Thought of Flipping Your Classroom Makes You Dizzy,
Tip It Sideways Instead
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
ago, educators and education media were enthusiastically talking
about Flipped Classrooms. A flipped or "inverted"
classroom is one in which a teacher takes what was a traditional
classroom of the the last century - one where we all lectured to
students during classtime and then expected that homework was completed
outside of classrime - and flip the whole thing.
The idea behind
it makes sense, given the technology that became available over
the past 20 years. In fact teachers felt pressure from students,
parents and the community to utilize technology in order to make
better use of school time. So, the theory was that In a flipped
classroom, lectures could be recorded and uploaded online. Students
would watch these as homework at home outside the school day. Then
the actual class time would be spent on interaction between students
and teachers, doing question and answers and assignment drills.
the flipped classroom was discussed in the media, online PD sessions
and trade books, the reality was that out in the trenches, we were
not seeing this happening much. So while many of us could appreciate
the vision and understand the possibility, the reality was that
the thought of flipping our classroom was logistically quite overwhelming.
There are several
reasons that this vision could not translate well into reality.
One big objection
to the flipped classroom is that having every student watch a taped
lecture at night for class discussion the next day is one giant
step backwards in differentiating for the needs of our diverse learners.
-- Sure, the latest whizmo gadget and fantastic technological device
may excite and tempt us with their novelty and WOW-factor, but when
push comes to shove and work needs to be done, often times we find
that we are more effective and efficient with some of our tried-and
a teacher to do?
I propose that
rather than flipping your classroom completely on its head (which,
let's face it, gives us the same lesson, just upside down), we instead
tip it sideways a bit and let things flow broadly from side to side.
For years, I've
been telling teachers that one of the greatest ways to make better
use of your time in the classroom has been to record your lectures
and lessons. But we need to use these taped or uploaded lessons,
not for homework, but as one of the classroom day assignment options.
Most of us understand,
that in this day of technology, a live straight-out lecture to a
room full of students attempting to listen, is a definite waste
of our valuable time, and not doing too much for many of the students
Curriculum® first began, technology in schools and our communities
was not at a point that allowed for taped or online lessons, so
many teachers tried to do mini lectures to small groups as an optional
assignment in class. This was met with limited success. Anyone who
has tried to oversee 20 - 35 learners in one room knows the logistic
problems that come with that. Now that mediated lessons are easy
to make and equipment readily available in most schools - problem
But these mediated
lessons should not be relegated and mandated as homework for all.
This ignores too many of our students who have different learning
modalities, presents problems for students without access to technology
outside of school, and creates too much distance between receiving
the lesson and student questions and feedback.
Curriculum® classroom lends itself beautifully to taped or mediated
lectures and lessons. They are included as assignment options, usually
in the C layer. Any and all students who might benefit from listening
to a lecture or watching a demonstration, can make use of the opportunity.
Teacher class time is freed up to work with students individually.
Students are near a teacher during and directly after a lecture
for questions and clarification. Students can catch the lesson missed
from a day of absence, or just watch it more than once for relearning
opportunity or study. And best of all, the classroom learning environment
remains open and accessible to a wide variety of learners.
For more detailed
information, read the text
"Layered Curriculum" or the new supplement "Enhancing
your Layered Curriculum Classroom".
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and
author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A
Student's Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating
the High School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer
of the Layered Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked
with parents and educators around the world to better structure
schools to make brain-friendly environments. In addition, her
work has been used by the Boeing Corporation, Family Circle Magazine,
the Washington Post, and ABC television.
her: Kathie (at) brains.org