Flipped Class: A Second Look

Last year I did a Flipped Class experiment.  The Flipped Class model seems to penetrate every corner of my PLN (professional learning network).  I had to have a taste of the model that I was admittedly skeptical of.  The main question I tried to answer was, "Would students actually do their homework if it was engaging instructional material rather than practice work?".  The clear answer was no.  Using anonymous surveys to encourage honesty, I never had more than 70% of students who had watched the instructional video before coming to class.  Some commenters on my blog suggested activities (worksheets/quizzes) in tandem with the videos, which I saw as traditional homework and an eventual enforcement issue.

Ok, full disclosure--I was very skeptical of this model to begin with because I have completely divorced my class from traditional homework.  My homework now follows one simple rule, inspired by a quote from Joe Bower: "homework should be inspired, not assigned".  Eight hours at school is enough, homework has little to no effect on comprehension, and it's not worth the enforcement and grade damage that often follows.  I want my class to be so engaging that kids want to go home and learn more or work on their project because they are invested in it--not because I make them.

However, I continue to read about the Flipped Class, and I have a new perspective.  I still won't use this model in my class, but now I understand the draw.  The popularity/effectiveness is less about the instructional homework as it is about the change in classroom dynamic.  As a class moves from a traditional model to Flipped, the teacher spends class time working one-on-one with students as they work through class activities.  The teacher tutors and formatively assesses all at the same time.  Teachers become more of a facilitator than the sage on the stage.

I think this one-on-one environment is the major draw for the Flipped Class and its the primary reason for any success it enjoys.  This is how my class works too, but without the homework instruction.  I mainly use the project-based model or a simpler version I call PBL-Light.  I remain very skeptical of any homework, especially instruction without facilitation.  In my opinion, the Flipped Class model could work if you ignited a fire of interest before class ended and provided an engaging video for students to find out more at home if they are so inclined.  All that being said, to each their own--we all need to find the method, combination, or mutation of methods that works with our own philosophy and personality.  I just had this epiphany about the real power behind the Flipped Class and thought it was worth a second mention.


  1. I think you're absolutely right that the success for the flipped classroom is from changes in classroom dynamic. I like to have the videos to provide some background info for those that want it. It doesn't bother me that some don't watch it. I make it available at the start of class in the back of the room for those that want it. PBL is typically easier for those that watched the video, so I saw an increase in watching the video over time.

    1. Thanks John,
      I really appreciate you opinions and advice. I have been doing some professional development and have encouraged a few teachers to flip their class. I think the Flipped Class is a nice transition method to a more project-based, progressive classroom. The change in dynamic is a powerful transition in pedagogy. However, I try caution some teachers about "abusing the Flip"--its not about assigning a video every night and sitting at your desk while students work on their worksheets. Thanks again!

  2. I am glad you posted this. I am going to do a flipped class, but, I teach a Foreign Language and I intend to use the videos in class on students time. I will circulate the room and assess daily that way. I would like to make the classroom more oral and aural and less written. Don't get me wrong, I will have some written activities but, I plan to spend more time talking with my students one on one and working through the concepts individually. I have found that students always fare better in small group and one on one.

    1. Hello Jennifer,
      I think the way you describe it, it sounds like a nice method. The key is the "on students own time". That is my key point of disagreement with most Flipped models is the idea that the instruction must be homework. One more thing I learned is that many kids liked learning from info-graphics, presentations, prezi, etc. I think a variety is nice to expose students to and decrease the chances of getting into a rut. Good luck and let me know know how it goes on this blog or on Twitter.


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