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Video Transcript: The Flipped Class: Rethinking Space and Time


Jon: The Flipped class requires us to fundamentally rethink two important aspects of education, space and time.

Aaron: So let's talk a little bit about space. If you think about the way classrooms have been set up traditionally. They had a chalkboard in the front of the classroom. And then those chalkboards become white boards. And then those white boards became overhead projectors, which then turned into LCD projectors that we hung on the ceiling. But really the classroom in all of those situations is a presentation station. It's not a center of learning. When we rethink the space of the classroom, we're reorienting how the classroom is used, where the front of the classroom is or where the front of the classroom isn't.

Jon: All you have to really do is rethink where are you going to put tables and chairs. But then that begs a very interesting question, now what do you do with the extra time you're going to have in a Flipped classroom with the kids?

Aaron: The short answer is we don't know what the best use of your face-to-face class time is. But what we want to encourage you to do is to think about ways you can get your students engaged in some of the higher order thinking, the higher tiers of Bloom's Taxonomy, the analysis and application and evaluation and creation components all within the context of the content that they've already learned before they come to class in better ways with an expert in the room, a contentary expert and a learning expert. And that expert is you.

Jon: This probably sounds familiar, project-based learning, PBL, universal design for learning, inquiry learning. These learning pedagogies fit greatly in a Flipped Learning environment.

Aaron: In short, a Flipped classroom is a way for teachers to transition into the role of facilitator, becoming that guide on the side. We really see the Flipped classroom as a transitional tool for educators to move away from being the center of attention in the classroom and move that attention onto students and onto the learning that's happening in those classrooms.

[ applause ]

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  • Hosts: Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams
  • Web Video Producer: Christian Amundson
  • Editor: Daniel Jarvis
  • Graphics: Cait Camerata
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  • 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.

Flipped learning is more than just an efficient way to teach. It is also an opportunity to take students to deeper levels of comprehension and engagement. One of the most important benefits of flipped learning is that it takes the teacher away from the front of the room. No longer is class focused on information dissemination, but instead, time can be spent helping students with difficult concepts and extending the learning to deeper levels.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of flipped learning is that it gives teachers more time to interact with students one-to-one and in small groups. Teachers are using the time that was once used for direct instruction in a variety of ways to deepen student learning. Here are three suggestions for ways in which teachers can use that extra time for taking students deeper.

Help With the "Hard Stuff"

An integral part of the learning process is when we are stretched outside of our comfort zone -- without being stretched too far that we are incapable of succeeding. Much of what we teach is necessarily difficult for students to understand. When they are exposed to a topic for the first time, they will struggle. Ideally, the teacher is there to help students navigate through their struggles, but in many traditional classes, students are sent home to wrestle with the "hard stuff" by themselves. In a flipped-learning environment, the "easy stuff" (content delivery and lower-order thinking) happens outside the class, and the hard stuff happens in the class where the teacher is able to assist the students. This better matches students' points of struggle with the right resource: the teacher.

Correcting Misconceptions

Students sometimes learn things incorrectly. As science teachers, we especially saw this when they would come to class with misunderstandings about the natural world. Students who hold these misconceptions need to be retaught, or they will leave class with misinformation. In a flipped-learning model, the teacher is continually interacting with small groups of students or working with them individually. This enables many opportunities to monitor their learning. When a teacher spots misconceptions, she is able to quickly intervene and prevent further problems.

Questioning Activities

Many teachers who utilize flipped learning check that students have interacted with the required video material by asking individual students a series of questions about the content. When students arrive at class, the teacher can address the questions in a large group. But better yet, as the teacher circulates throughout the room, he can interact with each student and have them each ask their own questions.

We utilized this technique and found it to be one of the most useful strategies we ever implemented. In this instance, each student was able to ask his or her own questions, and taking the time to answer those questions individually or in small groups proved to be truly powerful learning interactions. We found that some students didn't know how to formulate and ask a good question, that others often revealed misconceptions by their questions, and that others wanted to take what they had learned to deeper levels than we could ever have imagined. Those students who struggled to ask good questions were able, over the course of the school year, to develop their questioning strategies. Those with misconceptions learned to explain things in a new way. And those students who took the content to new levels were able to stoke sparks of curiosity as they explored their deeper questions.

These three strategies are by no means an exhaustive list of ways to take your students deeper with flipped learning. How have you been able to take your students to deeper levels of understanding? We would love to hear your strategies.

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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.

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Sara Abraham Albakri's picture

Hi Jon,

Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed listening and reading your article. I am a Masters student at the University of Michigan. Currently, I am a student intern in a classroom that is pretty much set up in a "teacher oriented" fashion. I find that this strategy very interesting and I have not had the pleasure to practice it yet because my classroom is a science classroom with lab tables. I was wondering if you had any suggestions about how I can still incorporate flipped learning when desks are immobile? I really think implementing a flipped classroom would aid in many of the ways you mentioned in your article; but, what do you do when you can't?

warmest regards,

Jon Bergmann's picture
Jon Bergmann
Teacher, Author, Speaker, Educational Consultant, Flipped Class Pioneer

Clearly when many of our rooms were designed architecturally, they were set up with one purpose: for the teacher to "teach" or rather, to lecture. This makes it hard especially when your room can't be rearranged. We were science teachers who had tables in our rooms, but they were movable, so we moved them. But I know that many science rooms have built in tables complete with water, gas, and other things. I really think the flipped classroom is more of a mindset instead of a rearrangement of the furniture--though it is better if you do rethink your space. So my advice: still flip and figure out the best way to work with the existing room you have. It is beyond your control, but the more important thing is to rethink the value of face to face class time.

I hope this helps.

Alexis Radney Mercedes's picture

Thanks very much for these amazing videos! I think you are making a wonderful job to improve education. I only have a question. How can I use these videos with Spanish language speakers? Teachers from countries like Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic.

Ken Wong's picture

Met John and Aaron at Flipcon15 in Coomera, Qld, Australia, these guys are legends! Really personable and experts in their field, thanks for spending time with us Down Under!

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