The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Flipped Learning…..My take

In an earlier post, I wrote about how valuable I consider the flipped learning model. After offering some information, as well as my analysis, that it is the way of the future, I thought it would be appropriate to share some reasons I think this model should be adopted.

  • Flipped Learning creates meaningful homework.

If students are listening to podcasts, viewing a webcast, or reading something they have been assigned, they are building knowledge that they can apply in a classroom setting. Good homework is an extension of learning from the school day, and should not (in my opinion) be simply a recap of what happened in a class.

  • Flipped Learning teaches students to ask questions.

If students are assigned to listen, watch, or read, they should also be required to generate some questions to ask the teacher in class the next day. Drawing on the example of Eric Mazur’s work at Harvard, students grow faster and think deeper when they are responsible to come up with finding out more details than what was first offered.

  • Flipped Learning teaches students critical thinking skills.

One of the books I am reading right now is Focus by Mike Schmoker. In this work, he calls on educators to embed thinking skills into our curriculum. By focusing class time on discussing material that students already learned and extending their thinking with quality dialogue, teachers would be providing direct instruction on how to reach conclusions, recognize points of view, and support opinions.

  • Flipped Learning forces educators to integrate technology into their curriculum.

By moving lectures from classrooms to iPods, or by assigning videos to watch rather than paper and pencil activities, teachers will have to evolve their own thinking about assignments.

There are plenty of other reasons that Flipped Learning should be adopted, among them are clear signs of deeper learning and longer periods of student engagement and time on task.


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8 thoughts on “Flipped Learning…..My take

  1. Very well said. I missed #edchat last night, and I have yet to visit the archive, but I’m anxious to see what opinions were put forth on the topic. It’s definitely a hot idea that needs exploring, even if in baby steps.

  2. Mike on said:

    I mentioned this (Flipped learning) to my dad a few weeks ago, who is also a teacher, because I like to get his opinion and take on different things. He thought, and I agree with him, that the general idea and concept is great, but, like any new idea, has some flaws. One such flaw that cannot be ignored or avoided is the abuse of this teaching/learning style by school administrators. The fear that we have as educators is that schools will see this as an opportunity to have fewer teachers on staff. The reason I say this is because one teacher can record a podcast and hundreds of students can watch that podcast, meaning that fewer teachers are needed in classrooms if all that is happening in classrooms is students working on classwork. I think the key word needed with the Flipped Classroom model is “moderation.” I don’t think any teachers should resort to a completely flipped classroom. It is a great resource from time to time, but should not be used daily. That’s just my opinion…and my dad’s to some extent.

  3. Hi Tracy!

    The comments last night we across the board, from people who advocate it to others who are adamantly opposed. Found myself engaged in a great conversation with someone whose against lectures, and sees flipped learning as just “more of the same.” Also encountered some who are philosophically opposed to homework.

    That said, there were also a number of people who are taking it on and doing some amazing work.

    Thanks for the comment,

  4. Hi Mike,

    I appreciate your feedback and perspective. Thanks for posting.

    Something that is central to flipped learning is someone to engage the learners about the information. We’ll still need teachers – they are vital to the entire model. We agree, 100 kids can use the same podcast, but those 100 kids still need someone to facilitate them making a choice in how to apply what they have learned. For that to really work, smaller groups are still important (especially for more passive students who may not feel comfortable asking a question in front of 99 of their peers) to really push beyond the facts and think critically.

    Getting the facts outside class, from something a teacher prepared or another source is only a small percentage of the work – the real excitement happens when kids have to create, analyze, and question.

    It sounds like your Dad also has some great thoughts – get him on Twitter!

    Have a great day,

  5. Scott on said:

    I’m curious to hear how you create a “flipped classroom” in an area where computer access at home is nonexistent or very limited…I see the benefit to this idea but am scared to try this with not having the proper technology available to do so….Thoughts?

    • Hi Scott,

      With a better principal, you could do amazing things!

      To answer your question, I think it’s important to keep in mind that with an successful integration of technology, you have to begin with the question “what do you have?” Gathering information from students on who has a cell phone, iPod, computer access at home, and other basic questions allow you to establish the capacity of your group. It’s only then that you can start to figure out how to maximize the potential of the tools available.

      In cases where the economy is really bad, it’s a safe bet that a school would draw some Title 1 funds. Technology is a VERY sound investment with this money, and I think that more and more administrators are beginning to make this investment to put it in the hands of kids who lack access.

      The new director of technology in our district shared with me that he has experience also finding grants and free programs that will also create opportunities, so there are things out there, you just have to find the right people to ask. I think that teachers who are really motivated to get tools in the hands of kids appreciate this kind of approach.

      I was talking with someone recently who said that access to the internet will quickly become a civil rights issue. Still not sure how strongly I agree with that statement, but it was an interesting perspective.


  6. I run what the ‘flip-evangelicals’ would call a flipped classroom in all my classes which are externally examined courses (iGCSE and IB). My concern is two fold. Firstly the perception that all what’s all needed is to flip the homework and everything else will follow. Secondly that the ‘flipped classroom’ is actually a complete learning cycle or a total method for teaching. It is the case that principle advocates in the USA have added ‘mastery’ to their flip to create a more complete learning cycle but such an addition is only one of many possibilities. The ‘flip’ simply provides a method that allows significant reorganisation of the class time. It does not actually provide the methodology / learning cycle that would be applied in lesson time. It is very important to understand that the ‘flip’ is only a kind of preparation for lesson time (or an introduction method that begins in the home and is brought to class). Once the flip has occurred that’s when the real hard work starts as you begin to design and apply your own learning cycle. The flip therefore creates the creative space for the experienced teacher to apply their pedagogy. For the new teacher is an opportunity is created for them to plan and apply teaching methodologies with a realistic chance that they can be pulled off. At the outset the flip is very seductive but this is definitely not a one-stop solution to teaching and learning.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate your concerns.

      I’m curious, what does your flipped classroom look like? How does it work, and what have you found successful?


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