5 Tips and Tricks for a Fabulous Flipped Classroom

Friday, October 14, 2016 -- McKenna Wierman

So, you’ve taken a big step into the future of education. You’ve kissed your traditional classroom lectures and nightly homework assignments good-bye. You have flipped your classroom.

Flipped classrooms are one of several trends currently revolutionizing the way students are taught. By assigning lesson material to be studied at home via recorded lecture videos, slide-show presentations, or guided reading, teachers are helping students learn at the pace that’s right for them. In the process, teachers are relieved of the burden of trying to consistently adapt their instruction speed to each learner in their class. Instead, the flipped classroom model allows teachers to assign content to be learned and reviewed at home, and then spend class time engaging their students in individual or group activities where they can practice and apply the concepts they studied the night before.  

The concept of flipped classrooms may seem a little odd at first, and it certainly takes some time to get used to, but the benefits for your students make this switch well worth the effort. Here are five tips to help you make your flipped classroom fabulous:

1. Slow and steady wins the race

What’s the easiest way to eat a whale? One bite at a time. The same goes for transitioning to a flipped classroom model. Don’t expect to make it happen overnight, and don’t be discouraged when you run into road bumps every now and again. There will be nights where videos don’t load and lessons your students won’t understand until you work with them in person. That doesn’t mean your flipped classroom is failing; it’s just the reality of making any change happen. Keep the challenges at bay by making sure you have a game plan from the get-go and starting small, one lesson at a time. Find out what works for your class, and build around that. There is no magic formula for a flipped classroom; you know your students best, so eat the whale with them, one bite at a time.

2. Switch it, change it, rearrange it

One of the more interesting things about the flipped classroom model is that it largely eliminates the need for the traditional classroom set up, where the instructor is the focal point. Rather than arrange your classroom in the standard lecture hall style, with desks in neat rows facing the front of the room, move desks around to better suit the activities your students are engaged in. Holding a Socratic seminar? Arrange your desks to make one big conference table. Working in groups? Put desks together in small clusters. Make sure there is room for you and your students to move around, interact, and collaborate with one another.

3. Put even more into your lectures

Just because you won’t have a classroom full of students staring back at you while you lecture doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If you record your lectures, speak slowly and clearly, and make sure you record yourself in a quiet place. It will distract you and the students watching your video if there are interruptions or background noises like a yapping dog or a neighbor’s lawn mower. If you’re looking for ways to spice up your recorded lectures, there are plenty of apps available to help you out. And remember: you’re still teaching. Be yourself, be enthusiastic, and don’t feel like you can’t throw a joke or pun into your script if you think it works. You’re not a robot, after all.

4. Teach students to be active learners

More than likely, you’ll need to dedicate a class period to simply teaching your students how to watch online lectures. It might sound silly, but you’ll be glad you did it later. Highlighting some of the basic benefits of online lectures, like how students can rewind or pause a recorded lecture to take notes or have information repeated, will help build the foundation for successful studying. Remind them that while they are learning at home, they should eliminate as many distractions as possible before starting the lesson, by finding a quiet space and turning off cell phones. Encourage them to take notes while viewing lectures, and let them know when (and how) you are available to receive questions outside of school hours. This will go a long way in helping your students feel more comfortable as they explore a new style of learning.

5. Call in the parents 

It’s no secret that the more engaged parents are in a student’s learning, the more successful they will be. The holds even more true in the flipped classroom model, since so much learning will be completed at home. Make sure your students’ parents are in the loop and familiar with how you will be running your classroom. Consider building a “Guide to the Flipped Classroom” as a handout for the beginning of the school year that provides plenty of resources, best practices, and examples of how the flipped classroom model works. Suggest ways for parents to be supportive of their students, such as creating a quiet, dedicated working space, encouraging them to watch their online lectures at home, and reminding them to pause and rewind recorded lectures as needed. Keep in mind, it will probably take parents some time to warm up to this new learning model as well, so be patient and prepared to answer their questions.

Flipping your classroom may seem intimidating at first, but once you and your students get the hang of it, you’ll love all the opportunities for deeper, more personalized learning that it opens up. Looking for more tips? Check out these Blended Learning FAQs, or find out how Edmentum’s Plato Courseware can help you offer flexible options to deliver course content to students online and at home!