Teachy, Techy Jargon – The Flipped Classroom

This is a handy wee page I picked up from my lovely Twitter contacts. I particularly like the idea of the ‘flipped classroom’. I’ve studied two post-grad courses on-line, with lectures and discussion boards in virtual classrooms. These were accessible at any time, rather than live webcasts.

I had a go at one half of this last term (without knowing it was a ‘real thing’ – don’t forget I’m a fairly new teacher!); it was the half where the homework element was happening in the classroom. With my next class, I’d love to record a few lessons/scaffolding sessions to watch at home, so we’d have more time for application in class time. I digress (as usual).

My class, along with the whole unit, were working on a personal choice inquiry, whereby they chose a question to investigate, preferably about something they thought their teacher wouldn’t know. Quite a few of my students were interested in Psychology, so rather than put them off a subject about which I am endlessly enthusiastic (some would say boring!), we decided I could be a resource for discussions. I was amazed at the insight some of them showed into topics such as:

  • How Babies Think when they can’t Talk;
  • Why Humans are Social Animals;
  • Home School versus Public School.

Anyhow, they were using their time at home to research their questions, and had the opportunity at school to discuss with me and other students, where their facts would lead them next . Early on, we wrote out the questions, distributed them around the room and invited everyone to write a comment about the quality of the question or to add ideas about how to go about research or presentation. This peer feedback worked really well for encouraging individuals to think about where they were going with the questions. More than a few changed their question as a positive result.

Half way through the project time, we had an ‘inquiry morning tea’ with another class to share information and get a partner’s views about how to progress or just some encouragement. Whilst this activity is possible at home, and would be great to try out via blogs, social networking and so on, connecting face to face is still really important and students are always enthusiastic to share over cupcakes and crisps! Additionally, in the classroom, feedback is instant. Best I think, for students to use their computer time at home for their research, when there are finite resources for this at school.

Flipped classrooms are an idea I’d like to look at more. Certainly with comprehensive sites such as Maths is Fun, the mechanics of a subject can be self taught by middle-school aged children, with opportunities at school to get more help or to really extend those students who’ve ‘got it’. When everyone is equipped with the basic concepts, it’s possible to really start exploring a topic at a level each child is comfortable. A culture of preparation would have to be developed with a flipped classroom, so students (and parents of course), could be relied upon to do the foundation tasks before coming to school. That’s always a challenge anyway, when some children weren’t there when the rest did the introductory work – oh for a world where full attendance was the norm rather than the exception!


About vanessa hiser

Primary and Secondary Educator; Academic Psychologist; Counsellor; mother; netballer; lifelong learner.
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