I’ve been following articles on the Flipped Classroom Model for some time now. Because my school has a 1:1 MacBook Pro environment, flipped classrooms are very feasible – students have continual access to technology both at home and at school. While I see the advantages of a Flipped Classroom, I note weaknesses that must be addressed.
In a Flipped Classroom, students view instructional videos at home. Classroom time is then used for cooperative learning or project-based learning where students move beyond the knowledge-level mastery to analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Rather than lecture during student contact time, teachers directly interact with individual students and student groups. As a proponent of cooperative- and project-based learning, I’m excited by the idea.
My concern is that proponents of Flipped Classrooms implement an “all or nothing” approach. A video from the Learning Place and one formal research piece, indicate that all lecture videos are viewed at home. A Flipped Classroom assumes that all students will view the videos at home. It also assumes that students have adequate listening skills.
I propose that educators start talking more about Flipped Lessons than Flipped Classrooms.
By discussing Flipped Lessons, the idea of video lecture and active classroom learning becomes one more powerful tool in an educator’s toolbox. Some lessons will be most effective if cooperative groups revolve around books. Other lessons may be most effective if students construct meaning without any teacher lecture.
Flipped Lessons enable teachers to better differentiate instruction within the classroom. An ISTE video was the first I found that mentions the Flipped Classroom approach as a way to differentiate learning. Groups of students may watch brainpop videos, watch teacher-made videos, or engage in specific research tasks while the teacher works with students who need extended instruction or who need a review of specific objectives. Not all videos need to be watched at home. Not all students need the same videos.
When videos are viewed in the classroom rather than at home, students can be paired to watch lectures. In Focus, Mike Schmoker recommends lecture “punctuated by frequent opportunities for students to pair, share, and process their learning.” A lecture watched in an isolated setting will be understood to the extent allowed by the viewer’s listening capacity.
In Rick Hess’s predictions for 2012, he asserts that educators and policymakers will question the flipped classroom approach because of “worry that the model doesn’t work for kids who don’t do the requisite work at home.” If we can discuss Flipped Lessons rather than fully Flipped Classrooms, this powerful teaching tool is much more likely to implemented on a large scale.