Flipped Classroom Report 2 and Homework

I really regret this experiment.  I was ready to trash this idea on Tuesday.  I can already see the problems with a Flipped Classroom, but in the name of science I want to give it a fair shake.  Our school is 1:1 with Macbooks in grades 6-8, but next year grades 4-12 will all have their own Mac.  Teachers will be thrust into the wide-open space of a Digital Classroom.  The popular buzz of the Flipped Classroom will tempt our teachers, so I want to gain some solid experience, so I can offer better advice to anyone who wants it.  Obviously this is not a conclusive study.  Other teachers may have more success depending on the students, subject, and organization of their Flipped Class.

On Wednesday, I conducted my second student survey.  The results were very similar to the first survey (click here to see the full data summary).  Most of the kids didn't watch the video on Islamic Architecture, despite my encouragement and reminders of how important it was to the next day's project.  Again, the students that didn't watch the video said they "just forgot".  The only real change was in the increase in the number of students who said they learn "worse" in a Flipped Classroom.
Survey One (1-5 range)
The only difference between the two questions is that Survey One was a range of 1-5, Survey Two was a range of 1-4.  The reason for this change is too many people pick the middle option with an odd number of choices.  An even number (4) forces them to make a clearer choice--research 101.  Most of those that chose the middle option trended toward "worse".

In Survey Two, I added a few new questions.  In one question a majority of students admitted to being distracted when they watched the video.  I feel many more were likely distracted, but they
Survey Two (1-4 range)
might not understand how distracted they actually were.

As I have said before, data doesn't tell the true story.  Even students who told me they watched the video couldn't name basic types of Islamic architecture.

This experiment has taught me one major lesson. Homework is not worth it.  Its not worth risking instruction, enforcement measures, disciplining noncompliance, increasing hatred of "learning" and school, or the TIME.   Students come to school for 8 hours.  How can we realistically expect them to do 2-3 hours of homework after 8 hours of school work.  Sports?  Job?  What about family time or hobbies?  In our culture?  Sure, we can fight it, but where does it get us?  On the other side of the coin, how many students succeed BECAUSE of homework?  How many would not learn without homework?  A Flipped video is just a different version of homework.  We might think, "all you have to do is watch a video".  Homework is homework to most kids.  Thanks to Joe Bower, I have a great new saying, "homework should be inspired, not assigned".   This is my new mission.


  1. I wouldn't watch it either if I saw it was 13 minutes on a topic I had no interest in. Flip teaching only works if it enables you to do engaging activities in the classroom. My Ss understand that the price of admission into the PBL class activities is watching and reflecting on the video. Differentiated instruction also helps Ss by giving them choice in the type of activity.

  2. I agree with John. First, the video is far too long for middle schoolers. I teach high school, and my longest this year is 12 minutes, and that's even pushing it. Trim it down to the bare bones. What do they *have* to get from the video?

    Second, do you really *need* a video to teach this concept? This might be a good example of the video coming *after* the in-class activity. Get them interested by doing some hands-on, collaborative work, and then have the kids go back to get the content that needs to be delivered.

    Third: Are the kids doing anything with the video? Are they taking notes? Filling in a map? Or are they just sitting passive? There needs to be engagement within the video. With YouTube annotations, you can put MC questions that link to other videos to help keep them engaged.

    One final thought: First responses to the Flipped Classroom are usually negative. Kids have been taught that they don't have to think, and they resist that shift in very big ways. Continue to encourage them to begin making connections outside the content. It will get better, but you have to be strong and stick with it.

    I wouldn't give up, I would restructure. Think about what makes in-class time so great and how to accentuate it with video, not replace it.

  3. Excellent suggestions Brian. Better to focus on the overarching essential questions of the lesson in the video and explore them more with in-class activities.

    1. Thank you John and Brian for your helpful comments. You're right it is too long. I always feel like I need to tell the WHOLE story, but I'm losing them. I have them make comments on my Edmodo discussion about the video, but perhaps I need something more.

      I guess my main "flipped" question is, what is the point of a 5 minute video, when I could take 5 minutes and show them in class? Thank for you comments guys, I really appreciate the support!

  4. Its more than just transferring content. Its archived for review, differentiation, or just general reference.

    The point is, sometimes, it doesn't take just 5 minutes when you're in class. Also, it is a differentiation tool. Some kids see it once and don't need help. They're bored if you're answering questions, which can lead to behavior issues, disengagement, etc. Having it archived allows all kids to see it at least once, and the ones that need more help can watch it again, or ask specifically for your help. The others can move on in their learning.

    As you continue, you'll definitely see patterns develop of who is usually "okay" after the first lesson and others that need more time. You can begin planning to target them more efficiently.

  5. At home, students Watch, Summarize and Question. I set up a form that puts their responses into a google docs spreadsheet. To get homework credit they have to submit this form. The info tells me not only who's done the homework but where to focus on class time activities. If they don't do their homework, then they go to a computer in the back of the class to watch the video and complete the form while the rest of the class breaks into groups for what are, hopefully, engaging learning activities.

    See http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/

  6. Your blog is so interesting to me being a person who was educated by nuns & priests in the mid 50's to 1969. It was really "book learnin" in every way.
    The effort & care that is put into your teaching is amazing. I am sure most people don't realize what a real teacher can accomplish with a young life, by just the way of teaching, not just the subject matter.
    So glad I peeked in today. Keep up the good work, mom


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