Flipping the Classroom — Breaking the Mold of Traditional Teaching

By Addie Albano on April 24, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

As an educator, one of my greatest joys is seeing student growth and achievement. I also hope to never stop learning myself. Over the years I have been submersed in two areas of education in particular: Response to Intervention (RTI) and Differentiated Instruction (DI), the latter of which has become the cornerstone of my daily teaching. It is clear that my students are making significant strides as a result of implementing these teaching methods. However, I find that I am constantly asking myself “can I do more?” and “is this type of teaching making the most impact?”

Since the world of education is always evolving, it is important to not get attached to any one teaching style. This past year, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and learn about an entirely different approach to instruction: the flipped classroom.


What Is "Flipping the Classroom?

The brainchild of Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, the flipped classroom makes technology the primary source of learning, thus freeing up time for the teacher to work with students individually. It's called “flipping” because students view teacher-created videos at home and do assigned homework in class. In their article "The Flipped Class: Myths vs. Reality," Bergmann and Sams explain that the flipped classroom means more interaction and personalized contact time between students and teachers. It also forces students to take more responsibility for their own learning. And because the lectures are recorded, students who miss class or who need extra review don't get left behind.

Bergmann and Sams stress that the flipped classroom is NOT an online course. Teachers aren't being replaced by videos, and students don't spend the entire class staring at a computer screen.


Does It Actually Work?

Although the concept intrigued me, I found the premise to be completely foreign and a bit intimidating. Could this model actually work in the classroom? To find the answer, I turned to my friend and colleague, 7th grade math teacher extraordinaire Geoff Olson (pictured in the top photo above). He allowed me to interview him about his experience flipping the classroom:

Q: How did you hear about the flipped classroom?

A: I read a couple of articles and saw some people talking about it on Twitter.

Q: Why did you decide to implement it in your classroom?

A: The biggest reason was I was constantly having students come into class saying they didn't understand the homework and couldn't get it done. I had tried several different ways to get kids help outside of class without much success. So finally one day I decided to try to help the kids and work with them more one on one during class.

Q: How long have you been using this model of teaching? In that time period, what pros and cons have you seen?

A: I have been doing it a little over a year now. In regards to the pros, I have more students getting their homework done than before, and I have fewer students failing my course than in previous years. I also get to work one on one with all students every day, which I didn't have time to before. And finally, students are scoring better on assessments than previously. The biggest con is finding a way to make sure all students have access to watch the videos at home, and when students that normally have access come in and have had a problem and couldn't watch the video at home.

Q: What suggestions do you have for others who wish to flip their classrooms?

A: The first thing you need to think about is making sure all students will have a way to view the videos. The other most important thing to think about ahead of time is what you are going to do with your class time. One of the biggest advantages of flipping is the amount of time you have in class to work with students. You'll want to make sure you have a plan for what you are going to do with all that time.

For more information about flipping the classroom, check out “The Flipped Class Manifest” or watch Khan Academy Founder Salman Khan’s take on creativity in the classroom. For a great visual explanation of the method, see "The Flipped Classroom Defined."

Have you tried flipping your classroom? How has it worked out for you? Let us know below.


I have taught two medical terminology courses using a "Flipped" classroom environment. I definitely agree that this type of atmosphere is most likely more engaging to the students but yes it can have it's issues when not all students have computers at home if that is the how you plan to use the "Flipped classroom". I prefer to have the students read their text books and review any Power Points on their own time or at school in the library and then have the students complete the homework and other reinforcing activities in class together and ask questions.

Is anyone else out there still using the "Flipped" Classroom?

I am loving the idea of flipping my classroom. We allow our students without computer access at home to use the computer lab before school. When I teach small groups, I also provide video clips of me teaching literacy concepts in a think-aloud mode following various strategic thinking models while simultaneously teaching a different literacy strand live. The students may have multiple centers with me teaching a concept while I am facilitating a small group. I love the notion of being in multiple places at one time.

An online class is NOT about replacing teacher by videos!!!

I can see one potential concern from the perspective of a parent of a fifth-grader. If she has to watch three or four hours of videos every night in order to prepare for all of her next day's classes, there is no longer time for anything else related to being a kid. So no more piano or violin, no more karate, and she'll never see the softball field again. Not an issue if there is only one class using this model, but if they were all to adopt it then she'll have to devote all day every day just to get through sixth grade.

I have started small. Adding one-two videos a week that I have my students watch at home. So far it has been well received and seems to allow the students to become and stay engaged.

I am a teacher too. Where did you put or post your videos?

Thank you!

Simon Campbell

Jon Bergmann here
Access: we had to get access for all kids. We did this with 20% of our kids without Internet at home 6 yrs ago. We burned DVDs with 6-8 videos per DVD. These could be played on a TV. They put the disc in and pushed play

I would also encourage you to go to http://flipped-learning.com and http://flippedlearning.org to learn more.

Hi, Jon! Thank you for the resources. Are you still using a " flip" approach in your classroom?


What about kids without computer access at home?

This is a universally asked question, and one that is not easily solved. My school is beginning to explore a 1:1 device pilot project as a possible solution. However, this is obviously not feasible in all districts. From research I've done with other teachers it has been suggested that the lessons be burned to a DVD or attached to a flashdrive so that students may view them at home without worrying about an internet connection. Since I teach two resource rooms throughout the day, I encourage students to view their corresponding lessons at that time so that we can go over them together. I suggest that if you have time during the day such as during a study hall or ais time, you could give students access to view lessons then. We have so many kids who ask to go to the computer lab at my school on a hall pass, this could be a perfect solution. Hope this helps!


Wow! This makes so much sense. I will be talking to my colleagues about this tomorrow.

I would like to know what the class time looks like with this teaching model.
How do you make students are actually watching the video?
What do parents think of this approach?

From what I have learned, the Flipped Classroom model is not the sole or exclusive method of instruction. You could easily vary your approach, perhaps incorporating lessons a few times a week, until you have reached a formating schedule that works for you and your students. You can ensure that the videos are being watched by giving an assessment the next day, whether it be a ticket in the door, quiz, test, or homework assignment that you do together in class. I think that parental response is varied and since it is a relatively new concept in our school, more time has to pass before parents become comfortable with the model. If you are considering implementing the Flipped Classroom I suggest that you send home a parent letter or hold an informational session explaining the process.I would love to hear if this works for you!


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