The Flipped Classroom Turns Education on Its Head

flipped classroom

Having a class on the ceiling. That’s what may come to mind when the phrase “flipping the classroom” gets thrown around in the media. Naturally, this is not what’s involved, but what some schools are doing when it comes to reverse teaching methods may seem as outside of the box as desks on the roof.

Flipped Classroom Definition and History

Flipped Classroom: "Homework in class, teaching at home—the core of flipped classrooms."

“Homework in class and teaching at home” is the fundamental belief behind flipped classrooms. In this learning environment, students watch or listen to lectures and learn new content at home, and from these lectures,  students work on their “homework” in class, with more personalized help from teachers via hands-on activities.

Before schools started to utilize flipped learning, it was software that got people’s attention. In 2007, Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann at Woodland Park High School started collaborating on ways to utilize technology to improve personalized attention with students, recording and posting live lectures for absent students. The online lectures circulated around the Internet, and eventually both men were asked to speak to educators across the nation about their teaching strategies.

Around this same time, massive open online courses (MOOCs) started to become more popular, where students can study any subject for free via online lectures.

Flipped Classroom Model

The first school in the United States to completely flip was Clintondale High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich. In 2010, the principal and administration decided something had to change, based on their continuing struggle to educate at-risk students. So they started assigning classroom lectures for students to view at home with the idea that students could complete their homework in the classroom. But it’s not the typical lonely idea of homework, where a student sits at a desk with a pencil and paper. Students can form collaborative learning groups with their peers to figure out problems together.

Flipped Classrooms: "After one semester of a flipped classroom, students' failure rates went down."

After just one semester of the flipped classroom setting, Clintondale reduced its students’ failure rates by 33 percent in English language arts, 31 percent in mathematics, 22 percent in science, and 19 percent in social studies. In 2010, college attendance at Clintondale was 63 percent. Two years later, that number would reach 80 percent. After seeing what Clintondale had done, some other schools across the country started to flip, including Havana High School in Illinois. The flipped model is especially conducive for students that may not have a lot of help at home since the homework is done in the classroom.

Pros and Cons of Flipped Classroom

It helps students at the bottom.Videos can be boring.
It helps students learn about technology.Teachers don’t necessarily know whether students are comprehending the information at home.
Students engage in hands-on work during class time.Students may not do the “homework,” so classwork will be difficult/impossible.
Students can pace their learning when watching lectures at home. Some students don’t have access to technology.
It helps students who tend to not ask questions.In some ways, videos become teachers.
Teachers can sometimes employ more creativity and energy in the classroom.The format may not be conducive to all subjects.

The Bottom Line

As technology continues to advance, the flipped classroom design is something more schools may consider. It’s a fairly young concept, so it’s still evolving, similar to the young minds it’s trying to shape with this innovative teaching structure.