Flipping over Flipped Classroom
Wellington Primary School has been slowly adopting a new paradigm in learning known as the flipped classroom model. A flipped classroom model uses technology—most commonly either teacher-created videos or from suitable sites—to leverage learning in a classroom so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. It is called the “flipped” model because the whole classroom/homework paradigm is flipped. In its simplest form, what used to be classwork (the lecture) is done at home via teacher-created videos, and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class. Advocates of the flipped model believe that having students spend class time listening to a lecture may not be the best way for them to learn difficult topics. The flipped model allows teachers to have a permanent archive of lectures, while freeing class time for more cooperative, constructivist and inquiry-based learning.
A few years ago, the process of flipping instruction with online videos would have seemed like a daunting task to be approached only by the most technologically savvy. Today, free online programmes, such as Jing and Screencast-O-Matic, make video production as easy as pressing “record,” clicking “stop,” and posting them onto the class blogs. Though the use of technology is a hallmark of flipped classrooms, the unofficial mantra of flipping teachers is, “It’s not about the videos!” It’s the change in classroom interactions that is most important.
“The classroom is like a work centre,” says Ms Grace Soh, teacher from 3 Forgiveness . “Students are doing projects and creating videos. They are developing presentations using Keynote, a drama, a poem and all sorts of hands-on activities that cause students to be involved in their own education.” According Mr Idris, IPW Coordinator, “What we are seeing is a teacher spending a year or two doing ‘Flipped Classroom 101 and then in the future move to project-based learning, inquiry-based learning such as Webquest. It’s causing them to reinvent themselves, to have a completely student-centred, learner-centred classroom, as opposed to what we have in most schools, which is a teacher-based model.”
Under the traditional model of teaching, students hand in homework at the beginning of class and teachers check them later—possibly after students have already been introduced new material on a completely different topic.
“If you’re going through a stack of 40 homework assignments, it’s pretty easy to miss the frustration a student might have,” says Mdm Rohaiyah, teacher from 3 Diligence. “However, if you’re looking them in the eye and saying, ‘Explain to me how you answered this question,’ then you can see on their face whether they get it or not.”
Mr Thomas Ho, teacher from 5 Attentiveness and Mr Keith Ng, teacher from 5 Forgiveness, both echo the idea that real-time checks on students is a major benefit of the flipped classroom. “Normally, you have them do these homework assignments, and you don’t know how much possible copying has happened,” says Mr Ho. “The next thing you know, you give a test and you say, ‘Nobody’s getting this.’ With flipped, you’re constantly assessing.” “You’re getting immediate feedback,” agrees Mr Ng. “The teachers know exactly where the students are at.”
Mr Idris says the flipped model allows him to answer questions and spend more time with students who are struggling. “I can do a little pull-out session,” he says. “It really turns the teacher into a coach and facilitator, rather than someone who stands up and talks all the time. The class time has totally changed for the better.”
Learning by doing. Students have more time in class to do more hands on activities. The picture depicts students creating paper aeroplanes during their lesson on Time. Students then use their iPads to calculate the amount of time the paper planes will take to land when launched. They extrapolate from the data to find better design and techniques to create the planes. Way cooler then just watching a plane fly by.