Aug 31, 2012

3 Misconceptions About Flipping the Classroom

This Summer I taught a class on the basic principles of flipping the classroom. We discussed many of the advantages, as well as tips for producing videos. 24 teachers signed up for the workshop prior to the end of the school year. Realistically I expected less than half to show up because it was scheduled for July and many would be unwilling to give up their vacation time. I was pleased when 18 showed up and was even more excited to see the enthusiasm they had for the topic.

As we worked through the class, there were teachers from all areas: language arts, science, math and even art and music. They were so full of questions that I wondered how many would follow through with the concept.

As the year started, I found that my son's art teacher, who had attended the class, had sent home a letter with a pass code for edmodo. In her letter she told us that her class would be a little different this year, as she would be flipping her classroom.

Another teacher who had attended the workshop had been flipping since last spring in his college course and had made plans to flip his high school math classes. He an I talk quite frequently and he had passed on a few stories of fellow faculty members who commented that flipping would never work.

From watching these two teachers I have found that there are definite rewards that come from flipping, as well as a few misconceptions.

Misconception #1: the kids won't watch!

One comment I have heard many times is that the kids aren't any more likely to watch the videos than they are to listen in class. On the contrary, kids seem very interested and intrigued by the idea of being able to watch and pause the videos so they can take notes on concepts they would normally miss in a fast paced lecture. Additionally, both our art teacher and math teacher state that parents are watching. Parents that came to back to school night said they were watching with their kids because they said it helps them help their kids.

Misconception #2: students won't work any harder in class.

In a conversation from today, our math teacher commented that in the past (pre-flip days) he would have many kids who never turned in homework (even if it was for a completion grade). Now after flipping, he says he has tons of grading to do over the labor day weekend. More kids are comprehending and since they have hands on time with peers and their teacher, they are producing more work.

Misconception #3: Grades won't improve.

When comparing the first week of quiz averages from last year to this year, our math teacher pointed out a marked improvement. Last year's quiz average for the first week was in the 60 range. This year his average is in the 90 range. Granted, this is a different batch
of students from last year, but this is a pre-calculus class covering some very abstract concepts. The sharp increase is something difficult to ignore.

With these three misconceptions, one has to understand that simply making videos and posting them didn't create the change. There is a great deal of dedication, teaching and practice involved in making the flipped classroom work. But the fruits of those labors are worth it in this Common Core world.


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