Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flipping - The Good (Part 2)

This is my second post about the pros of flipping. In the previous post I discussed how flipping can help with differentiation, motivation and excitement. Now I will discuss how flipping changed my class's two learning environments: The Individual Learning Environment and the Shared Learning Environment.

Homework (Individual Learning Environment)
When I started researching the flipped model of teaching, I realized quickly that I had to first reflect on my current practices. I reflected on WHAT I typically assigned for 'homework' and the amount of TIME I typically assigned for homework each night.

The typical rule that I use for homework is 10 minutes for every grade level. I teach 5th grade so many people wouldn't find 50 minutes of homework unreasonable. I also only teach half of the subjects (Math and Science) and my teaching partner teaches the other half (Literacy and Social Studies.) So, it seems fair that I would only assign up to 25 minutes a night. When I decided to flip I read a lot about how the videos should be short -  approximately 10 minutes or less. So I planned to create tutorials on Sophia that would total 20 minutes. (That would give the students enough time to watch the videos, take notes, rewind or pause at certain points, complete the quiz, leave a comment, etc.)

I also reflected on what I typically assigned for homework and I quickly realized that my typical homework assignment could easily be completed in class where I would be available to help. This solved the problem for the students who struggled completing the assignments at home and whose parents couldn't help. What I enjoyed about flipping is that I was offering what I would deem as quality instruction AT home in addition to AT school. I know 20 minutes doesn't seem like much, but 20 minutes of quality instruction is MUCH more beneficial than 50 minutes of work that may confuse or frustrate the students.

Another great thing about flipping is that you figuratively open your classroom doors to your students' parents. It's an open invitation into your classroom!  From a teacher's perspective I was a little leery at first and almost didn't create my own flipped videos because I was nervous that my students' parents would be critical of the instruction I was offering their child. However, as a professional, I realized that I shouldn't care who viewed my videos. Would it change my instruction if my audience were my students? their parents? my administrators? other educators? It shouldn't matter who's viewing the videos, because I should always try to offer the best instruction I possibly can. And that's what I tried to do. I had some parents tell me that they enjoyed watching the videos with their child and that it helped them understand the math instruction their child was receiving better because they were hearing it from the teacher's mouth themselves!  I know that my videos weren't perfect and there's a lot of room for growth, but flipping allowed me to open the doors to my classroom wider than I ever had before!

In Class Time (Shared Learning Environment)
It was amazing how much more class time I had after I started flipping. This was the part that I was the most unprepared for though. I put a lot of time into creating the content that I was teaching through my videos, video taping, and creating tutorials on Sophia that I really didn't plan as well as I should have on what the students would be doing IN CLASS. When the students came to class the next day, we would discuss the video and talk about any questions. I let the students choose if they wanted to work independently, with a partner or in a group. Students worked on what I typically would assign for homework and independent practice in class. Surprisingly, most students FLEW through this work and as I checked their work, the majority did great. I was able to meet with students individually or in small groups if they needed extra help on certain concepts. The students who understood the content were left with a substantial amount of time for math extension activities and small projects the students could complete. I had time for a lot of hands on and discovery type activities that I typically wouldn't get to. For example, when learning about volume, students found the volume of containers using centimeter- sized marshmallows. When we studied surface area, we had enough time for students to wrap different size boxes and determine the surface area of each box. Typically I wouldn't have time for these activities before I flipped.

However, this is by far the area of flipping that I see I need to improve. I learned firsthand that the 'in class' time is where great collaboration can happen and I want to systematically plan for this more next year. I want to teach students how to communicate with each other, how to disagree properly, support their reasoning effectively, and how to use math vocabulary properly to explain their thinking. I hope to use the fishbowl approach that is explained here that Chris Opitz utilizes: (The clip is about 9 minutes - a perfect length in my opinion :) -
Link to video and article:

Finally, not only would the students have their teachers and classmates accessible, but they will have many more resources at school, like manipulatives, resource books, other technologies etc. I'm currently spending a lot of time researching Project Based Learning (PBL), which nicely compliments the flipped classroom. In future posts, I'll explain how I plan to use PBL in my classroom. I also will detail my ideas on the physical layout to my classroom that will help me create a more collaborative environment.

There are many more pros to flipping but I feel these are the most important. The ability to maximize time in education is extremely helpful to teachers. So, if you're planning on flipping, I would recommend spending time reflecting on what occurs in both the individual and shared learning environments. What do you like that you want to keep? What can be changed to help maximize your students' time? In the next post I'll tackle some 'cons' of flipping. Stay tuned!

Lesson #6:   For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned!


  1. Great blog, Arin. Your passion really shines through. Here are some good resources for working with students on crafting better conversations.

  2. Thanks for the feedback and the great resources, Margaret. I really appreciate it! :)