Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flipped Classrooms (Part II)


This article relates to TPE 5: student engagement.
Flipped classrooms, in brief, is when the student watches the prepared lectures at home, and then works on assignments, group projects, discussions, and other hands-on activities in class. The teacher prepares her lectures, usually in a video format. The students’ assignments are to watch the lecture and take notes before class. Class time is saved for more engaging activities where the students are learning by doing. Research has found that lecturing is the least effective way to learn (only 10% of what you hear is retained). The idea behind a flipped classroom is that learning in class is more effective since students are learning by getting their hands dirty. The teacher’s role in a flipped classroom is to guide the students in their in-class assignments. Because students are often working in pairs or small groups when in class, the teacher has more of an opportunity to assist students one-on-one and tailor her teaching style to each student’s individual. This is particularly advantageous in today’s inclusive classroom, full of students with diverse backgrounds and needs. 
What are the advantages of a flipped classroom?
Now that I’m student teaching, I can see first-hand the pitfalls of in class lectures. The trouble with lectures is that the students are learning passively. Students are often bored and fail to participate, or worse, misbehave. There is such little time in class to cover material that lectures are often rushed. I am often left wondering how much of the lecture actually got into the students’ heads. My guess is very little. I love the idea of preparing my lectures ahead of time, pairing my recorded audio with a visual presentation, and sending students home with a video lecture to watch. The idea is that students are made responsible for trying to learn the content beforehand, on their own, returning to class with specific questions so that the teacher can focus on confusing material as well as reinforce the learning through hands-on activities. In addition, using a flipped classroom approach to teaching appeals to today’s, modern tech-savvy students, who are already intimately familiar with digital devices. In addition, students who miss class due to illness, sports, or other activity can catch up more easily.

What are the disadvantages to a flipped classroom?
Although flipped classrooms are a great idea, teachers must foreshadow potential pitfalls. For instance, most students have not yet become responsible for their own learning. Ask students to watch a lecture at home, and most will fail to follow instructions without additional reinforcements. To ensure that students actively watch the videos, teachers must assign a worksheet or require students to take notes. Teachers can then grade the worksheets or notes for credit to ensure the students are actively listening and come to class prepared to learn. Also, one great tool that goes along with on-line lectures is that teachers can leave an area e-mails and comments. This can help teachers identify confusing areas to focus on in class. In addition, it’s another tool to ensure students are actively engaged in the lectures. For instance, I can require that each student ask 1-3 questions about the lecture after viewing. The flipped classroom approach may be better suited to honors students who are already responsible learners and faithfully complete their assignments. In addition, not all students have access to a computer at home. I have to ensure that each student is equipped with the necessary tools to watch the lectures and complete the assignments at home. Students without a computer or internet access can be provided with a DVD. 

Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012, June 12). Why flipped classrooms are here to stay. Education Week. Retrieved from   

See the other article I wrote on flipped classrooms. 


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