The Flipped Classroom

I’m very excited about this new trend in education, the flipped classroom, because it can completely revamp traditional classroom teaching (which, in my opinion, needs some serious revamping—read any one of my previous posts, if you want to know more). For those of you who don’t know what the flipped classroom is, go here to view a graphic explanation, or read the quote below by Jonathan Martin, or watch this video:

“Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved.” Jonathan Martin

“Classrooms becoming laboratories and studios…” That’s practically poetry right there. What I love most about the flipped classroom is that it focuses class time on individual and interactive learning. First, it gives students the independence to learn anything and everything that they can potentially learn on their own on their own (yet another reason to hate in-class techniques that can be done more effectively at home like… cough… sustained silent reading… cough, cough—someday I really will write something positive about it). Second, the flipped classroom allows students to work with classmates and teachers during class to learn even more. Like the various universities that are now recording and posting entire lectures and courses on the internet, the flipped classroom allows teachers to record their lectures and post their presentations online, which then makes them more accessible to students and the community at large. This allows students to view and review the content as many times as necessary on their own, which then leaves more time for teachers to work with students one-on-one or in small groups. Instead of presenting new information each class, the teacher can spend time answering questions about content that the students are already somewhat familiar with.

The flipped classroom is also an excellent way to involve parents in their children’s learning. For example, if students are having a difficult time understanding some of the material in a particular class, they can sit down with their parents, watch a podcast or two with them, and then have their parents re-explain difficult concepts in a way that they can better understand.  Because most parents know their children better than most teachers know their students (at least they should), they are the ones who are most capable of adapting content to their children’s specifics needs and interests. One of the greatest tragedies and downsides of public education, in my opinion, is how easy it is for parents to be completely uninvolved in their children’s education. Because I was homeschooled, I was able to receive direct one-on-one attention from my father who has a PhD in education and who now works full-time as a professional tutor. One could argue that sometimes he was too involved in my education, but I’d rather have it be on this side of the pendulum than the other.

Another great thing about the flipped classroom and podcasts is that teachers can use these kind of technologies for formal assessments. One of the middle -school teachers I observed had his students videotape themselves quoting a passage of poetry. It was an easy way to evaluate their oral and memorization skills without taking up precious class time.

Below is my first attempt at a podcast for a flipped lesson. It’s not perfect, but I think it demonstrates how a teacher can try to make content concise, interesting, and visually stimulating through sharing a brief story engage attention, using diagrams and graphs to explain general concepts, and employing visual aides to complement spoken word. I didn’t mess with music, but that’s definitely something that I want to try next time. Basically, I think the ideal podcast would be a mini-movie or video, kind of like TED-talks or a short documentary. It could even be a film adaptation of a piece of literature or a visual representation of a short-story. Below is also an example of a digital story my classmates and I made for class. Obviously, if I want my flipped classrooms as a future teacher to be successful, I’ll have to seriously improve my skills with various movie and image editing technology.