A Path to Successful Flipped Instruction and Two Easy Ways to Get Started
My journey with instructional technology has led me to a position in which I lead many professional development sessions. I often get asked to help teachers start their flipping journey so I decided to share my own, and hopefully it will provide some insight as to how you can successfully flip your classroom. At the end of this blog, I have included a presentation on two easy ways to get started flipping.
Technology is for the Willing; Young or Old
A few years ago I was one of the least fluent people I knew with technology. One might assume that since I grew up with a computer and a cell phone that I would be “tech savvy,” but I was the furthest thing from it. I have always enjoyed a good challenge, so when I had the opportunity to take some elective courses while pursuing my Masters at the University of Minnesota, I took them in instructional technology.
When I began my courses I quickly became aware of how far behind I was. My classmates were throwing around tech jargon and discussing tools that I had never heard before. I felt that my lack of knowledge was holding me back as a teacher and a technology user myself, so I began my quest to learn technologies that would be useful for me and my students.
Sometimes people tell me that technology is easy for me because I am young, but this is not the case. Technology is easy for me now because I devoted the time necessary to become comfortable with it.
Flipping My Understanding of Flipping
My journey to understanding flipped instruction has been a relatively long and bumpy one. I first heard the terms “flipped classroom” and “flipped instruction” in my first instructional technology graduate course. At the time I thought of flipped instruction very literally and considered it to be moving everything I do in school with my students outside of school and moving everything that students do outside of school into school. I imagined having my students watch all my lectures at home on Schoology and then come to school to work on their homework.
Upon flipping my first unit of instruction I became aware that this is not what good flipping is. I learned that I should only be taking the low level learning out of my classroom, and by doing that, I would leave more time for higher level learning, collaboration, and problems solving. Once I started approaching flipped instruction with this mentality it became much more successful, and this is the first piece of advice I would offer to anyone considering flipping.
Some Valuable Lessons Learned from the Bumps Encountered
1. Flipping Takes Time—Flipping takes considerable time, but once the instructional videos and other resources are created, you have them available for future use and can make small adjustments as needed. It is important to tackle a little at a time; you will need to adjust to this style of instruction as will your students. I flipped three two-week units this past year. Next year I will make adjustments to the units I have already flipped and work on flipping two or three additional units.
2. Expect an Adjustment Period for You and Your Students—Any new instructional technique requires some adjustment from you and your students. Flipping requires that you let go of what you are used to in terms of how you structure your class time. When you take the low level learning outside of the classroom you will have more time for upper level learning in the classroom. You will need to consider activities that will support this. You should expect a little push back from some students when you start flipping. As native as some students might be to technology most have never learned this way before, and some will naturally push back when you push them beyond their comfort zone.
3. Choose the Right Tools—Use tools you and your students are comfortable with. My students and I were comfortable using Schoology, which is why I chose it for flipping. I embed instructional videos and questions on Schoology for my students to view and answer outside of class and add other materials to support learning and to assess student understanding.
4. Ask Questions About the Instruction—Ask the students questions about the instruction they are viewing. This not only will help you know if they actually viewed the instruction, but it will also be a powerful formative assessment tool. I ask students to answer five or six questions in the Google form after they have viewed a video. I generally ask the students three or four conceptual questions, and then ask how well they feel they understood the material on a scale of 15 and what questions they have.
The conceptual questions allow me to assess student understanding of the video content while the last two questions allow me to differentiate my instruction as I am able to group students by level of understanding and address questions with individual students or the entire class in following class periods.
About the Author
Cassandra Knutson grew up in Afton, Minnesota and attended Stillwater High School. After graduation, she pursued a chemistry degree and secondary education licensure at the University of North Dakota. Cassandra completed her student teaching in Ireland, and after returning, took a teaching position in Devils Lake, North Dakota before finally heading back to the Twin Cities to take a position in White Bear Lake, Minnesota where she also now serves as a district Digital Learning Specialist. Since then, Cassandra has earned her Masters degree in Science Education, an Online and Distance Learning Certificate from the University of Minnesota, a Technology and Leadership Certificate from Hamline University, and a Teacher Leader Certificate from EdTechTeam Online.