Flipping In

Don’t flip out about my flipped class because my flip is all about what I am flipping in and not what I am flipping out.  If I haven’t lost you by using the word flip 5 times in one sentence, let me explain.

Over the last 2 years I have been transforming my classroom by utilising ‘flipped learning’.  In class I am using screencasts as a tool to deliver direct instruction with the goal of more effectively using class time.  This isn’t always a strategy that is well understood by teachers who have not used this approach.  Often they have a perception that there is an increased focus on the direct instruction (now in the videos) and that class time is used to complete homework questions (students working mostly individually).
So, to keep me sane, here are the points I would like to make:

1. Focus on what is being ‘flipped in’.  What is happing in class is very far from students sitting around doing homework.  Like many other classes that use flipped learning, our time together as a class is very active and has allowed us to find time to implement many other learning strategies that were difficult to find the time for ‘pre-flip’.
For me it has really allowed me more time to:
   – structure specific learning activities/experiments
   – to implement formative assessments,
   – work with small groups
   – students to work collaboratively – use the time ‘together’
   – for me to work with students individually
These are all the things that the discussion of flipping should be about.

2. The flipping out bit isn’t just ‘out to homework’.  Sure, direct instruction can be accessed at home and this helps create class time to work together.  However, I would like to think of it more as moving the instruction to be anywhere and anytime.  Particularly as students are now 1:1 and also mostly all have phones, this instruction is now at their fingertips.  Instruction is now anywhere and anytime they need it – at home, in class, when they are stuck on something or anytime a question pops into their head.  It is really just putting the access to the direct instruction in the student’s control.  Combine this with a pause and rewind button, you now have control on the pace of delivery.  The direct instruction can now be delivered most effectively at the point of need and at the pace they need.

3. Direct instruct still exists in my class. When you say this, I am sure the FBI (Flipping Bureau of Investigation) doesn’t hunt you down and take your ‘Flip Licence’ away.  At least I hope not!  Yes, direct instruction is still needed and still has a place.  Now, direct instruction isn’t the starting point, not everything has to be delivered in this way and as a result direct instruction is only a small proportion of class time.  When direct instruction is used, it can be done in a more targeted approach using formative assessments.   It can be used to target a specific area of need for the whole class or a specific audience (smaller group).  Direct Instruction is now a purposeful tool rather than daily practice.

4. This baby isn’t my Silver bullet.  Flipping your class is far from the ‘Silver Bullet’ that will improve learning outcomes for everyone in your class.  I prefer to think of it as one of my ‘Sliver Tools’ on my ‘Silver Educational Utility Belt’.  Yes, I am using the image of a Batman style utility belt.  It has a pile of amazing tools that can be busted out to get the job done.  The modern classroom requires this approach – no classroom can be solved with just one tool.  Every great classroom has just the right mix of things happening – flipped learning can be one of these things.

5. The ‘Flip Community’ now makes sense.  I have trialed lot of different strategies in education and I have never had such an interest in the associated community of educators as I have with the ‘Flipped Community’.  When I stop to think why this might be the case, it is true that the flip bit is what we all have in common.  However, this bit isn’t what really hooks me in.  What really draws me in is the differences.  How do each of these educators use their class time – what else is going on in their class alongside this strategy.  I really want to know “‘What has been flipped in?”.

The power of the flipped classrooms is what I am flipping in (what is happening in class) rather than what I am flipping out (what is happening out of class).

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