Words of Wisdom: An Introduction to the Flipped Classroom Part II

By CUE Member and guest blogger John Stevens

This Post Will Focus on Tips for Flipping Your Class- Post 2 in Our 6-Part Series

Piano Lessons Will Merydith

Orchestrator of Variables
CC Will Merydith

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here.  There are so many variables in play with the flipped classroom, and this is far from the norm in a traditionally constant profession.  As professionals, we need to be accepting of such change and embrace the opportunity for students to be the orchestrator of the variables.  Allowing them to have a voice in the way the learn and make adjustments along the way is a powerful transition into passion-based learning.  It’s about time we get into some specifics.

First, the Flipped Classroom Is Not About the Video

It is not about taking the same monotonous lesson, recording it during your prep (or after school, or at home with your kids running around you), tossing it up onto the Internet, and replacing your class time with the work that you used to give them at home.  Quick confession: I use videos a lot of the time as a way to support the flipped classroom.

There, I said it (feels good).  The truth is, I don’t flip my classroom so that my students can watch a video.  I flip my classroom so that I can open up time in class and give it back to students. Within the videos, I’m providing depth, thoughtful and thorough (I would like to think, anyways) examples with multiple representations.

Second, We Need to Be Cautious of How We Approach the Flipped Classroom in the Beginning

For those of us in secondary education, we need to realize that these kids are being exposed to a completely new way of learning and that can be uncomfortable.

As a 10th grader, our students will have seen over 24 individual educators standing in front of them and presenting new content. There’s a good chance that the majority of those teachers were engaging, challenging, and memorable in a very positive way. They were, and always will be, great teachers.

Suddenly, in a flipped class, this student is being presented with a whole new format of school that opens up class time for interaction and student-led discussions.  I can only imagine being a student in my class the first few weeks of “flipping out.”

In order to help ease the transition, I let students guide the way with (1) how the flipped content would be presented and (2) what we would be doing during class.  On the back end of that negotiation, I was setting students up for the option that I thought was best, but they came up with it and owned it.  This helped with student buy-in, especially the higher performing students who thrived off of the structure and normalcy of a traditional classroom.

Finally, and Most Importantly, the Flipped Classroom Is Not a Way to Pass the Baton to Some Pre-Made Lessons

Your Students Learn From You CC Audio-Lucit

Your Students Learn From You
CC Audio-Lucit

This is not the time to kick your feet up on the desk, and watch as your students’ intelligence grows exponentially watching a lesson someone else created. During a presentation at CUE’s annual conference, Ramsey Musallam (look him up, you’re welcome), one key point about the flipped classroom stuck with me.  That was the notion that your students learn best from you.

We can all be humble and say that there are better teachers out there.  In my case, I know that there are.  Unfortunately, my students are stuck with me. Therefore, it is my job, not Khan, TED, Meyer or anyone else out there, to facilitate an environment in which my students will learn. They get me, for better or worse, 180 days out of the year. The work that other teachers have done is a great way to supplement in case students need extra, but you are your students’ best resource.  Own that and be proud of it.

There. In one giant nutshell, that is my version of the flipped classroom.  Ask someone else, even in the same circle of flipped classroom friends as me, and they’re bound to give you their version.  As a teacher, one of the major benefits of this instructional style is the autonomy to make it your own.  What works for me may not work for you.  Heck, what worked for me last year may not work this year.  No matter what happens, I’ll keep redefining my flipped classroom based on my own experiences in the classroom as well as the support from my amazing PLN.  It’s about time.

To connect to other Flipped Educators on Twitter, use the hashtag #flipclass.

John Stevens

John Stevens

John Stevens is a high school Geometry teacher who has also taught middle school Math, Service Learning, and Robotics, Engineering, and Design since 2006.  He has served as the go-to guy for trying new, crazy, and often untested ideas to see how well they will work.  

He co-founded and moderates #CAedchat, the weekly teacher Twitter chat for the state of California. He also is the co-founder and organizer of EdCamp Palm Springs, the first in the area.  On his free time that doesn’t exist, he runs a site called Would You Rather? which is dedicated to getting students talking about math.  During the summer of 2013, John had the honor of presenting at two CUE Rockstars, one in Lake Tahoe and the other aboard the USS Hornet. John blogs at fishing4tech.com. Follow him @jstevens009 or email him at stevens009@gmail.com

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