What is a Flipped Classroom?
In the traditional style of instruction, teachers present a lesson to students and then assign classwork or homework. The definition of a flipped classroom is the reverse of the traditional method.
A flipped classroom consists of students completing direct instruction, such as viewing a lecture online, prior to the in-class discussion of the material. The intent is for students to see the material beforehand, also known as first-exposure learning, so they can learn the concepts at their own pace. By doing so, students are better able to focus on participating in class and receive feedback on their efforts during the lesson — not just after.
Teachers that utilize a flipped classroom model are better able to help their students engage in active learning. Students become much more involved during the lesson discussion with the flipped classroom style of instruction by engaging in debates, small group discussions, or in-depth investigations. In essence, a flipped class switches the activities traditionally done in class with those completed after class.
The four pillars of the flipped classroom method include the following:
- Flexible Learning Environment: One of the hallmarks of a flipped learning classroom is that it provides fluid timelines for student work and comprehension. Teachers should adjust to the pace of their students in class.
- Learning Culture: Teachers foster a rich environment that allows students to delve further into topics and provides them with opportunities for self-reflection and hands-on activities.
- Intentional Content: Teachers decide ahead of time what direct instruction to pair with in-class activities. Students should feel challenged but able to understand the material on their own, a balance which can take time for the teacher to master.
- Professional Educator: Monitoring students during lessons and offering feedback ensures no gaps in student knowledge are being created with the flipped classroom model.
Flipped Classroom Model
The roles in a flipped class are what differentiate the approach from most other models. In a flipped classroom, teachers serve more as facilitators, rather than traditional instructors lecturing to students. Educators act as guides, structuring class time and clearing up confusion with the material. Teachers are there simply as a resource to help students master the concepts in class and should be on the lookout for any students that appear to be struggling or falling behind.
In a flipped classroom, students take a much more active role in the flipped classroom model than in a traditional classroom. Students develop a familiarity with the material via videos or other instructional materials that are made available outside of the classroom. This pre-work allows them to control their learning more, interact more with other students, and set the pace for discussion in class.
By reading case studies for specific ages, teachers can gain a better understanding of how the flipped classroom model can be utilized for their students.
For elementary-age students, this case study shows that, while there are challenges with younger students, the flipped classroom can be successful with careful planning and execution. Young students need significant guidance and oversight during class time to ensure they stay on task. Teachers should also consider strategies for enrolling parents to help keep children on track with pre-work at home.
In middle school, students start to become more responsible, organized, and independent. However, there must still be solid structure and rules in place to keep students accountable for work that must be done outside of the classroom.
High school classrooms is where students can benefit the most from the flipped classroom model of learning. At this age, many students catch on quickly to the inclusive style of learning and active discussion with their peers as well as the teacher. Plus, they will have the opportunity to build skills that will serve them well in college and the working world.
Flipped Classroom Pros & Cons
Flipped classroom research has shown that, when utilized properly, the method can provide many benefits to students and teachers, as well as school systems. The pros and cons of a flipped classroom for teachers largely depend on students' access to resources, student cooperation, and teacher preparation.
The primary benefit of a flipped classroom is enabling students to take charge of their learning process. Students in traditional classrooms must sit quietly during the presentation of the lesson. This can be difficult for students, especially those with attention issues or other special needs. In the flipped classroom model, students take control of the process, thereby improving their soft skills like resilience and communication.
Additional pros for a flipped classroom model include more interaction time between students and teachers, better test scores, and less stress for students. Since students have online access to the lesson material, they are able to review it at their own pace as many times as needed to help understand it.
Although a flipped classroom has many benefits, there can be drawbacks to the approach. With this style, teachers often utilize items like videos or other Internet-based research for the preparation work. This can be problematic for students who do not have regular Internet access outside of the classroom.
Teachers also spend more time preparing than those who run a traditional classroom, at least in the beginning. It can be tricky to figure out the right balance of instruction and in-class activities. Finally, teachers may deal with student engagement issues, such as students who are unwilling to complete the preparation work for class, defeating the purpose of the flipped classroom model.
Flipped Classroom Resources
Teachers can learn more about the flipped model of classroom instruction by collaborating with colleagues. Trading ideas and successful strategies can help teachers gain a fresh perspective on the approach. Learn more about flipped classrooms with these resources: