Flipping More Than Once – Is it Done?

CC licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Public Record Office Victoria: https://flickr.com/photos/public-record-office-victoria/8165524462

CC licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Public Record Office Victoria: https://flickr.com/photos/public-record-office-victoria/8165524462

I am going to be totally honest. I get kind of nasty when people talk to me about the wonderful idea of a flipped classroom. I can’t quite put my finger on the cause of my anger; I think it lies somewhere between the ideology I hear and the laziness that I see. Because most of the time I see a flipped classroom that just changes the location of the boredom and lack of interest from the students. Instead of them watching you stand at the front of the classroom during the day, they have to watch you do it on youtube.

I don’t disagree that the sage on the stage who sends home an hour of textbook questions for homework every day needs a new playbook, but flipping the lesson is not enough. If every teacher on the 9th grade team decided to “flip” their lessons then those students would rightfully riot!

But some folks do it well – right?

If doing it well still means that you are creating a style of teaching that will not work without homework then I am still going to struggle to get on board. It’s not that I am anti homework. Nope, hang on, yes it’s exactly that I’m anti homework.

Pink and Fisch were being talked about four years ago in this connected principals blog post. Allow me to share some of my personal highlights:

“To deliver true value in this environment demands we invert the norm, and one of the best developing models for this is called, I have learned recently, “reverse instruction.”
“When you do a standard lecture in class, and then the students go home to do the problems, some of them are lost. They spend a whole lot of time being frustrated and, even worse, doing it wrong,” Fisch told me.
Stop lecturing. Please. 

But some folks do it right – well….

You can not fault the enthusiasm of these spin masters here in this video.


Aron Sams says “The classroom was centred around me. I told them exactly what to learn, how to learn it, what assignments to do to learn it, and when to learn it and how to prove to me that they learned it. I don’t do that anymore.” But then he goes on to tell us that actually he does still kind of do that. He just just does it using Camtasia (did they pay for that video?). They were doing labs at home before? I don’t buy it. Side note – it did look like a lot of good stuff was happening during the class. But then there is not good stuff happening at home? Are we OK with that?

I want what is happening at home to be truly meaningful and really engaging – and if it’s not then it shouldn’t be happening. Our school policy states that homework (which can no longer result in a grade – yay!) should deepen and enhance student learning – show me a Khan Academy video that does that. On the other hand the policy also states that homework should assist students in consolidating ideas so I could see these “lectures” providing additional homework help for some kids. And I think that this is close to where I land on the reverse instruction idea. Some of my students will need some extra reinforcement of ideas and some of my students enjoy the pace of screencasts. So some of my students will watch them – I do make a lot. But as mandatory homework to be done before my next class? Not going to work for me. I want both sides of the flip to happen in my classroom. Do I need to let go of some control? Or am I doing my kids a favour by kicking homework to the curb?

You haven’t arrived at the part of my blog post where I claim to have a better idea. I don’t have one. But the straight up flip of the old lecture followed by practice questions routine is not making a bad model better. When you flip a burnt pancake to show the perfect side it’s still burnt on the bottom.

We need to take a closer look at these pancakes. CC licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by abakedcreation

10 comments to “Flipping More Than Once – Is it Done?”
10 comments to “Flipping More Than Once – Is it Done?”
  1. Ange- Great post here. Great thoughts. This reminds me of several conversations I have had lately with colleagues. Trying to get to the bottom of what the flip looks like for them and their classroom. The responses have truly been a burnt pancake. Go home and watch the video, and then come to class and complete the math worksheet with problems. Simply taking the lecture from the front of the room and putting it on a video for homework. And to add insult to injury, many of the students are not watching the video for homework! So even worse, they come to class without no instruction at all and are asked to complete the worksheet!!!! What are we doing here??? Other than giving teachers a bad name? I’m with you on this one. There’s got to be a better way!
    Thanks for your post!

    • Thanks Julie – I am glad I’m not the only one! I know that reverse instruction is truly working for some people so I feel bad for bashing it so much, but I just haven’t seen it done well (well = kids are engaged and enjoying the learning). It is frustrating for everyone if homework is incomplete and often it’s not because of laziness it’s because our kids are just really busy! I just don’t like setting homework as something that will destroy my next lesson if it’s not done.

      • I’m so glad that I’m not the only one struggling with this! I guess my take away was more focused on the way we structure class time and the value of lecture v. the homework side of things. I listened to a podcast with students discussing why they enjoyed the class more, and it wasn’t really because they were doing more in class, but it was that they had time to discover what they were missing during lectures and really ask questions that improved their understanding. For me that was the part that intrigued me. It was the time students had to process. I know that when I write my blog entries that I read everything, then I read it again, then I start with some ideas, and then I finish. Maybe it’s just looking at restructuring the way students move through work so they have time to digest everything? I don’t really know that I have any clear answer either.

  2. I teach at a university in japan and have been flipping my class for years. My students are high level English language learners and we do a form of CLIL so they are learning content and language at the same time. As a result the students have a lot of readings and these are usually done by teachers in class line by line, paragraph by paragraph. Not exactly riveting lessons. So I get the students to do the base readings at home (along with any videos – but not videos of lectures) and in the follow on class we discuss what issues came up in the readings and videos and I set the students some pair work to further develop their understanding a la ‘just in time teaching’. And I’ve had great feedback from that approach.

    • Thanks Rab – I do like to hear successful stories! I do feel like you have set up the routine nicely and your students have buy in to the set up. They appreciate that this removes the long/boring classroom lecture. What happens if they don’t do the homework? I wonder if that rarely happens because the students are older and more self motivated?

  3. Hi Ange, I like the peer-to-peer flip, students-teaching-students. They tend to respond in a different way and it’s cool to see them approaching the video with a more critical eye.

    At the Alan November conference this past summer, a recent high school graduate, Shilpa Yarlagadda, presented an amazing learning hub called Club Academia, https://clubacademia.org/, which she founded.

    She started making these tutorials for herself and friends. Interest grew and her friends wanted to make them as well. They created a movement. Very cool! Check it out when you have a moment.

    • Hey Andrea! Great to hear from you! I am so sorry I missed out Google Hangout – the end of year is killing me and I barely even know what day of the week it is (seriously, the power went out in our neighbourhood yesterday and it was so dark and quiet that I thought that maybe it was Sunday and not Saturday – BRAIN FRIED)

      Anyway, I love the idea of the peer-to-peer flip and I love the work that you and your kids have been doing. Thanks for the link!

  4. HI Ange,

    Your statement that “I just don’t like setting homework as something that will destroy my next lesson if it’s not done” rang true with me. My class of 3rd graders has nightly homework that is always done by some, sometimes done by others, and never done by a few- no matter the assignment. Conversations with parents usually end up making little to no difference. If my daily lessons depended on students coming in with specific knowledge learned the night before, class time would be a very frustrating experience for all involved.

    The flipped lesson I described in my blog involves making a video on Explain Everything that shows the cycle of steps to follow for long division. In past years, I’ve used a poster of the family from the movie The Incredibles to help students remember the order of the steps: Dad-divide, Mom-multiply, Sister-subtract, Brother-bring down, and Baby-begin again. It actually does help. I thought that if I made a video and had them watch it for homework, students would be able to play it repeatedly until they got it down. But will they even watch it?

    I haven’t made the video yet because we haven’t arrived at long division. I wonder, though, if my students would be better served by making their own long-division video to show their understanding of the concepts (and practice their digital literacy skills) instead of doing their homework (or not) and still not having a clue what I’m talking about in class.

    • Hi Anna, I think that your kids would definitely get a lot out of making their own videos. Sometimes, even though we do it with the best of intentions, the tricks and rhymes we teach to our kids to remember procedures in math really don’t help them solidify their understanding. If they are making their own videos then I think that they will have more chance to develop their own personalised way to remember how to do long division. I would love to see their videos!

  5. Good questions! I’m not a fan of homework either, but I’m a primary school teacher. I didn’t have homework until I was 12 years old, so I can feel confident that primary students won’t be jeopardized if they don’t have homework.

    The issue gets a bit more murky for me when it comes to secondary school students. It’s cool to hear a secondary teacher say that homework isn’t necessary for older students too.

    I think Sam Aaron’s classroom worked because he was in sciences and students could pick and choose which areas they wanted to address, in whichever order they wanted to study it. In that way, flipping the learning was differentiating for interests and pace. It wasn’t just moving the instruction to the home. It was allowing for the entire course to look, function, and be entirely different. I don’t know if you caught my blogpost where I attended a workshop delivered by Aaron Sam and Jonathan Bergman. They were the two who “started” the idea of flipped learning: https://www.coetail.com/chezvivian/2013/02/03/flipped-classroom-101/ It might be interesting for you to read the evolution of their concept.

    I don’t think any of the strategies that course 4 addresses (gamification, flipped learning) are meant to be an “all or nothing” proposition. Mr Sam and Mr Bergman seems to have flipped their entire curriculum, but they had reason too. It resulted in students being able to pursue different science inquiries at the same time, and they weren’t held back by lack of teaching as the teachers just pointed them to the archived tutorials in a “just in time” basis.

    Maybe flip 1 class in a semester if it would benefit that lesson?! It’s in our tool box because of the technology available, so just something to consider and pass over. I think it’s worth it to bear it in mind.

    @jutecht @mscofino talked about Flipped Learning in a recent Coetail Cast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLcXoH7bZHs They talk about the fact that we can’t just move the instruction to the home. It needs a total reorganization of the classroom and how it runs, for it to have meaning. The latter is where the benefits kick in.

    Great questioning and a great dialogue going on here in the comment’s section!

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