What’s In a Name?

...or, "More Reflections on the Flipped Class."

I've been inundating myself with discussion on the Flipped Classroom recently.  First, there was the FlipClass11 conference where we had about 140 teachers come from around the US and Canada (and even one Londoner I heard) to learn about the flipped classroom.  I was honored to be selected to be a member of the presenting team for that conference and I am still sorting through a lot of discussions I had with teachers about what a flipped class looks like.

Then, I was honored to co-write a 3-part article on the flipped class, hosted by The Daily Riff.  You can see all three parts in sequence on The Daily Riff's website still.

Today, Jon Bergmann asked if I would set aside time for #edchat because it was going to be on...the flipped class and its implications in education.

The #edchat session was awesome with great thoughts coming from John Bernia, Michael Thornton, and Tyler Rice, especially.  The biggest question was "If you're trying to move away from lecture, don't your videos keep the lecture component as a major part of the class?"  To that question, I would unquestionably answer "yes, BUT..." because while I still have a "lecture" component, I can now do so much more with my class time.  Allow me to back up for a moment.

I'm only a second year teacher, so I know next to nothing compared to some of the veterans I get to talk with every day.  I was taught to stand and deliver, as were most other teachers working today.  It is deep-rooted tradition in American education, and there is nothing wrong with that. I began to question, though, how I can get more collaborative work and inquiry learning into my curriculum.  That slowly transformed into: "How can I use technology to enhance my class?" I found a partial answer in flipping...but I didn't know it was a partial answer until very recently.  I saw amazing things happening in my class as I flipped that (unfortunately) probably wouldn't have happened otherwise.  Students self-grouping and collaborating, "low-achieving" students finding more success than they've ever found, and kids that were terrified of chemistry growing to love it.

That being said, using video podcasts to deliver instruction may be lecture in spirit, but it is a stepping stone that allows us lecturers to move toward more inquiry and collaborative work in our classes. Without that time freed up, I never would have discovered other ways to help kids learn chemistry. The flipped class is so much more than the name implies, and that is the message I'm trying to spread now.

Yeah, videos work great...but I'm already bored with them and I've found other, more meaningful ways to help kids learn the material. Will I still keep videos? Maybe, because they can be useful for review or for learning very algorithmic processes. Will I keep them all? Probably not. I'd rather use my time (and have my learners use their time) to do more meaningful, collaborative work than sit and listen to me talk from their iPod.

So, is the "Flipped Classroom" a misnomer? Maybe. But don't look at the name and instantly turn away because we're all "hypocrites" (and yes, I have been called a hypocrite). Think beyond the videos and try to work out ways you can use some of the ideas the flipped class will give you time for. If videos won't work for you, please don't use them. If they will, then maybe they're a good starting point.

Just don't judge a book by its title.


More flipped class resources:

The Teacher Vodcasting Network: Over 1200 educators (and growing) using the flip or that are interested in flipping some of their classes.

Global Learning: My personal website elaborating on technology needs, philosophies, etc on flipping.

Learning4Mastery: Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams' page devoted to sharing the Flipped Classroom and the resources they've built around this model.

2 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  1. Caitlin Burns says:

    Hi Brian,
    I was very excited reading this blog post! I’m a second year Chinese teacher and throughout the last term I was reflecting on what I had done right (& mostly wrong) so far! I felt that, just as I had learnt at Uni, I was spending too much time being the ‘sage on the stage’ and I’m looking forward to changing what we do in class this coming term.

    One of the biggest issues I’ve come across while researching how to flip my classroom is that most of the other classrooms being flipped are science classrooms! These are very different to a language classroom. I’ve got some ideas but on this note, do you know of any other language teachers out there?

    I’m looking forward to keeping in touch, it’s great to know that you are doing some amazing things…and being taken very seriously and you’re only in your second year! :)

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Quinn Barreth says:

    Two things:
    1) Erwin McManus has a great quote, which is one of my favorites – “We are all hypocrites in transition” – meaning that if we believe all the things we used to believe, then we haven’t grown at all. So take the hypocrite thing as a compliment on your growth.

    b} Video, as you and others pointed out repeatedly at Flip11, is not a critical component of the ideology of Flip. I would regard it as one of the tools, but more importantly is to regard Flip as using technology to maximise learner/teacher engagement and deepen understanding (or technology used to maximise teaching time). Whatever method you choose to take, that is the right way to get to the goal. My colleague here uses his wiki to put all his material for students to interact with, and then designs a dynamic science environment built around inquiry and collaboration to achieve the same goals that Jon and Aaron sought in their classroom. The path changes, but the goal remains – more interaction, deeper learning and better learning environment for all students. Period.

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