Flipping the Classroom

No, this is not what your classroom looks like after the painters put that new coat of beige paint on your walls and have moved all your bookshelves to the middle of the room.  Instead, think—21st century learning, using video and online resources to deliver the concepts and content of your subject to your students prior to class as homework the night before.  Yep, employ the multimedia learning modalities that are natural for your students outside of class as part of their homework.  Then the next day imagine your students walking into your classroom already having engaged in the big ideas of your discipline and ready to explore topics in class through discussion, small group activities, labs, debate, simulations, multimedia creation….

Flipping the classroom is being explored by more and more teachers as internet access becomes more ubiquitous in the every day life of their students.  Teachers are recording their “lectures” using easily accessible tools like Jing, Promethean ActivInspire, and Smart Notebook.  Teachers are then posting their content online so students can view (and review repeatedly) topics outside of class.  Check out this chemistry teacher from Colorado who is leading the way with flipping his classroom.

So how do you go about doing this?  It’s actually easier than you think.  You need a way to capture your content and a place to post it to the internet for your students to view. Capturing is becoming easier and easier as free Web2.0 tools are readily available.  Jing is a free website and download that enables you to easily do screen capture and post it to the internet.   In addition, interactive whiteboard (IWB) softwares like Promethean ActivInspire and Smartboard Notbook have capture tools that enable you to do screen and audio capture in .wav and .mov formats that are easy to post online.  Here is a learning packet in Sophia.org that I created about capturing video using IWB software.

But where can you post your flipped classroom videos?  Many teachers are using their own websites or Moodle courses but others are turning to new social learning sites like Sophia.org.  Sophia allows teachers to create learning packets (like mine about capturing video using an interactive whiteboard) with video, powerpoints, pdf’s, and images.  Sophia’s online website is a perfect place to post “flipped” content for students to view prior to class.

Those teachers who are flipping their classrooms have shared some things to think about as you move into this pedagogical approach…

  1. Use it judiciously—its not appropriate for all lessons or all the time
  2. The flipped classroom is not the savior of education today
  3. Flipping is only as good as the teacher who uses it
  4. Use it in bite-size chunks—short videos or presentations are better than long lectures
  5. Have a strategy in place for students who come to class not having viewed the content at home
  6. Video content needs to be engaging—use humor and personalize the learning

There are probably lots more ideas that can be added to this list.  What would you suggest to teachers venturing into flipping their classrooms?

Suggested resources:

How the Flipped Classroom is Radically Transforming Learning

Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, Science teachers from Colorado on the cutting edge of flipped classrooms blog about their experience on The Daily Riff.  Bergman and Sams have a book on flipping the classroom being published by ISTE this fall, 2011.

The Flip: Why I Love It, How I Use It

Shelley Wright, a science teachers, blogs about how she flips her science classroom in KQED’s MindShift blog

3 keys to a flipped classroom

David Truss cautions in the Connected Principals blog about what to watch out for when first flipping your classroom.

The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture

Jackie Gerstein, EdD, shares a comprehensive overview of the changes that need to take place back in the classroom in a flipped classroom environment.

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