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.
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.
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.