Flipped About the Flipped Classroom?

Five years ago, high school chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams purchased software to record lessons missed by absent students.  The online videos grew in popularity among students who had missed the lecture and those that had not.  When Bergman and Sams rethought their teaching structure and enabled students to watch lessons for homework while using class time for more one-on-one guidance, “the flipped classroom” was born.

Since we posted this infographic describing the main principles behind the flipped classroom, we at The Science Muse has been intrigued by the concept and we wanted to do a little research.  By allowing students to watch a lecture outside of the classroom, you can free up precious in-class hours to tackle difficult problems, collaborate in groups, and offer additional instruction to pinpoint failures in communication.

With any educational reform, it’s critical to weigh the benefits and the drawbacks.

Benefits of the flipped classroom:

  • Teachers can create educationally entertaining videos to capture student attention instead of having students absorb through text books and homework problems.
  • Students receive instant feedback in class as they are problem solving.
  • Students are not as frustrated because they can ask questions immediately and work through confusion. Teachers can revisit concepts that trip-up students and reform the pace of the lesson plan based on feedback.
  • Students do not have to rely on parents or potentially inaccurate internet sources to work through tough problems.
  • Teachers can cater to students with different learning styles and offer more one-on-one time.
Possible draw backs:
  • Not all students have access to at-home technology.
  • Not all teachers are tech savvy enough to master the flipped classroom model, and schools may need to adopt additional hiring criteria for new teachers.
  • The method relies on students watching the videos and potentially fails if they do not.
  • Teachers may be at a loss as what to do with in-class time.  Teachers are more reliant on student feedback and questions to drive daily interaction.
  • With the emphasis on out of class lessons, some ask why we need teachers, and insist the flipped classroom too closely resembles a hands-off online learning environment.

Is the flipped classroom model a good fit for you? As always, keep in mind your classroom needs and roadblocks as you weigh the options. Then design a teaching model tailored to fit your needs.

Tips for success:

If you are interested in trying out the flipped classroom, here are some tips for success from Connected Principals.

Resources to help:

Join The Flipped Class Network which is a community of 2300 educators interested in exchanging flipping the classroom techniques.

Have you tried the flipped classroom? We’d love to hear from The Science Muse readers. Tell us your insights below!

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