I don’t spend much time on Twitter, so I felt a little out of my comfort zone when I initially explored flipped classrooms, but I bet that is how students feel when they initially enter a flipped classroom themselves. When I took part in the live chat on Twitter this Monday about the flipped class and then explored other resources I found there, I realized that there was much more to flipping a class than I had originally realized. The theme of this live flip chat was about how flipping class can affect mental health for both students and teachers. While the concept of addressing mental health in education was not new, I had never spent so much time reflecting on one pedagogical practice’s potential to affect mental health in the classroom. Teachers shared ideas and resources about mental health and many other facets of creating a flipped classroom as well. The point of flipping your classroom is giving your students and yourself the time and space to focus on different types of activities and elements of learning as opposed to lecture alone. This new freedom allows teachers to spend more time on mental health, PBL, other inquiry projects, deeper discussions, and many other activities that may not have been available otherwise.
Using Videos as Benefits of Flipped Classrooms
One of the main concepts people associate with flipped classrooms is videos. Often, teachers record their own lectures or find existing ones online to watch for homework and then come to class to practice and dig deeper into the content and skills. According to this Forbes article, one of the main benefits of using videos as lectures outside of class is that students learn at their own pace (Gobry, 2012). One prominent flipped classroom teacher, Crystal Kirch, quotes Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams as asking in her book, “What is the best use of face to face time you have with your students?” (2016, p. 7). Instead of forcing the students to listen to the information at the same speed and with limited opportunities for questions or follow up inquiry, a flipped classroom allows students to take control of their time to learn the content and also frees up teacher time in class to help students learn in more engaged ways. Once she flipped her classroom, Kirch writes that “class time was focused on them and not on me as the master of knowledge…focused on active learning…and focused on higher-order thinking” (2016, p. 18). With all of these benefits in mind, one educator and former critic of using videos for flipped instruction writes, “So, it is about the video, but only in the sense that it allows the teacher to explore other methods of interacting with students within the context of the class” (Brian, 2016). Videos or any other medium that allows students to control their own learning on their own time while also engaging better during class is ideal. Catlin Tucker, educator and writer, on her website elaborates:
Today’s students have more access to information and resources beyond the classroom than any prior generation. They can jump online and watch a video tutorial to learn how to do something that interests them. They can explore the globe with Google Earth, go on a virtual tour of the Louvre or the MoMA, or tinker, build, and create in the comfort of their homes. Is this learning less valuable than the learning that happens in a classroom? I would argue this self-directed learning is in many ways more powerful for kids because they decide how they will learn, what they will learn, and when they will learn (Tucker, 2018).
So students cannot just work with information and content in the same ways that they have in previous decades, because not only is what available different, but their interests and passions have evolved.
My Own Videos
In my own classroom, I have used videos and online lessons in a blended way (not exactly flipped) by providing my lectures in video form to view in a learning center, and then having students practice the concepts in other learning centers where I can answer questions and help students instead of actually delivering content during class. In the very first video I ever made, the audio quality of my laptop was terrible, but I didn’t have time to re-record or come up with a backup plan. The students asked me if I recorded underwater, or lived with a den of bats, because it was so terrible. I also only knew of Screencast-omatic to record videos at the time, which is certainly a fine tool. Since then, I have gotten a nice microphone I use and I like using the Record features in Microsoft Powerpoint and other tools. I either upload the videos to private online databases or just to Youtube where I can link it in my course, online agenda, or use it in another source to add questions.
Youtube videos are the easiest form to upload and manage. Here is a video about how to write the Expository Essay I assign my 9th graders, here is one about Finding Credible Sources, Author’s Style, and themes in The Crucible.
I also really like using Nearpod to embed images, questions, and videos that I can then use to monitor how well the students interacted with the content. Here is a link to a background Nearpods I just made for The Secret Life of Bees and here is one for To Kill a Mockingbird. I plan on using these at the beginning of a literature circle unit for those two novels. Students choose one novel which they want to read, and I will have them browse through the content to answer the questions.
Another source I like using is Playposit, which lets me use others’ videos as well as my own to include questions throughout the video to check student comprehension along the way. I can combine other people’s videos with questions and notes such as this Playposit about Using Transitions, Romeo and Juliet background information, Irony, and Point of View.
Flipping Class: Other Technological Considerations
In her article on flipping the classroom without videos, Sydney Johnson explains how in one teacher’s class, she flipped her classroom by asking students to try out coding problems ahead of time, and then reflect on the process and learn more information in person (Johnson, 2018). Instead of always focusing on assigning videos, she wanted teachers to realize that they can flip their classrooms in other ways as well. For example, Holly Welham writes on The Guardian that, “The idea is that students learn new content outside the classroom (usually online) and then tackle assignments in lessons, giving teachers more time to help students with aspects they don’t understand” (Welham, 2014). While students could watch videos, they could also perform webquests, do interviews, and participate in inquiry that they unpack during class.
In one tweet during the live session on Monday, Angela Barnett shared an online survey about student feelings she does every morning during class. Flipping her classroom allows her to spend more time in class sharing their feelings and opinions.
When browsing through The Flipped Learning 3.0 Magazine, I found Catherine Nickerson. In her study based on her own experiences with flipping the classroom in her 2018 paper, she notes that while just spending time online doesn’t help students by itself, allowing them occasions online to improve their interaction, production and reflection do help students (Nickerson, 2018, p. 72). Outside of class or during class students should be interacting, producing, and reflecting to get the best benefit of technology.
Final Thoughts on Flipping
In the future, I want to continue using videos to partially flip my class, but I should spend more time considering how I use the class time I save by assigning the video lectures and activities. I would like to incorporate more PBL, inquiry, and student choice with the extra time we have in class so my students have more autonomy over not only the timeline of their learning but also how and what they learn. I think that when teachers can make their classroom flipped in a way that works for them, it is more fun for the teachers (lecturing to a group of high school students is less fun than it sounds), and it is more fun for the students. Plus students are more engaged and learn how to become better learners and students! While assigning videos for homework can be overwhelming to some students, deciding how flipping the classroom works for you and your students seems to have great benefits. Let me know if you have tried Nearpod, Playposit, or any other resource to make your classroom more flipped than it was previously!
Barnett, A. (2018, July 17). Tweet. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/MrsBarnett_Tchr/status/1019014516804239361
Brian. (2016, July 20). Maybe it IS About the Video… Retrieved from https://flippedlearning.org/syndicated/maybe-it-is-about-the-video/
Kirch, C. (2016). Flipping With Kirch: The Ups and Downs from Inside My Flipped Classroom: Crystal Kirch, Jason Bretzmann: 9780692661901: Amazon.com: Books. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Flipping-Kirch-Inside-Flipped-Classroom/dp/0692661905
Gobry, P. (2012, December 11). What Is The Flipped Classroom Model And Why Is It Amazing? (With Infographic). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2012/12/11/what-is-the-flipped-classroom-model-and-why-is-it-amazing-with-infographic/#6f25e98f50bf
Homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://flr.flglobal.org/
Johnson, S. (2018, May 30). A Case For Flipping Learning-Without Videos – EdSurge News. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-05-24-a-case-for-flipping-learning-without-videos
Nickerson, C. (2018). Mobile and multidimensional: Flipping the business English classroom. Retrieved from https://www.esptodayjournal.org/pdf/current_issue/june_2018/Catherine_Nickerson_full_text.pdf
Tucker, C. (2018, February 01). Learning Beyond the Classroom. Retrieved from https://catlintucker.com/2018/02/learning-beyond-the-classroom/?platform=hootsuite
Welham, H. (2014, March 30). Flipped learning: Benefits, challenges and best practice – live chat. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/mar/30/flipped-learning-benefits-challenges-best-practice-live-chat