Blended learning stations and flipped lessons aren’t new, and many middle and high school teachers are already incorporating these strategies into their classrooms. Either strategy can be effective for improving student learning, but what if the combination of these strategies—pairing video lessons that can be rewatched with stations that reinforce new learning—can create a student-centered learning environment?
Adding short, flipped lessons into a station rotation provides a way to add targeted instruction that is self-paced and allows teachers to provide feedback and interventions as needed.
The Benefits of Adding Flips to Stations
Class sizes are growing, which makes it necessary to find creative ways to differentiate instruction while keeping students engaged. Flipped lessons are short, recorded lessons that you create to model or reteach a concept. Traditionally, students watch a flipped lesson at home, and then they practice the concepts they’ve learned at school.
However, when the flips are viewed during class, teachers can provide immediate feedback and individualized interventions based on student needs. Flipping lessons during stations also eliminates lag time between the lesson and practice. Students can work through concepts in station activities that are created to reinforce the skills from the lesson. Flipped lessons and stations complement each other and provide more flexibility in student learning.
Teachers may be hesitant to add flipped lessons due to limited access to technology or the internet for students working at home, or concerns about the students not completing the work. Adding flipped lessons in class where there is access to reliable technology and the internet creates an equitable environment for students to benefit from the flipped lessons.
Working through flipped lessons in class still allows students to work at their own pace and adds accountability for completing the work. Teachers can easily observe the students working and step in immediately when students get stuck in order to help them get back on task.
Combining flipped lessons with stations also frees teachers to move into the role of mentor and guide in the classroom. Students learn at their own pace through the flipped lessons and practice in stations, while the teacher monitors and helps students and provides clarification to those who need it. My students choose the order in which they complete the lessons after they complete the flipped video. A key benefit of this is the organic workflow it creates for them.
Students are all at different levels of understanding, so I can act as a floater in class and help them as needed, whether they’re working on their own or in small groups. I’ve also found that the students I already helped will then go help others as needed.
How to Add Flipped Video Lessons Into Stations
Adding flipped lessons to a station rotation can deepen students’ learning in the classroom, and with the addition of a few helpful tools, it can be easy to set up.
1. Start small by adding a flipped video and two related stations. I plan stations for two or three days each week. Choose a concept to teach and skills that students will practice with the video and in stations. I use the flipped video lesson as the starting point for all students, followed by the stations.
2. Stations can be on paper or online. It’s ideal if students can complete them in about 10 minutes. My classes are 48 minutes long, and stations with a flipped lesson take around 35–40 minutes. Look for activities that will reinforce the concepts and allow for collaboration with other students.
One time-saving strategy I’ve used is taking online worksheets from past years and cutting and pasting them into station activities. An on-paper activity I did involved a worksheet on latitude and longitude where I used a portion of the worksheet in a flipped video for a scaffolded demonstration. Then students completed the rest of the paper on their own or with a partner after watching the video.
3. Choose a program to create your flipped videos. I use Screencastify, which allows me to record and edit short lessons for free. Teachers can create a variety of videos using desktop and window recording, or by using it along with a document camera. The program can be added as an extension to the Chrome or Microsoft Edge browsers for easy access, and it has a variety of settings to tailor the videos to the teacher’s needs.
The free version does limit the recordings to 5-minute videos, but this is ample for short lessons, and you can record a series of videos if more time is required. In addition, I’ve discovered that keeping the flipped videos short helps maintain student engagement.
4. Maintain your videos for future use. Many programs allow you to save videos. However, they may not work if you try to embed them in certain learning management systems or slide decks. You can create a YouTube channel for your videos, which gives you more options for sharing and embedding, while also providing space to create a video library for free.
5. Consider modeling concepts for your students. Modeling has proven to be an effective teaching strategy, and creating flipped lessons with modeling and talking through the steps of a concept as students follow along and practice the skill provide a hands-on approach to learning. While a script isn’t necessary to create this type of video, I find that notes are helpful to keep the video organized and reduce dead airtime while the teacher thinks of what to say next.