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The Flipped Classroom: Chaos or Cutting Edge?

The Flipped Classroom: Chaos or Cutting Edge?

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Updated on Sep 16, 2013

Upside-down instruction? Topsy-turvy teaching? You may have heard the buzz about the flipped classroom model, but do you really know what it’s all about? For teacher Aaron Sams, one of the originators of the flipped classroom, it’s simply an improvement. Want to know how it works and why it’s caught the attention of thought leaders in education? Read on to learn the key components of the flipped classroom model.

Lessons Happen at Home

Flipped learning takes lectures out of classrooms and moves them to a space where today’s children are much more comfortable: their home computer. Teachers shoot their own instructional videos and assign them to students to watch at home. Ideally, this helps students to more easily retain the information because they can pause and rewind at will. Students who learn quickly won’t get bored, and students who need more time don’t get left behind. A parent who watches along with her kid gets a new perspective on what’s being taught each day, and she can see her kid’s learning style in action.

Students Learn at Their Own Pace

When students learn at home, there is less risk of self-consciousness and embarrassment. If a student needs to revisit a concept, he can review the material. If he has a pressing question, he has time to form the question and bring it to his teacher later. In a traditional classroom environment, some students hesitate to ask questions for fear of ridicule and judgment by peers, and in some cases, even by the teachers themselves. With the flipped classroom model, students learn in a safe space at their own pace.

Learning Can Happen, Even When Class Is Skipped

One reason the flipped classroom was born was that some of Sams’ students were frequently missing classes for extracurricular school activities. By providing video lessons, via Internet or DVDs, Sams made sure those students wouldn’t miss a key lesson or the teaching of an important concept. Students in a flipped class can go on a band trip or stay home with the flu, and still keep up academically.

Collaboration Is at the Core

If the lecture happens at home, what happens in the classroom? The goal of the flipped model is to bring more active learning into the classroom. Hands-on projects, Q-and-A sessions and other forms of give-and-take instruction are done in a group setting with teachers and peers present to help. In flipped classrooms, the emphasis is placed on interpersonal dynamics between students. The extensive interaction that occurs not only promotes upper-level thinking, but also team-building skills. Working with others enhances young learners' creative abilities as they’re given insight into the thought processes of other students.

Teaching Can Be Individualized

According to a report by the Flipped Learning Network, one of the core principles of the flipped classroom is the idea of student-centered instruction, where teaching is driven more by the learning styles of individual students rather than a curriculum timeline. “The greatest benefit is the teacher being able to spend time with each student every day to address individual learning needs,” Sams says. While students use the knowledge gained from video instruction to work together in the classroom, the teacher has more freedom to help each student individually.

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