What is a Flipped Classroom

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about this “flipped classroom” and people are still trying to wrap their heads around the concept. Generally, flipping is always a good thing! Flipping the pillow over to the cold side in the night or flipping burgers on the BBQ on a nice sunny day. In the classroom, however, this term means something else entirely but is just as enjoyable as a cold pillow and barbecued meal! 

Traditional classroom: to explain what “flipping” means we must first look at how classrooms operated before they were flipped. Traditionally, at school, teachers would teach a lesson explaining and giving direct instructions on a topic and then hand out homework to be completed. Since then, a new model of teaching (flipped) has come into play that reverses this traditional method. 

A flipped classroom: flipping a classroom means that students watch a video out of class that relays direct instructions on the topic currently being covered. This then leaves the classroom time solely for activities that explore the topic and enables discussion among peers.

It was first introduced to the world by two teachers by the name of Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams who were teaching at Woodland Park High School in 2007.  They happened upon software that gave them the ability to record their Powerpoints and lectures and thus they began posting them online. This gave students who were ill, away or had missed the class the opportunity to still “attend” the lecture. Their recordings started spreading like wildfire as students who initially attended the lectures were watching them again and again, to reaffirm knowledge. While others were sharing them with students who were not even taking the same class!

Benefits: Sams and Bergman began traveling around the country teaching this new model to teachers so that they too could adopt it. They explained how during class there wasn’t always time for teachers to go in-depth on a topic and this could leave students irritated and consequently shy away from homework. However, now that the direct teaching instructions were being delivered via video, students now had the opportunity to learn at their own pace. They could stop and pause a video when confused, rewind if necessary, and write down any questions they had which they could then bring to class.

The classroom was now freed up for content exploration and engagement in active learning rather than what they call “factual recall”. This is when students are just enhancing their memory and learning facts instead of learning meaning and concept.

How technology helps: as technology advances so too do the way that it can aid education and learning. Rather than just the (some would say boring) traditional way of teaching with a teacher at the front of the classroom with a board. Lessons can now become interactive with extra learning supplements and students can access lessons on their own time in their preferred environments. (The couch at home is undeniably more comfortable than the plastic chair in a classroom!)

There are now more opportunities for interaction, students can take polls online, have group chats with peers and even take quizzes provided especially for them by teachers. This allows a more personalized approach to learning than a “one-size-fits-all” which will inevitably fail those that it indeed doesn’t fit.

VIPKID and the flipped model: VIPKID has also taken it upon itself to incorporate the flipped model into the classroom as a way of furthering knowledge and increasing learning retention. A VIPKID lesson is only 25 minutes long and using a flipped model increases the growth capacity of a student’s learning from lesson to lesson. It provides the student with more material in which to access and material that is both fun and engaging.  

Flipped classroom by numbers: Clinton Dale High School which is situated near the city of Detroit has employed the flipped model into their classroom and it has really taken off! Before the introduction of a flipped classroom, the school was seeing a 50% failure rate in English by freshmen as well as a 44% failing in Math. However, since the flip, these numbers have dramatically improved with only 19% failing English and 13% failing Math. The flipped model has allowed them to more than halve their failure rates and cut the rate of discipline cases.

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