Last year my principal presented a very unique opportunity for me to flip instruction in my classroom. His motivation was to try and reach more students on all levels. As our conversation progressed, we specifically discussed students who struggle getting homework turned in as well as students who need to be challenged.
Furthermore, we talked about how flipped lessons provide students an opportunity to go back and watch a lesson over as many times as needed if the student was not understanding it the first time. Often times this happens after a teacher is going through a lesson while in front of the classroom. Unfortunately, there is no rewind button for teachers. However, if a student is watching a flipped lesson, they can rewind as often as needed and work at their own pace.
This post will be the first of four posts concerning flipped classrooms, so we should begin by describing exactly what “flipping” is.
What is Flipping?
Flipping is an innovative way to deliver instruction to students. A flipped classroom is where traditional teaching methods are switched; instruction is delivered through online videos and other resources such as websites. In addition, the “homework” portion is then done in the classroom with the help of the teacher. Homework might include an online assignment, worksheet, project, etc. Students watch lectures outside of the classroom, working at their own pace and application of the learned processes take place in the classroom with the help of the teacher. With the flipped model, students have more access to teachers to answer questions that they might not otherwise be able to have answered when they are working on homework at home. More often these questions can be asked and answered while the student is in class working on the activity associated with the lesson.
Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student, in Every Class Every Day by Johnathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, discusses the benefits to flipping classroom instruction and provides helpful hints on what to do and how to get started. For example, readers learn the true definition of flipping. Also, the text discusses why a teacher should consider flipping their instruction. This was the first book I read when it came to flipping my classroom. Though flipping is not meant to be the end all, be all instructional strategy, it is helping to reach more students.
Though other subject areas are exploring the use of flipped lessons, it seems to be more prevalent among math teachers today than any other subject. With math instruction, students often will sit and listen to the lecture/lesson. Then, they complete minimal homework in class, never really completing the more difficult problems while the teacher is at their disposal to ask questions. With flipped instruction for math, the student can watch the lesson at home and then come into the classroom where they can complete the entire assignment while having access to the teacher when they encounter problems they may not easily understand. Although math may be where most flipped instruction occurs, I have always felt that grammar is a difficult topic to get across to students and for the them to retain. I will further elaborate on my experience with flipping grammar in future blog posts.
Tools for Flipping
No matter what subject you teach, teachers need the right tools to participate in flipped instruction. There are a wide variety of screencasting tools that exist for teachers to use. The tools that are available range from being expensive to being free. Techsmith, a software company out of Okemos, Michigan has three different tools: Jing, Snagit, and Camtasia. Jing is free and limits recording time to no more than 5 minutes. In addition, it limits the amount of storage space you are allowed. Snagit is the next step up from Jing and allows users unlimited recording time and gives the option to upload the video to a Youtube account, which is a great option because there is unlimited storage. Snagit costs around $40.00. Also, users can edit the video that has been created.
Finally, Camtasia is the most advanced out of the three tools offered by Techsmith. Camtasia allows you to embed music, edit, and place items like arrows and conversation bubbles right into the video. Camtasia can be quite expensive and runs about $250.00, It is a platform that should be used by more experienced screencasting users and individuals that have experience editing videos.
Personally, I prefer a digital tool called Touchcast. Touchcast gives you various options on how to broadcast your video and allows you to show different screens within the video allowing it to be more interactive and more engaging for the students. The best part about Touchcast is that it is free. Below is an example of a flipped lesson using Touchcast.
To Flip or Not to Flip?
Flipped classrooms are popping up everywhere. More and more teachers are either flipping their entire instruction or just parts of it. Due to the fact it is such a new instructional strategy to reach students, there hasn’t been enough research done on the topic to prove its effectiveness as discussed in an Educational Leadership article by Bryan Goodwin and Kirsten Miller. However, schools such as the Clintondale High School (also mentioned in the article) have seen significant changes to student performance since they have flipped their entire school. In addition, you can read a Michigan Radio Story about the Clintondale School District.
Even though flipped learning hasn’t completely proven itself yet, there are many positives emerging from this new practice. I know from my own experiences, I have seen improvement in student’s understanding of grammar and I find it very beneficial to direct students to flipped lessons when they don’t remember a skill instead of me having to take time out of class to explain something again. My students are doing a much better job of applying what they have learned to pieces of writing they complete in my classroom. I feel that grammar is being retained more too because they can always go back and re-watch a video if they don’t remember a certain grammar rule that has been taught.
There is a lot of support available for teachers who are considering flipped instruction including the Flipped Learning Network and there are many supportive teachers available on Twitter.
In the next three posts, I will further explore:
- Specifics on how I flip lessons in my classroom
- Reflecting on what worked and what hasn’t worked in my classroom with flipping
- What the future holds for flipped lessons in my class.
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