What Does a Good Flipped Class Look Like?

The following is a co-post from The Daily Riff on what a good flipped classroom looks like:

The Flipped Class What Does a Good One Look Like?

"The classroom environment and learning culture play a large role in determining the best pedagogical strategy."

by Brian Bennett, Jason Kern, April Gudenrath and Philip McIntosh

The idea of the flipped class started with lecture and direct instruction being done at home via video and/or audio, and what was once considered homework is done in class. So, the order of the "lecture" and "homework" components of the class are, well -- flipped.

Now, it is becoming much more than that.

The main reason, maybe the only reason, to flip a class is to provide more class time for learning and that is the major shift that we are seeing as the flip gains popularity across content areas. Other than that, a good flipped class should be like any other in which good teaching and effective learning take place. Flipping the class is not the end-all solution to finding the "best use" of class time, but it does allow for varied forms of instruction. And after all, doesn't anything that results in more in-class learning a move in the right direction?

A lot of flipped class discussions focus on moving away from a traditional lecture format. While some lessons lend themselves better to a lecture format, others will be more appropriate as a flipped lesson. The classroom environment and learning culture play a large role in determining the best pedagogical strategy. This decision-making is a vital part of providing a constructive learning environment for students.

Switching from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom can be daunting because there are a lack of effective models. So, what should an effective flipped classroom look like? In our experience, effective flipped classrooms share many of these characteristics:

  • Discussions are led by the students where outside content is brought in and expanded.
  • These discussions typically reach higher orders of critical thinking.
  • Collaborative work is fluid with students shifting between various simultaneous discussions depending on their needs and interests.
  • Content is given context as it relates to real-world scenarios.
  • Students challenge one another during class on content.
  • Student-led tutoring and collaborative learning forms spontaneously.
  • Students take ownership of the material and use their knowledge to lead one another without prompting from the teacher.
  • Students ask exploratory questions and have the freedom to delve beyond core curriculum.
  • Students are actively engaged in problem solving and critical thinking that reaches beyond the traditional scope of the course.
  • Students are transforming from passive listeners to active learners.

The flipped class is not for everyone, but it offers the best way we know of to maximize in-class learning opportunities. If an individual learner or group of learners needs something akin to lecture, that can be done. Small group discussions? No problem. Plenty of time for interaction with the teacher? You bet.

The best way to understand how the method works is to see it in action. If you are interested in the Flipped Classroom, you are not alone...find and begin building a support network at The Flipped Class Network. Look at the network resources, connect with other professionals, or even visit a class and see what the buzz is about. Chances are the flip will be coming soon to a school near you, if it hasn't already.

Once again, we recognize that the flipped class does not and cannot end with the flip itself.  You, as a teacher, have to make intentional decisions about how to best meet the needs of your students.  It might begin with videos, but it might (and probably should) move away from them as you and your learners figure out how they learn best.  There is no one "correct" model of a flipped classroom.  If you ask me, I would say a "flipped" class is one where the majority of class time is spent working collaboratively and intentionally to give learners a chance to explore, explain, and create content.

The vocabulary and title of the class are the biggest talking points.  Let's stop focusing on the title of the class and start talking about all the opportunities students have in school, wether its in a "flipped" class or not.

6 thoughts on “What Does a Good Flipped Class Look Like?

  1. Marc Seigel says:

    Brian, to be honest, as someone who is doing the flip, I did many of the things people say is wrong with the Flipped Classroom. I used the videos as my instruction and that was the only real change I made to the class. But doing this, I realized how much more I need to do next year. The class became tedious with nothing to really break up the work. I used all of my old assignments with few modifications for the new design because I was just testing the method. Next year things are going to radically chance. I need to offer choices in the assignments, have student generated work and let the student control more of the content of the class with the podcasts to supplement.

    Your list here is fantastic and more people need to recognize the value in this method. They also need to see the teacher’s true role in the classroom needs to change.

    • Brian Bennett says:

      This is a great example of a good teacher recognizing the need to go beyond the videos. Thanks for adding this thought, Mark, because it gives credence to the article. I hope the move goes well for you and I’m excited to hear about the work your students will be doing next year.

  2. Panatella says:

    Yes, it is an exciting new concept to the traditional classroom. Students like because it is a totally whole new approach to learning. My concern is that will it’s luster wear-off after a couple of years? Once this concept is totally integrated it may all become so routine that it’s positive effect it once had may no longer work. It is placing more accountability on the students (which by the way students should always be held accountable for their learning). Hopefully, this will teach them to be responsible and experience what it means to be held accountable. Students today are fer less responsible than when I was a kid. Today everyone makes excuses for kids earning failing grades. “You’re not doing enough for the kids”, “You need to make it exciting to sustain their attention,” “You’re just not dedicated enough” “What’s causing the child to misbehave”, What’s causing the child to earn low grades” , “What’s causing the child to become distracted” I’ve heard all excuses. And quite frankly I’m sick of it. Why not say to the child “Why aren’t you applying yourself? or Why are you not paying attention in class? Why are you not turning in your homework? Because in the world of work, college, and real life you and only you are responsible for your decisions and actions you take. You are the one who will choose the type of life you want to live.

    • I would disagree on a couple of points. First, it feels new to students, but in reality, it’s a revision of traditional methods. Good teachers still need to be good teachers, and poor teaching will be highlighted pretty quickly in a flipped environment. And I understand what you’re saying about accountability, but again, if you’re not holding students accountable in your current classroom arrangement, Flipped Learning isn’t going to magically do that for you.
      Finally, I want to caution that switching to a flipped environment should not be taken lightly, nor should it be done without having a plan in place. While some of the fault is on students (especially at higher levels) for some of your complaints, I also think school and the system teachers have fallen into (including myself) are to blame. Students aren’t accountable because testing at the end of the year isn’t true accountability. So, my question to you is, “How do we get true accountability into our classrooms again?”

    • Maria says:

      I am tired of all those excuses as well. In my case those excuses are backed up by the parents and they go directly to administrators to complain.

  3. Erin says:

    “If you ask me, I would say a “flipped” class is one where the majority of class time is spent working collaboratively and intentionally to give learners a chance to explore, explain, and create content.” This sums it up so nicely. I hope someday this is what all teachers strive for.

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