The flipped classroom is an educational model that turns the learning environment into a workshop for concepts introduced at home.
While there are certainly challenges with the flip-the-classroom model, access to technology has made this approach more feasible in schools that want to experiment with traditional methods of learning.
Centering teaching around student learning and engagement isn’t a new concept, but how that happens isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Let’s look closer at flipping the classroom and how it could work as a unique educational strategy.
What is a flipped classroom?
A flipped classroom is an approach to teaching where lecture or direct instruction is delivered at the student’s home, and class time is reserved for concept practice and higher-level activities.
From there, the flipped classroom definition can vary a bit based on available educational resources, student skill sets, and areas of study.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A FLIPPED CLASSROOM?
The characteristics of a flipped classroom generally include a digital lecture component that happens at home followed by classroom practice of those topics. Digital content platforms and teacher-made videos are the most common methods of content delivery.
The idea is that students come to the classroom with a base knowledge of a concept. Teachers can then spend more time on active learning approaches like debates, group projects, and hands-on activities that encourage students to apply what they’ve learned.
Students become more active participants in the curriculum rather than spending a good chunk of their school day in passive listening mode. The at-home component is essential, but it’s not as important as what happens in the classroom as a result of less lecture time.
What are the benefits of a flipped classroom?
The benefits of a flipped classroom are centered around making learning a more meaningful experience for all students. Here are a few specific benefits of flipped learning:
- It’s a more social experience. Students are more likely to learn from one another and interact with the material in a more meaningful way.
- It’s student-centered. Students can learn at their own pace. If content delivery comes via video, students can rewind, pause, or take notes about confusing questions.
- It’s more flexible for educators. Teachers can use their classroom time for immediate feedback from students about what was challenging in their at-home lesson.
- It makes good use of technology tools. Tech tools promote digital literacy and prepare students for the future.
- There are more opportunities for group work. Students can spend time developing peer relationships. A flipped classroom can support social-emotional learning.
- It allows for relationship-building between the students and teachers. Teachers get to know students better with less lecture time and more critical thinking time.
- It’s a way to reinforce concepts or fill in learning gaps. Content delivery systems that allow for playback benefit students who miss class or who are behind in the classroom.
Using the Flipped Classroom Model in Your Classroom
The flipped classroom model takes additional time and resources to do well. This is likely a new way of thinking, or a flipped way of thinking, for most educators.
One option is to pilot the method with one class rather than changing up your entire teaching style. It also doesn’t have to happen every day.
Some educators flip their classrooms once a week or when the content dictates that the model makes sense. Others go all-in. What you decide depends on your students and resources available to test out the model.
In a classroom of diverse learners, teachers may also experiment with hybrid models of the flipped classroom.
This can mean digital group work for students who benefit from peer support, time spent in the classroom modeling what at-home work should look like, and different methods of content delivery beyond video.
Challenges of a Flipped Learning Model
We’ve shared some of the benefits of this unique way of delivering fresh content. The flipped classroom isn’t without its challenges, however. Here are a few:
- Success can depend on the students. Students need to be able to handle the reverse classroom. This method is ideal for independent learners used to regular homework. Students who need individualized attention in the classroom may struggle.
- Students may need access to technology. The classic flipped classroom meaning involves videos or virtual classrooms accessed online. That’s not feasible if students don’t have access to these tools at home.
- It may mean more screen time. Adding screen time to students’ schedules isn’t ideal for all kids. Not every student learns best that way. That may mean assigning readings or podcasts over videos for at-home learning to reach all students.
- Students come from varied home environments. Students need a home environment where sustained learning is possible. A home that is full of distractions won’t be productive for learning.
- It requires time set aside for modeling. Most students are used to learning in a certain way. The flipped learning model requires extensive modeling on note-taking, independent learning, and accessing tech tools and instructional materials.
- Teachers must think on their feet. Flipped instruction can lead to some unknowns the following day. Students may come in with more questions than expected. This means teachers need to be ready for a variety of scenarios.
- It requires parent buy-in. Not all students are independent learners, and not all students are self-motivated to complete at-home lectures or readings. You’ll need the help and understanding of parents to make the model successful.
Alternatives to Flipping the Classroom
Successful instruction is about teaching the material in a variety of ways.
While flipping the classroom can develop a deeper understanding of the content, especially in math and science, active learning strategies in the general sense support that, too.
Active learning is student-centered learning. It engages students through activities like small group work, project-based learning, or role-playing that deepen their understanding of the content.
Instructor guidance is still very important, but there’s more emphasis on students participating in the learning process with active learning.
Flipping the classroom can be just one tool in building a classroom full of critical thinkers. No matter how you approach student learning and engagement, it’s crucial that content is accessible to all students.
Teachers know their students’ needs and the curriculum best. Spending more time on a deeper level of thinking is excellent when it can work, but it’s also important to build on foundational skills.