My Flip Classroom

A Collaborative Action Research Project
Jason Publack & Dave Scott Grade 9 Humanities

The flip classroom is a fascinating addition to a teacher’s tool box. But it is not a final answer, or a complete one. Below are my thoughts on some of the strengths and weaknesses of the flip classroom as I’ve experienced it this year in my grade 9 Humanities classroom. To see an example of one of our videos click here. 

 “A lecture is an occasion when you numb one end to benefit the other.” 
John Gould

“It’s about changing instructional models so the students can receive more instructional support in the classroom.” 
 – Bruce Umpstead, Michigan Office of Technology and Date Coordination 

Benefits: 
1. Students utilize class time for work instead of lecture. A teacher’s limited time with each student can now be maximized to help with skill development and answering of questions. Students without supports at home (parental, technological, or otherwise) can use what is available at school.
2. Class time can be used for labs and/or interactive concepts to reinforce understanding rather than the building of basic skills.
3. Students have access to your lectures as often as they require, now and in the future. Students can watch/absorb/note-take/question/etc. at their own pace.
4. Teacher can be self-reflective in regards to his/her lectures; re-recording, adding audio, visuals, diagrams, guests, effects, etc. all for maximum efficiency and understanding — an impossibility when in front of one’s students.
5. Parents are now better equipped to understand what is happening in the classroom. Better able to assist their children. All of which helps build relationships with parents, because they see you teach, every week.
6. Allows teachers to share their ideas with the community at large: Other teachers, parents, administration, substitute teachers, student teachers and any other relevant educational partner.
7. When the video is made once, you have it forever. No need to make it again, though you may want to change and/or adapt it dependent on your class.
8. If students are ahead of the curriculum, students can be self directing, finishing today’s lesson and moving on to tomorrow’s without the need of you explaining the lesson in advance of the rest of the class.

Difficulties: 
1. A five to seven minute clip will take you 20-45 minutes if you want the necessary engagement factor, and detail.
2. Not every student has access to technology at home. If this is the case it may be necessary to have students watch before/after school or at lunch.
 3. Not every student works well from a computer screen. Students will now be spending more time in front of a screen, sitting still, being sedentary.
4. Any video is inherently a lecture, task and skill delivery only, a set of instructions being taught from teacher to student. It is not inquiry, it is not interactive, it is not as engaging as a teacher who is able to look students in the face, gauge reactions, and adapt as he/she continues.

 How to make it awesome:
1. Make it a consistent and expected part of your classroom. At least two a week. If students become accustomed to watching (as they have with other forms of homework) then it is far more likely they will watch your videos consistently. If you have no skill that need developing on that specific Wednesday evening, then put a review video, or better yet, an inspirational video or current event from the news.
2. Scaffold! Watch the first three or four videos with your students, in class. Highlight what you want them to do (ie. notes, definitions, questions, etc.).
3. Be task associated with your videos, maximizing accountability and effectiveness. This may be as simple as requiring students to find definitions to new words, take notes that you can check for homework marks, or to ask questions on Edmodo or in small groups at school. But, it can also be something more involved, for example with a documentary project students could watch a documentary at home, consider the criteria that makes a quality documentary, and find examples from the video marking the time it occurred.
4. Have students create their own flip classroom videos: teach a concept, explain a curricular outcome, answer a questions, scaffold a chapter, reflect on discussion topics, etc., etc.
5. Students who don’t watch the videos must be treated as though they didn’t do their homework. Similar consequences should be followed.
 6. If a better video exists than your own, use it. There are thousands of educational videos for every subject, don’t feel you have to re-invent anything that has been done well already. Save yourself the time, please.
7. And yes, you need to make them interesting and engaging. That means 5 to 10min, lots of visuals, concise language, dynamic voice, spliced videos when possible, strong video/audio quality, and relevant examples.

 Questions that I don’t have the answers to:
 1. Does this work with every age group? What age group will it be most effective with? How will you have to change your style, delivery, etc. to connect with these different ages?
2. Is it possible to banish home-“work” completely? Can the only homework be to watch the video, all work being done in class?
3. Is this the same thing different? Is the flipped classroom the same as assigning a reading assignment, or science problem to take home, only to discuss it the next day? Is the only difference the use of technology, and if so, is it the best educational tool to send home?

I hope this was helpful. Please, take what you can from this, and add epic insight of your own. Our only hope as teachers is to build on each other for success.

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