Can All Classroom Lessons be Flipped?

I’ve been following articles on the Flipped Classroom Model for some time now. Because my school has a 1:1 MacBook Pro environment, flipped classrooms are very feasible – students have continual access to technology both at home and at school. While I see the advantages of a Flipped Classroom, I note weaknesses that must be addressed.

In a Flipped Classroom, students view instructional videos at home. Classroom time is then used for cooperative learning or project-based learning where students move beyond the knowledge-level mastery to analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Rather than lecture during student contact time, teachers directly interact with individual students and student groups. As a proponent of cooperative- and project-based learning, I’m excited by the idea.

My concern is that proponents of Flipped Classrooms implement an “all or nothing” approach. A video from the Learning Place and one formal research piece, indicate that all lecture videos are viewed at home. A Flipped Classroom assumes that all students will view the videos at home. It also assumes that students have adequate listening skills.

I propose that educators start talking more about Flipped Lessons than Flipped Classrooms.

By discussing Flipped Lessons, the idea of video lecture and active classroom learning becomes one more powerful tool in an educator’s toolbox. Some lessons will be most effective if cooperative groups revolve around books. Other lessons may be most effective if students construct meaning without any teacher lecture.

Flipped Lessons enable teachers to better differentiate instruction within the classroom. An ISTE video was the first I found that mentions the Flipped Classroom approach as a way to differentiate learning. Groups of students may watch brainpop videos, watch teacher-made videos, or engage in specific research tasks while the teacher works with students who need extended instruction or who need a review of specific objectives. Not all videos need to be watched at home. Not all students need the same videos.

When videos are viewed in the classroom rather than at home, students can be paired to watch lectures. In Focus, Mike Schmoker recommends lecture “punctuated by frequent opportunities for students to pair, share, and process their learning.” A lecture watched in an isolated setting will be understood to the extent allowed by the viewer’s listening capacity.

In Rick Hess’s predictions for 2012, he asserts that educators and policymakers will question the flipped classroom approach because of “worry that the model doesn’t work for kids who don’t do the requisite work at home.” If we can discuss Flipped Lessons rather than fully Flipped Classrooms, this powerful teaching tool is much more likely to implemented on a large scale.

11 thoughts on “Can All Classroom Lessons be Flipped?

  1. Greetings Janet,
    You make some great points here! I shared my thoughts on ‘the flip’ here:
    …And I think we view it in similar ways. I like the idea of students watching videos in pairs/not alone and your post made me go back to the idea that there really is enough time in the day that we don’t need to send part of the lesson home. We can still use this model as ‘a’ (single) strategy among many, but it isn’t an ‘answer’ to educational problems as it seems to be touted these days.
    Thanks for sharing,

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  5. Janet, thank you for commenting on our post on the flipped classroom.
    I agree, it could be viewed as a learning activity that a teacher may use sometimes. I also like the idea of students working, preparing etc. together outside of school. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. – Anna

  6. Hi Janet, in a recent research project I carried out I found the biggest benefit of using video demonstrations was the increased collaboration that was promoted between students. This surprised me as I had prematurely predicted many outcomes but had underestimated this particular facet.

      • Hi Janet
        I teach 11 to 16 year olds, my action research project was part of a Masters study. The specific context was to study if video demonstrations within the lesson could reduce the incidence of pupils mistakes and amount of teacher intervention required in a lesson. Results strongly suggested they could, however observational evidence implied pupil collaboration was significantly promoted through the discussion provoked by the demonstrations.
        I was excited by my findings and though only a small scale study I will be conducting further research in my final year project on the same subject!


        • Hi Rick,
          I’m so glad you commented. I’m excited to hear about your research and would like to hear more!

          Your research especially fits with my experience teaching math problem-solving: The procedures should include student collaboration in order to construct a strategy that they can defend.

          I’d love to hear what you think on that post (and the other in the series.

          Thanks for joining the conversation!

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