides some food for thought on handling this issue. I still think we want to give our students the opportunity to have homework and encourage them to do it, so I see this more as a transition model than sticking with this forever. We still want to encourage autonomy and stamina in our students to take responsibility for their work while realizing that many of them go home to lives that are out of control. I want to find the balance between giving them support that they need and enabling bad habits or laziness.

I can see using this as a piece of my blended learning model. We are looking to use blended learning in our district as a way to differentiate instruction and allow students to take their learning at their own pace. Some students may skip the station if they have done the assignment at home and then have the opportunity to do another station instead. I'm okay with the management being a little messy and kids being at different places in the lesson, not ending clearly at the end of one period but having their learning happen over the course of a few lessons.

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

I love the way you're thinking. First of all, the idea of using it as a transitional model is great -- in lots of cases, students may need that scaffolding to understand what exactly should happen at home. And I never thought of offering the in-class viewing station as a kind of "make-up" station for those who didn't do the at-home viewing. I agree that it could enable bad habits -- maybe a way to prevent that is to make the "extra" station (the one you get to do if you DID do the home lesson) something really good?

Sund2274's picture

Blended learning is a relatively new concept for me. I was briefly introduced to blended learning while co-teaching a class. After learning more about flipped classroom, I can see that with the proper preparation, this model would be an effective learning method promoting differentiation in my reading class. I did have some worries regarding home computer availability and use. However, it appears with this model, barriers are decreased due to lack of available technology at home.

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.

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