George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Video Transcript: The Flipped Class: Overcoming Common Hurdles

Jon Bergmann: Here are some tips to overcome some of the hurdles and blunders that we’ve seen commonly happen as teachers flip their classrooms.

Aaron Sams: Make sure your students can access the content. We all know that not all students have access to the Internet at their home, so you may have to come up with some other solutions. Get some flash drives, check them out to students; burn the video content onto DVDs; or write a grant, get a class set of some sort of digital device that you can check out to your students and they can take home and use that way.

Jon Bergmann: Make sure you teach your students how to watch a video. You say, “My kids know how to watch a video.” Yes, they know how to watch “Spiderman”, but that’s not the same as watching an educational video that you’ve created for them to watch. Ultimately you’re trying to teach them how to interact with the video content in a meaningful way that causes them to reflect and think through what they’re being exposed to. I had a conversation with a sixth grade teacher and he said, “I spent three weeks teaching my students how to watch a video.” He had, you know, little guys, you know, twelve-year olds. I had sixteen-year olds. It makes a huge difference based on the maturity of the kids and what they are ready and prepared to learn.

Aaron Sams: Keep in mind that the length of the video does matter. Our rule of thumb is one to one and a half minutes per grade level that the students are in. So a fourth grade student-- you’re talking four to six minutes max. A tenth grade student-- ten to fifteen maximum. Keep it short and if you need to make more videos that are short, that’s better than making fewer videos that are long. Another question that a lot of teachers ask is, “What do I do if students show up to my class and they haven’t viewed the content?” Well, let’s be real here. I mean, there are kids who are gonna show up to any classroom who haven’t done their homework. That’s just a reality that we live in as educators. It’s really not that different in a flipped classroom. But there are ways that you can safeguard or build in some steps to keep kids engaged while they’re viewing the content and that you can use to check to see if they have. We took the low-tech approach; we just wanted to see some notes. Other teachers are embedding these videos onto a webpage and embedding like a Google form underneath it to collect some data from the students, having them answer some questions. You could just pose a question in the video themselves and have the students bring the answer to that question as an entrance ticket into class. So there’s all sorts of different ways that you can check to see if students actually did their work and then you as a teacher, as an educator, will just hold them accountable for that.

Jon Bergmann: Ultimately, I think the key is that you hold kids accountable. If they’ve made the poor choice of not doing the work, then what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna take that time and you’re gonna say, “You know have to watch the video in class while the other kids are getting help on the hard stuff.”

Aaron Sams: So some teachers get a little intimidated by this idea of creating their own videos. Really you don’t need a super-duper studio. You don’t need to worry about high-dollar cameras and things like that. But there are a few techniques that you can do to really improve the quality of you stuff. So sit in a room with good lights, have a nice area to work and don’t have a distracting background. Have it something nice and simple. Those are things that you can introduce to help the quality. Another question you should ask yourself is, “Do I need it to be perfect? Or do I need it on Tuesday?” So some teachers can get bogged down in trying to have everything just perfect, but how many of your actual live lessons in a classroom have been perfect? Probably not very many. We teach naturally. We teach organically and we speak to our students in a way that’s meaningful to them. Make these videos the same way; just make them effective content-delivery tools. Don’t worry about trying to make a Hollywood production out of it.

Jon Bergmann: One of the beauties of the flipped class is it’s very scalable. You know what? You don’t have to flip a class. You could flip one lesson. Or you could flip a unit. Or you could flip a whole class. It’s scalable. So one recommendation we would have for you is maybe you need to start small and figure out what’s the best place to flip. If I were to give you a recommendation of what you should flip if you’re looking for a lesson, find something that your kids struggle with. I was working with a group of fourth grade teachers and we were talking about math. And they said-- in unison they said, “My kids struggle with long division.” I said, “That’s your first flipped class video is long division.” So what’s the equivalent of long division for you? That’s your first lesson to flip.

Aaron Sams: So to recap, make sure all of your students have access to the content.

Jon Bergmann: Make sure to teach them how to watch the videos.

Aaron Sams: Build in some safeguards to make sure that all students are actually watching the videos.

Jon Bergmann: Don’t feel the need to make your videos perfect.

Aaron Sams: And don’t try to do too much all at once. Take it step-by-step, take it slow and before long you’ll have flipped your class.

[ applause ]

Get Video
Embed Code Embed Help

You are welcome to embed this video, download it for personal use, or use it in a presentation for a conference, class, workshop, or free online course, so long as a prominent credit or link back to Edutopia is included. If you'd like more detailed information about Edutopia's allowed usages, please see the Licenses section of our Terms of Use.

  • Hosts: Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams
  • Web Video Producer: Christian Amundson
  • Editor: Daniel Jarvis
  • Graphics: Cait Camerata
  • Web Video Strategy Coordinator: Keyana Stevens
  • Senior Manager of Video: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Production Services: Scrappers Film Group

Editor's Note: This post was co-authored by Aaron Sams, Managing Director of and founding member of the Flipped Learning Network.

Flipping your classroom is a great way to move from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side." But that shift can also bring about a number of other complications. For instance:

  • What if students can't access the internet at home?
  • What if students simply don't know how to watch an educational video?
  • What if students blow it off and don't watch the content at all?
  • What if you don't feel confident at making videos?
  • What if you don't even know where to start?

The answers to these questions are in the video above.

Meanwhile, the rest of this post will delve into one of these questions in more detail: What happens if students don't know how to watch an educational video?

Watching vs. Interacting

To answer this question, there is a word that I would like to take out of the vocabulary of flipped classroom teachers. That word is watch -- as in: "Students are supposed to watch a video at home and then come to class prepared to learn." Watch is such a passive word. Students watch a Batman movie, they watch a TV show like The Voice, but we don't want students to watch flipped class videos.

Rather . . .

We want them to interact with the video content. There is research which states that passive learning (even learning with video) doesn't help students achieve more. Here are a few practical ways that you can bring some interactivity into your flipped class videos.

Low Tech

1. Set up an advanced organizer for students to use as they interact with the video.

2. Tell them to pause the video and do something like solve a problem, predict an outcome, or write down an interesting question. [Hint: If you tell them to pause the video, make sure that you pause your presentation for a few seconds, giving them time to hit the pause button.]

High Tech

1. Create a Google Form that the students will use to answer questions. Here's our video on how to do this:

2. Use the built-in quizzing feature in your school's Learning Management System.

3. Use some free tools like eduCanon or Zaption, which will pause the video at teacher-selected times and insert pop-up questions. Afterward, the teacher knows who watched the video, how long they watched the video, if they skipped any parts of the video, and how well they did on each question.

4. Use a questioning app such as Verso, which has students interact with each other on learning objects such as flipped videos.

5. Build your video using one of these tools, which provide analytics of student responses:

So let's take the word watch out of our vocabulary, and start telling people that we are having students interact with content before class.

Please share with us other ways that you encourage students to interact with your flipped class videos.

Was this useful? (2)
Flipped-Learning Toolkit
Thinking about flipping your classroom? Flipped-learning pioneers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams walk you through the steps you need to take to make blended learning a reality.

Comments (2) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Asma's picture
ICT Teacher

Great post, you answered many of my questions and inquiries about flipping the classroom

Matthew Miller's picture

Love this series - I'm using it for a Tech-PD session at my school with teachers who want to get started flipping.

One thing I do with some success is to spend the last few minutes of the class _before_ a flip lesson asking questions. Open ended, "what if...," "how come?" type questions. They are oriented toward the content coming up in that evening's video, but may not be answered directly by the video. Most specifically, they do not have 'right' answers for which the students are to listen to the video - I hate that approach. They're discussion openers. Big questions.

Not every lesson lends itself to this approach, but it's one useful tool in my flipped classroom toolbox.


Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.