When I Flip, You Flip, We Flip!

So get this…
​Traditionally teachers use the class period to teach their students the information needed to master a topic, and there will hopefully be enough time at the end of the lesson for students to ask all of their questions, and get the needed amount of clarification before the bell rings or it’s time to move to a new subject. Traditionally in an effort to provide practice opportunities, students are given an assignment before their class ends, and are expected to complete the assignment that night without access to their teacher for further assistance their parents aren’t always able to provide them with. Traditionally this model yields wonderful results as far as the creation of society-contributing scholars, but in a time where students need 21st century teachers to get the absolute most out of their education, “traditional” no longer reigns supreme. The new kid on the block is classroom flipping, and the model is allowing both students and teachers to get more out of the normal school day.

The interest is building… Building… Building… Okay, let’s continue…

​Flipped classrooms are a unique way for the 21st century teacher to work with technology, better asses where their students are in their studies, and control time management in the classroom more productively. Instead of spending 80% of the class delivering the day’s lesson, teachers are able to start class with the lesson delivered and spend 100% of the time helping their students master the topic at hand. This is done by students getting the teacher-guided lesson while they are at home for homework, and doing their assignment in class for classwork (Bergmen & Smith, 2012). While at home the students may have to watch a series of YouTube videos, complete a subject sampler or treasure hunt activity, or watch an entire lesson recorded by the teacher as if they are sitting in class. The following day the students will be able to discuss their take-aways with the class or in small groups, collaborate on class projects, or talk through questions with the teacher for a better understanding. Using this classroom model, the teacher can almost be seen as an educational moderator, by providing their students with the information and tools for comprehension, and allowing them to create and share their own ideas.

Now for the good whiskey and the cheap wine…
​As with anything else in the world, there are going to be pros and cons to using the flipped classroom model. The biggest pro from a very vast list, would have to be how class time is used. As a student, I can’t count how many times my teacher has announced that they wish there was more time for explanations or that something will have to be continued to the next class. This issue is frustrating for the teacher, sure, but even more for the student. With the use of a flipped classroom, students will be able to feel more prepared knowing what the day’s lesson is, and be more open to learning knowing there will be plenty of time for them to discuss concepts they simply don’t understand. On the same spectrum, teachers will be able to devote more time to their students’ understanding, and utilize new ways for technology use, encouraging high level thinking, dialogue, and problem solving (What is a Flipped Classroom). Another pro would be the accessibility of lessons. Due to the lesson being online, the content will always be accessible should a student need to replay something they didn’t quite catch, or if they want to review the lesson material for an upcoming test. Online content also means that students can learn at the pace they need, and can stay caught up with the rest of the class if they have to miss a day or two (Roshan & Roshan, 2012).

Staying with the online point, it could also be a huge con. While the idea seems easy enough to execute, there are still certain tools – like an internet connection, compatible programs, a recording device, and an electronic that can effectively access the internet- that are needed by both the teacher and the student for a flipped classroom to work. The teacher can get around the recording element if they use material that is already made, but they would still need an internet connection to find appropriate content. On the same scale, a student needs access not only to internet, but an environment conducive to learning a class lesson that would normally be delivered in a classroom. Homework is one thing, but the attention needed to learn an entire new concept is a different type of animal. It is risky to assume that all of your students have access to resources to oblige to a flipped classroom.

The most important part of a flipped classroom is the content the students are provided with for their lesson. The material chosen or created by the teacher should not just provide information, but teach students things they will need to know for topic mastery. A good start for where to get content would be kid or student versions of reliable sources like NASA Kids, CNN Student News, Discover Education, and History Classroom. For creating original videos or content for your lessons, helpful tools would be applications and programs like Screencast-o-matic, Weebly, YouTube, and PowerPoint. Other tools to keep in mind would be Kahn Academy, EdX, Ted-Ed, NeoK12, SqoolTube and the list goes on and on (Tools for Flipping). Basically classroom flipping can be amazing for the student and teacher, but if done wrong it can also be horrible. The important thing to remember is to teach with technology, not use technology to teach.

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