Bending the Rules of the Flipped Classroom
The traditional view of the flipped classroom is that students would view a video of their professor giving a lecture, or of other material outside the classroom. They would read their textbook assignment outside the classroom, preferably before attending class. In theory, this would free up valuable classroom time for the teacher to work with individual students, answer questions about the material, and focus on areas where students are confused.
The reality is that this dry approach to flipping a classroom simply does not work. Not all students are able to listen to online material before attending class. Not all students will read the text. Even if they do read the text, many students need additional input to help them select the important data from the material available.
Yet a standup lecture, in the traditional fashion is not the best learning tool, either. So how can you flip the classroom, that is spend more time individually with students, answer questions, and deal with the material more interactively, without neglecting portions of the information the students will need?
How can you creatively share the information necessary while maintaining enough time for hands on activities, exploratory learning, and answering individual questions? Sadly, while the term “flipped classroom” is relatively new, the question of how to best deliver information to students is not. So, how can you “flip” your classroom without losing your students, your mind, or getting in trouble with your administrators?
- Start small. Do not try to put all of the pre-learning on the students. Just give them the easy stuff to do outside of class.
- Avoid getting hung up on videos. Even in this modern age, there are many students who do not have computers at home, or who do not have broadband at home. Provide material that is accessible without technological media.
- Provide a guideline questionnaire that will help students locate key information before attending class.
- Look for ways to engage student interest, such as hands-on experiments, asking them to take surveys, create graphs, or even make dioramas. Creating something that moves can also be great ice breaker and a means to get students interacting and examining material together.
- Give small quizzes at the beginning of class before you begin speaking. Discuss the answers in class, allowing students to compare answers. This also gives you an opportunity to correct misconceptions.
- Offer ample opportunities for student interaction. Make learning a team sport, rather than an individual competition.
- Take advantage of small apps for mobile phones. While there might still be students who do not have computers, almost everyone these days has a phone with Internet access capability.
- Keep assignments for outside class small. Beware of overloading students with large projects to be completed outside of class.
Classic flipping does not work. Lecture and test does not work. Engaged, active learning works. Even though it is more difficult to prepare, lesson plans that promote student input and interaction are ultimately rewarding in terms of enthusiasm, class atmosphere and, of course, learning.