Keys to Flipping the Lesson first – Not the Classroom
Flipping the lesson or the classroom is no easy task. There are lots of steps that must be done before you flip a lesson or the classroom.
Here are some recommendations:
1) Do you have a way to record your lessons with your computer or iPad.
Using an iPad is a great tool for flipping. There are so many great apps out there that allow you to screen cast with ease. For Elementary – Screen Chomp by Tech Smith is the app that I really love, it’s simple quick and easy for teachers and students to use. For secondary – I also recommend Screen Chomp for the same reasons but you can also look into apps such as Educreations, Show Me, Coach’s Eye, and Explain Everything. If you are trying to do a screen cast with your computer I recommend Jing by Tech Smith. This is a great tool for both PC and MAC platforms. Just like the iPad apps mentioned previously, Jing for PC or MAC allows you to create a video or screen shot of any window you create in your screen and allows you to have a voice over so you can explain your lesson or ideas while recording.
2) Where are you going to host the videos? The majority of these screen casting services coverts your videos into a link. Some even allow you to have the embedded code so you can embed the video to your site. This is where your personal teacher website comes in to play. It is not visually appealing to a parent or even administrators to have a site with 50 links that are tied to lessons that you flipped. As a parent I am not willing to click through all fifty links, so labeling them correctly and having a visual picture for each lesson is definitely going to be more visually attracting. Think about how YouTube has their site set up, they don’t just have links but sample pictures of the videos. So going back to your website – can it handle the embedding of videos or pictures that can be linked to those video URL’s. Lots of times teachers (specially elementary teachers) purchase a licenses to use these cute simple websites that really don’t do much except allow you to put text in them. The websites are not very interactive or even visually appealing. I would recommend that educators look into blogging type sites for their websites that can still be visually appealing and look like a regular teacher website even though it’s a blog site. WordPress, Blogger, and EduBlogs are all great suggestions.
Some teachers use learning platforms such as Edmodo to flip lessons and the classroom. Edmodo is a great place to post assignments, thoughts, ideas, videos and more. It also fits the flipped lesson/classroom concept perfectly because it also allows students to ask questions using that platform that the teacher or other students can answer.
3) Communication – You should never flip a lesson or a class with out some clear concise communication between you the teacher, administrator, and students parents. They all need to be on board for this. I saw an example of a very good teacher trying to flip a lesson- she explained her frustration to me that only 5 out of 18 kids actually watched the lesson at home like they were supposed to. My first question was did you send any documentation to the parents explaining the concept of flipping or even meet with the parents face to face to explain this concept with them and of course she said – no. Flipping the classroom or flipping the lesson is not a homework assignment. It’s a philosophy, a classroom teaching strategy, it must be explained to all stakeholders and there must be buy in before you jump into this. The concept of flipping the classroom or flipping a lesson is based on communication. You communicate the concepts of what you are trying to accomplish with all parties. You then communicate with your students and parents through digital resources such as a short 2-minute lesson video. Parents communicate with their child by helping them understand the concepts the teacher has explained in the videos. Students communicate with their teacher’s questions that they have through an online platform (like Edmodo) or in class the next day.
4) Connectivity: Not all students have access to the internet at home. Chances are that the videos that you are creating and posting to your website for flipping the lessons are all web-based videos that students and parents need internet access to see. So what is your plan for these students? First thing is to identify them. If possible, try to have an iPad, or computer available for them in a class after school and before school. Give those students a chance to access the same information that everyone else might have seen at home. The lower the number of these students obviously the easier this is going to be. This is why these 2-minute videos are so important because they don’t take that long to watch. Having said this, if 90% of your students do not have Internet access at home then maybe flipping the classroom or lesson is not the best teaching strategy to try and implement.
5) Differentiated Instruction: From an administrators point of view the main reason I am a big fan of flipping the classroom or flipping a lesson is because it gives teachers who already have little to no extra time an avenue for a new method to successfully differentiate instruction. By flipping a lesson the teacher can have students from all levels working on different assignments and watching different video lessons be engaged in the content and classroom instruction.
Key teacher questions about Flipping the Classroom or Flipping a Lesson:
Question: How do I turn my 45-minute math lesson or reading block into a video?
Answer: You don’t! You should focus on the learning goal, main idea or concept of the course. You ask yourself what is the main thing that my students must leave today knowing and that is what you create a 1-3 minute video explaining. Another option is to create a quick video on the part of the lesson that you know your students struggled with the most.
Question: Is this more work for a teacher?
Answer: Yes it is more work if you consider creating a 3 minute video more work. You are now going to have to take an extra 3 minute of your busy schedule to create a video and post it to your website or Edmodo group for your students and their parents to have access to them. However, it’s going to save you time from having to re-teach concepts to you’re struggling students, and help your advanced students stay engaged in lessons. So you see how this can also help save you time.
Where school administrators and teachers get it all wrong is by trying to do too much to fast. The concept of flipping the classroom is great but it does not happen over night. It’s also something that you must stick to in order to eventually see the success of the concept. My suggestion for a school, teacher or administrator that is interested in flipping the classroom is to flip a lesson first. Maybe pick a lesson once a week and flip a lesson that way. As you start to see the increase in student interest of that flipped lesson then start adding to flipped lessons a week. Please note that you need buy in from all stakeholders so the lessons that you start off with must be extremely interesting and engaging. Lets get those students and parents hooked on this concept first by engaging them. Flip the lesson first, don’t try to do too much. By flipping the lesson once a week and adding lessons as you see fit, your class will eventually morph into a flipped classroom. Do not rush it.
As stated earlier you can not have success in flipping the classroom or lesson without, the proper hardware and software, proper website or learning platform. You must communication to all stakeholders, have a plan for how to handle the students that have connectivity issues at home, and a plan to meet the needs of your students by differentiating your instruction.