Can an elementary classroom be flipped? That’s the title of this post, but not having tried it myself, I’m not quite sure of the answer. What I am sure of, however, is that fact that I think I just might try it. I am hearing about flipped classrooms more and more these days. This past week I was at the College and Career- Readiness Standards Networking Conference in Nashville, TN and I attended a session called, “A Flip that Won’t Flop.” There, high school teacher Gretchen Greer spoke about how she is slowly flipping her classroom, and shared the tools and resources that help her do it.
In essence, a flipped classroom is traditional teaching inverted or backwards. With help of websites and apps, teachers record and make available online their lessons prior to class discussions or activities. For example, say tomorrow I’m going to introduce to my 6th graders how to make a dot-plot, instead of introducing it to them in class, and then doing a related activity, I would make a video of my direct instruction available for my students to view on their own a day or so before. The goal is to give students the opportunity to be exposed to the material in a setting that they can control. They have the opportunity to watch the lesson several times, and literally go at their own pace. Ideally, students would also have the ability to communicate with peers and the teacher on an online forum to ask clarifying questions if necessary. The following day in class, students can begin whatever learning activity the teacher has planned, and students who need additional support can work with the teacher one-on-one or in small groups as appropriate.
I had two burning questions after my initial introduction to this concept; where did this idea come from and does it impact student learning in a positive way? I did further research once I got back from the conference and learned that flipped classrooms began in Woodland Park, CO back in 2007. Two high school teachers, Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams began recording their lessons and positing them online for students who missed class. Eventually, more than just absent students were interested in viewing the lectures. The duo began posting lectures and lessons with the expectation that students view them before coming to class, and freed up class time for collaboration and engaging learning activities. Bergman and Sams began to see the learning become very student centered and personalized. Less teaching during class time left room for more learning to take place. From there, the flipped classroom structure has spread throughout the country. For more information on Bergman and Sams’ experiences, and how they are impacting student learning, check out this infographic.
As I began to grasp what a flipped classroom was, it struck me that I already routinely use videos from YouTube or educational sites to help introduce topics to students, so I thought….why not make my own and ask students to view them ahead of time? With a plethora of video recording software and apps, this could be easily done. The real question is, is it possible to do this in an elementary classroom? Do all my kids have access to the technology they need to do this? If not, how do I compensate for that? If I decided to do it, would I do it in all subjects? Every day? A couple times a week? At this point I have WAY more questions than answers, but am inspired by a quote from Jonathan Bergman on the fact that there is not one single way to flip a classroom. Bergman said, “Every teacher who has chosen to flip does so differently. You see, there is no ONE way to flip a class and in this lies one of the great strengths of this methodology.”
That is the extent of my knowledge on flipped classrooms. As you can see, I definitely have more questions than answers. However, there is something about this concept, this change in mindset, that has me convinced I need to find a way to incorporate it into the way I teach. My goal for the remainder of the summer is to do more research on flipped elementary classrooms and decide what is practical for me and my students as I begin to explore the world of inverse teaching. Do you have any experience with a flipped classroom? If so, please comment below!