Flipped classrooms are all the rage right now. And it seems like a great idea. The kids do all the learning at home via videos and you do the “homework” at school, freeing up more time to really explore and deepen each concept.
In theory, I LOVE this idea! Like all caps, in bold, LOVE it. I would love to flip my classroom.
In practice, it doesn’t work as well as I would have hoped for my classroom.
Most of my kids have extremely busy after school lives. Between sports, music, theater, and play dates, there might not be a whole lot of time left over to fully pay attention to my recorded lessons, because in elementary school it would be all the core subjects.
I have generally taught an inclusion classroom. Meaning that not all of my kids are working on grade level in any given subject. This means that for my taped lessons I would need to create at least three versions of each one: high, middle, and low. Then I would need to get the kids to watch the video appropriate to them.
Even if I had a class of students with enough evening free time AND figured out the leveling of lessons, I would still not be able to totally flip. Simply because not all of my students have reliable internet access at home. For some kids, the only time they get to use computers or technology is at school. Or the computers are off limits at home. Or any number of reasons. So if I flipped, I would have 5-10 students every night missing the lesson.
Instead, I kind of flipped. Here’s how.
Integrate Tech into Teaching
The first step for me was to get myself comfortable using technology. I spent hours (pre parenthood) exploring the different programs my school had subscribed to, or that I could get for free online.
I picked my favorites, and learned how to use them in at least a basic way.
Once I learned enough about them, I taught my students. For example, we now use Google Docs for all of our writing final products. The kids had access to their work at home, and could share it with me instantly. I could make notes, offer suggested corrections, and have a mini-conference with them. All in their one document on Google Drive.
Stations are one of my best teaching strategies. It allows me to mix up the activities in a lesson, while maintaining the focus on the current topic, boosting old skills, and meeting with each child in a small group setting.
I almost always include a tech station, especially for math. I really like XtraMath. It’s free, easy to set up, and quick to work on. Plus, I can see every child’s progress over time.
For other subjects, I used task cards that correlated to stations. So, for space I used a pre-made exploration pack that had videos and websites for two of the stations. The kids were teaching themselves AND doing the exploratory work all at the same time.
Online Classroom Services
My school uses Schoology, and I just love it! It’s essentially Facebook, but for the K-12 market. I create a class, populate it with students, and then post updates to our class “wall.” I can also create folders for subject matter content with links to other pages. I posted (prescreened) YouTube videos, links to interactive webpages, homework assignments (in case it was forgotten at school), and educational game sites.
Often, Schoology was the basis for much of our work. For webquests, we all started at Schoology, and then worked at our own pace. After completing paper based assignments, I would often post an assignment onto Schoology.
This also works super duper well for snow days! Just remind the kids (or parents via email) what to do if a snow day hits. Then post links to YouTube (prescreened) videos in your target content areas, add a few easy assignments, and your snow day has just become productive!
You could also accomplish this via sharing Google Docs, using Google Classroom, or another secure social media setting. I’ve also sent out reminders to my classroom Twitter account followers to check their Schoology page.
The best way that I got my students become their own teachers was to make it optional. Kind of.
I use a whiteboard easel to display homework each day. I would always include an online assignment as “optional.” It might have been 15 minutes on Khan, or a few minutes on XtraMath, or to refresh your memory by viewing any of the videos in our current unit before the test on Friday.
Using analytics, I could then check to see who had logged in, where they went, and what they did. Shockingly, on a given night, 50-75% of the students were active on our Schoology classroom, or Khan, or XtraMath (or some combo of the three). The ones who were never active outside of school were the kids that I already knew had limited/no at home internet access.
That’s it. This is how I kind of flipped my classroom, and loved it!
How have you integrated tech or flipped your classroom? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments!