The flipped classroom perfectly describes how a minor change in the perception of the school environment can help students understand lessons better and consolidate the information they are presented with.
Nowadays, we live in a highly technological world, where we can gain access to a virtually endless amount of information with only a few clicks or taps. Using this technology for the advancement of education is fundamental to our progress because learning is the main stepping stone towards more developed future generations.
What is a flipped classroom?
The basis of the flipped classroom concept is assigning teaching materials for home and getting students to do exercises on that topic at school together with the teacher. While this system might seem unlikely to be effective at first, it actually gives students a valuable opportunity to express themselves.
Let’s start from the standard teaching system, so that you can visualize the differences. In a normal classroom, the teacher is always in front of the class presenting the lesson to the students, who sit at their desks and try to follow.
In this classroom frame, the teacher conducts the lecture at a certain pace and the students need to adapt to it as best as they can. This means that while some of them might lose focus because they are already familiar with the information in the lesson, others might experience difficulty keeping up with it because they have not managed to understand certain parts of the lesson.
The endpoint is that quite a low number of students actually take in the entire lesson while many of the others only understand parts of it. And this happens because the pace at which the teacher presents the lesson may not be compatible with every student’s learning rate.
Moreover, this problem actually expands for the students who did not understand the lesson properly at school when they have to do their homework alone because they don’t always manage to clarify their issues on their own.
When teachers use the flipped classroom system, most of these issues get mended all on their own. The first reason for this is that the teachers provide students presented with video material about a certain topic that they need to study at home. This is extremely important because they can interact with the content exactly at their own pace.
Some students might need to fast forward through some parts while others might need to pause and replay the parts that they did not understand properly. Some students get through the entire content in one session, while others feel the need to take short breaks during the lesson. And the fact that they are able to do all of these things ultimately enables them to take in all the information.
Then, when the students come in at school, the teachers can use the time they have with them to carry out discussions and debates on the topics of the lessons, so as to clarify any issues and inaccuracies. After this step, the class can be divided into groups for various types of exercises and tasks, which manage to consolidate the main facts of the lesson.
Furthermore, the entire layout of the class can be changed so that some students who require further explanations can get to talk to the teacher while others can go directly to the exercises.
The Main Parts of Organizing a Flipped Classroom
In order to get the full benefits of a flipped classroom model, teachers need to conduct a rigorous organization of the entire system. Here are the main points of the process that actually make a difference in the end.
Creating the Video Content for the Students
This might be quite a demanding task for some teachers, but making videos is an extremely accessible tool these days, so any laptop, tablet or smartphone will do. Once the technical details are dealt with, they need to create a lesson plan and then dive right in.
Valuable Tips and Tricks for Teachers
- Use a simple background and make sure the lighting is good, because this will keep students focused on you.
- Make sure that the video and audio quality is satisfactory so that students can understand the content properly.
- Integrate additional audio, video or web-based material in the assignments, but present the main parts of the lesson yourself, according to the specific needs of your students. Build upon the relationship you have with them and use it to make them understand things better.
- Make shorter videos rather than longer ones, because they are much easier to follow. Instead of making one 40-minute video of the entire lesson, divide it up into three or four shorter videos about the main sections of the topic.
Getting Students Acquainted with the System
The vast majority of students are used to the standard teaching system, so it is crucial that they understand what they have to do in the flipped classroom model. They need to know that the video will be presented by the teacher so that they do not feel neglected and that going through the content will not take them longer than doing their homework.
Then teachers need to walk them through the process of interacting with the video content so that they know exactly what they need to prepare for class. A very useful method for doing this is watching one or more videos together with the students at school and pointing out if and when they need to take notes, consult course books or go to the additional material.
After the students have their first flipped classroom experience, teachers should save a few minutes at the end of the lesson to discuss how they felt about it, if they want to continue with this model and what improvements they think should be implemented for better results.
Another particularly important step is presenting the students with a preview of what they will study at home, so as to spark their curiosity and enthusiasm about the lesson and make them motivated to go through the content.
Ideal Classes and Topics for the Flipped Classroom Model
The model is appropriate for any class, as long as teachers adapt the content of the lessons properly. Whether it’s Math, Spanish, Literature or Chemistry, there are benefits to be obtained from flipping the classroom, so it is definitely an experiment worth doing.
Furthermore, teachers can choose the topics that should be presented the classic way and the ones for which it would be better to flip classroom organization so that the students get more time for applied or even hands-on contact with the subject. This is actually the main advantage of the model: it can be used as much as the teacher wants.
Common Problems With Flipped Classrooms
Like any teaching system, the flipped classroom model has its shortcomings. However, these can be easily overcome if the teacher notices the patterns that come up and adjusts a few aspects in the development of the class. These are the most common issues encountered by teachers:
Students Can’t Access the Video Content
This highly technological world we live in is efficient, but not perfect. As such, it is predictable that students might experience tech difficulties when trying to access the content. Fortunately, this is one issue that is quite easy to fix.
What To Do
The most important thing that teachers need to do in order to prevent any tech issues from affecting their class is establishing a line of communication between them and the students. A social media group is ideal, but e-mails and phone numbers will also do just fine.
This way, the students can get the help they need before the class so that they can come in prepared. As for the students who do not have access to the internet or even to a computer, they can easily be provided with flash drives or DVDs of the material that they can view on the computers in the school library if necessary.
Students Don’t Go Through the Content
This is the most common issue of the flipped classroom model, but it is up to the teacher to keep students motivated and engaged in the course. There will always be students who don’t do their assignments or homework, but this is a manageable problem.
What To Do
There are plenty of solutions to this issue that teachers can implement in the classroom. Take a look at the best ones!
- Get the students motivated about watching the content by providing an enticing presentation.
- Ask the students to bring in their notes or to solve short exercises that require them to go through the entire content.
- Convince students to tell you at the beginning of the flipped classroom lesson or beforehand if they have not watched the content and find a personalized solution for them, such as allowing them to go through the material during a break.