Most teachers have heard of the flipped classroom, but some may not be as familiar with a variation called the in-class flip. Rather than having students absorb content at home, this approach allows students to access flipped content at station and non-station settings within the classroom.
The method takes into account such things as the amount of information teachers have to provide, the type of students they have and the type of technology teachers have available. The model addresses many of the issues teachers may have had with the traditional flipping they've tried.
Martha Ramirez knows exactly how successful this relatively new pedagogical model can be. She is an English instructor at Universidad de Andes in Colombia and a master teacher with the Flipped Learning Global Initiative (www.flglobal.org), a worldwide coalition committed to spreading and supporting the use of flipped learning. Ramirez believes the in-class flip can provide advantages for both those who are new to flipping and for those who have tried flipping, but felt that it didn't work. Following are five reasons she recommends that all teachers should give the in-class flip a try.
1. Improved student autonomy
The in-class flip provides students with active learning and decision-making opportunities that allow them to be accountable for their learning. This promotes student autonomy, but it also changes the relationship between teachers and students. Rather than serving content from the front of the room, teachers take on a guide-on-the-side role, as students set about exploring content provided in class. This can be particularly useful when teaching younger students, who need to learn how to become independent learners. As a bonus, teachers don't have to worry about students coming to class unprepared to show what they learned on their own, as they might in a traditional flip scenario.
“One of the main reasons the traditional flip doesn't work is students’ lack of autonomy in actually doing the work on their own. This is where in-class flip allows the teacher to guide the student in accessing the flip content. There is full control of the flip in class,” she says.
2. Control of resources
Digital equity is a global problem that can literally pull the plug on a flipped classroom initiative before it even starts. In many school districts, teachers simply don't have control over the resources students have available to them at home. The in-class flip setting puts teachers in control of all the technology required for a lesson or unit. They can structure the learning experience with the resources they have on hand. This turns teachers into capable technology managers, Ramirez says.
“This leads to equity within the classroom since the teacher will plan in-class flipped work that students will actually be able to do with her immediate support. The teacher doesn't know what resources students have out of class, but she definitely knows what she can count on in her own classroom,” she says.
3. Immediate assistance and feedback
During an in-class flip, students are busy absorbing content at stations or in groups in class, which provides teachers with time to provide personalized help, assess student understanding and offer suggestions on the spot. The in-class flip allows teachers to walk the room and step in as needed while students are learning new concepts. Learning becomes more personalized and students are more willing to ask and receive help, Ramirez says.
“The thing with the out-of-class flip is that students can struggle with the content and not have anyone to ask. In class, they can raise their hand and ask for help at any time. This is something they strongly appreciate. Moreover, when the teacher is monitoring their work, she can double check for clarity with the shy students, for example,” Ramirez says.
4. More 1:1 time with students
Flipped models reduce the amount of time teachers are required to stand at the front of the class and deliver content. This opens the door to more meaningful interactions with students one-on-one. As teachers are available to chat with students individually, both parties get to know each other better, and this helps to build stronger student-teacher relationships. The in-class flip helps teachers be more observant, notice when something is off with a student and act when something is wrong.
“Just the fact that you have more time for them – as opposed to teacher talking time – opens up a number of possibilities. You can notice their facial gestures more to identify their reactions and emotions, you can also notice struggling even when they don't ask for help, and you can literally have some small talk and check in on students to create a safe space,” she says.
5. Support for substitutes
Substitutes are often called to cover a class at the last minute. This can create a situation in which a sub is required to teach lessons they haven't reviewed in years or perhaps never taught. An in-class flip environment requires less planning or improvising by substitutes because the teacher's role is to guide and facilitate pre-determined activities rather than deliver content. Ramirez says this has proven to be particularly helpful when she needed a substitute in her own classes because it allowed her substitute to provide a meaningful learning experience without having to be a subject expert.
“All the content was there for her to use in class with students,” says Ramirez. “She never had to explain anything, but refer students to the flipped content in class. Then she stepped in to clarify if needed. She said it was a piece of cake and that she could literally prepare the class some minutes before, since everything was already set.”
The new ISTE book In-Class Flip: A Student-Centered Approach to Differentiated Learning, by Martha Ramirez and Carolina Buitrago, provides many other reasons to consider this innovative teaching method, as well as definitions, how-to guides and tips for lesson planning.
Paul Wurster is a technical writer and editor based in Oregon.