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How to Make Flipped Classrooms Work

Updated on June 1, 2016

Definition

A flipped classroom is when the main part of the lesson is assigned as homework, leaving more time for discussion during the school day. Sounds good, right? Well, maybe...

Whether or not a flipped classroom works relies heavily on the self-responsibility of the student body. If the student body is comprised of students who will simply not do the work outside of school, a flipped classroom model is probably not going to work, but If the majority of the student body is made of responsible students, the flipped classroom model could work quite well.

How it Works

Currently, in most cases, technology is a requirement for flipped classrooms. Students would typically watch videos, read articles, or even respond with comments though the use of technology (i.e. computers, E-readers, IPads, etc), and when the student return to school the next day, they are expected to have questions, related to the material, prepared to discuss (or questions from comment boards could be used).

Pros

One of the benefits of using a flipped classroom model are that the students become part of the teaching process, which may encourage more voluntary participation on their parts, which would most likely make the class seem less boring, and possibly even exciting. Another advantage to flipped classrooms is that by frequently using technology, the students are simultaneously learning/improving technology while learning classroom material.

Cons

Now, it is time for the "roadblocks" of the flipped classroom model. When using this model, students are required to do the main part of the lesson at home, and usually with technology, but there are many difficulties that may arise with this idea. Firstly, there are students who do not have access to the Internet at home, nor transportation to get to a local library. Secondly, in every grade level, students are on an extremely varied level of academic competency. Some students may not be able to comprehend a reading that is assigned, and since the reading is assigned to be done at home, there is no teacher present to help the student in understanding the material. Additionally, there may be students who lack in technology skills, preventing them from accessing the required class material.

How to Make Your Flipped Classroom Successful

In order to ensure that your school's flipped classroom model is successful, I believe the following steps are absolutely ESSENTIAL:

  1. Good-quality Technology: This is necessary for both teachers and students. If the school invests more money in good quality items, there will be less problematic issues for teachers and students, which leaves more ease for student assignments and teacher planning and grading. It will also "free up" the staff members responsible for dealing with technological problems, so they are able to focus on other aspects of their jobs.
  2. Basic Computer Class: Despite all of the cell phones, IPads, and other technology you may see youth using these days, many are lacking in basic skills such as typing, using programs such as Microsoft Word or Power Point, or even checking email accounts. If a flipped classroom is expected to be successful, with ease for the students, this type of class is absolutely necessary.
  3. Flipped Classroom Training or Observation: Flipped classroom cannot work if teachers and/or the students do not understand the definition/model. Therefore, it would be essential that the teachers, first and foremost, receive training, and the best training,I believe, would be to send your teachers out to observe schools already using this model successfully. Although I believe that observing these classrooms would be beneficial, it would be important for your school to remember to create its own identity, and not try to be the other schools. Training for the students would also be required, so they understand how flipped classrooms work, and have an opportunity to ask questions about the process. Training for the students could be as simple as having them watch videos that show a synopsis of a class that is already using this model.
  4. After-hours Access to the School: Having the school staffed for a few hours after school each day would allow students to freely work on their lessons, with access to the school's Internet, with a comfortable, and possibly quiet, environment. It is also a good place for students to be after school, especially in the inner city.

Conclusion

As for me, I am not necessarily "for" or "against" using a flipped classroom model, but I do strongly believe that in order for it to be successful, it has to be implemented right, with the right tools. I also believe that every student learns the best differently, and the success of a flipped classroom model would truly depend on the learning styles preferred by the students.

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