Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Implementing the Flipped Classroom

So here goes my second post.  After weeks of pondering what to write, I decided to document my journey into the Flipped Classroom model.  I'll have to say that the decision to flip the class was easy.  After years of becoming frustrated with the daily "how my class functions" routine, I was ready for a change.  I was either ready for a change or ready to get out of education.  It had grown that bad.  I teach at a private school and compared to my experience in teaching at a public school, one would wonder why the frustration.  I have great kids in my classes. Overall, they are more dedicated to school and parent involvement is great.  It wasn't the kids I was frustrated with, it was me.  It was school in general.  Standing in front of class day in and day out, expounding on all MY infinite knowledge while students sat bored and disengaged grew frustrating.  I "power pointed" them to death.  I was frustrated that they wouldn't pay attention.  However, I knew that if I was them, I would be bored too.  Heck, I was bored doing it.  I looked forward to lab days because the students were busy and enjoyed what we were doing. I hated lecture days.  Then came the realization that I could flip the class.  I found that a teacher could record lectures, let the students watch them on their own time (for "homework") and then we could work together, in class, on the assignments.  I could TEACH.  I could be a helper and a mentor.  I loved the idea!

So I flipped the classroom.  I started using other teachers' vodcasts (video podcasts) until I could get time to make my own.  I started off by trying it the last two units of the school year last year.  The students loved it.  They like having an excuse to use their computers and cell phones to do "school work".  They like having time in class to do the work and they really liked that I was there to help them.  The grades on the two unit assessments were considerably higher than previous years. I had found the great solution!

Over the summer, I started recording my own lectures.  I spent WAY too much time editing and including music and other things.  My vodcasts were WAY too long.  I found out quickly that there is some work involved in making quality lectures.  It also made me realize how much I talked.  I can imagine just how boring my class lectures must have been!  Then, before I knew it, school started and I was already behind.  I struggled trying to get video lectures prepared in time.  I had students that were moving faster than I could get the materials ready. The good thing is that while I struggled during the first semester, the students were performing well. This new group liked the videos and like having class time to complete the work.  In fact, I ran out of "stuff" for them to do.  I found I needed more activities for them.  This was a "problem" that hadn't happened before. There was never enough time for labs because I spent too much time lecturing.  Now we had time to do other things.

For the second semester, I decided to use videos from other teachers.  Mainly I adopted the videos from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams .  I also used videos from and others.  This lightened the load quite a bit and I could focus on other aspects of the class such as preparing activities and working on the Mastery side of conducting class (which I'll cover in my next blog).  This semester has been better for me.  I will will strongly emphasize that flipping the classroom room is not a magic bullet.  I was going to address this more in this blog however, Jon Bergmann in his latest blog said everything I wanted to say and better. See the March 15 post .  I can echo that it still takes a dedicated teacher to have success.  I still have students that refuse to do the work.  They refuse to watch the videos.  They copy worksheets.  They do not pass tests.  In other words, they do not take responsibility for their own learning. Flipping the classroom, while encouraging students to be more engaged, does not fix everything.  However, because I have significantly more time to work with students during class, the number of students I have not doing well has decreased.  I believe this is because I can spend more time with them on an individual basis and they can not longer "play school." They have to do their work and they have to master the material to succeed.

Again, a long blog with my ramblings, but that is my intent.  Next post I will discuss more about implementing the Mastery Method of instruction into the class.


  1. Sounds like you have a wonderful start. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing about how it goes from here forward as well.

  2. Brett,
    I have many of the same frustrations as you with the flipped classroom. I actually had one student say to me "I don't feel like I am learning if you don't lecture." The students that have embraced this method are the ones who are taking responsibility for their learning and pushing themselves to do more. The frustrated ones are the ones who want me to do it for them. You are right that this has not solved my teaching problems, but at least I am more enthusiastic about coming to school. Hopefully my new energy inspires my students.

  3. As a following up to this post I will say this....I have far fewer students this year that are "lost" with the subject material. They quickly realize that #1 they have to understand it to move on (mastery of material), which provides some motivation and, #2 they have the chance to get help during class now instead of wandering hopelessly lost at home.