This is an updated version of an article that appeared on June 9, 2015.
Chances are, you've heard of the flipped classroom. In
fact, you could be tired of hearing about it by now or dismiss it as a fad.
"What's the big deal?" you might ask. After all, pre-teaching has been around
since the 1990s, and video and its related formats have been used in the
classroom since the 1950s.
all the hype warranted? Is flipped learning really making a difference in the
lives of real students in real schools?
we are some of the pioneers of the flipped classroom movement, you might think
we would shout a resounding "Yes!" to these questions. But in fact, we believe
that the flipped classroom is not the answer. Instead, flipped learning is a gateway that leads toward
some of the most powerful — but often the most difficult to implement — learning
and teaching strategies
flipped learning is — and isn't
common description of a flipped classroom is having students watch instructional
videos at home and do the typical homework — worksheets, problem sets,
back-of-chapter exercises — in class. We refer to this model as "Flipped Class
101." Moving direct instruction out of the group learning space and into the
individual learning space is a great place to begin your journey, but it is not
the destination itself.
danger of settling in at Flipped Class 101 is that it doesn't fundamentally
change anything. A lecture, whether it takes place in person or on video, is
still a lecture. Boring lectures are bad, but boring lectures on video can be
even worse. And if all you do is worksheets in class, then nothing has
Flipped learning is not about making videos. It's about
maximizing class time for deeper student engagement.
Educators have only a fixed amount of time with students and
need to use it effectively. If whole-group direct instruction is not the best
use of face-to-face class time, what is?
educator will answer this question in his or her own way. Flipped learning will
look very different in an elementary language arts classroom, for instance, than
it would in a high school woodworking or math class. The possibilities are
But there are some common
characteristics of all successful flipped classrooms.
often educational reformers and curriculum specialists put the bulk of their
efforts into fixing the curriculum or helping students prepare for tests.
However, research has shown that students who
have positive relationships with their teachers do better on standardized tests
and have higher grades. So what if we used some of the time we now spend on
preparing students for standardized tests to connect meaningfully with them
We believe that good teaching is built on solid
relationships. We should spend more time and resources training teachers how to
relate to each student and how to be mentors and coaches instead of just content
experts who have studied all of the latest learning strategies.
Many of us can trace our interest in becoming educators to
an individual teacher who made a significant impact on our lives. Relationships
matter. They can even influence the long-term career choices of students. We
need to rethink education in the context of seeing each learner as an individual
who needs specific nurturing and guidance. Thus the adage: "I don't care what
you know until I know that you care."
we first flipped our class, we provided only one way for students to
learn our content — from our videos. But one day we had a student who asked us
if it was OK if he just read the book and skipped the videos. We quickly
realized we needed to provide more than one way for students to access content.
In an ideal flipped learning
environment, students have choices about how they learn. Some students access
the content by watching videos, others read the textbook and others use
interactive simulations to learn content.
According to the ISTE Standards
for Teachers 2c and 2d,
educators need to start personalizing learning activities to students' diverse
learning styles, working strategies and abilities, and they need to give
students a variety of formative and summative assessments. Not only do students
need more than one way to access or learn content, but they also need multiple
ways to demonstrate that they have mastered it.
To that end, we took flipped learning a step further and
began to allow students to choose how they would be assessed. Instead of
allowing them only to take our standard exam, we let students do projects and
design video games to demonstrate mastery of specific content. This resulted in
differentiation for every student, and personalized learning and assessments
that met the needs of each child.
3. Passion-based learning
students to deeply understand content, they need to care about it. That means we
need to create an atmosphere where they can thoroughly explore the areas they
are curious about.
we flipped our classroom, we spent the majority of our in-class time helping
students remember and understand activities. Little time was left for
application, analysis, evaluation and creation. But once we began flipping, we
were able to use class time to help students go deeper with the content as well
as higher up the levels of Bloom's
Taxonomy. By shifting lower cognitive tasks from the group to the
individual, flipped learning gives educators the opportunity to find ways to
engage students and allow them the flexibility to explore things they find
growing subculture of flipped learning teachers are using extra time in class
for their students to explore their passions. This has become an adaptation of
the "genius hour." Teachers
devote 10-20 percent of their class time to letting kids discover their
passions. Students are still held accountable for what they learn, but the
content they are learning during this time is up to them.
level of freedom you give them can vary. For example, if you are using the
genius hour approach in a sixth grade social studies class, you may require your
students to focus on some historical or cultural question but leave the door
open for them to work on something interesting to them, such as making a
documentary film, learning to prepare foods from a different culture or
exploring the art of another country.
States and districts are looking for ways to deepen student
learning with tools and approaches — including flipped learning. In addition,
college-and-career readiness standards, such as the Common Core, require
students to not only remember and understand content, but also to apply it,
analyze it and work with it in unique situations.
Since flipped learning puts an emphasis on maximizing
class time, many have decided to take learning further by exploring project-based
(PBL). PBL engages
students by allowing them to solve real-world problems. This engagement and
immersion helps them get to deeper understanding.
John Larmer describes in his article "Debunking Five
Myths about Project-Based Learning," one of the main concerns that prevents
teachers from adopting PBL is the fear that they will have to sacrifice content.
However, many teachers who combine flipped learning with PBL find that using
video as an instructional resource lets them maintain the delivery of content
while creating time to engage students in hands-on projects. Some teachers have
even abandoned the content delivery as a pre-teaching tool and use video only
within the context of each project to intervene with instruction as students
Classroom Collateral Damage by Sherman