Friday, March 28, 2014

What ‘They’ Forgot to tell you When Flipping your Classroom

Here's a guest post by , Middle School Science Teacher at St. Leo the Great School in San Jose, Ca., all about tips and tricks to successfully flip your classroom. Thanks, Cheryl!

The “Flipped Classroom”, it’s what everyone is talking about and for good reason. I jumped into this with two feet, full steam ahead. I thought, “Here is the answer to my problems of students missing class due to illness, sports or school assemblies.” I reasoned, “I’ll get more teaching time and then I can do the activities with my students that will help them really ‘get’ the concepts they need to master this topic”. But then there are those things ‘they’ forget to tell you about, like: curation of all that data, the time it takes to make all those videos, and what if the students don’t watch the lesson?” Here are some things to consider before you jump into the flipped learning pool.

Curation:  Where do you organize all those ‘flipped videos’ that you make? There are many answers to this question, Google Sites (part of Google Apps for Education) being one. However, the learning curve can be a bit tricky.  Here’s my sample page.   Another option is  The user can drag and drop the content right onto the site and they have some professional looking templates.  However, the tool I found to be the best is This is a drag and drop interface.  Blendspace accepts anything that is on the web or your computer and organizes it easily without having to understand coding.  Here’s a sample page by Jennifer Barnett, on Plate Tectonics.  Whichever you choose, stick with it - students have a hard time with change and you’ll avoid the excuses that will come up.

It will take longer than you think:  Until you get the hang of your screencasting software, you’ll take longer than you think to make a video.  The rule of thumb is:  For a 3 minute video it will take you approximately an hour to create, edit and tweak the video.  There are a ton of free apps out there: for ipads  - Educreations, Explain Everything, Showme.  Chromebook (and Chrome) users can use screencastify, and snagit  from the Chrome web store. For desktop users, two good choices are screencast-o-matic and . If you are willing to pay for  more robust software, there is Camtasia by Techsmith and Captivate by Adobe. There are more, but that will get you started.

Homework: What happens when students don’t watch the video lesson? I ask students to watch the video in class and they are not given the opportunity to participate in the activity until they finish.  It only takes one time for a student to be sitting on the sidelines when others are having fun doing an activity to make sure they ‘do’ the homework.  

Quiz often:  Give formative quizzes often.  I have students take a formative quiz after each video - they cannot move on in the lesson until they ‘pass’ the formative quiz.  A quick check of blendspace shows me who still has to pass and what they are struggling with.  

Expect some resistance: I was really surprised when I encountered resistance from the students to flipping my classroom.  But students have a system and an expectation in class. When you flip your classroom, it upsets their ‘norm’.  This can be problematic for some students.  To help them, ask them to hang in there for, say a month and then revisit the topic. I haven’t had a student yet want to go back to the traditional method once they get the hang of a flipped classroom and all the individual attention they get at school.

So is flipping worth it?  I’d say, “Yes, and make sure you go in with your eyes open and tools in your toolbelt”.  

What's your experience with flipping your classroom? Send us your tips and tricks!


greg prater said...

helpful post. I would encourage teachers who flip their classes in any form to consider the idea of "one-take" videos. Great info on this idea and so many others came from the head of Dr. Lodge McCammon and his FIZZ approach. He advocates one take videos, complete with stutters, hiccups and tiny errors that you correct on the fly. Afterall don't we do those same things when we are conversing with our students? Why edit and re-do videos? record once and publish.

Ponder said...

Great points. Flipping isn't simple. One problem teachers find is how to get students to actively engage the videos as they watch them, and then how to tell that they've done so. At Ponder, we've built a tool to encourage this engagement in a straightforward way. Students choose from a set of nuanced expressions of understanding, evaluation, and emotion, share these time-stamped reactions with the class, and see how others react as the video plays. Think of it as the SoundCloud for flipped classes. Check it out!