Supporting Students in a #Flipclass

I saw a tweet come through the feed this morning from Brad Campbell and Vanessa Alander regarding the practice of “implementing” a flipped classroom without appropriate support for students.

These are important discussions to have because, and I cannot emphasize this enough, good pedagogy must come before technology use. A flipped classroom is not successful because of the videos being used, but because of the interactions teachers can have with students.

Some things to consider as you plan on flipping your class:

1. Build a support network for yourself – Anything worth doing is always better with companions. Whether it is in your building or online, a support network is imperative as you begin something new. Colleagues will be there to give feedback on your methods as well as support in failure. When working alone, it is too easy to give up when faced with setbacks. Having people to work with will significantly ease the burden of the transition you are making.

2. Do not focus on the videos – This may sound counter-intuitive, considering many flipped classrooms use video to deliver instruction. The best technology use comes when sound pedagogy is maintained. Remember, students may need to be taught how to learn from the internet. I have written before that the internet needs to be a resource, not a destination. Do not introduce videos as the only way to learn the material. The videos are a resource being provided to students. Pigeonholed ideas will rarely be successful.

3. Prepare extensions – Sitting and listening to content is not sufficient in building deep understanding. If you want students to be great at reciting information, then stop at the lecture notes. If you want students to be critical, creative thinkers in the context of the content, then there must be extension and application. Design these before introducing the content. Much like writing assessments before teaching a chapter, have your extensions in place before beginning to help lay the course of the unit.

4. Model and scaffold – Again, remember that students are students. Independent learning may or may not be an intuitive action. They will have a very difficult time navigating content if it is not modeled for them. Take time in class to discuss the power of videos in delivering content. Show them how to access the material. Show them how to use any print materials you are providing with the video. Give a daily list of goals (when first starting) for students to work toward. Assess (formatively) frequently to get an idea of where students are in their learning. Take time to work as a whole class to address common strengths and weaknesses. As you repeat this cycle, students will gradually become more independent in their learning.

5. Reflect – Ownership of learning is a key to improvement. Reflection must be part of the learning cycle for both the teacher and the student. Discussion and cooperation is a powerful catalyst in building a student-centered class. As the teacher, reflect on what went well from a standpoint of implementation. As students, have them reflect on what helped them learn the best. Collaborate on the two and move forward as partners.

Flipped classrooms can accentuate good teaching just as well as it can accentuate bad teaching. The guide laid out can be helpful, but it is by no means comprehensive. Find what works best for you and your students and run with it.

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