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.
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.
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.