in Teaching Strategies

How Students Benefit From a Flipped Classroom (And Ways To Implement It)

The internet has created hundreds of hubs for teachers to share ideas and insights when it comes to helping students learn. In addition to lesson plans, educators offer tips and advice for connecting with kids. 

One method of teaching that has become popular is the flipped or inverted classroom in which students do homework during class and then watch videos with the course material at home. The concept is so much more involved, especially for teachers who want to teach it well. Here is why you should consider flipped learning in your classroom. 

What is a Flipped Classroom?

The reverse classroom gets its name from the idea that students do homework in class and learn class materials at home — and it’s not exactly new. 

Teachers have long been sending reading and other learning materials home, to be discussed or applied to activities the next day, says Jaclyn Day at student loan servicer Nelnet. The only thing that has changed is the digital element, where entire lectures can be viewed at home via video. Digital learning has significantly accelerated the use of inverted learning. 

Additionally, having a flipped classroom means that the in-class homework assignments move from worksheets and essays into more engaging discussions and projects.

“Merely flipping your homework and lecture doesn’t mean you’re unlocking all the benefits of flipped learning,” Elizabeth Trach writes at Schoology. “True flipped learning is about opening up class time and transforming it into hands-on, differentiated, and even personalized learning experiences.” 

Trach explains that this is the main difference between a flipped classroom and actual flipped learning. With flipped learning, students interact when completing activities. Time that would be used for a lecture is instead allocated to projects and reinforcement tasks. 

As a whole, students have embraced flipped learning, and many teachers have as well. The blogging team at video platform Panopto shared some interesting insights on the successes of flipped classrooms. For example, in a survey of 200 teachers, 85 percent said they saw an increase in grades, and 95 percent of students said they preferred the video learning. 

“Students are always on the go, and increasingly using tablets and smartphones in order to access learning materials,” explains the Panopto team. By making the learning materials accessible online, kids can learn on the bus ride home or during a study hall period.

How do Students Benefit from a Flipped Classroom?

There are several learning benefits to a flipped classroom, and you can use this teaching style to foster future-ready skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and leadership

Students Can Practice Autonomous Learning 

Instead of tracking students to make sure they understand the material, your students will decide when they are ready to move forward. 

Deb Brough, a middle school math teacher who uses the flipped classroom method, praises video learning because students can pause and rewind content when they don’t understand what is being explained. “Having to know when they need to go back over a certain concept they did not fully grasp the first time allows the opportunity for students to take responsibility for their own education,” she says. 

Students Become Teachers and Leaders

Students who understand the concepts can help their peers, which also reinforces the material they learned earlier.

“Flipped classrooms allows class time be used to master skills through collaborative projects and discussions,” writes edtech professional Michael Acedo. “This encourages students to teach and learn concepts from each other with the guidance of their teachers.” 

Some students are more open to learning from their friends than a teacher. Getting explanations from peers may not carry the same perceived pressure as when the instruction comes from a teacher.

Teachers Can Correct Problems Before They Become Bad Habits

A flipped classroom allows teachers to provide targeted feedback to students, for both individual and group assignments, writes Berlin Fang, director of instructional design at Abilene Christian University. 

Instead of sending students home with several tasks to work through, teachers can observe their students in class — and prevent problems as they arise. In other words, instead of doing all 30 math problems wrong, a teacher can intervene after only a few. This process prevents students from wasting time, or struggling with the material to the point where they give up. 

How to Effectively Create a Flipped Classroom

Without the right care, your flipped classroom could be boring for students or actually hinder their learning. This is why it takes time and commitment to create a good learning experience and turn students into engaged learners. Follow these tips to create a successful flipped classroom. 

Create Engaging and Optional Video Content

You don’t want to assign the same boring lectures that your students don’t listen to in a traditional classroom. Try to keep the content succinct, or at least break the videos into different topics or lessons. “Anything longer than 15-18 minutes will inevitably lose the interest and focus of the learner – hence why all TED speakers are limited to 18 minutes,” writes education industry professional Dessy Ohanians

These shorter videos also allow you to use the extra homework time to assign questions asking what the video was about — reinforcing the video message. 

“Piling on mandatory video content for students to review outside the classroom in addition to regular homework can be overwhelming,” writes Scott Nadzan, co-creator of video content management system Ensemble Video. “However, supplementary content that complements lessons and helps further understanding of key concepts –– but is not required –– can be more appealing to and beneficial for students.” 

One learning option you can consider is making the videos optional, which some teachers have had success with. Nadzan shares the story of one science teacher who received significant positive feedback for his optional learning videos. Students watched them because they were interesting. This makes learning something that is fun, not just required by parents and teachers.

Get Creative With the Classroom Environment

Students don’t have to work on only one activity in class. You can keep the learning going in a variety of ways with multiple media and learning styles. 

Education consultant, Catlin Tucker, says she took her classroom to the next level by creating stations that brought video education back into the room. Each station either had a short video tutorial, a warm-up or reinforcement message, or an activity to complete based on the information. In this way, Tucker was able to make sure her students were being exposed to the content while helping them with activities. 

Tucker’s method isn’t the only one you can follow to create a flipped classroom. Rohan Thakare at eLearning Industry looks at eight different learning styles within a flipped classroom. These include the widely-used rotation model, in addition to discussion-oriented and demonstration-oriented formats.  

Walk Around the Classroom and Talk With Students

This is a big change for you as an instructor as well as the students — especially if you are very comfortable with the lecture experience. 

“You will go from someone in front of the classroom to someone who can move about and interact with students in a one-on-one or a smaller group setting,” writes Lee Watanabe-Crockett, founder of Wabisabi Learning. “You’ve let your alter-ego do the lecturing while you do the inquiry and dialogue.” 

Walking around the class and talking to students might not come naturally at first, but over time you should feel more comfortable working as a discussion guide rather than a straight lecturer.

Give Yourself a Year to Develop Flipped Materials

Even if you are incredibly eager to develop a flipped classroom, you might not be able to launch the format just yet. Developing a flipped classroom takes time and significant resources. 

“The best way to manage time in preparing for a flipped course is to make sure you start early, so you have plenty of time to manage,” writes Robert Talbert, a mathematics professor at Grand Valley State University. “I recommend starting one calendar year out from the start of the class you intend to flip.” 

He provides a step-by-step explanation of how to do this, starting with simple classroom activities in the fall. By the time you reach the spring term, you’ll have gradually released responsibility to your students and can flip at least part of the course. Summer is the time to work on the fully-flipped class, Talbert says. 

Easing into the flipped classroom slowly can also help you gain feedback from students. Professor Simone Deparis was given the 2018 Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching because of his flipped classroom. He introduced the concept to his first-year linear algebra class for a third of the course. At the end of the trial, the students didn’t want to switch back to traditional learning methods. 

Deparis says he has plans to extend the trial in the next year to cover most of the course, and hundreds of students have signed up for the class. 

Resources for Implementing a Flipped Classroom

If you’re ready to start developing your flipped classroom materials, but aren’t sure where to start, turn to the teachers who have come before you. 

Elementary art teacher Nic Hahn created video and education pack for arts teachers who want to test out the flipped classroom. Her video covers the basics of a flipped classroom, several resources (like planning sheets and tips) to implement it, and additional links to learn more. This is a great place to start to see how other teachers handle this type of teaching.  

Another resource is a guide by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, a global nonprofit that helps educators. They recommend more than a dozen free or affordable resources. This should make it easier for you to create and organize content, and send it out to your students to access however they need. 

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