Engaging More Students, Wasting Less Time: Try the Flipped Classroom

The Flipped Classroom model is nothing new; teachers have been integrating this instructional style in their classrooms for nearly a decade.  Opening more opportunities for students to collaborate and create is one of the great benefits of this idea, and success stories have been continuously told.  In order to avoid over-explaining, watch this video if unsure about the concept.

After repeatedly hearing about the Flipped Classroom for several years, I finally dove in a year ago, aiming to raise expectation levels and engage my students with deeper learning.  Integration began with simply providing students with video-enriched assignments on our district’s learning management system, then completing a highly interactive project in class.  But over time I found that students often prefer to learn directly from their teacher, so videos for the assignments needed to come straight from me.  Check out the video to get an idea of what students needed to watch for their weekly homework assignment:

Using this method of instruction, students could now have virtual discussions over the content with time to reflect and answer, instead of the unavoidable rush of verbal discussions that take place in the classroom.  Now that we have more time in class, activities can take place a higher-level and with more engagement.

After this particular homework assignment, students participated in a mock trial, which provided authentic motivation to understand the content.  Students who did not complete the assignment acted as a note-taking audience, but were given a glimpse of the reasoning behind completing the homework.  With this particular example, students were able to analyze the content deeper than any of my previous years of teaching this lesson and they saw a true purpose to homework, beyond the previous concept of ‘practice makes perfect’.

With the Flipped Classroom model, much like most instructional practices, it requires patience, practice, routines, and a willingness to ‘fail forward’.  After a year of consistent implementation, my classes would still sometimes struggle with enough students completing the assignment or students experiencing a lack of internet at home.  But these obstacles are too often used as an excuse to not try.  On the whole, students were more engaged, more willing to complete homework, and more involved, with less teaching and more facilitation from me.

Conversation among educators is the best way to help each other, so please leave ideas and questions in the comments section so we can continue the discussion over the Flipped Classroom.

By Joe Zappa

Image Credit: SpeechBuddy.com

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