March 7, 2014

Understanding the Flipped Classroom with Samantha Morra – LIVE Blog from Beth Holland

Sam opened by telling how she got involved with technology and led up to the idea of flipping her classroom. She led up to modern day and described how digital tools have changed our social and informational landscape. Think about how information used to be remote and expensive – libraries and encyclopedias. Now, information is instantaneous, everywhere, and free.

We need to look at ourselves as learners and how we develop our students as learners. We know that we can create meaningful learning experiences for our learners while also addressing the tools that will shape our students futures. In fact, we are the first generation of teachers being asked to teach with tools that did not exist when we were in school. As teachers, we need to understand the power of information, of digital tools, of video, and of playback. Flipped classroom is an empowerment of those capabilities and a return to the power of oral tradition but with modern tools. In essence, we are talking about shifting how we think about our classrooms and what learning looks like.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 10.55.55 AM

Flipped Helps Break the “Habit” of Lecture

The flipped classroom “flips” traditional teaching methods by delivering instruction online, and out of school, in order to allow homework to become classwork.

Lecture isn’t bad, but it isn’t the only way to give instruction. A key concept is that we are taking the lower level thinking skills and doing them at home. This allows us to devote class time to creating, evaluating, analyzing, and applying new content or skills. In essence, Sam paraphrases from Chris Lehmann, “you don’t teach curriculum, you teach students.” By flipping, teachers have the ability to nurture, guide, and ignite a relationship with students. In a traditional classroom, the flow of information and dialog flows one way. With a flipped classroom, the flow goes in both directions.

The true goal is to address the needs of learners, in the best possible way, using the available tools. “No one bought a drill because they wanted a drill. They bought it because they wanted a hole.” We don’t flip because we want to “flip.” We do so because we want to create an active learning environment that promoted self direction, created passionate learners, and allowed students to become autonomous learners. Flipped is a great opportunity to create this type of situation.

Some Background

Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams pioneered the flipped movement in their science classes.

When you ask an administrator what it is that you want to see in your school, the response is often about active learning and providing great opportunities for students to innovate and experiment. Too often, there is a perception that we want students to “act like Mona Lisa – eyes forward and hands crossed.” However, with flipped learning, our classrooms look different and we need to make sure that we communicate this fact to our administrators and parents.

Salman Khan is another person often associated with the flipped movement. The Khan Aacdemy videos can be an excellent resource to incorporate into a flipped classroom for delivering instruction. In his 2001 TED talk, Khan talks about the power of being able to pause, repeat, and review with video.

“When trying to learn something, the last thing you need is a person asking, do you understand this?” – Salman Khan

 Some Ways to Flip

There is no one answer; however, it should be an organic and dynamic process. Often, there’s pressure to start curating and creating a ton of video content. It’s ok to start small, but when you come up with something, SHARE it!

Flip – Apply: students watch video outside of class and practice in class

Explore – Flip – Apply: students do an experiential lesson in class, then study content at home, and then come in to apply the full set of knowledge

Flip – Explore – Flip: students gain background knowledge out of class, participate in a discovery lesson in class – and then gain more information.

Flip – Mastery: students gain knowledge at their own pace, applying as they go, and progressing through mastery

An important point when it comes to flipping is to choose tools that work best for you. It may be the teachers begin by curating content that has already been created. While great content does exist, there is also a need for personalization.

A key literacy moving forward is the ability to read, understand, and create visually. Flipped is an opportunity to help develop these literacies. There are a number of free and paid-for tools for quickly developing video. What’s important with creating content is to remember that sometimes “done” is better than “perfect.” By creating your own video, teachers have the ability to personalize the learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

A final step is to know where to put completed videos. YouTube is an option, as is Vimeo. Even Google Drive can be used as a “walled garden” approach.

Beyond video, we can choose other tools to use as “artifacts and evidence of learning” so that we can blur the lines between the walls of the classroom and the rest of the world. This isn’t about video, flipped is about allowing students to function at lower cognitive tasks in a way that allows for playback and feedback.


Essential Questions to Guide Future Thinking

  • What is the role of lecture?
  • What is the best way for a teacher to use their face-to-face time with their students?
  • How can you arrange time os that students do the most cognitively difficult work in class? 
  • How do we make ephemeral learning permanent?

With the big picture, flipped is about experiences, exploring concepts,  learner generated information, and building classroom experiences with our students.

Sam’s Presentation Slides 

Samantha will be teaching flipped workshops this summer in Cambridge and Chicago! She’s also going to be presenting at the Learning Futures Summit in July.